Monday, April 9, 2018

Freshman Denies - A Post Mortem

My wife loves Grey's Anatomy. She is a nurse, and can handle seeing blood spurt out, people impaled on poles, and limbs sticking out at seriously wrong angles. Me, I can't even handle the site of the scalpel cutting into a body. But some of the most interesting scenes for me are when they do post mortems. The doctors look at what went wrong, either with the person's health or the medical treatment, to determine the cause of death. While doctors can never tell you exactly how to live to be 100, many times they can tell you what to avoid so you can have a good chance of a long life.

One thing we cannot do in admissions is tell students/parents the exact path to getting admitted. Life in admissions changes too much for this, with shifting application numbers, academic strengths, etc.
But what I can do is take a closer look at the denied students (an admissions post mortem so to speak), and give out some information on trends in our denied group. FYI-This is not a post about data on the overall denied applicant group, but only a view on some data which stands out within that subset. I apologize up front for the somewhat gruesome medical comparison, but if nothing else, it catches your attention.

  • Core Course Rigor: One of the biggest correlation factors for applicants being denied was their course preparation for UGA, and for college as a whole. If you were going to prepare yourself to bat against a college baseball pitcher, you would probably not go the batting cage and dial that machine up to 40 MPH. The average college pitcher is going to throw a fastball in the 85-90 MPH range, so you need to prepare for it by setting that pitching machine dial on high. When we look at applicants at UGA, we are looking at every student's academic rigor. For the applicants whose course selection was average or above average (as opposed to very rigorous or most rigorous), the chance of denial was over 96%. We know that some applicants have health and personal issues which cause some challenges to their academic rigor, and we take that into account, but most students do not have these limitations. Remember, we review course rigor by looking at what is taken in the five core academic areas over four years of high school in relation to what is offered at the school or in the community. As such, for those students/parents who think the best path to admission at UGA is to take the easiest courses, think again.
  • Grades-Specifically core course grades: High school grades are the best factor in predicting college grades. UGA knows that applicants at times will face a challenge in certain courses, or trip up early in their HS career. But in looking at applicants with grades in the lower range (C, D and F grades), the chance of admission drops down. For students with C/D/F grades, the chance of denial is over 85%. On an even lower note, students with D/F grades chances of denial drop to about 96%. If a student has several C/D/F grades, they need to make sure and show that in their overall academic performance, these low grades are the exception, not the rule. This does not mean that we negatively focus on students just because they have C/D/F grades, but instead that the overwhelming majority of applicants and accepted students have extremely strong grades where the high majority are A's.
  • Depth/Dedication to Activities: This one is less about data and more about internal discussions both during and after our holistic review process. When UGA is looking at a student's clubs, sports, work, volunteer service and other co-curricular activities, we are looking at how the student chooses to use their time and how in-depth their activities have been. We see a little bit of everything in our review of a students activities, and that is okay. But we at times will see some less active students who decide to pad their resumes with a number of one year only activities, usually in the 12th grade. While we understand students try new clubs and activities (and we are fine with that!), please know that our review of co-curricular activities is as much (or more) about depth of the involvement as breadth. When we see a sudden flurry of activities added to a student's resume after 3 years of somewhat limited involvement, it makes us wonder why. Having a resume with a a range of activities which have depth and breadth does not mean admission, but the reverse can pose challenges.
I hope this post helps a little more with looking at our decision process. Go Dawgs!

Friday, March 23, 2018

Swipe Left or Swipe Right?

I will admit it, I have never used an online dating app. I am old. But there has always been one constant in the world of dating: Accentuate your strengths and de-emphasize your weaknesses. Athletic? Show some pictures of you competing on the court or hiking up a mountain. Brains? Highlight that amazing degree, the books you read and your passion for Shakespeare comedies. Sense of humor? Dazzle them with a few witty comments in your profile. And as for those weaknesses? Bury them. Bury them deep. By the time they get to know you, they will happily ignore obsession with the toilet paper having to go over instead of under, or your slight obsession with The Bachelor or Rick and Morty.

The same thought process seems to holds true for students and parents posting college admission data on blogs, ChanceMe sites, and social media. Accentuate strengths and de-emphasize weaknesses. Have a strong GPA? Highlight the grades you made and the overall trends. Have a strong test score? Post the best SAT and ACT your child made, and emphasize how few make these scores nationwide. Active in School? List all the clubs, sports and volunteer work to far off lands. And if there are areas that are not so strong, then just leave off that part.

The only difference is that while outside viewers only see the positives that are posted, Admissions Offices already have all the details on the students, and are able to see both the strengths and limitations of each applicant. This difference in the information is generally what causes so much confusion between the viewpoint online and the actual review and decision.

