Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Test Scores and Air Bags

This past weekend, I was driving my father to the Atlanta airport, and as is usual, the topic of college admissions came up. There was a recent opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal which discussed the SAT. In one section of the op/ed piece, the writers stated "the SAT is still the best objective measure of student aptitude and has proven to be a good predictor of college performance." While discussing the editors knowledge (or lack of ) about grades/course rigor vs test scores, the sunlight hit the windshield just right and I flipped down the visor to block the light. On the back of the visor was the airbag warning sticker, and it got me to thinking about the interplay between different systems in trying to solve a problem. Putting aside the other variables of a college admission review (essays, activities, recommendations), how can a college best utilize grades/rigor and test scores?

If you actually read the airbag warning, you will see that one of the key points is "Always use seat belts and other child restraints". In other words, while airbags can help in an accident, seat belts are the actual key factor in auto safety, while airbags are secondary safety devices that, along with the seat belts, help to best avoid serious injuries. In looking studies on the effectiveness data on seat belts and airbags in possible fatalities for drivers, three-point seat belts alone had a 48% effectiveness rating, airbags alone had a 14% effectiveness rating, while the two together had a 54% effectiveness rating. Effectiveness data for passengers was slightly lower, but the same concept of seat belts being the primary safety factor and using the two devices together yielded the best results. In other words, seat belt usage is the best individual predictor of surviving a crash, but using both seat belts and airbags gives you the best possible survival rate. And as the sticker (and other statistical data) shows, the airbag providers understand their products role as a supplemental safety feature, not a stand alone one.

In the same vein, multiple studies have shown that the best individual predictor of how a student will do in college is their performance in the classroom (grades/coursework) during their high school years. Even the ACT and the College Board begrudgingly admit this fact, while also noting that looking at grades/rigor and test scores together can give even more insight, similar to the modest increase in safety that airbags add to seat belts when used together. At UGA, we recognize this in our review process, and use test scores as a supplemental part of our review, but not as a primary or dominant factor. Of course, there is still a great amount of debate on how much different factors actually predict college success, but I think the results are pretty clear that the Wall Street Journal's op/ed conclusion that test scores are the best objective measure is just plain wrong. And just like the growth in safety features, colleges now have so much more information available to use in their reviews, from multiple recommendations to writing samples, volunteer work to activities and leadership roles.

Different college admission offices have different thoughts on how to balance the variety of different factors in an admission review, and I am fine with each college making the choice that best fits their situation and insight. College A wants to be test optional? I'm good with that. College B wants to use student submitted videos to add to all the other admission information? I'm good with that too. Every college admissions office needs to do their research and find the best balance of the different variables they will use in their review, and balance that with their staffing and timeline challenges to find the best process for their own institution. As our office has stated multiple times, what a student does over four years in high school (grades and coursework) plays a much more vital role in our academic review that an SAT or ACT score. We still look at both of these factors, along with a wide range of co-curricular information, but how a student does in the classroom is the main academic factor in our review.

When I am driving my 2004 minivan with 230,000 miles on it (yes, I am a dad with two kids who works in education), the first thing I do is put on my seat belt. I am glad to have the airbags, but I know that the seat belt is the thing I am relying on to keep me safe. In the same way, when I am looking at an admissions file, my focus in the academic portion of the review is on how a student has performed in the classroom day in and day out, with the SAT/ACT scores to help provide context but not dominate this review area. We are happy to have a wealth of information about our applicants, and we also understand the importance of each of the different pieces of data.

I hope this post gives some insight into our viewpoint, and Go Dawgs!

Friday, May 3, 2019

2019 Wait List Update

Starting today (May 3), we will begin to finalize our decisions for students on the Wait List. I expect that all decisions will be completed sometime in the next few weeks, but I do not have an exact date. Due to the fact that our deposit numbers are very close to what we predicted for next year, we are very limited in the number of offers we are able to make. We will be making Wait List decisions in the same manner as our other admission decisions, where a decision will be displayed on the status page and an email will be sent shortly after a decision is made to alert the applicant that a status change has occurred. Admitted students have a  two-week Commitment Deposit deadline from the acceptance date. We will be releasing a group of Wait List admits late this afternoon totaling 150 students, with most of these being for Fall 2019. We are not finished with the Wait List yet, but will finalize things over the next few weeks. Only students who are admitted today will receive a decision and an email indicating a change in their status today.

In reviewing the students who we admitted off the Wait List, there were a variety of individual reasons for the offers that were made. As such, I cannot give an overarching reason for the decisions. We did take into account our earlier reviews of the files, along with a wide range of information that we had on hand.

For those many strong students we will not be able to admit from the Wait List, we thank you for choosing us as one of the options for your higher education.  We wish you the very best of college success.  We very much appreciate your patience “waiting on the Wait List.”  Please remember that there are a number of complex reasons why the University made the decisions it has, and we respectfully remind all that this blog cannot be used for comments about why you or other individuals did or did not get admitted in the Wait list process so far.

