What are the other most important things on a students’ application?
The course load and the profile of the [high] school to see what’s offered and if a school offers advanced placement classes. We want the students to take the most challenging course load he or she can. GPA or rank is simply a function of those grades and those courses. We’re looking at the transcript and trying to figure out what the grades mean. SATs and ACTs can help but they’re certainly not a limiting factor; they’re simply one of many factors we consider when we read applications.
What do you think of recent decisions by Smith & Wake Forest to eliminate the SAT and how likely is that at your institution?
I want to have as much info as I can in making a decision. To say that we’re not going to have the SAT limits the admissions staff in the decision it can make. I don’t expect us to drop the SAT, it’s an important factor for us [and] helpful in making decisions.
How does your institution attract minority students, and what is it doing to improve diversity efforts?
I think the reputation of the diversity here is probably the best advertisement we have. Students like to come here. I think if you could see our student body you’ll see we have a very diverse population and of course we do all sorts of recruiting through our outreach office. We travel to schools, send mailings, we do lots of fairs, we do lots of things where we bring students to the university. We probably have 150 to 200 different bus groups who we bring in every year, many of whom we put up in the dorms and take them to class because many students can’t afford to get here on their own. We have a telephone program, an e-mail program and then of course we have big open house programs where we invite students to come visit with their parents. I think what usually happens is students come and see and visit this university while we’re in session. The happiness of the students here is very persuasive.
Once students are enrolled, what benefits will they receive by being at your school and not its competitors?
The great faculty who get engaged with the students; the quality of student life, where students really run this place. In many ways it’s a student run university. Charlottesville is a great community. People like being here, it’s a great place to live.
What are parents and students overlooking when they prepare and apply for college?
Parents need to look and see what happens to the students who enroll. Do they finish? If we’re talking about African American students in particular there are some schools that have very low graduation rates. Look at this place where 87% of students earned their degree. That says a lot about commitment on the university’s part. Two,