Wednesday, September 2, 2015

2016 Freshman Application is Open


The 2016 Freshman application is now open! Here are a few key steps about what to do after you submit an application.

  1.  A day or so after you apply, we will load your application into our system.  You will then be able to log into the myStatus page. This is where you will be able to enter your counselor's email for the school/counselor evaluation and check on the status of your required supplemental items. We are okay if your counselor chooses to send in a counselor form through Parchment instead.
  2. Be patient as we load your application into our our system and match up test scores and supporting documents. Test scores are loaded on Tuesdays and Fridays, and are not always sent immediately by the testing agency. We suggest giving our office 5-10 business days to match up items, so you not need to send items multiple times.
  3. Documents (transcripts, counselor/school evaluations, etc.) that are sent prior to applying take a little while longer than items sent after applying, so we suggest sending in materials after you apply. We accept electronic documents such as GACollege411 transcripts, Parchment (an electronic document system) documents and our own counselor form, as these get to us much quicker than printed documents that are mailed. We are okay with mailed documents (but do not suggest this option), but it takes more time to get to us through the mail, opened, scanned and into a file than with electronic documents.
  4. Starting in 2016, we have given the option for students to upload their fee waiver and Permanent Residency card (Green card) through the myStatus page. This will expedite the review process for these documents, and we do not need an additional paper copy if you upload the document through the myStatus page.
  5. We will accept all nationally offered SAT/ACT scores that are both taken and sent by the Early Action10/15 deadline, so we are fine with the October SAT but we cannot accept the October ACT. As well, in order for us to use your ACT scores, we need at least one ACT Writing score. Make sure you send us scores on time so we can review your file.
  6. Use the myStatus page to keep track of your application and supporting documents/test scores. You (the applicant) are ultimately responsible for your application, but we will send some reminder emails/texts if your file is incomplete. I repeat, use the myStatus page to keep track of your application. In addition, review the Timelines page for more details on when to expect a decision.
  7. Remember, we need an application fee, an official transcript, a school/counselor evaluation and an SAT or ACT (with Writing) score to complete your file, and the supplemental items EA submission deadline is 10/22. We cannot review your application without all these items. See the Deadlines/Required Items page for more details.
I hope these suggestions help, and Go Dawgs!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Suggestions for Freshmen Applicants

Yesterday, I posted some advice on what questions most admissions officers will not answer, at least not in the way that most prospective families are looking for in a response. Today I am going to focus on our suggestions for how to put your best foot forward with an admissions office. We truly love reading the applications of students who are passionate about attending UGA, and we want your application (and the application process) to be the best it can be.

  1. Always take care of things well before a deadline. A student who applies and submits all documents well before a deadline shows that they are the type of person who does not wait until the last moment to do things, from applying to studying to going to class. If X university is number one on your list of colleges, act like it.
  2. Proofread your application before you submit it. I am not just talking about proofreading your essays, but instead checking your whole application to make sure you are giving us the information you want us to see. We receive hundreds of emails right after a student applies to UGA asking for us to add X to their file where they forgot something, correct Y where they made a mistake, etc. After you complete your application, go over it one more time to make sure your birth date is right, all the clubs/activities that you want us to know about are listed, and your information looks correct. We even have one section that just lists the 8-10 most important items with your responses, and we ask you to make sure these are accurate before you hit submit.
  3. Be kind to your counselors and teachers. Make sure to give your HS counselor and any teacher who will be writing recommendations for you time to do their part. Don't rush in the day before the deadline to ask them for help, but instead give them 2 or more weeks if possible.
  4. Send in materials when colleges suggest you submit them. UGA heavily suggests that you send in SAT/ACT scores when you take them (since we only look at your best scores, there is no negative for sending all scores), but that you send in documents such as transcripts and recommendations after you have applied. The reason is simple; Test scores come in electronically and are matched by our back-end system, while document matching varies. If documents are sent electronically, we can almost always match them automatically (unless they are sent months before you apply), but paper documents must be scanned, hand matched, or saved in a "holding" file for later hand matching. I won't get into all the details, but you will see your documents much quicker on your application portal if you send things electronically after you apply.
  5. Don't listen to rumors/myths about college admissions. I have been over this many times, so I won't beat a dead horse. All I can say is that I have had three surgeries in my life, but going through the experience does not make me a doctor, just a good patient.
  6. Map out your college application plan. If you are like most students, you will apply to 3-5 colleges. If this is the case, you will have to track the deadlines, materials timelines and actions needed for all of these colleges. Get a calendar (electronic or paper) just for admissions timelines, and enter in the deadline dates, scholarship dates, campus programs, deposit dates, etc. for all these colleges. This is the best way to keep this process organized and to not miss out on something. The worst calls we handle are when a student did not do X by a certain deadline and we can't do anything for them except say sorry.
  7. Let your parents be involved in the admissions process, but only so much. It is okay to allow your parents to be a part of the college admissions process, but make sure that you are the one who completes the application, writes the essays, etc. Your parents can be great at helping you keep track of deadlines, make plans for visiting colleges, and giving you suggestions about your application. In the end, though, make sure you are the one driving/managing this process, as you are the one who will be at college next year.
I hope this helps, and Go Dawgs!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Said No Admission Counselor Ever-2016 Version

