Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Parable of the Elephant and the Six Blind Men

In reading the different comments from students after decisions have gone out, I am reminded of the parable of the Elephant and the Six Blind Men:

Once upon a time, in a faraway land, there lived six blind men. Each of them was very wise. Each of them had gone to school and read lots of books in braille.
They knew so much about so many things that people would often come from miles around to get their advice. They were happy to share whatever they knew with the people who asked them thoughtful questions.
One day these six wise blind men went for a walk in the zoo. That day the zoo-keeper was worrying about all of her many troubles.
The night before she had had an argument with her husband, and her children had been misbehaving all day long. She had so much on her mind that she forgot to lock the gate of the elephant cage as she was leaving it.
Now, elephants are naturally very curious animals. They quickly tried to push the gate to the cage to see if it might open. To their great surprise, the gate swung freely on its hinge. Two of the more daring elephants walked over to the gate. They looked left and right, and then quietly tip-toed out of the cage.
Just at that moment the six blind men walked by. One of them heard a twig snap, and went over to see what it was that was walking by.
"Hi there !" said the first blind man to the first elephant. "Could you please tell us the way to the zoo restaurant ?" The elephant couldn't think of anything intelligent to say, so he sort of shifted his weight from left to right to left to right.
The first blind man walked over to see if this big silent person needed any help. Then, with a big bump, he walked right into the side of the elephant. He put out his arms to either side, but all he could feel was the big body of the elephant.
"Boy," said the first blind man. "I think I must have walked into a wall. "The second blind man was becoming more and more curious about what was happening. He walked over to the front of the elephant and grabbed hold of the animal's trunk.
He quickly let go and shouted, "This isn't a wall. This is a snake! We should step back in case it's poisonous." The third man quickly decided to find out what was going on, and to tell his friends what they had walked into.
He walked over to the back of the elephant and touched the animal's tail. "This is no wall, and this is no snake. You are both wrong once again. I know for sure that this is a rope."
The fourth man sighed as he knew how stubborn his friends could be. The fourth blind man decided that someone should really get to the bottom of this thing. So he crouched down on all fours and felt around the elephant's legs. (Luckily for the fourth man, this elephant was very tame and wouldn't think of stepping on a human being.)
"My dear friends," explained the fourth man. "This is no wall and this is no snake. This is no rope either. What we have here, gentlemen, is four tree trunks. That's it. Case closed."
The fifth blind man was not so quick to jump to conclusions. He walked up to the front of the elephant and felt the animal's two long tusks. "It seems to me that this object is made up of two swords," said the fifth man. "What I am holding is long and curved and sharp at the end. I am not sure what this could be, but maybe our sixth friend could help us."
The sixth blind man scratched his head and thought and thought. He was the one who really was the wisest of all of them. He was the one who really knew what he knew, and knew what he didn't know.
Just then the worried zoo-keeper walked by. "Hi there ! How are you enjoying the zoo today ?" she asked them all. "The zoo is very nice," replied the sixth blind man. "Perhaps you could help us figure out the answer to a question that's been puzzling us."
"Sure thing," said the zoo-keeper, as she firmly grabbed the elephant's collar.
"My friends and I can't seem to figure out what this thing in front of us is. One of us thinks it's a wall; one thinks it's a snake; one thinks it's a rope, and one thinks it's four tree trunks. How can one thing seem so different to five different people?" "Well," said the zoo-keeper. "You are all right. This elephant seems like something different to each one of you. And the only way to know what this thing really is, is to do exactly what you have done. Only by sharing what each of you knows can you possibly reach a true understanding."
The six wise men had to agree with the wisdom of the zoo-keeper. The first five of them had been too quick to form an opinion without listening to what the others had to say.
So they all went off to the zoo restaurant and had a really hearty lunch.

Remember, when admissions is looking at an application, we are reviewing the whole applicant in the context of their individual situation. While people might know or read of one aspect of a student, they do know know the whole of an applicant's life.

So when commenting here or looking at other applicants, please do not be blind to the fact that you might know one thing about a student, but you do not know the whole of the person. Open your eyes to the fact that admissions offices are looking at everything within the file, seeing connections, understanding strengths and weaknesses, and trying to see the overall person. You might think that you know a situation because you know of one aspect (or score) of an applicant, but you might just be holding an elephant's tail and thinking it is a rope.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Admitted Applicants!

For those of you who have been admitted to UGA, here is a post for you, and a chance to comment.

Congratulations to all of the freshman who were admitted to UGA, and we look forward to you becoming a part of the Bulldog Nation. The next steps for a new student can be seen in our New Dawg site, so go ahead and review what you need to do next.

You have until May 1 to submit a deposit to hold a spot in our freshman class, and we hope the next stage of the admission process is a little less nerve wracking than the decision process. As you celebrate this time, 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, and Go Dawgs!

