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!