After over a decade in mothballs, binding early decision has returned to the University of Virginia for 2019-20.
The new old plan offers high school seniors the opportunity to apply to the University by mid-October and receive their admission decision before winter break. Admitted early decision applicants who apply for need-based financial aid and have completed both FAFSA and CSS Profile by November 15 will receive aid awards at the same time they receive their admission offer in December.
Early decision is designed for students who have determined by early fall that UVa is their top choice for college. It is a binding admission plan, meaning those who are admitted are committed to accepting an admission offer to UVa and promise to cancel applications to all other schools.
With the addition of early decision, UVa will offer three application options:
- Early Decision: applications due by October 15 and students notified by December 15
- Early Action: applications due by November 1 and students notified by January 31
- Regular Decision: applications due by January 1 and students notified by April 1
“Early decision is for students who know without a doubt that UVA is their top choice for college,” said Dean of Admission Gregory W. Roberts. “Early action was established in 2011 and is for students who would like to receive an early notification of their admission decision, but want to keep their college options open over the winter.”
According to a press release, Roberts indicated that “all applicants will be evaluated in the same manner regardless of which plan they choose,” and he promises that no advantage or disadvantage will be given in the process based on which plan the applicant selects.
“Our mission is unchanged,” Roberts said. “We are committed to identifying and recruiting talented, interesting, ethical students from diverse backgrounds, high schools and communities who will both benefit from their experience at UVA and make our community, and the world, better.”
UVa began non-binding early action in fall 2011, after eliminating an older early decision option in 2007. At the time, Virginia stood alone with Harvard and Princeton supporting policies condemning all forms of early admission as disadvantaging low-income students. Although deans from the three schools have since traveled together as part of a fall tour promoting greater accessibility in admissions, they all eventually backed down from their positions and reinstated various forms of early admission. But only Virginia has gone back to early decision.
Possibly a desire to spread the huge administrative crush of applications now routinely coming in early and a wish to improve yield (the percent of students accepting an offer of admission) figured into the decision to add early decision as an option. But the fact remains that UVa is the only college in the country that has opted for an October 15 early decision deadline—the earliest permissible under NACAC’s Statement of Principles of Good Practice (SPGP).
Associate Dean of Admission Jeannine Lalonde explained, “…we will release the results of the Early Decision review in December. We haven’t been able to do that in about a decade. The applications are a bit higher than back then, so the deadline for the first group is moving up to October 15.”
UVa joins a number of other public institutions squeezing the application process by moving application deadlines up to October 15, such as Georgia Tech and the University of North Carolina. No doubt school counselors with start dates after Labor Day will feel the pressure placed on them by the new UVa early decision option to get recommendations and transcripts out by a deadline set a few weeks into the school year.
And note that the University of Virginia will only be accepting the Common Application this year, which doesn’t go live until August 1, 2019.