Wednesday, November 19, 2014

November 2014 Admissions Thoughts

We have made it past the Early Action decisions, and we are now at the next stages of the admission cycle. With that in mind, here are a few thoughts about what happens in Admissions and UGA from November to late March.

  • Scholarships-We are working on the review of files for scholarships, but as of today we have only had about four working days since decisions were released, and most of those were spent talking with families. I expect that we will begin releasing some scholarship offers in mid-December, and this will continue until mid-April as we review files for different scholarships. We will offer about 15-20% of admitted student's scholarships overall, but it takes time.
  • Honors-The Honors program is working with our office to collect data on the admitted EA applicants, so please be patient with this office as they begin their review for their early offers. They hope to be able to start communicating with students in mid-December, but that is an estimate, not a specific timeline.
  • Deferred EA applicants are beginning to submit part II of the application and get in teacher recommendations, and we expect the majority will finish these steps during the December holidays. Deferred applicants do not need to submit a new application or pay a new application fee, and it will cause problems for applicants who try to do this. In addition, the last section of part II is for any updates, where an applicant can give us new information such as updated activities, fall grades, new honors, etc. I also suggest that all RD and deferred EA applicants review the Timeline page for details on when we release decisions.
  • While Fall grades are not required for RD or deferred EA applicants, I heavily suggest sending them in, either self-reported on part II or on a transcript. Accepted students do not need to send us updated grades unless requested by another office (Honors for instance). There are too many RD applicants and deferred EA applicants for us to recalculate every GPA with new grades, but senior grades are used in our holistic read process, and we do look at them carefully.
  • For RD applicants, it is best to apply first and then send in any school documents, as it is easier and quicker to match these items. Test scores can come in prior to applying without issue, but documents have to be saved in our holding files and then matched every day, and these files get a little overwhelming during deadline times with thousands of non-matched documents.
  • During your senior year, do not catch senioritis or do something that you will regret the next day. The main reason we would ever rescind an admission offer would be a serious drop in grades or a problematic conduct issue, so stay strong and focused. This is also not the time to start to drop challenging courses for spring term. If we admitted you, it was in part based on the strength of your core classes. As such, we want to see you continue to challenge yourself in the courses you are in. We are fine if you need to change from PE to Health, or from one similar class to another, but we don't want to see you suddenly dropping AP Calc, AP Physics, etc. just to have an early release period.
  • Remember, more is not always better. If you have ten teacher recommendations sent to us, or decide you need to send us a five page resume, or decide that the word short answer limits are too limiting and decide to send us two page essays by mail, know that it becomes harder to see the forest through the trees. Brevity and being concise are not bad things.
  • We will accept SAT/ACT scores from exams taken and requested to be sent by the end of January. Please make sure you request your scores be sent to UGA when you sign up for the exam. Do not wait until you have seen your January scores before requesting them to be sent, as that might be too late. Remember, we only use the highest scores, so there is no need to wait before sending them.
  • We are often asked about what teacher to select for a recommendation. We do not need a teacher who is a UGA alum, a department head, a person who has taught for 30+ years, or any other designation. Select a teacher who knows you well and can tell us what you are like as a person.
  • Remember to check your myStatus page to make sure we have everything we need for admissions. The worst calls/emails are the ones where we have to say we could not make a decision due to an incomplete file. As well, re-review the Top 10 Urban Legends for UGA Admissions, as odd myths start to appear after EA decisions are released.
Go Dawgs!

Friday, November 14, 2014

EA Decisions are now available

Early Action decisions are now available online!  You can view the press release with some statistics about EA students who were admitted here.  For students who were deferred, please understand that this is not a denial decision.  We want to be able to have a more in-depth review of you, including short essays, activities, recommendations, etc.  Please be sure to read the deferred student FAQ page before commenting on here.

If you have questions about your specific decision, please do not post them on this blog.  As well, do not give out or request personal academic information in your post, as we would then need to delete these posts. We are not able to answer questions about individual students here because we will generally not have your information in front of us and we cannot disclose individual student information in a comment.  I would recommend talking with both your family and high school counselor first, then reviewing this previous post on suggestions about how to react to an EA decision, and finally reading the FAQ's available from your myStatus page.

