Friday, August 27, 2010

UGA Admissions Amazing Race

Yesterday, the majority of the Admissions staff participated in a 4 hour campus adventure we called "The UGA Admissions Amazing Race", modeled after the TV show The Amazing Race. Four of us (me included) mapped out eight locations around the campus that were important to Admissions, either because of the offices located there (Visitors Center, Brumby Residence Hall, GA Center/Hotel, Tate Center and parking deck), or because of a unique item within the building (Peabody Awards in Journalism, Dinosaur Sloth bones in Boyd Hall, "Green" roof at the new Lamar Dodd Art building, Alumni House bulldog).

There were seven teams, and they were given progressive clues to the various places on campus, and many times were asked to perform a task. Whether calling the dawgs at the VC or posing with the sloth bones, the teams raced across campus and learn more about UGA and each other.

Along the way, we also wanted to teach our Admissions team about how we communicate, and if the information we give out seems like mysterious clues that sometimes leave prospective students confused or lost (like one Amazing Race team that took photos of 4 roofs before finding the environmentally "green" roof at Dodd). There were a number of puzzled faces, a few "But you didn't tell me I couldn't do that" phrases, and some tired admissions people by the end of the day, but overall it was a great success!

So hopefully when you consider applying to UGA, our office will give you clear and accurate information, and I am guessing that we will be looking at how we communicate so as to give prospective students the best service possible.

Go Dawgs!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Self-Reported Grades, HS Transcripts, and the Law of Unintended Consequences

I was recently at a fast food restaurant , and they had new, larger cups for their sweet tea (the greatest beverage ever invented!), with a new logo on the side and a cool new dispenser. Life was great, as nothing is better than a big cup of sweet tea on a hot summer day in GA, that is until I arrived at the lid section. Unfortunately, no one had checked to see if the old lids fit the new cups. So there I was, still happy about this big old cup of nectar, but a little miffed about not having a lid that fit it. They quickly purchased some new lids, and everyone is now happy with the larger cups and the wonderful tea. I guess you would say that this situation is an example Law of Unexpected Consequences.

The same thing, on a very minor scale, has happened with our new self-reported grade chart and high school transcripts. When our team of Evaluators had to analyze each HS transcript as it came in, determine the number of academic grades, and enter in the grades in our system, we occasionally missed logging in a HS transcript that we had. A back-end program was written so that if any HS grades were entered into the system, the HS transcript received field would then get a Yes to fix this human error. This program was just a part of the background script that occasionally fixed an error, and so it did it's job and was forgotten.

Now we transition to the 2011 Freshman application, when the applicants began entering in their self-reported grades. These wonderful self-reported grades are flowing into our system like clockwork, allowing for an earlier decision timeline down the road. But everyone forgot about that little back-end program. As you can guess, when the self-reported grades started coming in, this caused the system to automatically indicate that the HS transcript was here.

Luckily, we caught this situation early and only have a limited number of phantom transcripts, and we are now working to correct this problem! I expect that it will be fixed shortly, any phantom HS transcripts will be wiped out of the system (but the real ones will still show as being here), and we will once again have a status check with the correct information.

We are sorry for any confusion, but we know that the great positives of the new self-reported grades will far outweigh any minor issues.

Go Dawgs!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Status Check on myStatus back up

The Status Check part of the myStatus page is now back up. We will be working hard over the next few days to link up materials with the application files that have just come in, so please be patient. When we import files into our system, we are then able to start matching up materials with the files the next day, and myStatus is then updated the day after that. In other words, do not panic if you see your application in our system but the materials you sent in (transcripts, recommendations, etc.) have not been matched up yet. Again, we will be working hard over the next few days to match things up and I expect that we will  be caught up with the initial application group using the new system shortly.

Go Dawgs!

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Status part of myStatus Page Down

Quick update for everyone. The UGA myStatus page will be down until Tuesday due to some issues with the importing of data from the recent applications. The applications are downloading into our system, but there are at times some minor glitches that we want to iron out before the information is displayed on myStatus. We thought it would be prudent to make the corrections and then open up myStatus, rather than have someone panic if some data was incorrect concerning an applicant's information.

This does not impact student who is applying to UGA, as you can log in to either start an application or continue with a current application with no problems. We have only taken down the Check your status part of the myStatus page.

Sorry for the inconvenience, but we want to make sure everything is working correctly before opening it back up!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Don't Rush the Application!

In an article in the NY Times last week, there was a story about a Texas high school senior who was the first person to complete the "Common Application" that is used by a number of colleges (although not UGA). He started just after midnight, right after the site was open, and finished up his application at about 3:30 a.m.

The next section of the story is the response from the college admissions office where he applied. In essence, they stated that his application would not have an initial review until October, and that the application process was not a "horse race" where the first one in is the best. A number of other admissions officers at other colleges reaffirmed the idea that applying first does not boost a student's file.

In the same vein, I would suggest that applicants not rush through the application for admission just to get it in. Take your time, make sure that all information is correct, then come back and double check things to make sure there are no errors. I already have one student who has made errors on five different sections of the application!

