Thursday, December 29, 2011

myStatus Transcript Issue

As some of you may have noticed, there is an issue with the myStatus page displaying transcripts as received. I have communicated with the head of our technology team, and for some reason, the transcript database for the myStatus page did not load correctly the day that we left for the holidays. He is working on getting it updated, so do not panic if a transcript that was showing as in earlier in the year now has a red X beside it. We will fix the problem soon, so you do not need to email, call (we are on break, so no one would answer), or send a replacement transcript. We hope to have this fixed very shortly.

*** Update: The problem with the transcript database has now been fixed, so everything should now be showing up correctly. Please remember that we will be out of the office until Tuesday, January 3, so no materials or new applications will be input until then.

Go Dawgs!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Out for the Holidays

Our office will be closed for the Holiday break, and we will not return until early January. As such, any emails, mailings, phone calls, etc. will not be acted upon until after the holiday break. As well, I will only be making sporadic checks on the blog posts, so please be patient. As well, when we return in January, we will be working for a few days on enrolling Spring students and then right into freshman application deadline issues, so any questions that can wait (summer/fall transfer issues, questions about HS juniors or younger, etc.) should be put on hold until later in January.

Go Dawgs!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

What has been great with other colleges?

Throughout the year, while we read files, attend college fairs, match documents, review transcripts, visit schools, answer emails and phone calls, and generally just work with students and parents, we also look around and see what other college admissions offices are doing to help students know more about themselves. As such, here is your chance to let us know what has impressed you when working with other colleges (please no negative stories!), so that we can look at it and see if we can do our jobs better at UGA. Understand that our office has a limited budget and limited staff, so we cannot do everything in the world. But if a certain program, mailing, contact, event, or action from admissions struck you as impressive, I would love to hear about it!

Thanks, and Go Dawgs!

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Fourth Quarter

For a majority of students, the first semester is coming to an end, and with it comes the arrival of the dreaded disease known as senioritis. Hopefully, this video will shed a little more light on how UGA Admissions looks at a student's senior year.

Go Dawgs!

Monday, December 12, 2011

December Admissions Reminders

As we get further into December, here are a few reminders concerning UGA Admissions:
  1. Please, please, please do not wait until the last minute to send in your application and materials! Please!
  2. We have about 13,500 students who have applied so far, so I expect we will receive about 5,000 more applications. If you are one of those that is waiting to send it in until the last minute, know that life gets hectic around deadline time, so be prepared to wait as we sort through all of the materials and match up documents.
  3. Remember that our office will not be open from 12/26 through 1/2, so any information sent in during that time will not be matched up until we return and have a chance to start working again. In addition, we will have about 1,000 students starting in the Spring term that week, so we will have to focus on their needs as well.
  4. Do not wait to send in your SAT/ACT scores until after you apply, as you might forget to send them! If we do not have official SAT/ACT (with Writing) scores in, we cannot move forward with your file.
  5. Please remember that it takes time to match up items with your application, so do not contact us a day or two after you have applied wondering why your transcript is not showing up on your myStatus page. 
  6. Remember, we hate faxes!! The shredder is next to the fax (we do send and receive some faxes that are not official documents), and we will shred any transcript, recommendation letter, etc. that is sent for a student.
  7. January 15 is the Regular Decision deadline, but if it falls on a weekend or holiday, we extend the deadline to the next business day, so January 17 is the accurate deadline this year. Please do not see this as a chance to wait two more days though, as deadlines you should shoot to get things in before a deadline, not on a deadline.
  8. Deadlines are for the application and all other documents as well! The only two exceptions are February 1 for Fall grades, and we will take in any SAT/ACT that is taken in January (but you need to request the scores to be sent to UGA when you take the exam).
  9. Make sure your teachers know your real name, as I had to match up a recommendation yesterday where the name on the letter was not the name on the application. I cannot guess that the name on the materials refers to your middle name or nickname.
  10. If you are deferred, do not (I repeat DO NOT) fill out an entirely new application. Just complete part II and have a teacher recommendation sent in.
  11. We want to see your Fall grades, so make sure you either include them in your update section of part II, enter them in your self-reported grades if you know the final grades for the term, or have an updated transcript sent in to our office.
  12. Good luck during finals for the fall term, and have a great holiday season!

Go Dawgs!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Essays and Jokes, and How they are Similar

A number of you are now starting to write the four short essays for UGA, either because your decision was deferred or because you are finishing up your Regular Decision application. As such, here is some advice on good essays, and how telling a joke well and writing a good essay are similar. Just to be clear, I am not saying to include any jokes in your essays, but instead how the the two creative processes (joke-telling and essay writing) are similar.This is my first attempt at a video blog post, I hope you enjoy it. As you can probably guess, I will be cringing and wondering if that is really how I look, and if my voice really sounds like that to everyone.

Go Dawgs!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Recommendation Letters

We receive a number of questions at this time of year about teacher recommendations, so here is my (limited) advice on the subject. First, when figuring out who you should ask to write a letter of recommendation, try to find a teacher who knows you well, and has taught you within the last 1-2 years. UGA prefers teachers from core academic subjects, and we suggest you only have one teacher recommendation sent in. If you really feel like you need a second teacher recommendation (or one from a person outside the school such as a boss, a volunteer program coordinator, a minister, etc.), then I suggest the maximum should be one additional letter. Why do I say this? At a certain point, too much information starts to detract from our counselors being able to focus on the important items. If you have six recommendations in your file (and most of them will say similar things), we then start to spend more time shuffling through these letters than focusing on your other strengths.

For us, the purpose of the recommendation letters is to learn more about you from teachers/school officials who deal with you on a day to day basis, and can give us insight into what you are like in their classrooms, their hallways, and in the life of your school. Do you sleep in class, do you work well with others on projects, are you respectful to the ideas of others, do you pay attention, etc. How you act day in and day out in a HS class can give us insight into how you will be in our classrooms and in the UGA community. A recommendation letter that just gives us information that we already know, from a student's grades to activities (which are already in the file!), or holds up the applicant as the perfect student really does not help us in the review process. We are looking for insight into what the student is really like.

I still remember one of the first students I worked with in a college admissions setting, Patrick F. (almost 20 years ago!). He was a great student/person from Plano, TX, back when Plano Senior HS was the only high school in the town. One of his recommendations was from a priest/volunteer-organizer who wrote a recommendation without Patrick knowing about it. In the letter, the priest was able to give amazing insight into the type of person that Patrick was, and was able to show me what he was like when no one was watching. It talked about his positive manner of interacting with people in need of a helping hand and a kind voice, and how he was able to relate to people from a variety of backgrounds. The letter also talked about his humor, his maturity (or at times a lack of it!), and it gave me a sense of the real person. This is the type of letter that colleges desire.

So find the people that know you best, and have them share information and insights into who you truly are, warts and all.

Go Dawgs!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Officially on Twitter

 If you have not noticed yet (see the right hand side of the blog), I am now officially on twitter! I have absolutely no idea how I will use this within the UGA Admissions role, but I have a few ideas. Since file reading will be starting soon, and I will be overwhelmed with files, I am guessing I might share some interesting thoughts from the process. Feel free to follow me if you wish, but please be patient as I adapt to this new technology. Please let me know if you have any suggestions/ideas, but remember that I will be very limited text-wise. Now I just have to learn how to write in 140 characters or less.

Go Dawgs (and beat LSU)!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving Break

Like most people, I will be out of the office through the Thanksgiving holiday. As such, I will not be responding to blog questions until my return late Sunday/early Monday at the earliest. My suggestion is to put aside any thoughts of admission at this time, and just celebrate the holiday season with family and friends. Hold off on your comments and questions until after the break, and have a wonderful long weekend.

