Friday, January 29, 2010

Chicken Noodle Soup

In my family, I am known for cooking one thing well; my homemade chicken noodle soup. I take great pride in making this, and it becomes a half day process of cooking the chicken just right, making sure I have fresh celery, onions and carrots, and the right type of noodles. The carrots and celery need to be cut to just the right size, and the chicken needs to be shredded, not chopped (yes, I know, I am a little type-A at times), and the noodles have to be just the right type. After all of the lengthy preparations, it then takes a while to cook, with an occasional stir, adding the cream sauce, tasting to see if it needs salt (it always does!), etc. Finally, after what seems like a lifetime, or three to four hours in reality, it is time to eat.

This is kind of how admissions works. There is a lot of preparation time, and I mean a lot of it. We received almost 18,000 applications again this year, scanned over 150,000 pages of materials, imported over 12,000 online school evaluations and teacher recommendations, etc. We then have to match all these things up with the files, review the academic materials, move forward with the holistic reading process, all the while still talking, emailing and running information sessions with applicants and prospective students. And I have left off about half of the other things we do such as admission travel, scholarships and special programs.

Right now, we are at the cooking stage. We have matched up the last of the documents, are almost done with the academic reviews, and jumped in feet first into the holistic read process this week. If you are missing something in your file, contact the teacher/counselor/testing agency first to make sure it was sent, then contact us. The only exceptions are a few last paper applications and about eight GA411 applicants who left off their SSN that we are still working on. But overall, we have done all the prep work, and we are now moving forward with the next part of the recipe.

Remember that right now we are going to go into reading season, and we will be somewhat less accessible to the public so we can have decisions out by late March. We apologize for not being as available, but it takes a lot of people reading a lot of applications to get decisions out. If you want the soup to taste just right, you don't want to rush the cook!

Next week, I will start talking a little more about our holistic read process, and what we look at within an application. For now, just wait while finish the cooking, and have yourself a nice bowl of chicken noodle soup.

Go Dawgs!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

What is your Name?

I opened up a teacher recommendation letter this morning, and it stated that John was a great student, a wonderful person, and an all around great applicant. Unfortunately, this letter will never make it into John's file, as his teacher did not tell us John's last name, his birth date, or even the school that he attends. So for now, the letter goes into our holding file, which contains all the materials that did not match any applicants.

Now that we are close to finishing up matching materials for our applicants, here is a suggestion for future applicants; Make sure your counselor, your school and any teachers you ask to write letters for you know your full name, and then use it in their letters/forms/transcripts! I am amazed at the number of teacher recommendations that come in with names such as "Trey Smith", and we then have to hunt down all the Smiths from that school to see who it matches. We even get transcripts with nicknames, even though these are official documents from the school!

So make sure that your school officials know to use your correct name, and get the materials into our office in plenty of time to match it up. Oh, and just as important, make sure that when we ask for your first and last name, you put them in the correct order. We have probably had over 400 applicants switch these two fields, and it makes it tough to match things up as well!

Go Dawgs!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Magic Eight Ball of Admissions

Every once in a while, I will receive an email or a response to this blog asking "I have X GPA, X SAT's, ..., so what are my chances for admission at UGA?" While it may sound like an easy question, unless the student is at the very top or very bottom on everything from last year's averages, there is no way an admissions counselor could even begin to answer this question.

There is no magic admissions eight ball that, when shaken the right way, will tell us whether you will be admitted or not. We can't twist it to the left just the right way for test scores, then lean it to the side for GPA, and hope that it will magically say "Outlook Good" or "My Sources Say No". The process in much more detailed than this, as we take in your activities, your rigor of curriculum, your essays, etc. And we can not just go by what the class was like last year (or years before), as the applicant will be reviewed in the context of the applicant pool as a whole.

As well, I would not suggest going to one of the websites such as College Confidential and asking others who read the site to "chance me!". Throwing up a few numbers on a discussion group post and having 10+ people rate you will not be an accurate measure of how UGA (or any other college) will review your application. You actually might be better off with the magic eight ball.

