Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Early Action and Regular Decision - The Director's Cut

Since the deadline for Early Action is quickly approaching (and everyone seems to be asking the question "should I apply Early Action (EA) or Regular Decision (RD)", we thought we would re-post this information (it is not really a sequel, but more like a directors cut with additional footage). Sorry if you have read it before, but we thought this would help answer a few questions that are out there!

In one scene in the movie Forrest Gump, the character Bubba Blue is sitting next to Forrest on a transport bus talking about shrimp. "Anyway, like I was sayin', shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. Dey's uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There's pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. That - That's about it."

Sometimes, the different college admissions plans sound just like that. You've got your Early Action, your Early Decision, your Restrictive Early Action, your Single Choice Early Decision, your Rolling Decision, your Multiple Choice Early Rolling Action (okay, I made that one up), etc. While I can not say what plans other colleges have for their admission process or why they choose these plans, I can tell you how UGA does it.

UGA has two decision plans, Early Action(EA) and Regular Decision(RD). UGA's Early Action program is non-restrictive and non-binding, meaning that we will not limit an applicant from applying in any way to another college, and if admitted, you do not need to let us know if you are coming or not until May 1. No matter how you apply, we want you to take as much time as you need (up to May 1!) to research your options and make a good decision on where to go to college. Our EA deadline is October 15, and we generally will have EA decisions out by mid-December. Please remember, it is not easier or harder to be admitted EA, it is just a different time line for applicants who want to hear something earlier. You may hear a yes (admit), a no (deny) or a defer (deferral to get more information on the applicant). If by mid-October, a prospective applicant feels comfortable with UGA making a decision on their current grades, curriculum, and test scores, then EA might be right for that individual. Just so you know, there are not any specific cut points for EA admissions, but more it is a combination of an applicants core academic grades, curriculum choice and test scores.

If, on the other hand, a prospective applicant wants UGA to look at senior year first semester grades, new test scores, or make sure the student's co-curricular activities and essays, then they should apply Regular Decision(RD). The RD deadline is January 15, and there are two decision dates for this option. If an RD applicant meets the EA criteria for admission, we will send out a decision in late February (this also applies for any EA deferred student who, for instance, sends in new and improved test scores which put them at or above the EA criteria). For all applicants who are not admitted based upon the EA criteria, a decision will go out in late March. This time line gives the office time to read, and read, and read, and read. As for which plan a student should choose, RD versus EA, it is generally based upon the applicant taking an honest look at their academic record and then comparing it to our First-Year Class Profile. Look at the academic mid-ranges for our freshman class and see how you compare, especially when looking at grades and curriculum (on average, UGA freshman took 3-5 AP or IB classes along with a broad range of Honors/Accelerated courses, but this varies based upon what is offered at your school as well). Don't be intimidated by the numbers, but be realistic, and know that during the read process, we look at everything about an applicant.

And for those of you who apply EA just because you do not have to complete part II of the application (with the short essays), even though you are not near the mid ranges in the profile, I would suggest you think again. Give yourself time to get your application together, and do not rush to complete it in the end just because you "knew" you would be deferred but did not want to do part II of the application yet. This is like pushing off writing a 10 page report until the last day, and wondering why it did not turn out as well as you thought it would.

Just remember, Early Action at UGA is non-binding, it is neither easier or harder to be admitted EA or RD (it is just a response time issue), and the applicant needs to look the profile to see how they compare, at least in determining EA vs RD. And as Forrest says, "That's all I have to say about that."

If this is your first time to this blog, please know that we welcome comments and/or questions about the UGA Admission process.


  1. how long after the high school has sent/transmitted transcripts and evaluations should the UGA admissions office show receipt in the online application?

  2. We suggest giving our office about 1-2 weeks for materials sent to us to get into our system, as it takes a while for the materials to get through the US postal service and reach us. This will increase slightly during the days surrounding any deadlines, as we become slightly overwhelmed during these times. Online submission of the School Evaluation and the transcript is much faster, although we recently had a slight technical delay with importing the online School Evaluation that will be corrected by tomorrow (10/6/2009) or sooner.

  3. Anonymous: We have a cranky Student Information System at times (the student records computer system), but we were able to fix the issue with importing the online school evaluations. These should show up tomorrow morning on the status check. The online school evaluation form and teacher recommendation form go into our system much faster, as there is no need for anyone to handle them, from the post office to our mail office. They just go straight into both our application file system and our computer system.

  4. You said that the deffered ED people would get admission in late February under RD if they improved their test scores. Could it work the other way, if the student has great test scores but an okay GPA that they improve by the time of RD?

  5. Anonymous: Actually, that is not quite what I said. What I said is that some deferred students may be admitted in late February if their academic profile rises above EA criteria, and gave the example of their test score rising. Yes, if a student's grades improve to the level where their overall academic standing rises above the EA criteria, it is possible to be admitted in Feb.

    Realistically, though, most students do not have a big jump in their academic standing from December to February (although I see some every year!), and I try to tell people not to get their hopes set on February. We have a lot more students who decided to apply after the EA deadline, but their academic profile is very strong and they meet the EA criteria.

    Again, the February group is one where the applicant has to meet EA criteria, so it is a challenging situation.

    I hope this helps!

  6. what exactly is the EA criteria that you are looking for?

  7. Anon: I can not say what the criteria is, because it is a combination of factors in combination with a review of the applicant pool as a whole. It is not a simple X+Y+Z, but more of a blend of all the academic areas presented for each student, and then compared with the group as a whole.

    Sorry I can not be more specific, but that is the best answer I can give!

  8. This comment is short and sweet. I just wanted to say thankyou for clearing the air on whether or not EA is easier or harder to be accepted into. Its always a rumor that EA is MUCH harder and although I have fairly good scores and grades, Im still a worry wart and hoped that the stakes werent too high. But anyways, thanks for the explanantion and I loved the Forrest reference!

  9. As I was looking through these blogs for some insight on UGA, this one stuck out as helpful. Although, I still have a question that is geared more towards my needs. If you could take the time to answer it, I would be very appreciative. I am currently an upcoming Senior, I have taken the ACT and I am satisfied with the score. I have a GPA of 4.0. Last year I took the two AP classes offered to juniors and this coming year I plan on taking five more. As I am sure I can make exceptional grades in all of these classes, I am torn between EA and RD. What is your advice, would UGA take into consideration the rigor of the senior year classes if I applied early action? I know there would be no final grades, but would the fact that I am taking the classes count or should I just wait for regular decision?

  10. Anon: During both Early Action and Regular Decision, UGA looks at your coursework from 9th-12th grade. We look at the overall course selection for your entire high school career, so that should not impact your choice of EA vs. RD. If you are comfortable with us seeing only what you have done up to Oct. 15, then apply EA. If you want us to see more (new grades, test scores, etc.), then apply RD.