As always, Go Dawgs, and beat the Yellow Jackets (sorry Dad!).

Monday, November 21, 2011

Grades vs. GPA

In the wake of Early Action decisions going out, we generally have a number of questions about why a decision was made, and a great deal of confusion surrounds the concept of GPA. Most of the disappointed comments and email I am seeing have a GPA listed in them, and usually they do not match what I have as a GPA. As such, here are a few examples of why UGA looks at the grades on a transcript (and recalculates a GPA), and not on the GPA listed on a transcript. In case you have not guessed, I have written about this in the past, but this is an updated version of previous posts.

While writing this post, I have selected three files from the EA applicant pool that all have the same UGA GPA of a 3.32. Why did I select this GPA? Because it was the first random GPA to pop into my head. I then reviewed the transcript for each file and looked at the GPA listed on the top of each transcript. The first applicant has a GPA listed on their transcript as a 3.44 transcript GPA, the second has a 4.01 transcript GPA, while last one has a 4.45 transcript 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 1.13!). 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. I have even seen an Honors PE course before where the weighted grade was added into the transcript GPA. I am fine with that, as every school district has the right to calculate a GPA however they want, but please do not confuse what we list as a GPA for our purposes as what you would see on your transcript.

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 I wrote about calculating GPA's at UGA. We give out our mid-range GPA so that people will have a general baseline for where applicants fall within a certain understood range, but the reality is that you need to have a common method of calculating GPA's (as UGA does) in order to get a true understanding of the situation.

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 I 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!

Friday, November 18, 2011

2012 EA Decisions are Now Available!

Due to between 40,000-50,000 individuals trying to access the site, we are having server problems, so we suggest checking back later this evening when we have the server working correctly and the traffic is not as heavy. In addition, do not have multiple devices or people trying to access your student information, as that may slow access to your information.

Early Action decisions are now available online, and the applicant pool was very strong! Approximately 5,700 students were admitted, and here is the link to the 2012 EA admitted student press release with some statistics included. We are thrilled to have such a strong group of admitted students, but please also know that we will still be admitting a substantial number of students over the next 3-4 months.

For those of you who were deferred, please understand that this is not a denial decision, but just a situation where we wanted to look more in-depth at you as student and a person, and we want to be able to take the time to review everything in detail about you, from your short essays to activities to recommendations. Also, make sure you read the deferred student FAQ, especially before commenting on here please.

If you have questions about your specific decision, I ask that you not post them on this blog, as I truly cannot answer specific questions about individual students here (both because I generally do not have the actual student's information, and because I cannot disclose individual student information in a comment). My best suggestion is to talk with both your family and your HS counselor, review my suggestions about how to react to EA decisions, and read the FAQ's that are available off your myStatus page.

Also, please be aware that I will be at a youth retreat until Sunday evening, so a co-worker of mine, Lindsey Whittaker, will be responding to some of your comments while I am absent. Be nice, be patient, be courteous, and I hope our earlier timeframe was a help to all of you.

Have a great weekend, and Go Dawgs!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

2012 Early Action Decision Reactions

Since Early Action decisions will be going out in the late afternoon on Friday, November 18, here are a few suggestions on how to react to the four different decisions:

Admit: Celebrate with family, buy a lot of UGA gear to wear for the Thanksgiving break, but remember that not everyone has received a decision of admission, and so be a little more low key with friends and classmates. In other words, do not run up to you best friend during English class and scream "I got into Georgia" while 10-15 of your classmates are mentally throwing daggers into your back. In addition, be patient with the other parts of campus (commitment deposit, housing, the UGA myID system, etc.), as they might need a few days to take in your information. You will also receive materials in the mail as far as the next steps to take.

Defer: This is the most challenging one, as these are applicants who are truly strong students, but we want to see more about them (as well as the rest of the applicant pool) before making a final decision.  Please remember, this is not a denial at all, but instead a way for us to be able to review you in full, from your co-curricular activities, your essays, and your recommendations. As I usually state, defer is not a four letter word (even though you might feel this way), only a delay in an admission decision. This is your chance to let us know what you are like as an overall applicant. While this is probably not the answer you would like, I would suggest you treat it as a call-back for a second audition. Some roles have already been cast (or admitted), and we now want to look at you in more detail to see how you compare to the rest of the people auditioning (or applying). One of the worst things you can do is give up and not do the essays. The second worst thing is to call us up and berate us for not admitting you. We will be happy to talk to people, but make sure to communicate in a positive tone, understand that we cannot talk about other applicants, and please remember that defer does not mean denial. In past years, about half of the deferred applicants who completed part II were later admitted. Each year, about 1000 deferred students do not complete part II, so we never even have a chance to even review them! If you are serious about UGA, take the time to complete your application, and then be patient as we review all of these files throughout Jan., Feb. and March. When completing part II (the essays), you do NOT need to do an entirely new application, and there is no new/additional application fee. You just need to go to your myStatus page after decisions are out, complete part II (the essays), and hit submit. As well, get a teacher from an academic area to write your teacher recommendation. Remember, UGA is in no way done with the overall freshman admission process. We still have a long way to go, with a great deal of files to read and admission offers to make, so make sure you do your best to show UGA what you are like as an overall student/citizen.

Deny: While this is not a fun situation at all, the reality is that if you have been denied Early Action, you are truly not competitive for admission at UGA as compared to the rest of the applicant pool. It is not easy to write that, and it is very difficult to tell this to a student or parent, but when we look at this student's application in comparison with the other 10,800 EA applicants (and remember, we expect to get over 8,000 RD applicants as well), they do not match up academically with the others. It is better to tell you now instead of waiting until late March, as this gives you time to make other plans. Unless there seems to be a serious error (you are in the top of your class, take a very challenging course load, and have a strong test score), my suggestion is to not contact us about the decision, but instead move forward with plan B. While we do not mind talking with you at all, the reality is that an Early Action denial means that the admission to UGA is not possible as a freshman.

Incomplete: For the small number of students who did not complete your EA file, you are now automatically deferred to the next step, and so you will need to get in the missing materials from EA, and also submit part II of the application and a teacher recommendation. We went three plus weeks beyond the deadline allowing you to get in the missing documents, sending reminder emails, indicating what was missing through the myStatus page, and it was your responsibility to get in the required materials. So I do not suggest contacting us to see if we can take items late, as that time has passed. Focus instead on sending in what is needed to be reviewed in the next round. When completing part II (the essays), you do NOT need to do an entirely new application, and there is no new/additional application fee. You just need to go to your myStatus page after decisions are out, complete part II (the essays), and hit submit.

I hope this helps!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Half-Baked Reactions, 2012 Edition

Last year, I wrote a post shortly after the EA decisions were released, and I thought it would be a good post to revamp and have out prior to the 2012 EA decisions going out. Here it is:

Last night, my son wanted his favorite meal for dinner, fettucini alfredo with chicken. We pulled together to boil the noodles, cook the chicken and blend the sauce, along with making a salad, garlic bread and dessert. We had to put some time and effort into it, making sure not to burn anything while having every part come together to be ready at the same time. We were finally able to sit down together for a meal that everyone had a part in, and it was great.

When we judged how good the food was, we based it on the finished product. We did not taste the pasta after only four minutes of boiling and decide to throw it out. In addition, we did not look at the chicken half way through cooking and throw it out because it was still pink inside. We based our decision on how the meal was after was all prepared and sitting on the table.