When my two children were little, they would at times race to the car to see who could reach it first. Whoever was second would quickly chant "First is the worst, second is the best, third is the one with the treasure chest!" I have no idea where they picked up this phrase, and if you google it you will get a number of different versions for third place.

I am not saying that the first applications that come in are considered the worst (please no worried emails!), but I am saying that it is much more important to get your application information in correctly that quickly. Make sure to read the instructions, complete all the sections, and then submit it.

Go Dawgs!

Monday, August 16, 2010

First-Year Application is now available!

The UGA First-Year application is now open! As is our history, we normally open our First-Year application in mid-August, and it is generally on a Monday to make sure we are available if any minor issues arise. Please remember that there are a few changes to this year's application:

  • UGA is only accepting online applications for admission. Any print-outs of the application are for your records or to view the application questions, but are not to be mailed in. 
  • The Activities/Athletics/Employment (Extra-Curricular Areas) section has been shifted to Part I of the application. We will not be evaluating Early Action applications any differently than in the past, but having this information in part I will help with scholarship review, completion of part II for deferred students, etc.
  • There is a new section on the application called Self-Reported Grades, and this is required for all applicants. You will need to have a copy of your high school transcript for this section, and you will enter in the academic grades you received from 9th through 12th grade (or 11th grade if applying before you have completed the first term of your 12th grade). You will only include actual course grades (do not enter any final/overall grades that are averages of your year), and this section will list the courses that should be included in the grade chart. Here is an FAQ for the self-reported grades chart.
Please remember, you do not have to rush to complete the application, but try to make sure you do not wait until 11 p.m. on the deadline date to submit it either!

Go Dawgs!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Spring 2011 Transfer Application Is Now Back!

Thanks to to hard work of the UGA Admissions technology team, the Spring 2011 Transfer Application is now up and working again! For those applicants who had started an application earlier in the week in the new system, we have pushed almost all of these over to the new system (there were a few with issues). As well, for the students who applied prior to the change over in systems (generally prior to August 1), you should also be able to move forward with accessing your myStatus Page. Both groups can go to the Create ApplicantID Account, login with your email address, and it will send you a temporary password. From there, you will then be able to take the next steps of accessing the myStatus page. We will also be sending out emails to the applicants impacted by this to give them instructions.

In addition, for everyone who is going in as a new transfer applicant, you will also go to the Create ApplicantID Account, and you will then create your ApplicantID profile and you will be on your way to applying!

As always, I stress patience as we jump into a new system, and we are happy to have this up and rolling after only a limited period of downtime. As well, since we have been focusing on speed and getting this up quickly, please excuse any minor typographical errors and let us know if you have any issues.

As an added note, Spring Freshman will be able to apply early next week when we bring up the Freshman application for next year.

Go Dawgs!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Nickels and Dimes!

Shel Silverstein was a great poet and philosopher (at least I think so!), and one of his best poems is entitled Smart:


My dad gave me one dollar bill
'Cause I'm his smartest son,
And I swapped it for two shiny quarters
'Cause two is more than one!

And then i took the quarters
And traded them to Lou
For three dimes-i guess he don't know
that three is more than two!

Just then, along came old blind Bates
And just 'cause he can't see
He gave me four nickels for my three dimes,
And four is more than three!

And i took the nickels to Hiram Coombs
Down at the seed-feed store,
and the fool gave me five pennies for them,
And five is more than four!

And then i went and showed my dad,
and he got red in the cheeks
And closed his eyes and shook his head-
Too proud of me to speak!

Why am I referencing this poem? To talk about grades and our self-reported grade form of course!

When you are comparing something, whether it is coins or grades, you have to make sure you are looking at things the right way. Just as one coin does not automatically equal another coin, one grade does not automatically equal another. When you look at a coin's worth, you need to look at the overall equivalency of it as compared to other coins. In the same way, you need to (at times) look at grades in regards to value.

At some high schools, grades on a transcript are given in multiple format types (semester and block grades are the most common). If you have one nickel and one dime, that 1 to 1 ratio does not mean equality. You are better off looking at it as 1 nickel and a coin worth 2 nickels (the dime). In the same thought, if you have 1 semester grade of an A, and 1 year-long full credit block grade of a B, that does not mean these two grades are equal. A year-long block grade is worth 2 semester grades. As such, you would have 1 semester grade of an A, and 2 B's in semester worth grades (1 full credit block grade converts to 2 semester .5 credit grades). So your grades would be 1 A and 2 B's worth of semester grades. If you want, grab a nickel and a dime, and mark the nickel with an A, and the dime with a B to better grasp this issue. As my accountant father would say in math terms, you want to work from a common denominator.

So when looking at your grades (and your money), make sure you are dealing with things in an equivalent way. In addition, when you enter your grades into the self-reported grade report (and this is explained there as well along with pictures), make sure you are using the lowest common denominator. We usually only see this with semester and block grades, so if you are at a school with only one grading type, you will not need to worry about this.