Please be patient, be nice and be courteous.


Have a great weekend and go Dawgs!

The Long Road in Admissions

In the past, I have used the image of a long cross country trip when looking at the Admissions process, and how we would not know the exact arrival time until we were almost to the destination. Now picture the Admissions process as a road trip with three legs to the journey. The first leg is Early Action, and we are now at the end of that part of the trip. The second leg is a little shorter, and finishes up in late February when we review all Regular Decision and deferred EA applicants to see if they now meet Early Action admission standards (some EA defers will have a jump in their SAT/ACT scores that could shift them to admit). The last leg is the hardest, as it is the file reading part of the trip, and it does not finish up until late March when final decisions are released.

So please know that UGA will not be done with the entire freshman admission decisions after we make our Early Action decisions. We will be done with the Early Action leg of the trip, but we are still a long way from being done with final decisions! We will still be receiving a large number of RD applications, deferred EA students will be completing their part II sections, we will be reviewing transcripts, reading essays, doing holistic reviews, etc. So if you are deferred, please know that we still have a lot of admission decisions to make! My rough estimate based on prior years is that will still be admitting a large number of freshmen after EA decisions. As well, please know that UGA will be treating deferred EA and RD applicants the same during the next steps of the process. The rumor always hits that deferred applicants will now be "put at the back of the line behind RD applicants", so let me just cut that off now and let you know that is incorrect. Again, in the next stages of the admission process, we will look at deferred EA (who get in part II and a teacher rec) and RD applicants in the same way.

In addition,  I heavily suggest that any deferred applicants that start comparing themselves to people who were admitted and questioning the decisions remember that UGA has a full view of everything in an applicant's file, from the various SAT/ACT subscores, and problem areas such as a D/F grade, lower grades that are out of balance with strong test scores, an applicant's overall curriculum, and more detailed information about their overall information, while others only have a partial and sometimes inaccurate view of things. This is just my suggestion, and you do not have to follow it, but it comes from 20+ years of talking with families about decisions.

Go Dawgs!

P.S. To quote Forrest Gump, "I'm pretty tired...I think I'll go home now".

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

UGA Early Action Decisions Update

For all of you who are waiting anxiously by your computer/mailbox, nervous about your Early Action decision, here is some good news. UGA is planning on releasing the EA decisions on the myStatus page on Friday, November 14 in the late afternoon, unless some serious problem arises, which I do not expect. If this changes, we will let you know, but this is the plan at this time. If there are issues, the release date and time would then be a little later, either over the weekend or the early part of the next week.  Do not call/email/text/message/tweet asking for the exact time of "late afternoon", as I cannot give an exact time. We will post a message here when it opens up. We are excited about this, and I am guessing you are as well, and hopefully it will allow for a little less nerve-wracking Thanksgiving break for some of you.

In addition to the decisions being available on the myStatus page, letters will go out in the mail for Accepted, Deferred and Incomplete students. Freshman denial letters will not be mailed out, as almost all applicants see their decisions online, and we, along with a number of colleges, did not want to have a letter that only served to reinforce the negative feelings they might already have.

Here are a few suggestions on how to react to the four different decisions:

Admit: Celebrate with family, buy a lot of UGA gear to wear for the Thanksgiving break, but remember that not everyone has received a decision of admission, and so be a little more low key with friends and classmates. In other words, do not run up to you best friend during English class and scream "I got into Georgia" while 10-15 of your classmates are mentally creating new and painful ways for you to meet your doom. In addition, be patient with the other parts of campus (commitment deposit, housing, the UGA myID system, etc.), as they might need a few days to take in your information. Remember, it takes a little while for information to flow to other offices. Read the materials we give you online and in an acceptance packet as it will instruct you on what to do next.