In the same way, UGA will not be done with the entire freshman admission decisions after we make our Early Action decisions. We will be done with the Early Action part of the process, but we are still a long way from being done with final decisions! We will still be receiving a large number of RD applications, deferred EA students will be completing their part II sections, we will be reviewing transcripts, reading essays, doing holistic reviews, etc. So if you are deferred, please know that we still have a lot of admission decisions to make! My rough estimate based on prior years is that will still be admitting 4,000+ more freshmen after EA decisions. As well, please know that UGA will be treating deferred EA and RD applicants the same during the next steps of the process. The rumor always hits that deferred applicants will now be "put at the back of the line behind RD applicants", so let me just cut that off now and let you know that is incorrect. Again, in the next stages of the admission process, we will look at deferred EA (who get in part II and a teacher rec!) and RD applicants in the same way.

So please do not judge the UGA admission decisions half way through the process based only on EA decisions. Right now, UGA is still in that middle period of the cooking process, and the overall meal is still not fully done. It will not be until late March when final decisions are made that we can look at the overall class and see what it is like. Again, please be patient and know that there is still a lot to be done in the admissions review process.

Friday, November 11, 2011

2012 Early Action Decision Release Date

For all of you who are waiting anxiously by your computer/mailbox, nervous about your Early Action decision, here is some good news. UGA is planning on releasing the EA decisions on the myStatus page on Friday, November 18 in the late afternoon (unless some serious problem arises, which I do not expect). We are excited about this, and I am guessing you are as well, and hopefully it will allow for a little less nerve-wracking Thanksgiving break. In addition to the decisions being available on the myStatus page, letters will go out in the mail for Accepted, Deferred and Incomplete students. Freshman denial letters will not be mailed out, as almost all applicants see their decisions online, and we (along with a number of colleges) did not want to have a letter that only served to reinforce the negative feelings they might already have.

 I will not be able to access the blog for most of the decision weekend (chaperoning a youth retreat), but I will try to have someone in my office monitor the site and try to help with any questions. Please remember, though, that we cannot answer questions about other students on the blog, that an Early Action decision is based primarily on academic information, and to make sure you do not try to compare yourselves to others, as you most likely do not have all of the information that we do about the entire applicant pool. In addition, I will be sharing more details about the EA applicant pool the week after decisions are released, but I will not have the data on hand over the weekend, as we are focused on getting the decisions out first, not running statistics.

Go Dawgs!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

UGA and the ACT

Over the past 8-10 years, UGA has had a huge jump in the number of students submitting ACT scores. UGA treats the ACT in the same way that we do the SAT (neither one is better or worse, easier or harder, etc.), but there still seems to be a great deal of mystery about how UGA looks at the ACT. I will try my best to give you some insight into our process.

First, UGA requires that at least one ACT Writing score be submitted to UGA for us to use any ACT scores. For both the SAT and the ACT, UGA uses the Writing score information, so if we do not have an ACT Writing score, we cannot use a student's ACT scores. We are fine if one of your ACT exams has a Writing score and one does not, as we just need one (or more) Writing scores for the ACT. But we must have at least one ACT Writing score to use any ACT scores as a whole, and we cannot use the SAT Writing as a substitute.

When we look at the ACT scores, we are one of the schools that will superscore the ACT. This means that UGA will take your highest subscores in multiple ACT exams and use these highest scores both individually and in calculating the highest composite. The ACT determines the composite by adding together the English, Math, Science Reasoning and Reading subscores, then dividing by 4 (rounding to the nearest whole number). Since the Writing section is not required by the ACT, it is not used in the Composite score by the ACT. This is how you might have a higher overall Composite score than what your individual Composite scores are. Here is a quick example:
  • ACT 1: English-28, Math-29, Science-25, Reading-26 - Composite 27
  • ACT 2: English 24, Math 31, Science 27, Reading 23 - Composite 26
  • UGA Superscore:  English 28, Math 31, Science 27, Reading 26 - Composite 28
  • As well, UGA will use the highest ACT Writing score if you have more than one score.
When UGA looks at the scores in more detail, though, we are focusing on the subscores that match the SAT scores. As such, our focus is on the English subscore, the Math subscore, and the Writing subscore, as these match up with the SAT subscores. If you have both SAT and ACT (with Writing) scores, we will then use whichever test has the strongest scores. In addition to these three subscores being a good match to the SAT subscores, there has also been research showing that these three subscores are the best ACT score predictors of student success in college. The Washington Post has a good article about this ACT issue, although they use harsher language that I would.

So when you look at your ACT results and are discussing them with other people, know that we are looking at specific subscores, and that a Composite Score does not always give the most accurate information. Here are two more examples to give you a good understanding of the situation:

  • Student A: English -29, Math -30, Science -24, Reading -24, Combined English/Writing -31
  • Student B: English -25, Math -22, Science -29, Reading -31, Combined English/Writing - 26
The Composite score for both students is a 27, but the eyes of UGA, Student A has a much stronger ACT, specifically in the English, Math and Combined English/Writing subscores. So if they both go out and state that they have a 27 ACT, that does not really give the full and accurate story.

I hope this helps a little bit in understanding how UGA looks at the ACT, and Go Dawgs!

Friday, November 4, 2011

1 Million Pageviews!

Sometime late last night/early this morning, a prospective student (most parents are asleep before 2 a.m.) viewed a page of the blog, and the UGA Admissions blog officially had its 1 millionth pageview!! No, I cannot track down this visitor, and no gifts or prizes will be given out. But I am excited that a small idea that I had about two and a half years ago has led to the type of questions, responses, and healthy and open discussions about admission at UGA.

Thank all of you for helping make this blog what it is today!

And of course, GO DAWGS, especially for Homecoming!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Early Action Update, November Version

We have made it to November 1, and we are finally able to see the light at the end of the tunnel as far as matching up recommendations, test scores, transcripts, etc. for Early Action. We are importing the last of the test scores that were requested prior to October 15 (and a few just after it), and we are trying to work out a few issues we seem to be having with the College Board/SAT as far as a few remaining test score issues (we had about 1,800 test scores come in on Friday/Saturday, and we just pushed them into our system).

Right now, we are still at about 10,800 Early Action applicants, and at this time about 9,000 are complete, and I expect about 500-700 will become complete with the test scores we just loaded today. This is looking like a very strong applicant pool for Early Action, but it is hard to tell specifics yet, and we are reviewing transcripts, checking on the rigor of applicants, and reading a few files at this time.

One big piece of news is that, due to a few minor changes in our process (self-reported grades, cutting off test scores to those requested by the 10/15 deadline, etc.), we expect that we will be releasing the EA decisions sometime between (dramatic pause) mid-late November. Take a moment to do a small dance and shout for joy, then do me one small favor; Do not ask me for a specific date or time. I do not have one, I will not know one until later, and I will not give out a date that I am not 100% sure of it. So be patient, but know that we are almost excited as you are about this.

If you are missing any documents for Early Action, you need to take care of this ASAP! If your SAT/ACT scores are not showing up, wait until later today when we do an update to the myStatus page to see if they just came in, and if they are still missing, call the testing agency to see what is going on. Remember, if your name, birth date and SSN (or if you left the SSN blank) on the SAT do not match the ones on the application, it may take longer to match up the scores, and you may want to email with your information if you know they have been sent to UGA and if you know there is an issue with these fields.

I hope you are as happy about the mid-late November EA decision release date, and Go Dawgs!

Monday, October 24, 2011

NYC Bound

For the next few days, I will be out of the office while attending a College Board meeting in NYC (my wife is very jealous!). If you have questions, please be patient, as I may or may not be able to answer them in a timely fashion. At this point, roughly 75-80% of EA applications are complete, and we are still working on the remaining documents and SAT/ACT scores. I will try to give a more complete update early next week.