I hope this was educational and not too confusing!

Go Dawgs!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Thomas Edison and the Contact ID

I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.  
                                                     Thomas Edison

In our testing of the Contact ID system and the application, we have found that while it works well in production, at this time the system is not able to handle the amount of traffic we project will occur over the application timeline. We have tried to make adjustments to the server load (tech talk if you are not sure of this term), as well as other features of the system, but we did not feel comfortable that you, the applicants, would be able to go through the application process without possibly having some connectivity issues.

As such, we will be using an updated version of our system from last year's application process (along with an in-office created contact page), and we will look at instituting the campus based Contact ID system in a future application cycle. Our goal is to always make the application process run smoothly for you, the applicant. The application process will move forward as before, and the Status page will include some new features this year.

We apologize for the inconvenience that this has caused, but we hope to have our application process up and running shortly, and we hope you will be happy with the new features that will roll out in this year's status page.

Just because something doesn't do what you planned it to do doesn't mean it's useless. 
                                                       Thomas Edison

Monday, August 9, 2010

New Step in the Admission Application

Sometime tomorrow, the Spring applications will be back up and running. In addition, I expect that on Monday, 8/16, the freshman application will be open and available to the public. While I have already mentioned a few changes to the freshman application (self-reported grades where you will need a copy of your transcript, the activities section moving to part I, etc), one small update will happen for everyone. The Admissions Office is teaming up with the technology group on campus to add a small step in the application called "Contact ID".

A student's Contact ID will allow for more security in the admissions process, and is designed to allow a user to create their own password and security questions when applying and using the status check. While it is an additional first step in the application process, it will populate some information in a student's application (name, address, etc.), and it will help in the overall process for admissions. An applicant will begin the creation of a Contact ID, and finish it after receipt of an email and completion of the rest of their contact information. You will then be able to complete an application and access the status check using the Contact ID login you created.

For students who have already submitted a Spring application, we will be working with you to give you access to the status check through the Contact ID program. Please be patient with us as we do this, as we have to take it step by step.

The Contact ID system will make for an easier, more accurate and more secure application process, which we think is a pretty good goal!

Go Dawgs!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Revisiting the EA vs RD question

I am re-posting a blog post from last August, as it is the time of year when all the questions start coming up concerning the Early Action (EA) vs Regular Decision (RD) process. So without further delay, here is an updated version of last year's post!

From now until October 15, one of the most common questions for the admission office will be "Should I apply for Early Action (EA) or Regular Decision (RD)"? There is the perceived notion that one option is better than the other (NOT TRUE!). If a student applies EA and is deferred, they will be shifted to the next stage of review and will be looked at the same way as an RD applicant. If a student applies RD and meets the EA criteria for admission, they will receive an acceptance in late February. In reality, the only person that can answer the question of how they should apply is the student who is applying.

First, the EA Vs. RD difference is really about timing. If a student submits an application for EA, they will know something by at least mid-December. This "something" could be an acceptance, a denial, or a deferral (which means we want more information before we can make a decision). Early Action accepts are applicants that are extremely strong academically, and that our office determines we would admit without even reviewing the non-academic information. EA denials are students that we determine we would not admit for EA or RD based upon the information we have at that time. Deferred applicants are seen as very competitive academically, and we want to review the file after we have receive more detailed information about the student. RD applicants who apply will receive a decision in late February (if they meet EA requirements), or they will hear in late March, when all RD or deferred EA applicants will know final decisions.

Here are my two suggestions when looking at EA vs RD: First, look at the First-Year Profile for previous years, and determine where the applicant would fall within grades, curriculum and test scores. Since Early Action (EA) admitted students are at the top end of the group, if an applicant is not in the mid-50% or higher in at least two of the areas, they should rethink applying EA. Secondly, the applicant should ask if they would like to have first semester grades or SAT/ACT scores from after October in their file before a decision is made. If you want UGA admissions to see more about you, apply RD.

And for those of you who apply EA just because you do not have to complete part II of the application (now it is just 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.

Remember that there are a few changes to the 2010 application, with the two biggest items being that each student needs to enter in their self-reported academic grades (so go ahead and get a copy of your transcript!), and that the activities section has been shifted to part I. EA applications will still be reviewed in the same way as in the past, but these two changes will help both our office and the applicant pool in regards to the timing of decisions and the overall admission process.

Go Dawgs!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Application/Status Check sites down this week

Due to testing of a new ID system for applicants, our admission applications, along with the status check, will be down during this week. We are working on a new system that will allow for applicants to enter in their initial data in a Contact ID site, which will allow for more usability for the applicant and an easier interaction for other parts of campus with the applicant. When the new system opens up, an applicant will create a Contact ID, and after approximately an hour, they will receive an email directing them to the next steps for moving forward with an application. This new system also allows for additional security features and creates a unique ID number for each applicant.

Thank you for your patience as we move forward with our progress.

Go Dawgs!