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.

42 comments:

  1. Thank you so much DGraves!

    Great parable that relates perfectly to this situation.

    If only us summer transfer students were allowed even go to the zoo...

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  2. Anon: Thank you for the comment, and hopefully we will know something soon about transfers. Thank you for being patient!

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  3. Wow..
    You did an amazing job with this blog. I like how you related the things so well. You seem to come up with something creative every single time you write a new blog. I'm truly impressed. Cant wait to start coming to UGA in the Fall! & Hopefully have the chance to meet you as well!

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  4. Thanks DGraves!
    I truly enjoy reading your blog, 'tho my heart is still aching :(
    But I am moving on :)

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  5. DGraves, I know this is out of context, but is the listed SAT scores from the 2009 class profile the old SAT score, or the new one?

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  6. The SAT scores we list are the CR and Math combined, and we generally then list the Writing portion in addition to that.

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  7. DGraves, thank you for this wonderful blog throughout the admission process. My daughter has been wait listed, which I personally don't understand. She was accepted to Auburn so we have committed to them. She so wanted to go to UGA and try out for the Marching Band flagline, which she did all through highschool. I am just left scratching my head, academically she seems to be above your admissions standards and she was well rounded in activities throughout her highschool career. She is graduating with honors and as an AP Scholar. Even if she is accepted off the waiting list at this point she will have missed the tryouts for flagline. Everyone I speek to can not believe she was accepted into Auburns pre vet program and wait listed by UGA???? I really don't understand how the decissions were made. I personally know a few children that were accepted that even make me question the process a little more....

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  8. Anon: I am glad that your daughter has a wonderful option at Auburn, as I know the school well (my brother is graduate). Please remember the moral of the elephant parable, that while you might know a small part of other applicants, you generally do not know everything about them.

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  9. As I was reading this entry I thought it must be a post for those students who did not get accepted and must look to another university to "see" if it is a good fit. Then I realized it was meant for the admissions counselors. Ironic, though, that the whole admissions process is similar for both the students and the school: both must look at all the parts, hear what others say, and then decide if the fit is right.

    Thanks for your always thought-provoking blog posts, DGraves.

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  10. Thoughtful: Actually, it is for everyone to read, from parents to high school counselors to students to admissions. It is about knowing all the details (or as much as possible) before judging a person or situation.

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  11. StillThoughtfulinVAMarch 29, 2010 at 11:02 AM

    By "it was meant for the admissions counselors" I only meant that I initially thought the post was to try to help students find a new college fit, but then realized it was to help students understand the perspective of admissions counselors and that they have to look at ALL the details of a student when making an admissions decision.

    I'm the parent of an accepted UGA student and still read your blog daily. What I love about your blog is that the posts are relative and can be applicable to many different perspectives. Hence, a post that may have been written to help others seen one perspective, I plan to use it to help from the reverse, as that's where my child is now...trying to choose the best college fit for her.

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  12. Still ThoughtfulinVA: I understand you now, and thank you for the clarification. When our office is preparing for file review, I do talk about looking at the whole person within the context of their situation, and I hope that others can do this as well with the people in their community. Thanks for the compliments, and tell your student good luck in finding the right fit!

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  13. im sorry if this question has already been asked, but my school adds 7 points to all ap, honors, and joint enrollment classes. does uga keep or take off these points when calculating gpa? for example, would a 90 in an ap class with the seven points count as a 4 or would you take off the points and make it a 83 and count it as a 3?

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  14. Anon: I suggest you review my post located at http://ugaadmissions.blogspot.com/2009/11/grades-gpa-and-confusion.html. This will hopefully give you more information about the issue.

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  15. Admitted Students: While it may seem like a good thing to post your academic information, this is not the venue for this type of comment. While I have allowed some of this in the denied student area for venting purposes, I do not want anyone to feel like they are having salt rubbed into their wounds. Thanks for understanding!