Have a great week, and Go Dawgs!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Early Action Update

Since we are now a few days beyond the Early Action deadline, I thought I would give everyone a few updates about the process:

2012 Early Action Applications: Approximately 10,800

Complete Early Action Applications: Approximately 6,600

Number of EA applicants without SAT/ACT (with Writing) scores: Approximately 2,500

Amount of Documents received over the past week: Approximately 1 Trillion (okay, it is really about 8,000)

We are still working on matching materials to files, so please be patient, as a large volume of items came in at the last moment. If after about 10 business days between required EA admissions documents being sent or you applying (whichever one is later), the documents are still not showing up on the myStatus page, we suggest you contact us. But remember that it is business days, so do not count weekend days.

We expect a large volume of SAT scores will come in over the next few days, as the October 1 scores will arrive shortly. At the same time, the College Board changed the layout of the download file this past week, so we are having to readjust our import system, so please be patient. We were just able to push in the scores, and we are updating the myStatus system, but the new scores may not show up until tomorrow (or if you did not include your SSN and correct name, next week). I had one email where a student said he requested the SAT scores to be sent earlier in the morning, and he was worried because they had not shown up yet on his myStatus page. Patience is a virtue!

Thank you to all the applicants for taking the 5-10 minutes to complete the self-reported grades chart, as this has been a great asset to our office. 5-10 minutes by each student means 5-10 minutes times 10,800 applications that we will be saving in part of our process, which will help us later in our EA decision timeline. I do not have an exact date when we will be releasing EA decisions, but when I do, I will let everyone know.

Make sure to check your myStatus page, your school and the testing agencies to make sure that everything has been sent to UGA. And now that the applications are submitted, take a few minutes to relax and enjoy senior year!

Go Dawgs!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Admissions Thoughts - October EA Deadline Edition

As the Early Action 10/15 deadline approaches (we are less than a week away!), here are a few thoughts about the Freshman Admission process.

  • Please, please, please do not wait until the last minute to take care of things! If you wait until the last hour to apply, I can pretty well guess that you will have a few mistakes in your application, that your parents and counselor will put on a smile but be very frustrated inside, and that you will be worried during the following week about the supplemental materials that have not yet been matched up with your file. I expect that between today and the deadline, we will receive about 5,000+ additional applications, receive about 20,000+ pieces of mail, shred about 200 faxes (remember, no faxes!), and answer about 1,000 emails, most asking if we have received X document.
  • Please do not call, write, or email our office about a transcript, school evaluation, etc. if it was just sent off, or if you just applied. My rough estimate is to give us 8-10 business days (Saturday, Sunday and holidays are not business days!) from the time something is mailed until it is matched with your file. And if you had the document mailed three weeks ago but just applied yesterday, give us 8-10 business days to then match up the materials, as we will have to check on 5,000+ new applications this week and see if any materials are in our "holding" files (where we put documents that have no applications). We want to review your file, so we will do our best to help make sure you have everything in for EA review!
  • I cannot guess if an SAT or ACT will get to UGA in time if you send it on X date, as it depends on when the testing agency says it will get to UGA. We will taking the Oct. 1 SAT scores, which will arrive about 10/20, and we will hold open the score importing for a short while after that. But we do not control how quickly the test scores will get to us, so it depends upon you and the testing agency.
  • The myStatus page is generally updated one time a day, during the very early morning, so you do not need to check it multiple times a day. Documents do not need to show up on the myStatus by 10/15 to be in by the deadline, so please be patient.
  • If it has been over 10 business days since you both applied and any "missing" documents have been sent in, it would then be good to start inquiring about the missing document. If it is a GA411 transcript, we occasionally have one that does not come through, but it is easy to go back into the system and access it again.
  • If you sent your SAT/ACT scores a while ago and they have not matched up yet, make sure that you sent them to UGA. Then verify that the name, SSN and birth date on the test scores are the same as on the application, as these are important matching fields. If you have given us enough time to receive them (not overnight!),they are not showing up on the myStatus page, and some of the key fields are different (no SSN on the test scores, Jimmy instead of James), email with your situation and we will work on manually matching the scores. Be patient though, as scores that are sent on a Monday do not get into our system on a Tuesday (or Wednesday, etc.).
  •  We will be keeping the online school evaluation open for at least a week beyond the 10/15 deadline so that your high school counselors will not be pulling their hair out over any last minute applicants. 
  • It is the applicant's responsibility to get in all required documents, as they are the "owner" of the documents/scores. UGA cannot call the College Board and have an SAT score sent, we do not always know who your specific high school counselor is, etc., so the responsibility lies with you.
  • Please understand that the next few weeks will be a little hectic in our office as we pull together all of the materials for each application, so we might be a little slower in responding to voice mails, emails,  etc. If you have a question that can wait about a week (such as questions about your high school junior), I would ask that you hold these type of questions for a short while to let us the deadline deluge. Thanks!!!
  • In a few weeks, I will have a better handle on EA application numbers, completed files, etc., so I will then have a better idea on a rough date concerning the release of EA decisions.

Friday, October 7, 2011

October Update on 2012 Spring Applicants

At this point in time, we are finished with Spring transfer decisions, and with much celebration by both the applicants and our office. We actually still have about 20 files that are being held and reviewed by our faculty, and they will hear something in about 2 weeks, but everyone else is done. We will be sending out emails this afternoon to roughly 200 Spring transfer applicants who were incomplete or late with materials, from no application fees to missing/late transcripts. Unfortunately, we are not able to move forward with any of the late/incomplete files, as we already extended the deadline out three weeks beyond the 9/1 deadline for supporting documents to be received.

As for Spring freshman applicants, we have made decisions on all complete files at the beginning of the week, and we will be sending out incomplete emails next week to the small number of students who did not send in the required materials.

The orientation site will open up in late October, and that is the next step for accepted students (transfers do not send in commitment deposits, so orientation is how you let us know you will be attending UGA).

Congratulations to all admitted Spring students, and we look forward to seeing you in January. Now, we turn our sites on the Early Action freshman applicants.

Go Dawgs!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Self-Reported Grades Walk Through

This is the second year that we have asked freshman applicants to complete the self-reported grades section on our application, and for the most part, things are going well. Most everyone who has applied has understood the process, and almost everyone has been correct in their grades. We expect that this small change in the application will mean we are able to release decisions a little earlier this year (but I have no dates at this time!), and it is making part of our review process go much smoother and quicker. But for those of you who have questions about this section of the application, here are a few hints.
  1. Before you start this section, have a copy of your transcript with you. I do not mean mid-term 9 week reports, or report cards, but a copy of your transcript just like you have sent to a college.
  2. Review the transcript, and line out with a pencil any non-core grades, such as Health, Journalism, PE, Business courses (the only exceptions being AP/IB non-core courses such as AP Computer Science, AP Art, etc.) You can get a clearer sense of these courses on the self-reported grade section of the application and line out more based on the listing. This is only for your high school grades, so line out any middle school grades (or for you Florida folks, line out the K-8 grades that appear on your transcript).
  3. For the self-reported grades, we are looking at the grades your teacher has given you and entering them into the chart based on your school's grading scale, so you enter in however many A's, B's, etc. that you were given by your teachers. Whatever you see as the teacher grades for the core classes, you enter into the chart. Do not enter in grades that you think you may make senior year, as we are looking at actual grades! Also, do not leave out bad grades just because you have retaken the class.
  4. If your school uses only one type of schedule/grade system, such as semester grades for all courses or year grades for all courses, then the self-reported grades will be extremely easy. For a semester transcript, look at every core semester grade (the ones you have not lined out) and enter these into the self-reported grade chart. Most applicants with semester grades will have about 28-32 total grades in the chart. If your transcript has semester grades and then has a year-long average after that, just leave the year-long grades out of the self-reported grades, as these are an average of the two semester grades that you already have entered. For schools with only year long grades, I estimate you will have about 14-18 grades entered into the chart.
  5. If your school uses a mixture of year-long grades and semester grades for your actual grades, it gets slightly more challenging, but it is not bad at all. First, read my post called Nickels and Dimes, which will help you understand the situation. Are you done? Good. If you have teacher grades (not a yearly average, but teacher grades!) that are both semester grades and year grades, just double the yearly grades. A year grade is the same a two semester grades, so just covert the year grades to semesters. Trust me, it works just fine.
  6. For the question that asks "Of the above grades, how many are AP/IB/AICE", look at the chart you completed, count up how many grades were in AP or IB (International Baccalaureate) classes (not pre-AP or pre-IB), and enter that number into this field. 
  7. For the question about how many AP/IB/AICE/DE courses you will have completed by the end of your senior year, count up the total number of AP/IB/AICE/DE courses you have taken from 9th through the end of 12th grade, and enter that number here.
When we received your transcript, we will do a quick but thorough check of your self-reported grades, so do not panic if you made a slight error in your self reporting. As well, do not overthink this section, just put in what you believe is the correct information. You will be fine.