We hope that our quick turn around of the Wait List situation will allow students and families to make plans on a much earlier time frame than initially projected.

Monday, April 29, 2019

April/May 2019 Random Admission Thoughts

Late April/Early May is always a challenging time in Admissions, and it always brings about interesting questions. We are at the end of one cycle of admissions for the freshmen and transfers starting in Fall 2019, and we are starting to begin working with rising HS seniors for the following year. Throw in the anxious time surrounding the May 1 deposit deadline, working with Wait-List students and getting everything ready for orientation in the summer and you have a wide range of activities and emotions. As such, here are some thoughts on the upcoming days/months ahead.

Admitted Students

  • May 1 is the freshman deposit deadline. We have sent out a huge number of communications about this date to accepted freshmen, and it is important that you not miss this date if you want to attend UGA. We don't accept late deposits, so make sure to submit it on time to assure a place in the freshman class.
  • If you are not going to be attending UGA, we wish you the best at your future college destination. If you are able, go to your status page and reply to your offer of admission that you will not be attending. 
  • Wait-List students, please be patient with us as we review the deposits that have come in, what our class looks like, etc. Every year seems like a marathon race to get to May 2 (the day after deposits are due), so please let us catch our breath before asking about the WL. We need some time to review everything before making any decisions on the WL. When we are ready to release WL decisions, we will reach out to the students who have decided to remain on the WL, and we try to move quickly on this process.
  • Accepted transfers, your deposit deadline is June 1, so make sure to let us know by then what your plan is for the future. As well, make sure you send us an updated transcript with Spring work so we can post the credit prior to your orientation date.
  • Orientation registration will occur in early May, and you will receive an email soon with dates and instructions for signing up for the event. Among other things, orientation is when you will meet with an advisor and sign up for Fall classes.
  • Remember to check your status page to see if you have taken care of a few required steps for enrollment: Verification of Lawful Presence (VLP), Proof of Immunization (through Health Center) and a final HS transcript for freshman. The final transcript should be sent in shortly after it is available from your HS, as we know different schools/states have graduation at different times.

Rising HS Seniors

  • Spring is the perfect time to start working with college admission offices. The first step is to get on the college's radar. This is as simple as completing their online Information Request form, sending them official SAT/ACT scores, or setting up a visit to campus. Most colleges have different on-campus and off-campus events in the summer and fall, and they can't invite you if they don't know you exist. 
  • On the other side of the coin, you will be receiving a huge volume of emails and mail over the next 10 months or so from colleges across the country. The best way to manage this is, especially if you are not interested in a college, is to open an email and Unsubscribe from their mailing list. This helps both the college and you narrow down the list of possible matches.
  • As you probably know, late Spring and Summer are great times to visit a campus and take a tour. Remember to check the weather prior to the visit, dress comfortably (you do not want to tour UGA in the summer in khakis and a blazer), and let the college know if you cannot make the tour (there should be an option to cancel in the confirmation email). 
  • During the summer, get a copy of your HS transcript with junior grades included. This will help you in remembering your previous three years of grades, it will let you know what admission offices see in their file review, and it will help you understand your school's grading system.
  • For HS students in Georgia, make sure you know how your school adds weight to your grades on your HS transcript, as this impacts how colleges review your grades. If your school adds points to your actual teacher grades on a transcript (so an 88 is changed to a 98 on a transcript for an AP grade for instance), know what this means for a review. For instance, you can find out how UGA calculates a GPA at https://ugaadmissions.blogspot.com/2013/11/calculating-uga-gpa.html. We have heard from a number of HS's who are considering changing how their grades are shown on a transcript, so make sure to work with your HS counselor.
  • When looking for advice on what courses to take senior year, some families call our office. Don't. We have no idea about what courses are offered, how prepared you are for certain classes, or what you are ready for overall academically. Talk to your HS counselor.
  • Enjoy your summer! Connect with friends, find the perfect senior quote (I suggest Calvin and Hobbes), read a book or two, and get ready for an exciting senior year.
Go Dawgs!


Friday, March 15, 2019

2019 Freshmen Final Admits



We plan to make the final wave of freshman decisions available today, March 15th, in the late afternoon time frame. For those of you who have been admitted to UGA, here is a post for you and a chance to comment.  Please remember that this is not a blog where you should post statistics or throw fellow students under the bus. These types of comments will be deleted.

Congratulations to all of the freshman who were admitted and we look forward to you becoming part of the Bulldog Nation.  The next steps for a new student can be seen in the flyer in your admission packet, so please go ahead and review what you need to do next.  In addition, there will be a great deal of information you can access off of your Status page.  When you have the time, please review this, as there is key information in the Next Step materials.  Please remember a small number of students will be admitted to start in January 2020.  You will find specific information on your Status page and in your admissions packet.