Defer: This is the most challenging one, as these are applicants who are truly strong students, but we want to see more about them, as well as the rest of the applicant pool, before making a final decision.  Please remember, this is not a denial at all, but instead a way for us to be able to review you in full, from your co-curricular activities, your essays, and your recommendations. As I usually state, defer is not a four letter word (even though you might feel this way), only a delay in an admission decision. This is your chance to let us know what you are like as an overall applicant. While this is probably not the answer you would like, I would suggest you treat it as a call-back for a second audition. Some roles have already been cast (or admitted), and we now want to look at you in more detail to see how you compare to the rest of the people auditioning (or applying). One of the worst things you can do is give up and not do the essays. The second worst thing is to call us up and berate us for not admitting you. We will be happy to talk to people, but make sure to communicate in a positive tone, understand that we cannot talk about other applicants, and please remember that defer does not mean denial. In past years, just under half of the deferred applicants who completed part II were later admitted. Each year, about 1000 deferred students do not complete part II, so we never even have a chance to even review them! If you are serious about UGA, take the time to complete your application, and then be patient as we review all of these files throughout Jan., Feb. and March. When completing part II/the essays, you do NOT need to do an entirely new application, and there is no new/additional application fee. You just need to go to your myStatus page after decisions are out, complete part II/the essays, and hit submit. As well, get a teacher from an academic area to write your teacher recommendation. Remember, UGA is in no way done with the overall freshman admission process. We still have a long way to go, with a great deal of files to read and admission offers to make, so make sure you do your best to show UGA what you are like as an overall student/citizen.

Deny: While this is not a fun situation at all, the reality is that if you have been denied Early Action, you are truly not competitive for admission at UGA as compared to the rest of the applicant pool. It is not easy to write that, and it is very difficult to tell this to a student or parent, but when we look at this student's application in comparison with the other 12,290 EA applicants (and remember, we expect to get over 11,000 RD applicants as well), they do not match up academically with the others. It is better to tell you now instead of waiting until late March, as this gives you time to make other plans. Unless there seems to be a serious error (you are in the top of your class, take a very challenging course load, and have a strong test score), my suggestion is to not contact us about the decision, but instead move forward with plan B. While we do not mind talking with you at all, the reality is that an Early Action denial means that the admission to UGA is not possible as a freshman.

Incomplete: For the small number of students who did not complete your EA file, you are now automatically deferred to the next step, and so you will need to get in the missing materials from EA, and also submit part II of the application and a teacher recommendation. We went three plus weeks beyond the deadline allowing you to get in the missing documents, sending reminder emails, indicating what was missing through the myStatus page, and it was your responsibility to get in the required materials. So I do not suggest contacting us to see if we can take items late, as that time has passed. Focus instead on sending in what is needed to be reviewed in the next round. When completing part II/the essays, you do NOT need/want to do an entirely new application, and there is no new/additional application fee. You just need to go to your myStatus page after decisions are out, complete part II/the essays, and hit submit.

Go Dawgs!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

2015 EA Are We There Yet?


"Are we there yet?"

Admit it, you have said this phrase to your parents before-everybody has. If you are on a long car ride, the first thing you want to know is when you will arrive. And while your GPS system can give you a rough approximation, you can never tell when something unexpected will come up. Whether it is a traffic backup, multiple rest room breaks, a meal that takes longer than expected, or a missed turn, something might happen to change your expected arrival time. So while you can guess about the time you will get there, you won't know exactly until you are very close to your destination.

The same thing happens in Admissions. While we have a rough time frame for the Early Action decision date, we know that there might be some odd issues that will pop up. Whether it is a new system being brought up, a problem with our software, a large increase in applications, a wave of illness in the office, or some other issue, we cannot say exactly when we will release EA decisions until we get closer to the end of the process. While our decision date is not in Far Far Away Land, I do feel like Shrek at times, saying "I don't know a date yet."

While I cannot give you a decision date right now, what I can do is keep you updated on this blog and through Twitter (follow me at @drgravesUGA). We are plowing ahead with reviewing the Early Action files, and we are impressed by the strength of this group, as well as the size of the pool (we have 13,291 Early Action applications, which is 1,200+ more than last year). We might not be able to let you know until we are almost at the release date, but we will try our best to keep you updated on the process.