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  16. In no way what-so-ever am I trying to be pushy, impatient, etc., but are we any closer to a budget decision than we were?

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  17. When Summer transfer decisions are made, will they be rolling or will all decisions be made at once?

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  18. KLC: No idea at this time.

    Anon: Transfer decisions are rolling, as we do them day by day. But the first few days when we actually do make decisions will be somewhat larger in numbers due to pre-evaluation of a large number of applications.

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  19. How come you can't take transfers for Fall? Why can't you still have them apply by April 1st and if they are good enough to be accepted, it can be contigent upon whether they have their 30 credit hours by June?

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  20. When are you posting the numbers of how many were accepted, denied, & wait-listed and the ranges of their scores, GPA, etc.?

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  21. Do you think Wait list students or transfer students will hear back first?

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  22. Bulldog/War Eagle!March 30, 2010 at 5:29 PM

    For mom whose daughter is going to Auburn. I did undergrad work at UGA and graduate school at Auburn. UGA was great but I loved Auburn both as a student and as a teaching assistant. I was able to give my undergraduate students a great deal of attention - and I keep contact with both former students and professors on Facebook. Vet school is wonderful - my vet in Auburn was an AU grad and my vet in middle Ga is AU grad. Although she may feel sad, her "second choice" is really a great one! (my son was waitlisted at UGA too)

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  23. Anon I: I am guessing you are really asking why we cannot admit transfer students who will have 30 hours completed by the end of Spring term. I have gone into some detail as to why we cannot (space, timelines, etc.), but we have a large number of transfer students in the Spring because we do have the space within that term, and we are able to give decisions out in a reasonable timeframe, where we would not if we tried to admit students for fall after waiting for spring term grades. We also want to know more about a student academically than just 15 or so hours worth of coursework at a college.

    Anon II: I hope to post the information on the overall accepted freshman class sometime this week.

    Anon III: I do not know when wait-list and/or transfers will know decisions, but when I do, you will know.

    Bulldog/War Eagle: Tell her good luck, and I am sure my brother (the Auburn grad) is happy.

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  24. ince Ga has the HOPE scholarship do you think that UGA tends not to pursue academic students as much? With a free education more students can afford to go to college and UGA has become a competitive admission. If people are basically clamoring tooth and nail to get that education why go looking for them. Unfortunately after spending the early part of the week at War Eagle Day (invitation only tour) and being warmly welcomed by Student recruitment coordinators, department speakers, and an easy walking tour we have come to understand UGA might be a bit "spoiled". Having done both tours I'm sad to say that after this experience and lack of UGA experience a room full of paraphernalia will be going on Ebay. I will say that someone there asked my child what turned her off to UGA she said nothing turned her "off" but there just was more of a sense of community, family and tradition elsewhere. Doesn't mean she'll end up here but I think recruitment needs a second look at UGA (budget or not). I also have a freshman in high school and will be doing this again in 3 years.

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  25. I am a parent of a senior at UGA who is here as an out of state student. My daughter was wait listed at UVA and got off the wait list. In the mean time, she went to a most awesome dawg seminar for those undecided but accepted students. The room was packed, so be hopeful. However, UGA has a very high "turnover" rate. Once students visit, they really get pumped up at least they did a few years ago! She found out that some honors students in her orientation class were given the green light at UVA while she had to "wait." Remember, that UGA has the Meyers option., so there are perks to keep those who might seek status in state. We did receive some criticism at various functions because my daughter "took a spot". I reminded them that my child was one of the 13% accepted and please be nice! UVa accepts about 60% in state, so you can imagine how in state virginians feel about the 'ole Wahoo nation these days. In other words, GO DAWGS!

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  26. GA Mom: Well, if you asked one of my co-workers, Patrick Winter, he would tell you that over the next 30 days, the admission office will be doing 35+ programs around GA and the USA. We will be working with middle schools, HS juniors, and admitted seniors. We have had some serious budget cuts, and those seriously impact what we can do, but you would be amazed at what our office does in a year. In fact, I think it would be a great topic for a post later this week!