In the UGA Admissions Office, there are some things we will never say no matter what. Some people will ask questions hoping for one of these answers, but you will not hear us give an answer (at least not the one some people expect). I sometimes feel like Dr. Seuss in "Green Eggs and Ham", (paraphrasing) "I will not say that in a house, I will not say that with a mouse. I will not say that here or there, I will not say that anywhere." Here are some of the top things we would never say:

  1. "Sure, go ahead and cut back on your academic schedule so that you can add another activity." Academics come first. Let me repeat, academics come first. If you are struggling with being overloaded, I suggest looking at cutting back on an extra-curricular activity, not academics. You will thank us sometime during your first semester in college.
  2. "Yes, you should completely trust the information your neighbors, friends, and online college forum people give you about college admissions." While there are a number of well meaning people who want to help you with the college admission process, most of them do not have a background in the admissions process. Just because I had the transmission changed in my car does not make me an expert how to do this mechanically. While many people have gone through the admissions process, they are not reading files, analyzing enrollment data, reading essays, etc. They might have knowledge about how to apply, but not on how decisions are made. Trust us when we tell you how we do things, and ignore the myths.
  3. "Of course I can tell you what classes to take for the next year (or the next four/eight/twelve years)." While we know a great deal about high school classes, we are not an expert on what your school offers, when the courses are available, what you want to take and/or your academic preparation for courses. This is best decided upon after the student and family speak with their HS counselor.
  4. "Take the easiest courses so you can make the best grades possible." We want you to challenge yourself to the best of your ability while still doing well in your classes. You need to prepare yourself for the UGA classroom experience, and the best way to do that is to take strong courses.
  5.  "Go ahead and skip some application sections such as activities, sports, etc., because those things don't matter to UGA." Actually, when we are reviewing files for a number of scholarships and when we are reading files in our holistic review process, we want to know how you spend your time outside of school hours. We want to know what you are like as a whole, so let us know!
  6. "The SAT/ACT scores are the most important thing to UGA Admissions." While test scores get the most publicity, our first focus is how you do in the classroom and the courses you are taking in high school (see #3 again). In addition, we look at a great deal more than academics for during our holistic read process.
  7. "Sure, I can tell you whether to apply Early Action or Regular Decision." This is a choice that needs to be made by the student, as it is a timing issue, not an issue that impacts the chances of admission.
  8. "You need to make XXXX on the SAT/ACT to get admitted to UGA." UGA does not have a required SAT or ACT score needed for admission, no matter what your neighbor/friend/family member says.
  9. "It is no problem if you wait until the last minute to do things." Waiting until the last minute to apply or send in materials is just asking for something to go wrong. Please give your counselors and teachers time to send in items, as they have enough stressful issues on their plates without this.
  10. "Yes, I can guess about whether you will be admitted or not." Here is the big one! We cannot guess about an admission decision, sorry. We just cannot predict what the overall applicant pool will be like year to year and how you fall into the group. P.S.-this applies for both freshman and transfers.
I hope this lists helps everyone understand why we will not say certain things or answer some specific questions, or why we redirect some questions back to the student for the best answer. If I think of any other things we would never say, I will add them to the list!

Go Dawgs!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Updated Spring 2016 Transfer Information

At this time of year, the review of the 2016 Spring transfer applications is our main focus, and we continue to diligently work on these files. At this time, we have made roughly 600 decisions of the 1,200 applications we received this year. Based on statistical data, we are averaging about 30-40 decisions being made per day when we are able to focus full-time on Spring files. The one exception to this timing is during the dates between August 3rd and August 14th, when our evaluation team works full force to review summer work for both incoming and current students. This step must be done ASAP to allow for prerequisite checks for fall courses for these students. As such, I expect that we will be able to focus on Spring applications full time on roughly August 17, and so we hope for the most part to be finished with reviews by about early to mid September, (with exceptions as we get into some of the more challenging files to review).