So my recommendation is to look at yourself in the overall context, look at the information we share as to what we look at and what last year's class was like, and be patient as we go through the review process.

As the magic admissions eight ball says, "Reply Hazy, Try Again Later in Late March!"

Go Dawgs!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Overflowing with Mail!

As of 3 p.m., we have received 17 bins of mail today. If we had to stack it up one on top of the other, it would be about 15-20 feet high. It is sort of like our own small-scale model of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

In other words, it will take us several days to dig ourselves out of this immense deluge of mail (I do not think I have ever actually used the word deluge in a sentence, but it seemed to fit). So again, the word of the week is patience, as we will slowly but surely get open all of this mail, scan it into our system, and drop it into the applicant files. And remember, every reply to a call/email we have to take to answer the question "I sent X on Friday, and I wanted to check and see if it was in yet" is time lost in matching materials.

So spread the word at school and at work, be patient and let us have time to match up all of the materials. It will show up on the status check soon!

Go Dawgs!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Deadline Day is Here!

While about 85% of UGA applicants apply before the deadline, it is that other 15%, the ones that submit right on the deadline, that at times causes me headaches. Not major migraines or anything that bad, but more of a dull ache right behind my eyes (which explains why I am seen massaging my temples during deadline week). So, for anyone who is submitting their application today (or on the last few days), here are a few suggestions to get you the days and weeks to follow:

  • Make sure you check some key pieces of application information, from your name to your SSN and address, to make sure they are correct. You would be amazed at the number of people who put their first name as their last, thus causing major problems trying to match up materials!
  • Check all of your materials to make sure they have been sent, and that all of them have your full name (and SSN if needed). Over the past few days, I have seen a teacher rec. for Aubrey (no last name), a transcript for Lizzie that belongs to an applicant we know of as Melissa, and a mom who swore they had sent UGA their SAT scores until she checked their score report. Check everything!
  • Pay attention to your email and your status check. We give you a number of alerts of missing materials, and you are responsible for your application. We will help you, along with your HS counselor, but you are ultimately the one who needs to make sure your application is complete.
  • Be patient with our office, as we will be overwhelmed over the next five days with mail. Yes, your materials are important, but so are everyone else's documents. You would be amazed at the number of people who call in the day after something is put into the mail, wondering why it is not showing up on the status check. The status check is not instantanious, but is refreshed every night, and our timelines are based on business days (so don't count weekends and holidays as business days).

So double check everything, monitor the status check page, and put down the phone for a few days. And remember, go Dawgs!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Don't Hit the Panic Button!

There is a scene from Animal House, where Kevin Bacon's character, Chip Diller, is shouting "Remain Calm! All is well!", while a panicked mob crushes him as it runs away from a parade gone mad. This is how I feel about this time of year. And at times, the end result is the same, with both of us trampled on the sidewalk, gasping for air.

During the two weeks surrounding a deadline, life is hectic in all admissions offices. Applications are swarming in, materials are delivered to us in large mailing bins, emails are flying through our computers, and the lights on the phones are always glowing, showing us the incoming calls. And almost every one of those emails or phone calls is about one thing, "Is it there yet? Why isn't it there yet?".

The best thing for everyone to do during this time is to remain calm and don't panic. Give UGA (and any other colleges to which you are applying) time to dig out from the onslaught of materials. For our office, I expect that a majority of items that are sent by the deadline will be matched up by about January 27th or so. The one exception I give is if a student applied by using a paper application, as this slows down the process a great deal. So be patient, make sure that the materials were actually sent and have your correct name on them, and relax. Also remember that if multiple items were mailed in together, our office splits things up based upon what they are (transcripts, teacher recs, etc.) for quicker imaging and processing, so if one thing shows up as received and one does not yet, remain calm.

And just so you know, our status check is not real-time, but it is updated every night, and I have requested that our technology team also update it every afternoon so students can see more current information. This means you do not have to check it twenty times a day.

