Thursday, June 4, 2009

Mythbusters Admissions Style

It is summertime, and all around the country, admissions offices start the process of working with a new group of prospective students. This means an increase in visitors, planning for fall college fairs and school visits, and last but not least, the flood of phone calls beginning with "I heard that UGA ... (insert myth here)". At times, the counselors in our office feel like they should be on an episode of Mythbusters, stomping out Urban Legends left and right. It has become so prevelent that we have compiled a top ten list of Urban Legends for UGA Admissions.

So let me give you the inside scoop right now; admissions standards are the same for all freshmen applicants. In-State vs. Out-of-State, north GA vs. south GA, by zip code, county, school district, male vs. female, alumni relation vs. non alumni, gender, race/ethnicity, summer vs. fall, choice of major, planet of origin, and so on. I think I hit all of them, but you get the idea. In other words, all applicants are dealt with in the same way, and anytime you hear a neighbor or friend say "Well I heard that UGA ...", run away, quickly.

Here are two examples of how silly certain admissions myths have become. If a freshman applies to UGA for summer admission and then wants to change to fall, all they would have to do is contact our office. Since there is no difference in admission standards, we would just change the term and bam, they are a fall student. In the same way, if a freshman applies as a Wildlife major and then wants to change to Pre-Business (either before or after an admission decision), all they have to do is go online to our Information Change form, select Pre-Business, and the next day their major is changed.

As Adam and Jamie say on Mythbusters, this myth is definitely busted! If you have heard of any myths you would like to share (and that I can bust), please let me know!


  1. I heard that UGA has an extreme majority of Caucasian students at the school. Since I am African American, would my race be a disadvantage?

  2. Angela: I am guessing that whoever told you that UGA has an extreme majority of Caucasian students is not dealing with current information. My estimate is that approximately 30% of the entering freshman class will be non-Caucasian, so I do not think this will cause you any problems if you attend UGA. As well, since ethnicity is not a factor in the admission process, your ethnicity (and everyone elses) will not be an advantage or disadvantage.

  3. "ethnicity is not a factor in the admission process"

    This is a bit difficult to believe, considering statements on the UGA admissions website like:

    "In order to enhance diversity in the student body, the University of Georgia will engage in a “highly individualized, holistic review” of applicants’ files, and give “serious consideration to all the ways in which an applicant might contribute to a diverse educational environment.”"


  4. Anon: The admissions web page you have quoted from (and which we link to in a number of places) is, as listed in the heading of the page, a UGA Faculty Statement about their belief on Diversity. It is a statement, not a policy. The policy of the University of Georgia Admissions Office, as directed by the UGA Administration, is that ethnicity, gender and legacy shall not be utilized as factors in the admission decision. There is a difference in what an institution might want to do and what an institution actually will do. At the time of this Faculty statement, the Administrative decision was that we did not want to get UGA involved in a drawn-out lawsuit involving this issue (as you can see from the footnotes, the Univ. of Michigan did go through a lawsuit in Grutter v. Bollinger that went to the Supreme Court, and had an interesting outcome).

  5. It strikes me as odd to have a statement on the admissions website which, according to you, directly contradicts the actual admissions policy.
    If ethnicity plays no role in admissions decisions, we can expect the distributions of GPAs and standardized test scores for students admitted to UGA to be similar for all ethnic groups, right? Could you please make this data available, to confirm that ethnicity plays no role in admission? Thanks!

  6. Anon: At times, a number of things seem odd when looked at individually instead of the whole. As for your request for this data, I do not have this at currently, as we are focused on the 2011 applicant group, and we have not yet admitted anyone.

    As for different groups having similar academic data, I would guess (based upon my background in admissions) that you would see some similarities, but not identical data. For instance, I am guessing that in this year's applicant pool, if you compared accepted males to females, you would see somewhat higher HS GPA's for females but somewhat higher test scores for males, based upon trends, work habits, etc.

    In addition, the College Board has run a number of studies of SAT scores with ethnicity, with Asian students having the strongest SAT Math averages, and I am guessing our information may show a similar trend. This does not mean they are treated differently, only that this one factor indicates a strength in that area.

    UGA uses a number of factors in the review process, and last Winter/Spring I wrote a detailed 5 post series about our holistic read process. I would suggest you review this to see what we do look at in the process.