Please remember we cannot tell you when you will have a decision as this depends on many factors. Applications are generally processed in the order in which the file was completed, but this is not always the case, as some files are more challenging, are from colleges where we are having to build a catalog in the new system, or are just complex. We also have two new staff members who can handle the more basic transfer files, so they might review some later files that can be done easily but might be out of "completion order". As well, I am not able to look at each individual file to see why someone did nor did not receive a decision based on X date.

If you are transferring from an out-of-state college or a college we have not had many students apply from, your application may take a bit longer to review and thus the timeline would not be correct for your situation. Transfer decisions are updated daily on the status check, and the myStatus page is updated at about 5 am every morning.

If you have been admitted and want to see how your courses transferred, you can use the transfer equivalency site off the admissions website. If you have submitted a deposit (fall transfer and beyond requirement), you can log on to DegreeWorks to see how your courses apply towards the degree/major you have selected.  As well, go to the Next Steps brochure to learn about what you will need to do next to enroll at UGA (this is also sent in the acceptance packet).

I hope this helps, and Go Dawgs.

Monday, July 6, 2015

2016 Freshman Essay Questions (RD and Deferred EA only)

Every year, our office reviews the freshman application for changes that we would like to see for the next year. During this review, we also look at the short essay questions that are required for First Year applicants who apply Regular Decision or are deferred Early Action (Early Action applicants do not submit essays unless they are deferred).  For 2016, we have made a few minor changes in our short essays. We require  one short essay that all RD or deferred EA applicants must complete, and three additional short essay topics with the applicant selecting to respond to two of these. Essay 1 should be between 200-300 words, while essays 2-4 should be between 150 to 200 words, but remember to focus on substance and not word count.  Before submitting your application and essays in the Fall, always remember to proofread and edit!  The First Year application will be available on September 2, but we thought that some people would want to know the essays earlier than that date.

Here are the four essay questions as we now have them, with Essay 1 being required (200-300 words) and Essays 2-4 being three options from which the applicant can select two (150-200 words).
  
  1. (Required) The UGA faculty has defined the qualities that the student body should demonstrate in the Admissions Philosophy Statement.  After reviewing this, help us understand which of your qualities will add value to our community of scholars. (200-300 words)
  2. Describe a problem, possibly related to your area of study, which you would like to solve. Explain its importance to you and what actions you would take to solve this issue. (150-200 words)
  3. Tell us an interesting or amusing story about yourself that you have not already shared in your application. (150-200 words)
  4. UGA’s First Year Odyssey Program offers more than 300 seminar courses for new freshmen. Some examples include “The History of Horseracing”, “Einstein and the Theories of Relativity” and “The Zombie Plague”. If you could create your own seminar course at UGA in any subject area that interested you, what would it be? What would the course be named and what would you hope to learn? Please write your response in the style of the UGA First Year Odyssey descriptions as seen on their website. (150-200 words)
In addition, here is a great essay from last year that I posted earlier to give an example of strong writing skills.

It's Christmas morning. I'm asleep in a beautiful princess bed adorned with flowers and puffy pink pillows. I've always slept with Weez on Christmas Eve.

Now let me make a little sense of all of this. Weez is my little sister (her nickname) and we always have a slumber party in her room on Christmas Eve. Seeing her experience the magic of Christmas never gets old... even when she's kicking me and stealing the sheets at two in the morning.


I can't help but feel the same things she does when she first wakes up and realizes what day it is. Then comes the mad dash downstairs to see what fun toys Santa left under the tree. Once all of the presents are opened, Weez always seems to have more fun playing with the boxes than the toys that came out of them. Sitting there, building a box fort with her, I realize that she's the present I'm most thankful for. She's taught me how to be more appreciative of the people around me than the things around me. Wow. Here I am with one of the greatest presents of all, my adopted sister.


Griffin H., thank you for letting us share your essay with future applicants to UGA.
 

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

2016 Freshman Application FAQ

It’s mid summer, and questions are beginning to flood in about UGA’s First Year admission process. Here are answers to some of our more frequently asked ones.