I hope this helps, and Go Dawgs!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Early Action Suggestions

We are now about three weeks from the Early Action deadline, so I thought I should give out some suggestions about the application process:

  • Make sure you review the application before submitting it! We receive about 20 emails a day stating that an applicant made a mistake or left out something on the application. We can easily add updates to an applicants file (test scores that did not fit in the 6 spaces, correction to the self-reported grades, etc.), but it is easier if you double-check the application first.
  • Do not over-think things! It is okay to give us descriptions of your activities in bullet form or as a complete sentences, review your high school transcript and enter in the core grades from there, and do not worry so much about how to phrase your "reason for choosing major" section. Whether you put a colon or a semicolon will not make or break your chances for admission.
  • Remember, no faxes. I will say it again, no faxes!
  • The deadline is October 15, so do not wait until the last minute to apply. This will save you, your parents and your counselor a lot of worry.
  • We will keep the online school evaluation open for at least a week after the 10/15 deadline to help your counselors deal with last minute applicants (see previous bullet point).
  • UGA now accepts electronic documents through Docufide (which is linked to the program used by many high schools called Naviance), so let your counselors know about this.
  • Make sure to get a copy of your high school transcript to use for your self-reported grades. The transcript is what we look at and require, and it has your official grades, so this is where you should be looking in completing this section. And remember, the self-reported grades are the completed grades, so you are not to try and predict what you might get senior year for this section!
  • All SAT/ACT exams that can be used by UGA for Early Action must be taken by the 10/15 deadline, so we are fine with the October 1 SAT but not the late October ACT. In addition, if you have not already sent in SAT/ACT scores from previous test dates, I suggest you do it ASAP so that we will have it in time for Early Action. I cannot say how long it will take a previously taken SAT or ACT score to get to UGA, as that depends on when you request it and how long it takes to be sent. I can say that we do multiple test score downloads a week.
  • Be patient as we get closer to the 10/15 deadline, as we will be receiving a great deal of materials in the mail, through online submission, etc. I always say to give us about 10 business days to get things into the system. In other words, if you apply on Monday, do not contact our office on Tuesday wondering why things have not been matched up. Give us time, as I expect over 10,000 applicants for Early Action.
  • If you apply using the GA411 site, know that UGA does not control this site, and it is a common application for Georgia colleges. If you apply EA through GA411, you need to write the essays, as they are a part of the overall application on that site.
  • I have a magnet in my office that states "Your lack of planning is not my emergency." I do not mean to sound harsh, but this is your application, and as the mature, thoughtful and bright students that we believe you are, we expect you to apply on time, get in materials, and make sure that things are in by using the myStatus page.
  • On the Honor Code page of the application, we have about 8 application fields that are very important that you get right. Your SSN needs to be correct, your address, email, etc., so double check these very closely before submitting!
  • If you sent your SAT/ACT scores a while ago and they have not matched up yet, make sure that you sent them to UGA. Then verify that the name, SSN and birth date on the test scores are the same as on the application, as these are important matching fields. If you have given us enough time to receive them (not overnight!),they are not showing up on the myStatus page, and some of the key fields are different (no SSN on the test scores, Jimmy instead of James), email with your situation and we will work on manually matching the scores. Be patient though, as scores that are sent on a Monday do not get into our system on a Tuesday (or Wednesday, etc.). This generally applies to most colleges!
  • Remember, college admissions offices run on business days, so if you apply on Saturday, your application will not show up in our system until the next business day (Monday), and we can then work on matching materials, reviewing transcripts and courses, etc.
  • Go Dawgs!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Focus on the Faculty

Last week, I wrote a post about the dedication of the statue of Abraham Baldwin, the founder and first President of the University of Georgia. One of the key people in getting this statue from an idea to reality is Dr. Loch Johnson,  Professor in the School of Public and International Affairs and a key figure in the study of national security and the central intelligence community. In the first in a series of articles on UGA's faculty, Focus on Faculty. If you have a minute, go in and look at the specific article on Dr. Johnson, along with his thoughts on what makes an ideal college student.

Congratulations Dr. Johnson!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Myths of UGA Admissions

Every year, UGA's Admissions Office works with a large number of prospective students (about 60,000 and growing for 2012), sending them materials, emailing them information, inviting them to campus events, and alerting them about our travel. A majority of these students come to our attention due to an action by the student (SAT/ACT scores sent to UGA, email our office, see us at College Fairs/School Visits, etc.), and we try to give both the student and the family the best information about UGA as possible. Last week, we received an email from the parent of one of these prospective students in response to an email announcing that we would be at a college fair in their area.

My daughter received this email message from you today via email.  We both laughed and laughed when we read it.

To be honest with you, (XXXX) kids from where we live in (Atlanta Suburb) County with 3.7x or higher grade point averages and above average SAT and ACT scores, as a general rule don’t get into UGA for Freshman admission.  If we are admitted at all, we are admitted in the summer, have to go to (XXXXX) State for a semester or get turned down outright or get "delayed" decision.

Frankly,  we really do not not have any intention of even applying to the University of Georgia.  She can be easily be admitted to any of the leading universities in the USA (UNC, USC, Auburn, Alabama, Georgia Tech, Michigan, Arizona, UCLA to name a few )  we thought it best to look beyond the University of Georgia!  Our perception of your admissions process is that you accept freshman from other parts of Georgia, other states, other countries and other races and religions so that you will be able to tout impressive diversity numbers, but how many of those admitted with lesser credentials than my daughter actually stay for 4 years?

We are not going to waste the time or money completing an application to the University of Georgia. 

I have removed the personal information about this student so as not to target any individual, and I am not writing this post out of anger or to make fun of this family. Rather, I am writing about this to show that even though my office tries its best to give you an insight into our admission process, and we dispel the myths and urban legends about UGA Admissions, they still persist and live on year after year.

What I would ask of all of you is to help spread the word about this blog, the Top Ten Urban Legends about UGA Admissions page, and about our office in general so that the reality of what my office does gets out to the public. It gets frustrating to have to stamp out myths again and again, much less from an individual who initially contacted us for information. In the email, I count at least 7 myths, from it being easier to be admitted if a student is out-of-state, international, non-Atlanta suburb, a different race (optional on the application and asked per federal requirements) or religion (not even asked on the application!), that summer is a forced option, or that these students do poorly in 4-year graduation rates.

My suggestion to everyone is to do your own research on each college's admission process, be wary when you hear someone start a sentence with "Well I heard that UGA looks at ...", and to please share this information with your counselors, your classmates, and your friends. I try my best to give you an honest insight into UGA Admissions, but I can only stomp out so many myths.