Here are some rough statistics on the Entire Freshman Admitted Class for 2019-November, February and March waves, where we admitted 13,050 students total, which is slightly above last year's offers of admission (I do not have separate data on just the final group, sorry):

UGA Calculated Grade Point Average mid-range/average:  4.00 - 4.27, with a 4.10 average
  • Please remember this is not the GPA students see on their high school transcript, but rather the GPA that UGA recalculates for everyone based on the core academic courses taken in high school and looking at the actual grades posted on the transcripts. Roughly 88% of the HS core grades were A's, and 11.5% were B's.
AP/IB/Dual Enrollment course mid-range/average: 6-11 courses, average of 9
  • We determine academic rigor based on all core classes a student has taken (CP, Honors, Advanced, AP, IB, DE, etc.) as compared to what is offered in the school/community. This is not based simply on the number of AP/IB/DE courses, but instead we look at the overall coursework over four years in the core areas and the progression of rigor over the years. The AP/IB/DE information is the most specific data I can give on it, but the numbers do not cover all of our curriculum review.
SAT Best Score SAT Total (Using SAT or converted ACT) mid-range: 1330-1460
  • Best score data is the strongest of the SAT or the converted ACT for each admit
ACT Best Score Composite (Using ACT or converted SAT mid-range):  29-33
  • Remember, UGA focuses on ACT E and M. For reporting purposes, we give out the best score overall ACT score, but the ACT E and M are very similar to the overall score.

For the small group of Spring 2020 admits, this decision is final. We are not able to change students to Fall and we are not able to consider them as Wait List students. An email will go out explaining the Spring offer in more detail.

The Housing and myID pages may need a few business days before your information will be available.  Please be patient with these sites. As well, we will continue to offer scholarships through late March. 

You have until May 1 to submit a commitment deposit in order to hold a spot in our freshman class.  We hope the next stage of the admission process is a little less nerve wracking than the decision process.  As you celebrate, make sure to be considerate of others in your school who may not have been admitted.

Good luck in the next stage of the college admissions process.  Go Dawgs!

2019 Freshman Wait List

We plan to make the final wave of freshman decisions available today, March 15th, in the late afternoon timeframe.   For some students, you will be offered a place on our wait list.  Every year our office has to predict approximately how many students we can admit in order to enroll our freshman class, but we can never be sure how many students will enroll until after the May 1 commitment deposit deadline has passed.  If the number of students who say they will be attending UGA is lower than we expect, we may need to go to our wait list group in order to get the size that we want for our freshman class.  This year we have 1,542 students on the wait list.  We carefully monitor the deposits coming into the University to see where we are in comparison to the predicted freshman numbers. The FAQ can answer information on Wait List numbers, past year Wait List data, and other details (such as no, the Wait List is not ranked).

For those of you who have been wait-listed, here is a chance for you to ask questions.  Please remember that this is not a blog where you should post statistics or throw fellow classmates under the bus.  These types of comments will be deleted. Before commenting/asking questions here, please review the decision letter and the FAQ, as they give a great deal of details of the Wait List process.

The Wait List FAQ can answer some questions, but the most important thing you need to do is decide if you want to remain on the wait list.  Follow the instructions on the status check to let us know if you want to stay on the wait list or if you want to decline this option and move forward with admission at another college.  If you decide to stay on the wait list, you should still move forward with an alternate college plan as we will not know about any wait list options until May at the earliest.  If you select to stay on the wait list, we will know that you still want to attend UGA if an opportunity opens up.  The key word in wait list is wait as this is not a quick process.  So please be prepared to wait.

There are three options for the wait list reply.  You can say no, please do not consider me for the wait list.  The next option is to remain on the wait list, but only if it is for the Fall term.  The third option is to remain on the wait list and be considered for both Fall and Spring terms.  This is so that if there is space available for the Fall term, we will look at all of the students who have asked to remain on the wait list.  If the only space available is for Spring term, we will only look at students who said Fall or Spring.  Once you select an option, you cannot change it so be sure to think about your decision before you make your selection.

Things to Remember:
  • UGA does not use the GPA from a HS transcript, but instead we calculate our own HS GPA based on core academic courses. For our admitted freshman, roughly 88% of their core grades were A's, and 11.5% were B's. In our holistic review, we also look at grade trends to see how a student has progressed through their HS years.  
  • UGA looks closely at academic rigor, specifically what a student will take over four years as compared to what is available. This is not based simply on the number of AP/IB/DE courses, but instead we look at the overall coursework over four years in the five core areas and the progression of rigor over those four years.
  • When we are looking at activities in the holistic review (clubs, sports, pt work, artistic activities, etc.), we are looking at depth and time commitment in these areas in addition to the actual organizations. 
We will most likely not know details about the wait list until after early May, and it may be well well into June before we make wait list decisions.  Please be patient with our office and read the FAQ before asking questions as it can give you a great deal of information. If you do not feel like you can wait until mid-May through mid-June for a decision, it may be that the wait list option is not for you.