Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

The University of Georgia will be on Thanksgiving break until next Monday, so since we will be out of contact with everyone, my suggestion is to forget about admissions during the break and concentrate on the important things in your life for which you are thankful; Family, friends, time together, and of course turkey.

And remember, when Saturday rolls around, cheer for the Bulldogs to beat the Yellow Jackets! My father, brother and two uncles are all Tech graduates, so life will be a lot better for me if we are able to pull out a win.

Go Dawgs, and have a great Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 20, 2009

A Damn Good Dawg

Yesterday, a beloved member of the UGA community and the school's mascot, Uga VII, passed away. While it may seem a little odd for a university community to mourn the passing of a dog, the Uga mascot has been a well-loved and honored dog. The Uga mascot has graced the cover of Sports Illustrated when he was named the nation's top mascot in 1997, had a small role in the movie Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, and attended the Heisman trophy presentation with Herschel Walker.

A few years ago, my family and I were able to go onto the field before the UGA-Marshall game, and while the football game, the food and the whole event were great, my kids favorite part was getting to see Uga and his dog house on the sidelines. Our hearts go out to the UGA community and the Seiler family.

Uga VII, you will be missed. As the Bulldog nation says, you were a "damn good dog"!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Grades, GPA, and Confusion

I have said it before and I will say it again, three letters cause more confusion in college admissions that any other; GPA. I have made it a point this year to try and stay away from the word GPA as much as possible (unless I am forced to talk about mid-ranges), and today brought this topic to mind again for me.

I work with a great team of people, and one group's focus during this time of year is to review and evaluate high school transcripts. At times, I pitch in and help a little bit, both to make sure everything is going well, but also so I can look at the transcripts for our freshman applicants and see if there are any new trends at the high schools. In looking at about 30 transcripts today, I noticed that a number of schools, from New York to Tennessee to Georgia, are starting to add weight to teachers grades. For example, if a student receives an 87 from his AP Lit. teacher for the Fall semester, some schools are now adding points to the 87 grade (generally somewhere from 2-10 points), so the teacher grade at school X that adds 7 points now becomes a 94.

While I am all for schools having a say about their own grading system, I am worried that this is being done to have an impact on college admissions offices, and that the high schools do not really understand how this might affect their students. From my years of seeing a wide variety of grading systems (letter grades, numerical grades, narrative grade reports, non-standard letter grades, etc.), I have noticed, at least at UGA, that this type of grade alteration is actually hurting some of the best students at these schools.

At UGA, we look at individual grades, and if a school does not add weight to the individual grades, we will then add .5 to each AP or IB grade (4 point scale used), so a B grade would go from a 3.0 to a 3.5. If a school does add weight to the individual grades, whether it is 2 points or 10 points, we will then not "double dip" and add any more weight, as this would not be equal. At this point, most people start to think that the individual school adding weight looks great, and want their own school to do this. And yes, for some students in some schools, this does add a little more weight than UGA's method. BUT WAIT!!

What about those student's at the very top, taking a large number of AP classes and making mostly A's? Sam took 5 classes last semester, 3 of which were AP's, and made a grade of 95 in all of them (and an A is a 90 or better at his school). The school then adds 7 points to each AP grade, so he now has two grades of 95 and three grades of 102. To UGA, we look at this and see 5 A's, so Sam has a 4.00 GPA, and do not add any weight because the school already did. But if Sam's school did not add any weight, we would then see five grades of 95, add a .5 for each of the AP grades, and his GPA to us would be a 4.30. This is just one semester, not three years of grades, but you see the point. When a high school tries to work the system, sometimes it does not really work out the way they want.

What can you do? Do your best, challenge yourself, know how both your high school and the colleges to which you apply evaluate grades, and trust that UGA and other colleges like us try our best to look at everyone on a level playing field.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Zombie Attack

As I was walking down to the Tate Student Center yesterday, I saw a student swinging an athletic sock (with a few rolled up socks tucked inside for weight and balance) run by me. A few minutes later, I saw another student with a nerf gun shoot a foam dart at a fleeing student. I had no clue as to what was going on, and it was only after I read this morning's Red and Black newspaper that I understood; it was Humans vs. Zombies in a week-long, campus-wide game of tag.

In 2005, two students from Goucher college started the Humans vs. Zombies game, and it has since spread to over 100 colleges throughout the nation. Silly? Yes. Odd? Yes. But it looked like a lot of fun, and I am guessing I would have played it when I was in college. I am glad to see that way that students can have a safe way to relax, be creative, and interact with a wide range of people they never knew before. The Red and Black article stated that over 1,000 students are playing this week. While the admissions process always seems like it is strictly about grades and test scores, please remember that college is about way more than that. It is about life, and fun, and friends (and of course a lot of studying!).

Have fun everyone, and enjoy your week. And remember, look out for zombies!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Homecoming at UGA!

Since it is homecoming week at UGA, I thought you might enjoy seeing a day in the life of one of our mascots, Hairy Dawg. Enjoy!

Life as Hairy Dawg

Monday, November 2, 2009

Items you should not send to Admissions Offices

Every year, our office receives our fair share of odd and unusual items. Red and Black M&M's with the applicant's name on the side, UGA decorated cupcakes, DVD's containing a comedy sketch of the student, a YouTube video wtih the Uga mascot rapping an appeal for admission (the identical video was also sent to GT using their Buzz mascot), an essay on the side of a football, or sending a shoe with the words "to get my foot in the door" written on it. All of these have been sent to UGA over the past five years or so, along with a variety of photos, cookies, images and cupcakes, all in the hope of getting a leg up in the admissions race. Does it help? In one word, "No!".

While these items are amusing and interesting, and it makes for great admissions stories, these items are not the way to move forward in the admissions process.And as admissions offices are going more and more to imaging systems for their applicant files, it becomes even harder to know what to do with non-traditional items (although, of course, we did not try to stuff cupcakes into a person's file, those were stuffed into our mouths). But seriously, what are we suppose to do with a shoe?

So my suggestion is to leave all the baked goods, videos, and clothing articles at home, and concentrate on the things that matter at UGA, namely who you are as a student and a person. Substance over style wins every time. Enjoy the week!

P.S. About ten minutes after I put up this post, I received something in the mail that I forgot to put in the blog. While cookies and footballs and shoes are over the top, a nice note to the admissions counselor is always a nice thing to send, especially if you have just met them (or in my case, she enjoys this odd blog that I write).

During late March and April, we are overloaded with unhappy phone calls and letters, so nice notes from students/parents are always appreciated. While they will not have an impact on a decision, they do display a manners and thoughtfulness.

Thanks for the postcard Courtney!!