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  27. Hi DGraves,

    I was just wondering if you could tell me when the information change form would re-open. It says it will open in late March, but March ends today. Thanks for all your help!

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  28. Anon: I have talked to our tech team this morning, so I expect it should open up sometime early today (Wednesday, 3/31).

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  29. Trying to find out the total number of freshmen applicants and total number admitted for the Fall of 2010. How do these numbers compare to Fall of 2009?

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  30. Anon: Actually, the Information Change form will be up tomorrow morning. We were doing some work on the form to make sure the data shifted smoothly into UGA's student information system.

    GA mom: I hope to have data out on the Summer/Fall class sometime this week.

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  31. I am so excited to finally be a dawg ! I applied for summer, but now I am rethinking my decision to leave for college early. How easy is it to switch from summer to fall?

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  32. Anon: For freshman applicants wanting to change from summer to fall or fall to summer, you would just email admproc@uga.edu. Make sure you are positive about this change before asking us to make the change, though.

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  33. A. Word

    Do you have any information for transfer applications? I'm starting to feel panic since my next semester is up in the air and everyone is signing up for class. Do we know a date that the process will be done?

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  34. Hello, DGraves!
    Can you tell us about "Sophomore Transfers"? How competitive is it?
    Thanks so much, Sir.

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  35. A. Word: No, nothing yet on transfers, and I will update everyone when I do know something. Can you not sign up for fall classes, and if you are admitted to UGA you can just drop them? Generally, there is not a financial commitment for just signing up for classes.

    Anon: I am not sure I understand your question about soph. transfers. Can you explain in more detail?

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  36. My son was denied of admission for freshmam and he is now looking at his other options (KSU on his mind at the moment)but he is still keen to transfer to UGA, upon looking the transfer info page for sophomore :

    Sophomore Transfers
    Have 30-59 semester hours of transferable credit by the application deadline
    Have completed at least one year of college by the term of intended enrollment
    Must have a 3.20 or higher transfer GPA to be considered for admission, though there is no minimum GPA that guarantees admission.

    We are wondering if the application process for transferees particularly for sophomores are just as tough as incoming freshmen.
    Thanks for bearing with us. We are so in love with UGA ♥

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  37. I'm a bit confused, I applied for transfer in the fall and I have 15 credit hours with 15 in progress, so should I not have bothered applying? It says that they received my transcript and application. I really need a definitive answer in order to get housing in my fraternity house next year. Is there any way you can give one to me? Thanks for having this blog!

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  38. Anon I: Every year is a bit different for transfers, depending upon how many students apply and how many students we can admit. For transfer applicants, we base the decision on transfer grades and hours, an that is it. My suggestion would be for your son to attend his plan B college and really focus on his grades. If we are limited as to the number of transfers, we would look at transfer GPA's, and the stronger the GPA, the better the chance for admission.

    Anon II: As we state on our website and on the application, we will review your file based upon work COMPLETED by the deadline. In other words, by the April 1 deadline if applying for Fall term. If you only have 15 hours completed, you do not meet the requirements for admission consideration.

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  39. From seeing your above post, is it looking pretty bleak for sophomore transfers? Do I really need to even wait for my decision?

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  40. Anon: If you mean that you have applied with less than 30 transfer hours (we stated specifically on the application that all coursework and grades must be in by the deadline to be reviewed), then yes, it is bleak. If you have 30-59 transferable hours and grades that meet or exceed the 3.20 by the April 1 deadline, then just be patient.

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  41. My daughter is at Ga Tech. She has only completed 12 hours. She wants to transfer to UGA. She was accepted to UGA as a freshman. Can she not now transfer without finishing 30 hours at Ga Tech. Or can she still apply as a fresman

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  42. Glen: She has attended a college as a full-time student after high school graduation, so she is now considered a transfer student. She now needs to have 30 hours of transferable work completed before she can be considered for admission.

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