As the year draws to a close, UVa Today will look back at milestones, achievements, trends and big stories of 2011. To share your 2011 thoughts, visit the U.Va. Today News Blog or send us a tweet @uva using hashtag #uva2011.
December 16, 2011 — After four years of having no way to apply early to the University of Virginia, high school seniors enthusiastically welcomed the University's new "early action" option.
The University announced in 2006 that it was doing away with its binding early decision program, amid concerns over the lack of economic diversity in the early applicant pool. The theory boiled down to the notion that applicants from economically disadvantaged backgrounds could not afford to make the required binding commitment to come to U.Va. if admitted, without seeing financial aid packages.
But by abolishing the early decision program, the University ceded several months of recruitment of its top prospective students to peer schools. In November 2010, U.Va. announced it would be getting back into the early admission business, starting in fall 2011, this time with a nonbinding "early action" plan that allows students to receive an early verdict on their application, but does not require them to commit to U.Va. until the regular admission cycle's April 1 deadline.
"Having a pool of students who are offered admission by late January will give the University a chance to develop stronger relationships with the admitted students and provide more targeted information to the students during the winter months," Dean of Admission Gregory W. Roberts said at the time.
The option is also popular with students, because it allows them to know their fate at least a month and a half ahead of the regular admission notifications.
Shortly after this year's Nov. 1 application deadline, Roberts said the return of the early action program was a hit. The University received 11,417 applications from students, who will receive one of three responses – accepted, deferred or rejected – by Jan. 31.