Denied Applicants

For those of you who have been denied by UGA, here is a post for you and a chance to comment.

Unfortunately, we were 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 I suggest you focus not on a denial from UGA, but on the other great opportunities that are ahead. As well, if your ultimate goal is to graduate from Georgia, then I would suggest you look at transfer opportunities down the road. But for now, focus on your current college options, find the one that fits you best, and have a great freshman year there. I would also suggest you go to our Denied Student FAQ if you have questions.

Wait Listed Students

For those of you who have been wait-listed by UGA, here is a post for you and a chance to comment.

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 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. Every year, we have about 1,000-1,300 students on the wait-list, and we carefully monitor the deposits coming into the University to see where we are in comparison to the predicted freshman numbers.

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 and/or the wait-list letter we mailed out, and let us know if you want to stay on the wait-list or if you want to decline this option and go forward with admission at another college. If you decide to stay on the wait-list, you still want to move forward with an alternate college plan, as we will not know about any wait-list options until May. If you select to stay on the wait-list, we then know you still want to attend UGA if an opportunity opens up.

Status Check is now Open!

The UGA status check page is now open and freshman applicants are now able to see our final decisions. Again, I will be putting up three different posts (UVA has done this very well, so I am using their great idea) concerning the three different decisions.

I will not have data until early next week on overall applicants, admits, wait-list and denied statistics, but I will post it when I have it. It has been a crazy week, so I was not able to get everything together for the data yet, but be patient and I post it when I can.

Go Dawgs!

The Big Day!

Later today, we will be opening up the status check so that all final decisions, and I will give you a heads up when it goes live. Before it happens, though, I wanted to let all the followers of this blog know that I appreciate all of the kind words you have written, and I hope that I have answered most of your questions clearly and to the point. I have been in admissions for almost 18 years, but this is my first year writing a blog, and it was a little intimidating at times not knowing how people would respond to my posts. Overall, though, I think it has gone well this year, and I look forward to future posts!

As for decisions, please remember that no matter what the decision is today for you (or your student), life will still move on, freshman year will be great at whatever college you decide to attend, and you will have some amazing experiences over the next four years. Remember to take advantage of all the opportunities that await you in college, from studying in Kenya, joining the Rugby team, or discussing your future over a cup of coffee with your favorite professor.

I will be putting up three posts later today for the three decision groups (admit, deny, wait-list), along with some advice and a place for you to comment. Please remember that I will be moderating the comments, so make sure they do not contain things that would cause them to be deleted.

And lastly, GO DAWGS!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Final Decisions!

Yes, the question that all freshmen applicants (and their parents) have been asking again and again can finally be answered. Final decisions for freshmen applicants will be released on Friday, March 26! As normal, we will open up the status check late afternoon on Friday, and applicants will be able to view their decisions. As well, decision letters will be sent out by mail.

There will be three decision groups (Admit, Deny and Wait-List), and in a nod to the great blog that Dean J does at UVA, I will try to post some information on all three of these decisions. Starting on Friday, I will also change the settings on the comment section so that I can monitor any comments before allowing them to post to the site. No matter what your decision, please make sure to think before commenting, as this is an emotional time, and you probably do not want to write something you may regret later.

Remember, we cannot and will not give out any decisions by phone or by email, and we are as happy as you are to have decision day finally be here.

Go Dawgs!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Book Recommendation for Parents

Since I cannot give you any news about decisions yet, I have one suggestion as to how you can pass the time during this challenging waiting time. As I have said before, I love to read, and at times I drive my two children crazy with book suggestions. Now I guess it is my turn to drive all of you crazy. I finished a wonderful book last weekend called NurtureShock, by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman, and for all the parents out there, I seriously suggest it. The book is not  of about the college admissions process or anything even remotely like that, but is instead is a realistic and analytic review of child development. And while some of the information might be about children much younger than the age of your college bound students, it is still a great read! I hope you enjoy it, and please just be patient a little longer (for both freshman and transfer decision information).

Go Dawgs!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Grades and GPA, the sequel

Since we are coming up on freshman final decisions shortly, and this is also the time when a vast number of high school juniors begin their college visits, I thought I would go over the concept of grades and GPA once again. Remember, this is how UGA looks at things, as I do not speak for any other colleges!

While writing this post, I have randomly selected three files in our read pool, and looked at their transcripts. The first applicant has a GPA listed on their transcript as a 4.09 GPA, while we have a 3.47 GPA, The second has a 92.6 GPA, while we have one of 3.33, and the last one has a 3.85 GPA, while we have it calculated as a 3.19 GPA. As you can see, what a high school has as a GPA may vary greatly from what UGA has calculated (that last one has a difference of .66!). Why is this, you may ask (yes, I know you are asking it right now). As I have said several times before, UGA is looking at your actual posted grades in your academic classes, whether it is semester or block or trimester, and then calculates an admissions GPA based upon these course grades.