Go Dawgs, and remain calm ( I just had to say it one more time!).

Monday, January 11, 2010

2010 Transfer Applicant Update

Although most of the focus will be on Freshman applicants for the next month or so, I did not want to leave out our transfer students. While our evaluation team will be reviewing a large number of freshman files through the month of January, I expect that we will begin the transfer review process in full sometime in early to mid February. As this is the case, I would suggest that any transfer student should do two things; one, send in your application (of course!), but like I have told the freshman applicants, do not wait until the deadline hits. Second, make sure you get in all of your college transcripts by the deadline, and make sure they have the most up-to-date work on them.

If you have already applied as a transfer student, of which there are almost 1,000 who have already done so, make sure to request a transcript with fall 2009 grades on it. We will not be able to review your application unless we have fall transfer work to review! As well, since this is deadline week for freshman, I would suggest you wait until a week later to send in your transcripts. It always helps when your transfer work is not in the 30 or so mail bins of freshman materials!

We will be reviewing summer transfer students first, and then fall, and I expect that you will see transfer decisions start to roll out in mid-February.

I hope this helps you understand the transfer timeline, and Go Dawgs!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

I Do Not Like Faxes, Sam I Am!

“Do you like green eggs and ham?” “I do not like them, Sam-I-am. I do not like green eggs and ham!”  - Dr. Seuss, Green Eggs and Ham

I feel the same way about faxes. I would not like them here or there, I would not like them ANYWHERE!

We see a large number of faxes, especially around deadline time. In general, if you have ever looked at a fair number of faxes, you understand that most come out looking distorted, with smudges, readability problems, etc. Then try scanning them, and you really have problems reading the document. So our office has a policy that for any official document (HS transcripts, college transcripts, recommendation letters, etc), we will not take faxes! There is a reason that the shredding bin is so close to the fax machine. It is so I only have to take two steps before I shred most of the items.

The reason we do this is to make sure we are able to look at you in the best light possible. If we had to guess if a grade was an 88 or a 68, and cannot read it clearly due to the fax, you do not want us guessing! In the same way, you do not want us to think a teacher "loathes" you as a student, when they really are trying to say they loved you as a student! In addition, it is a security measure. For example, I once received a faxed letter of good standing from a college. Upon closer review, I noticed that the fax from where it was sent was a local Subway Sandwich shop. Unless the college had moved their registrars office to add food service to their job, we were dealing with a bogus document.

So go out and shout it to anyone you see, from your teachers, your counselors, your friends, even the guy who is at the checkout counter at Target. UGA does not want faxes! UGA will shred faxes! Send documents online or through the mail! Thank you for your help.

I will finish up with one last Dr. Seuss quote;
"You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself Any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And  you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who’ll  decide where to go."   - Dr. Seuss, Oh the Places You'll Go!

Go Dawgs!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

10 Days and Counting!

Ten days and counting until the January 15 deadline for Regular Decision applications, part II of the application for deferred students, and any and all required materials! My suggestion is to try and take care of things a few days early, just in case of any unplanned problems. I have had students in the past who have waited until the last day, and suddenly computer problems, car crashes, or major personal issues have come up. Our office is flexible with materials that a student is not always in control of (teacher recommendations, transcripts, etc.), but not as much so with things of which you are in control. In addition, while we do not look at applications submitted on the deadline differently from any other applications, rushed essays, misspellings and sloppy errors show up in many of the deadline applications.

You want to put your best foot forward with your application, so make sure it is not rushed and submitted last minute. As well, when you submit things at least a week or more before a deadline,  it makes it easier for my office to match things up before the big rush of materials hits (which means less nervousness by you as you look at your status check and see that things have matched up with your file). I expect that we will get 30+ bins of mail during the week surrounding the deadline, and it takes a while to get all of it into our system and matched up with applications. So be patient with us as we pull everything together, and we will all make it through the deadline safe and sound!

Go Dawgs!