Thank you for helping, and Go Dawgs!

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Birth of UGA

A little over 14 years ago, my wife and I celebrated the birth of our first child. That initial year was tough, as for all parents, with the lack of sleep, late night feedings, tons (and believe me, it felt like tons) of dirty diapers, trips to the doctor, and a great deal of new parent confusion. Most parents look back and are amazed that both they and their children survived those early years intact and sane.

This morning, UGA celebrated the founder and first president of UGA, Abraham Baldwin, with the dedication of a statue on North Campus, and it made me think about the challenges that he must have faced in those initial years when he chartered and "gave birth" to the University of Georgia. I am guessing that he had more late nights than I did, and while he did not have to deal with diapers, I am sure he had a great deal of more challenging and messy issues than I did.

So today, we celebrate the founder of UGA, Abraham Baldwin, member of the Continental Congress, Signer of the US Constitution, US Representative, US Senator, Professor and UGA President, and Statesman!

Go Dawgs!

Monday, September 12, 2011

2012 Early Action Thoughts

Mid-September is the time of year when the questions really start coming in concerning Early Action, so here is a quick post covering some of the highlights.

Required materials for Early Action applicants - Deadline October 15
  • Submit the online First-Year application after selecting Early Action (which makes the Part II essay section collapse, as the essays are not required for EA)
  • Submit the $60 application fee or have an official fee waiver sent to our office
  • Have your HS counselor submit a UGA School Evaluation form
  • Submit an official HS transcript (either electronically or by paper, but no faxes)
  • Have an official SAT or ACT (with Writing) score sent to UGA (we will only be able to use SAT/ACT scores for Early Action for tests taken by the October 15 Early Action deadline)
Early Action vs. Regular Decision

Every year, students and parents call our office and ask if they should apply Early Action (EA) or Regular Decision (RD). For the most part, we say that this has to be the student's call, as only the student knows if they feel comfortable with UGA reviewing their application based on their academic standing as of October 15. I have written a separate article about EA vs RD with a little more direction, and this should help you in the EA decision process, but it is still up to the applicant as to whether to apply EA or RD.

  • Make sure that you have a copy of your high school transcript when you are working on your application, as you will need to refer to it when completing the self-reported grades section. As well, please do not mark that you cannot self-report your grades just because you have not taken the time to get a transcript. The self-reported grades make the admission timeline go quicker for both you and UGA, and it also helps you understand what your academic record looks like to UGA.
  • Make sure that you enter in correct information, but especially review the data on the Honor Code page, where we list 10 or so key data fields that you have completed (name, birthdate, etc.), as well as your SSN. Make sure these items are correct before you hit submit.
  • We ask for information on clubs, activities, leadership, athletics and honors. Please do not ignore these fields, as even though for the most part UGA does not use them for an EA decision, we will use them for scholarship review and in our file reading process if you are deferred.
  • For your peace of mind (and mine and your parents!), do not wait until just before the deadline to submit your application.
What if you are Deferred?

First, a deferred decision is not a bad result of applying Early Action. All that it means is that UGA wants more time and information on you, as well as a large number of other applicants, so that we can review your file in detail during our reading period that goes from January through mid-March. My suggestion is that if you cannot handle a deferred decision, you should not apply Early Action. Every year, between 800-1000 deferred students do not complete part II of the application (essays and teacher recommendation) because they are either too unhappy with UGA or too despondent over the deferral to move forward with completing part II. An Early Action applicant needs to go in with a positive attitude, but also with the understanding that they might be deferred. Again, a Deferral decision is not a Denial, is not a Wait-List, but is just the UGA Admissions office saying that we need more time to look at your file, and we want to give your application a more detailed review of everything in your file.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Admissions Office Update

For the past two days, the UGA Admissions Office (along with the Registrar and Financial Aid) has been going through a software upgrade for our Imaging System.We expect to be up and running on either Monday or Tuesday, but please be patient as we go through this upgrade. During this process, we are not able to review files, move materials (transcripts, school evaluations, etc.) into student files, or check on certain items. When we are back up and running, we will jump in to quickly match materials to freshman files, and to continue the review of Spring transfer applicants. No time is a good time to have an update, but we felt that this was the best time over as a whole considering deadlines and decision release dates.

I will try to keep you updated in the early part of the week, but please be patient with our office in matching up documents and in making transfer decisions.

Go Dawgs!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Admissions Thoughts - September Edition

It is September, which means a number of things in the world of College Admissions. The start of the applications rolling in for next fall, the sound of luggage rolling down the office hallway as counselors get ready for fall travel, the campus getting a little quieter as visitors to our office slow down as all high schools are back in session for the fall semester. Here are a few quick notes for the high school seniors/UGA applicants for next year:
  • Please review the Top Ten Urban Legends about UGA Admissions, so you do not have to worry about the myths about summer vs fall admission, what major you should put down, etc.
  • Take your time completing the application, so you do not have to send us an email asking us to fix your name, your SSN, your address, etc. Review the application, especially the 8-10 key fields we list out for you at the end of the application, before hitting submit.
  • Read a book for pleasure! The Help is great, Watership Down was recommended by an office worker, Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers is wonderful, etc. Borders has some great deals now, so go get a few books.
  • Review the database of the UGA Admissions Counselors fall travel schedule (updated each week), and send your counselor a quick email with suggestions on what to do/where to eat/etc. in your hometown (see my earlier post called UGA on the Road).
  • Remember that if you are applying for Early Action, the deadline for taking an SAT/ACT is the EA deadline of 10/15, and that you need to have requested the scores be sent by 10/15. Also remember that if you submit an ACT, we need an ACT Writing score!
  • You are responsible for your application! We have a number of parents who are calling us now saying "My son/daughter and I are completing the application...". While your parents want to review the application with you, and maybe look at it before you hit submit, they should not be completing any part of the application. In addition, you need to make sure your SAT/ACT scores are sent, your counselor has submitted the School Evaluation (after you apply!) and transcript, and that you are checking the myStatus page.
  • See the movie Inception if you get a chance. Thought provoking, a little confusing, but very good!
  • Go by your favorite high school teacher's classroom and tell them how much they have meant to you. It is senior year, and I don't want this to slip by without you telling them.
  • If you had a conduct issue or a bad grade in high school, tell us about it, and how you have moved forward from it. As your parents would say, if you make a mistake, don't compound it by trying to cover it up.
  • Senior year is important, so make sure you keep up your grades. We had over twenty students last year who we had to rescind an offer of admission due to low senior grades, so do not let it happen to you!
  • Go out and perform a random act of kindness for a freshman in your high school! Remember what it felt like to be a freshman, then make their day a little better. My son just started his freshman year (go OCHS!), and while he is doing great, I know it will make a difference in a freshman's day!
  • When you are entering your self-reported grades, make sure you have a copy of your transcript in front of you. We want an accurate representation of your high school grades, and this is the best way (in addition to reading the instructions).
  • If you make a minor mistake on a non-crucial part of the application (punctuation error in your activities list, or forgot one senior class), do not worry.
  • After you submit the application, be patient. Our office still needs time to import your application, match up documents, download test scores, etc. Patience is not easy, but it is key.
  • Enjoy your senior year!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Spring 2012 Transfer Update

The deadline for Spring is one day away (Spetember 1), so I thought all of the transfer applicants would like an update on the progress of our review. Please remember, we are evaluating transfer files daily, but it takes a while to review each transfer file, so please be patient with us as we go through this process.