So to answer the question "Are we there yet?", I can only say what most parents say, "We're almost there, just be patient." Just don't make any popping noises like Donkey.

Go Dawgs!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Early Action Update

With the Early Action deadline passing, here are a few updates about the process:


  • Total EA Applications (10.5% increase over last year):  13,291
  • Complete Early Action Applications: 9,950
  • # of EA Applicants Applying within 3 days of Deadline: 3,523

As you can see, a large number (roughly 75%) of the Early Action applications are complete. Additionally, over 25% of the total applicant pool for EA applied right around the deadline.  This means our office still digging out from under the thousands of documents, test scores, etc. we have received. We appreciate your patience as we work as quickly as possible to match documents with files.

It takes our office about 5 to 10 business days to match a document with an applicant's file, and with the materials submission deadline of 10/22, we are still receiving a large number of items.  If your documents were submitted by this deadline, it will be considered for Early Action.  We are accepting the October 11 SAT for Early Action as long as you designated UGA as a school to automatically receive your scores, and we have imported most of these today, so they should show up on the myStatus page soon. I believe we will be receiving the October 11 SAT sometime next week (the College Board site says 10/28), but make sure to give us time to receive these scores and load them into the system.

Your Steps
Be sure to check your myStatus to make sure you are complete!  If material you have sent is not showing up on your myStatus, double-check with your counselor, College Board, etc. to make sure that it was sent.  If it was sent and it has been more than 10 business days (business days do not include weekends or holidays), I would suggest either resending the document(s) or contacting us. We do not accept faxed documents, so make sure to send it electronically or by mail.

Now that you have submitted your application (and it is hopefully complete), take a few minutes to relax and enjoy the fall weather and some UGA football!

Go Dawgs!

Monday, October 13, 2014

2015 EA Deadline Fast Approaching

The Early Action deadline is almost here, and the two weeks surrounding the deadline are similar to Atlanta during 5:00 p.m. rush hour traffic (on a Friday).  Our office typically receives 4,000+ applications, a drastic increase in mail, and a great deal of emails and phone calls in the few days both before and after the deadline.  The best thing an applicant can do right now is be patient and make sure you have requested your test scores, transcript and school evaluation.  We are working as quickly as possible to match documents with files, but we are dealing with a large number of applications and supplemental material, so things do not happen immediately.

The fastest way to get material to us is to send it electronically after you have applied.  If your high school is in Georgia, you can send transcripts through GAcollege411.org . Students attending a high school outside of Georgia can have their counselors submit transcripts online through Docufide/Parchment.  The high school evaluation can be submitted online from the High School Counselor Portal or by Parchment. Remember, no faxes!

For SAT/ACT test scores, we will accept any scores that have been both taken and requested by the 10/15 deadline. As such, we can use the October 11 SAT, but not the October 25 ACT. We do not control when the scores are sent in, only the receiving of the scores, so you want to work with the testing agency to make sure these are sent. As well, we import test scores on Tuesdays and Fridays, so be patient as we load these into our system. If you request a score on 10/15, it will not show up on the myStatus on 10/16. It will depend on when the testing agency sends it to us, and then give us a little time to load it.

Please do not call our office to ask if we have received a document, test score, etc. if it was just sent.  It takes about 5 to 10 business days from the time something is mailed for it to be matched with your file.  It takes 4 to 5 business days for something submitted online to show up on your myStatus. By business I mean that any weekend or holidays when the admissions office is not working, we are not matching up materials.

Be sure to check your myStatus to see what we have received and what we are missing.  This is updated 1-2 times every business day, so you do not need to check it several times a day.  Documents do not need to show up in your myStatus by October 15 to be in by the deadline, and we are giving school officials until October 22 to get in their materials (the school evaluation and transcript).  Know that if you have submitted something to us by the deadline, we will post it in our system and your myStatus shortly.  We appreciate your patience as we work vigorously to match all of the material we are receiving with applications.

Have a great day, and Go Dawgs!