  •  When can I apply?  There is early, and then there is late.  The 2016 First Year application first becomes available on September 2.  Please know that, while there is a HUGE penalty for missing our application and document deadlines, we give no admission benefit or prize for being among the first to submit the application.  Take your time.  (Just don’t wait until the week before the deadline when most mistakes are made!). All EA decisions will be released in late November or early December.  The file completion deadlines for EA and RD will be one week after the application deadlines.  
  • I plan to apply Early Action.  What is the last ACT/SAT exam date you will accept for Early Action (EA)?  We will only be able to use SAT/ACT scores for tests taken by the October 15 EA deadline.  For us to receive your scores in time, you must designate UGA as an automatic recipient when you register for the exam. We are fine with the SAT or ACT or both scores, and we superscore the individual exams, and use whichever test is strongest (see our post on UGA and test scores).
  • Do I have to complete the essays if I am applying for Fall 2016 as a First Year student?  It depends.  Are you applying Early Action or Regular Decision? Early Action applicants do not have to complete the short essays, but Regular Decision and deferred Early Action applications will need to complete the short essays for admission. Regular Decision/Deferred Early Action also requires a teacher recommendation and allows you to submit your first term senior grades. 
  • How long does it take to fill out the application?  Most students say it takes longer than they thought it would, so be encouraged by the fact that you don’t have to complete the application in one sitting.  Once you create your UGA “ApplicantID”, you can save your work and come back later to complete the application and make any corrections.  Warning: Once you agree to the UGA Honor Code and choose "submit" at the bottom of that final page, you cannot return to make changes or corrections to your application. As well, you need to complete a payment option (check/waiver or credit card) to finalize the submission of the application.
  • What will I need when I sit at my computer to I apply?  Great question!  We suggest you have four documents available:  (1) SSN card, (2) resume, (3) copy of your latest HS transcript, and (4) fee payment information. You absolutely must give us your correct Social Security Number (please proofread it). We ask you to list your honors, activities, leadership, and work experiences which you may have already collected for a resume.  You need to accurately report the college prep curriculum you’re taking and the grades you've earned.  And finally, to complete the application you must give us payment information, ideally from a credit card.    
  • Should I apply Early Action or Regular Decision?  We can’t tell you which decision plan is right for you.  That decision should be made by you with the help of your family and high school counselor.  Read our Regular Decision vs. Early Action page here.
  •  What items do I need to submit if I am applying EA or RD? I suggest you review the Deadlines & Required Items page for more details, and do not wait until the last minute to take care of things!
  • Do my AP/IB grades count towards my GPA? When UGA recalculates your GPA from the self-reported grades on the application and a review of your transcript, we will add 1 point to each AP grade (so a B which is a 3.0 becomes a 4.0), unless your school already adds points to your actual teacher grade (for instance, an 85 becomes a 95 on the transcript). We do not look at the GPA calculated on the HS transcript, but instead focus on the actual grades. We calculate the GPA based on grades in the areas of English, Math, Science, Social Sciences and Foreign Languages, and as well any AP/IB courses that are non-core (such as AP Computer Science or IB Theory of Knowledge). Have your post junior year transcript available and review the self-reported grades section carefully, then fill in the information as best as you can.
  • What if I am from Out-of-State and am not taking a fourth year of science in HS? The state of Georgia, and therefore UGA, are flexible for out-of-state students when it comes to the fourth science requirement. We will use a science course from the 8th grade if is a HS course, and as well there are a number of HS courses that can be used aside from the standard science courses (please see the state's Staying on Course document). You also do not need to get us documentation of the 8th grade science course until you decide that you will enroll at UGA, and you would have it sent with a final HS transcript showing senior grades and a graduation date.
  • I have heard a number of rumors about UGA admissions. What is true and what is not? The best way to learn about the myths that surround UGA, and as well the actual truth, is to go to our Top 10 Admissions Urban Legends page.

We hope this FAQ helps.  Please post any questions you have, and I will try to answer them as best as possible and update this page if needed.

Go Dawgs!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Camp Sunshine 2015

It is that time of year again, when I will be away from the blog for a week while I volunteer at Camp Sunshine, a camp for children with cancer. This will be my 20th year volunteering for the summer camp part of Camp Sunshine, and I have had a wonderful time over the years working with this program. This year, I will be a cabin counselor for nine 10-12 year old boys  (along with two other volunteers), and I am guessing I will be involved in a great deal of mountain biking, fishing, tennis, gold panning, going up the climbing wall (or just watching as my campers go up), archery, dodgeball, arts and crafts, and a lot of  singing. If you have never heard 200+ campers and 150+ volunteers singing and dancing to "Peanut Butter Jelly Time", you are missing a great event.

So, for the next week or so, I will be out of communication with this blog.  Once I am back, I will begin posting/commenting/replying again!

Go Dawgs!