Sometimes, data is just left out of the online post, such as lower test scores, C/D/F grades in the academic history, or a lack of academic rigor. In addition, sometimes the profile information does not always give the full information. Here are some common themes where an online profile does not always match the full details of the application:

  1. At times, the photo posted on a dating app might be several years old or have been re-touched in order to look a little better. Many times, a GPA posted on a forum is straight off the HS transcript, and could be very different from the UGA GPA we calculate. We have seen drastic differences in GPA's we calculated as compared to the one on a HS transcript, especially if the school uses an odd grading scale/system and includes non core work. 
  2. If you have gone mountain biking twice in the last few years, listing it as one of your favorite activities is probably not a completely accurate picture of things. The same could be said for activities/clubs where you have only put in a limited amount of time and energy. There are more than a few students who suddenly become active in multiple new activities in 12th grade only, or list an activity which involved 3 hours of time for the year from 9th grade. We are looking at the depth and time commitment of your co-curricular involvement.
  3. The numbers given in certain things are not always the numbers that are most important. Yes, you might be 27 years old, but if you have the maturity level of a 14 year old like me, then this could be an issue when dating. Same with admissions numbers. Yes, you might have a 32 Composite ACT, but since UGA just looks at the ACT English and Math, that Composite data is suddenly not a relevant. The same goes with AP/IB/DE course numbers. If you took 6 AP classes but they were all in Social Studies, and if UGA is looking at the overall rigor in all five core areas, then that number is not always a good barometer of the challenge of your curriculum.
In admissions, we are looking at more than the Tinder-like profile of an applicant. We look at everything in the file, warts and all. As such, decisions are not as simple as swiping left or right, but instead are full reviews of the entire application, as a brief profile never tells the whole story.

I hope this helps you understand our process a little better, and Go Dawgs!

Friday, March 16, 2018

2018 Freshman Final Admits

We plan to make the final wave of freshman decisions available today, March 16th, in the late afternoon timeframe. 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 2019.  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 2018-November, February and March waves, where we admitted approximately 12,600 students total (I do not have separate data on just the final group, sorry):

UGA Calculated Grade Point Average mid-range/average:  3.99 - 4.22, with a 4.08 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 86% of the HS grades received by our admitted students were A's.
AP/IB/Dual Enrollment course mid-range/average: 6-11 courses, average of 8
  • 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, but this information is the most specific data I can give on it.
SAT Best Score SAT Total (Using SAT or converted ACT) mid-range: 1320-1490

  • 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

The Housing and myID pages may need a few business days before your information will be available.  Please be patient with these sites.

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!

2018 Freshmen Wait List

We plan to make the final wave of freshman decisions available today, March 16th, 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 just over 1,200 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. In our holistic review, we also look at grade trends. 
  • 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 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 not know details about the wait list until after May 15, 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.

2018 Freshmen Denials

We plan to make the final wave of freshman decisions available today, March 16th in the late afternoon timeframe. Unfortunately, we are not able to admit a number of strong applicants as we are limited in the size of our freshman class.  We know that you have a number of other strong college options and suggest you focus on the other great opportunities that are ahead rather than on a denial from UGA.  If your ultimate goal is to graduate from the University of Georgia, then we suggest you look at transfer opportunities down the road.  For now, focus on your current college options, find one that fits you best, and have a great freshman year there.

Please read our Denied Student FAQ if you have questions. If you decide to contact us next week, please understand that we will not be able to give you a specific "reason" for a denial, as in this process we have looked at everything within an applicant's file, and the overall reason is really that the overall applicant pool is very large and very strong.

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. In our holistic review, we also look at grade trends. 
  • 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 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. 
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.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

AP/IB vs DE Courses-the Pros and Cons

Every year, one of the most asked questions for UGA Admissions concerns whether students should take Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate courses or Dual Enrollment courses. As you can guess, our standard reply is "It Depends". This is not a cop out answer, but rather it is based on the student's actual situation. What courses are available at the high school? What options does the student have with colleges in their community? What is the course preparation leading up to these classes, and what is the student ready for academically? What future colleges is the student considering, and what are these colleges credit policies on AP/IB/DE work? As you can guess, this is not always our most popular answer (right up there with the parental favorite "Because I said so."). This is my attempt at giving you the potential positives and negatives of each choice.

