The UVA Office of Admission is in the midst of several changes. Dean Greg Roberts hopes these changes will bring more high-achieving students to the University and add more diversity to the student body. We spoke recently with Roberts about what lies ahead.

One of the changes in the admission process this last cycle was the establishment of an early-action admission program. What is the difference between early decision and early action?

Both early decision (ED) and early action (EA) programs typically have early November application deadlines. They differ in that ED is a binding early program and EA is nonbinding. This means students do not have to submit an enrollment deposit reserving their space in the class until May 1. With ED the deposit deadline is in December or January. I believe EA is the most student-friendly early admission plan because it allows top-performing students more flexibility. They receive an admission offer in January but can wait to make a deposit until May after comparing all merit and need-based aid offers. The benefit to UVA is that EA allows us to develop a relationship with the student a few months earlier than under a regular decision plan where decisions go out in late March. We spend much of the winter encouraging students to visit the University, and we offer special programming for early admission students.

And are you getting more of those top-performing students?

Yes. We were very successful in enrolling these students, and the overall profile of the class entering in the fall of 2012 was the strongest in school history. The early action pool had higher mean SAT scores and a larger percentage in the top decile of their high school classes.

What is the biggest challenge your office faces in recruiting?

Intense competition for top students. We are competing with the most prestigious universities in the world for many of the best students in the world.
Additionally, cost and financial aid continue to be significant factors in a student's decision to apply and then enroll.

Is there a school or group of schools that UVA competes with most frequently for those students?

There's no single school. We compete with the very best. Our primary competitors are Duke, Georgetown, Cornell, Vanderbilt, Princeton, etc.

Besides early action, what other methods are you looking at to gain a greater share of the types of students UVA seeks?

We have transitioned to a territory-management system that will allow our deans to forge stronger relationships with schools, counselors, students and parents. Each dean is assigned a region of the world. This will give our deans more ownership of a territory and should enhance communication with our constituents. We are also implementing a customer relations management system that will allow us to streamline our communication to students and collect and analyze prospective student data in a way that was unimaginable a few years ago. This will allow us to be more strategic and efficient. Our communication and marketing efforts will be more automated and targeted. Finally, we are reimagining the student visit experience by considering the use of technology in our information sessions and the increased use of current students and faculty to highlight many of the exciting opportunities at the University.