As of today, we have 1300 Spring transfer applications, and we expect a few hundred more to come in over the next few days. Currently, we have made decisions on just under 500 of these files, and we are averaging about 30-40 decisions a day. Of the remaining 800 files still to review (and this will grow over the next few days as the deadline hits), we have transcripts from about 500 of the applicants. Generally, we will evaluate files based upon who completed their file earliest, so someone who submitted all of their materials (application, application fee, transcripts) on August 12 will generally hear a decision before someone who completed their file on August 13, who will hear before an August 14 completion, etc. There are some exceptions, but this is the general course that our office takes.

Please do not ask when you will hear a decision, as I cannot guess as to a date. As well, monitor your myStatus page to make sure everything is in, and if a transcript is under a different last name (if was under a maiden name, you changed your name after adoption, etc.), email and let us know of the different names so we can track things down. Then just be patient as we review all of the transfer files.

I hope this helps, and Go Dawgs!

Monday, August 22, 2011

UGA on the Road

The end of August means one thing in the world of college admissions: The start of Fall travel! Every fall, droves of college admissions counselors depart from their campuses like flocks of migrating birds, heading out to college fairs, college nights, high school visits, counselor programs, and recruitment events, only to return to their college nest in late October/mid November. Some will be out for two to three weeks, while others (not UGA) will be on the road for 10+ weeks. What does this mean for prospective students and parents? You will be seeing a lot of UGA people on the road this fall. And to track where we are, go to the UGA On The Road page for more travel details.This page will be updated weekly to show any new programs or visits our admission team will be attending.

Now, here is my request for all prospective students and parents. When admissions officers are on the road, many times they are dashing from program to program, and are not always able to learn about the wonderful and unique restaurants, hotels and/or events in your community. Many times, it is easier to stop by a Subway shop on your way from High School A to High School B, and they miss the places that make your hometown great. So if you see that UGA will be visiting your area, go to the UGA Counselor Page and send the counselor assigned to your area a quick email letting them know about the hometown places they may want to visit when they are in your area. If you still are not sure who will be visiting your area (there is some overlap of travel territories), you can send an email to the most likely person and they can forward it on to the correct counselor if it is not them.

In addition, this is a great way to break the ice when communicating with a college admissions counselor. Instead of just asking about a specific major, the football team or the weather, you can now have a reason to contact the counselor, and you will be giving them insight into your community.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Check List

My wife Cathy and I have taken enough trips in our life together to know that before we do any packing for a vacation, we need to have a check list for the trip. We have had more than enough times early in our marriage where we were an hour down the road when one of us suddenly uttered the famous words "Did we remember ...?" The worst times have been when we are in a rush to get everything together and hit the road in 30 minutes or less, and some bag, book or envelope is still sitting on the kitchen counter while we race out of the driveway. We have learned the hard way (urgent trips to Target or CVS) to take the time to plan out the preparations for a trip.

In the same way, I seriously suggest that you take the time to plan out the college application process. I have written about this issue before, but here is a more specific list of suggestions:

  •  Get a copy of your transcript, your resume (or create one and then put it with your college admissions materials), your school counselor's contact information, documented verification that your official SAT/ACT scores were sent to each college, your senior schedule, and payment information (credit card information for example). One of my co-workers has also suggested a box of green tea bags for a calming cup during this stressful time.
  • Go out and buy a large bin, crate, or accordion style file holder to keep all of your college materials . In addition, create a section for each college where you will be applying, purchase enough folders for different sections for each college (admission, financial aid, housing, scholarships, etc.), and label each folder with the college's name.
  • Create a checklist for each college, which should include a section for both the deadline date and the date submitted for each item. Your list should include all the required materials, from the application, application fee, transcript, test scores, recommendations, etc. The checklist should also have a place to list any user name and password that you have for the college's application or status check.
  • Purchase or print out a master calendar where you can list the important dates for each college. This could include the deadline dates, the notification dates, May 1 commitment deposit date, etc. You can use different colors for the different schools (red for UGA, orange for Clemson, etc.). Post this calendar in a prominent place in your house. Shoot for taking care of things by AT LEAST two weeks prior to a deadline.
  • After applying, print out a copy of the application verification page(s) and any other post-application requirements that each college gives you. 
This is probably not everything that you will need, but it is at least a good start. Hopefully this will help make sure that nothing will be left on the counter as you take off on your college admissions journey.

Go Dawgs!

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Freshman Application is Now Open!

We have now opened up the Summer/Fall 2012 Freshman Application! As I have stated in previous posts, this does not mean you should stop whatever you are doing and submit the application as quickly as possible. Please do not do this! Instead, make sure that you have all the information you will need prior to submitting your application, such as verifying your SSN, having a copy of your transcript and a resume so that you can complete all of the information needed without errors or gaps. A majority of students who apply right after we open up the application then end up contacting our office to fix mistakes they made by rushing through the application. Here are a few items you want to make sure you complete correctly:
  • Make sure you have put your name in correctly. Your name called/nickname should only list "Bob", not Bob James Smith, your SSN NEEDS to be correct for our office and financial aid, and your address needs to be right for both mailing information to you and for Residency purposes.
  • If you are a citizen of the United States, mark citizen. A Permanent Resident is a person with an Alien Registration Card/Green Card, not anyone who lives permanently in the U.S.
  • When listing your high school, do the search process so that your high school's code will drop in correctly and will not slow down us importing the application. In addition, if you have attended multiple high schools, list your current one first.
  • Please list your senior year courses in the area provided, and you can shorthand course names/titles. This helps us in our review of your file.
  • Your HS counselor can only complete the online HS Evaluation form once you submit your application (so please do not wait until the last minute!), and you will be asked to give your counselor's email to alert them that you have applied. They will also be able to see this on the UGA HS Counselor Portal, and we will keep the online HS evaluation form open for about a week after the deadline.
  • The SAT/ACT/AP score area on the application is for our general knowledge about you, but we need the official scores to be sent to us.
  • The deadline for Early Action for the SAT/ACT is to take the exam by the Early Action deadline of October 15, and to request the score by October 15. 
  • If you have any conduct or conviction issues, please be specific about the situation. As well, we do not need to know about minor traffic tickets, if you had ISS in middle school, etc. 
  • In the Activities sections, please do not leave this blank thinking that we will never look at it. This area is important in scholarship review, when we are in our holistic review process, if we need to know more about you, etc.
  • Read the self-reported grades description in detail before completing this section. We are looking at your core course grades from 9th grade on, as well as how many of the grades you list are from AP/IB courses, and how many total AP/IB courses you will have completed by your HS graduation.
  • Do not hit the submit button unless you are sure that you (and your parents!) are ready to submit the application!
  • Remember that the online credit card payment option is only available from 7 am - 9:30 pm EST
  • UGA only has an online application, so we do not accept any paper applications that are submitted.
  • Do not fax our office any updates, corrections, etc. We do not like faxes!
Remember that there is no admissions advantage to submitting your application on the first day it goes live. UGA will look at you the same way as any other student who applies by the deadline, so being the first application in does not give you any bonus points. While I do not suggest waiting until the week of the deadline to apply (too many risks of problems/errors), I suggest you take your time completing the application and making sure all the information is correct before submitting it.

Go Dawgs!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

New Look to the UGA Website!

Just a quick post to direct everyone to the updated and newly designed UGA website! There is a great deal of new information, but also a great deal of standard information with a new look (check out the calendar and the UGA Today section for instance!).

Friday, August 5, 2011

HOPE Changes for 2011-2012

I have previously written about the changes that occurred to the GA HOPE program this year, but I wanted to give everyone a link to the Office of Student Financial Aid's HOPE changes page so everyone can see the specifics of the new regulations added by the GA legislature.