In other words, UGA Admissions does not look at the GPA listed on your high school transcript! You can take a Sharpie pen and mark through it for all that I care, because we do not use it! And the reason why? Because most school districts in the country determine their own method of calculating a GPA, adding weight here or there, using X classes or Y classes, etc. And I am fine with that, as every school district has the right to calculate a GPA however they want.

But in the UGA Admissions Office, we try to look at all the grades in an equal method, whether you apply from Arizona or Athens, GA. We look at your academic core grades to understand how many A's, B's, C's, etc. you have earned, and then go about determining a GPA (for more details on how we calculate an admissions GPA, see an earlier post at

So when you submit a comment like "I have a 3.32 GPA, ...", I have no real understanding what that GPA is. My suggestion? Start looking at your grades within the A/B/C/D/F categories, and try and understand if you are a mostly A/a few B student, a mostly B with a few C's student, and so on. Go ahead and figure out what your UGA GPA would approximately be. Because the next time I hear someone say "My son is a 4.0+ student", and when reply stating that they must have all A's, I hope that I do not see a look of confusion. Remember, it is grades that we look at on a transcript, not a GPA posted on the top corner!

Go Dawgs!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Admissions iPhone App

The University of Georgia Office of Undergraduate Admissions is proud to announce the release of version 1.0 of our iPhone App. This application can be downloaded for free from iTunes, and will run on any iPhone or iPod Touch.

The App was developed by the UGA Admissions office's own technology team (way to go Bryan!), and allows users to access the Status Check, the UGA Transfer Equivalency database, Admissions News, UGA News, Campus Maps, UGA Sports News, and UGA People Search.

To download the University Admissions iPhone App, just search for "UGA Admissions" in the iTunes App Store, or in the App Store utility on your Apple mobile device. We also hope to add a GPS based campus tour sometime within the next year.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Cooking and Admissions

In my mind, there are two methods of cooking; working within the scope of a recipe, and working with what you have available.

When you are cooking with a recipe (let's say a cake), you gather all of the ingredients, carefully measure out everything that is on the list, mix the ingredients, and get everything ready to bake. You set the oven, put in the pan, and 30 minutes later you have a warm, wonderful chocolate cake. Everything is clear cut and exact, and if you do not have all of the ingredients, you will not bake a cake.

Other times, you are cooking based upon what is in the pantry and the refrigerator, and then using the different ingredients to make a great meal (let's say it is soup this time). You look and see that you have a whole chicken, but you are out of noodles, so instead you use rice to bolster the soup. You are low on onions, so you use what the few you have, but add some seasoning salt to add flavor. And then you notice that you have carrots and celery that can be added for color, taste and nourishment, so you add those in as well. In the end, you have a great chicken and rice soup which is unique due to the variety of ingredients, and your next pot of soup will be unique and different due to the ingredients you have available next time, and how they blend together!

This is in some ways the difference between transfer and freshman file review. With transfer decisions, we have a very specific recipe as to what we are looking for in an applicant. You must have a certain number of transfer hours and a certain transfer GPA or higher to be considered, and we only focus on the specific ingredients needed when making a decision.

When we review freshman applicants, we are looking at a much larger number of variables, and each applicant brings their own unique set of ingredients to the table. Applicant X might not have as much of one ingredient, but might have more of a different one. Applicant Y might have an abundance of one spice, but might be missing an important stock ingredient. Each applicant is different, based on the unique things they have to offer in their application and how they blend together. I won't go into each ingredient, but you should be able to look at my series on file reading to get an understanding of what we are looking for, and they key ingredients.

This is why it is easier to tell if a transfer student is within the range of admission consideration, but why the freshman process is much more complex. This is also why, when a person says "How about if I have ...", I cannot give a good answer, as we are looking at all of the ingredients mixed together, and because we are also looking at a lot of applicants for a limited number of spaces.

I hope this helps, and GO DAWGS!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Urban Legend # 1

Right now, there are two things going on; one, our office is knee deep/swamped/up to our ears, etc. with file reading, and two, you are waiting patiently (or not so patiently) for us to finish reading. But I know that the moment we release decisions, a wide range of urban legends will suddenly reappear. In that vein, I though I would bring up a few of the wonderful myths that always pop up just after the final decisions go out.

No matter how many times we tell students that we do not have a limit on the number of freshman we can admit from a specific school, city, zip code, area, state, country or planet, we always hear "You did not admit me because I live in ...". First, we always state that this myth is incorrect, and that we focus on who is the strongest overall applicant, not what school or city the live in. Second, we do not have the time or the energy to try and break down the applicant pool in that sort of way to make decisions. I am just trying to make sure all the files get reviewed at this point! But beyond that, we really are looking at trying to make the best decisions overall while looking at everyone in the same light.

So the next time you hear someone start that rumor, please direct them to and quickly shoot down this rumor!

Go Dawgs!