AP and IB Coursework

Potential Positives

  • Most colleges around the US will give credit for strong test scores on either AP or IB exams, with limitations set by each college. 
  • AP and IB coursework is consistent worldwide, so the student, the school and the college all know what is expected. Yes, there are variations based on schools and teachers, but the curriculum is standardized.
  • AP and IB students are able to get an idea of the level of work needed for a college-level class while still in a high school course.
  • Taking AP/IB courses in your high school allows a student to remain active in high school activities and events, as they stay on their HS campus.
  • AP and IB students are in classes with other people who are looking to really challenge themselves in their coursework and in class interactions/projects.
Potential Negatives
  • Obtaining college credit for AP/IB exams is not consistent nationwide, and there is the potential to not receive any credit for a lower exam score.
  • At times, there are limitations on the variety of AP/IB courses offered at a high school.
  • There is a cost associated with AP/IB exams, which while not huge, can still be daunting for some students and families.

Dual Enrollment Coursework

Potential Positives
  • The availability of dual enrollment options is very widespread, and this is especially important for students who attend a high school with no AP/IB courses. In addition, the wide range of courses offered for dual enrollment students at each college is great.
  • If you pass a DE course, a majority of public colleges (and some private ones) will award you credit for the courses.
  • For students in some states, the cost of a dual enrollment course is minimal.
  • If you are attending dual enrollment courses at a local college, you are in class with true college students, which allows DE students a chance to both see and learn from this experience. Students also are able to get an idea of the level of work needed for a college-level class.
Potential Negatives
  • The consistency of dual enrollment colleges and courses varies greatly, so make sure you choose locations and courses which will prepare you for upper level major courses at your potential future colleges.
  • A number of very competitive colleges might not accept dual enrollment coursework, and it varies depending on whether the DE course is taught on the college campus or on in the high school (HS campus DE is sometimes referred to as Concurrent Enrollment by colleges).
  • Dual Enrollment courses will remain on your permanent record, so if you are looking at graduate school programs or if you really struggle in a DE class, this could be an issue. When UGA calculates an overall college GPA, DE work is a part of this calculation.
I hope this has answered some questions for you, or at least stimulated some questions. Please know that this is not a full or exhaustive list of the pros and cons for each, as each individual situation brings its own unique pluses and minuses. In the end, admissions offices cannot recommend what you should take, as this should be determined after a meeting with the student, the parents and a school official.

Good luck, and Go Dawgs!

Monday, February 12, 2018

Upcoming, Decision Dates for UGA Applicants

The final two decision dates for UGA freshman applicants are now set (unless some major issue impacts our office), and the smaller February wave of decisions will be released on Friday, February 23, while the final decisions in March will be released on Friday, March 16. In addition, transfer decisions will begin being released on Friday, February 23.

February Decisions - UGA will offer admission to over 2,000 freshman applicants on Friday, February 23. This group of decisions is made up of only offers of admission, and if you were admitted, you will be able to see the decision on your Admission Status page (so only admitted students will see a decision change on their status page) and these admits will receive an email communication. Additionally, an admissions packet will be sent out in the mail the following week. Our office is too busy reviewing files for me to run any mid-range academic averages at this time, but the academic information should be very similar to the Early Action admitted students (it will not be exactly the same, as we had a large number of EA admits who were applying for our top scholarships, which slightly skews EA stats a little higher). The press release about our Early Action decisions gives more details on the academic averages for this group. As we did in the November Early Action offers of admission, there will be some scholarship offers in this group, and those who have received them will see it on the status page. We will continue to offer scholarships through early April, so please be patient as we do these reviews. These admitted freshman, made up of mostly Regular Decision applicants, met the stringent academic criteria of Early Action admission that we used with our much larger wave of November admission offers. Do not panic if you are not admitted with the February group. We are still very much in the midst of carefully reviewing documents and data on a great many more files, and there are still lots of decisions to make.

March Final Decisions - On Friday, March 16, all final freshman decisions will be released. There will be three decision groups (Admit, Deny and Wait-List), and I will try to post some information on all three of these decisions during the week leading up to the final decision release. We will also have a small group of freshman that we will admit for the Spring 2018 term. We are still deep in the holistic read process, and I do not have any numbers on how many final admits we will make, what the statistics will look like overall, or how many students will be put on the wait-list. When we do release final decisions, I will have statistics on the overall applicant pool and admitted group the following week, but not broken out into the different release dates. After we make final decisions, we will continue to offer scholarships through early April, so please be patient as we do these reviews as well. Thank you for your patience during this review process.

Transfer Applicants - We have begun reviewing the Summer and Fall transfer applicants, and we will release the first group of transfer decisions on Friday, February 23. We will then continue to release transfer decisions every Friday. All applicants with a decision will receive an email alerting them to a change in their status, so you do not need to constantly check your admission status page. We generally review transfer applicants by term first (so summer decisions before fall if possible), and then roughly by the date the file becomes complete. This is not exact, as some transfer files are more complicated than others to review. As such, please do not compare application date to release dates with others, as it might vary due to other factors (included days when several hundred applications were received/completed).

Go Dawgs!