Since early August is the time of year when students need to work with the UGA Bursar's Office to take care of their enrollment costs, both the Office of Student Financial Aid and the Bursar's Office have been receiving a large number phone calls and emails. Since the changes made this year were somewhat complex, I am thrilled that the people in Financial Aid have been able to give such a great breakdown of the changes and how it impacts current and incoming students (and it also will be good for future students to review as well)!

I hope this helps answer some of the questions surrounding the HOPE changes, and we are looking forward to the start of classes in about 10 days.

Go Dawgs!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Big Dawg Welcome 2011

Every year, the University of Georgia has a huge series of events during the first week back on campus. This year, there will be a huge freshman gathering at Sanford Stadium, an outdoor movie at Legion Field, live performances at the Tate theater, and a special Dawgs after Dark on Friday, August 19. I hope that the first week at UGA goes well for all incoming freshmen and transfer students, and I wish you the best for your first semester (and year!). Go to the UGA Campus Life site for more information!

Go Dawgs!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Random Admission Thoughts - July Edition

As we move forward with recruiting the freshman who will be applying for the Summer/Fall 2012 term, here are a few random thoughts about the admissions process and where you are at now in the admission cycle.
  • Go out and get a copy of your high school transcript now (if possible), or after the first week back at your HS. If your HS uses electronic transcripts (in GA, most us the GA411 option), you may be able to get this very easily. This will allow you to look at your grades over the past three years, remember what happened, and be able to complete any self-reported grade sections on an application.
  • If you are invited to any special visitation programs for a college you are interested in attending, and it fits both calendar wise and financially (I am not suggesting you fork over thousands of dollars to fly to Hawaii and use me as an excuse!), go to them. These are usually set up so that you can get a wealth of information in one day, from student and/or faculty panels, academic department drop-ins, tours, etc., which is much more arranged than just going on a tour of campus.
  • Please remember that in this age of amazing technology, faxes have gone the way of the dinosaur. As I have said before in my Dr. Seuss voice, "I do not like Faxes, Sam I Am."
  • Go get a book and read it! I say this so often that I feel like I should get a tattoo of a book on my arm. My son is about to start To Kill a Mockingbird, I just finished The Hunger Games and Catching Fire (re-read both), and my daughter is part way into Beautiful Creatures. They sometimes groan about my insistence on summer reading, but it is important!
  • Before the start of school, volunteer for at least 2-4 hours somewhere. Whether it is a food bank, Habitat for Humanity, tutoring, cleaning a neighbor's yard, etc., go out and give back. Why? First, because some people really need help. Second, volunteering helps to put things into perspective. After a week at camp, almost all of the counselors I was with saw that their issues did not seem quite as bad as they thought.
  • The college football season is about to kick off, but do not choose a college based just upon their football team, as everyone has ups and downs. I think the world of Coach Richt and I believe that UGA will have a great season, but athletics are only a small part of a college's overall world. Choose wisely.
  •  It is hot, especially in the South, so go out an have some ice cream. Oh, one additional thing, take your parents with you. Take the time to sit, relax, forget about any issues, and just enjoy a Chocolate Extreme Blizzard with cookie dough (the ice cream of choice for the Graves family).
Go Dawgs!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Do's and Don'ts from Admissions

We are right near the end of the cycle for one group of students (the Fall semester starts on August 15), and we will open up the 2012 Freshman application on the same day. As such, here is a list of do's and don'ts for both of these groups of students (please take with a little grain of salt):

Entering Students: 
DO: Have a great rest of the summer, and know that the first week at UGA, while a little intimidating, is the start to a great year! Speak with your professors on the first day, check out some of the great events going on that week at, try to connect with a few organizations that seem interesting to you, step outside your comfort zone, etc.
DON'T: Let me see your name and/or photo on the front page of the Red and Black newspaper because you did something stupid the first week. It is the first week that you will be on your own at college and away from the parents, but be smart in the choices you make.
DO: Jump in feet first into your classes, study hard, get to know the faculty member and your peers in you First-Year Odyssey course, and be on time. The UGA iPhone app has a campus map that can direct you around campus and show you where you are using GPS, and the bus system is a lifesaver.
DON'T: Skip any classes because they are too early/too late/too far away/because you are late. Attendance is key, along with planning ahead. Map out your weeks to include study time, find people to study with, and use the available resources, from tutoring to your RA to your professors.
DO: Have a great first year, as your freshman year should be wonderful!

Rising HS Seniors:
DO: Have a wonderful senior year, as your senior year should be special. Focus on doing well in your classes, but also take time to strengthen your ties to your friends, meet new people, and enjoy your last year of HS.
DON'T: Let senioritis overtake your brain. After you are admitted to a college, they will still be reviewing your final HS transcript, and you need to make sure your grades have not dropped to a level that causes problems in enrolling at your intended college.
DO: Stay active in clubs, sports, volunteer work or other activities that you have been involved with during HS. Senior year should be a good finish to your HS years, not a count-down until you are out of there.
DON'T: Be so active in all things outside of school that you let your grades drop (see the first DON'T). Know (or learn) how to juggle different demands, and know that your academics come first.
DO: Look at the college search process as a time to learn more about yourself, what you want to do for the next four years, and find several good matches in your college search. This should be an exciting time where you are able to look into the future and see how you fit with each college, and the possibilities that are down the road.
DON'T: Listen to myths, rumors or people who say "I heard that in order to get into UGA...". Senior year and the college search should not be a time of panic or despair, and most of the stress is not necessary. College admission offices want to work with you and help you through the process, so listen to their suggestions.
DO: Pay attention to deadlines, take responsibility for your own college applications, and make sure things are in well before they need to be.
DON'T: Do things at the last minute. How you act in HS and in the application process shows us how you might be on our campus. If you do things at the last second (or later), procrastinate, and do not take care of your side of things, what do you think the colleges will be thinking about how you will handle things once you get to college.
DO: Enjoy your senior year, take time to enjoy the college selection process, and thank your parents/guardians for all that they have done.

Go Dawgs!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Spring 2012 Transfer Decisions

In early July, the UGA Admissions office began reviewing Spring 2012 transfer applications and making admission decisions on files that were complete. We are still working with incoming freshman concerning final HS transcripts, and we are still posting updated transfer work for Fall transfers and freshman with dual enrollment credit, so we will not be evaluating as many applications daily as we normally do. Of the 300 or so Spring transfer applicants so far, we have made decisions on about 120 or so files, and decisions are made on a daily basis. Any decisions will show up on the myStatus page the next morning, and we only update the myStatus page once a day (in the very early AM), so you do not need to check it multiple times in a day. Spring Freshman decisions will not be made until September, so please be patient if you fall into that category.

We review transfer files based upon when an applicant has both applied and submitted all the necessary transcripts. My biggest suggestion is to make sure that all transcripts from all colleges you have attended have been both submitted and RECEIVED by the UGA admissions office. If you attended a local college for a few classes while in high school, send in the transcript. If you attended, a technical school and don't know if the work will transfer, send in the transcript. In other words, if you attended a college, send in the transcript.

The status check will show you if the transcript has been received by UGA, and it will also show a date of when we were able to match it with your file. Make sure that you have sent in any and all updated transcripts, as we cannot review a file for Spring 2012 if the last transcript you submitted does not include your most recent college work (for instance, if you sent in a transcript in March 2011, it will not include your Spring 2011 term grades). It is up to you to make sure you get everything in to our office, as we cannot request transcripts on your behalf. As well, do not fax in materials, as they will go straight to the shredder. I will say it again, DO NOT FAX MATERIALS (sorry about the shouting, but we cannot accept faxed documents, and I do not want students to think we have received transcripts when we have not).

Please be patient as we review the files, as our team has a number of jobs to complete during the late summer.

Go Dawgs!