Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Random Notes from the Week After

After a few days of opening mail, reading files late into the night, scanning documents, and answering emails, here are a few quick and random thoughts from me (take these with a grain of salt):
  • To the teacher that decided to put seven staples into your two page teacher recommendation, please do not ever do that again. Please!
  • I have really enjoyed reading some great essays (and a few not so great), and I hope to contact a few students to see if I can get their permission to post a few on the blog. Jaynie C. from Marietta, great essays!
  • To the teacher who wrote "I sent this letter 6 weeks ago and yesterday, I received a chopped up envelope in the mail with an apology from the USPS", we are fine to take the letter that you included. I love my postal service, but sometimes...
  • To the schools that have to staple their transcripts, at least do not staple right through your student's name (Chattahoochee among others). It is difficult enough to pull out the staples, much less try to save the name underneath. The transcripts all survived, but my calm language did not. Maybe this suggestion will help out for next year.
  • To the schools that sent in all their updated transcripts in one large packet with no staples, and alphabetically to boot, I love you. If I could marry a school, I would (Sayre, Walton, etc.).
  • Wow, some of you get to take some great classes! I wish I was able to take Science Fiction Lit. in my high school.
  • To the 5,000 plus teachers and 14,000 plus counselors who did their recommendations online, I love you too! I am already married, though, so I can not propose.
  • To the students, teachers and counselors who sent in things well before the deadlines, you are awesome! We are fine with things being sent on the deadline, but things that are sent well before the deadline are much appreciated!
  • Every year, I am amazed at how much you (the applicants) are able to fit into your life. I have seen a great deal of students who are very active in their schools, their communities, and in the world as a whole.
  • To the students, parents, counselors, teachers, etc., that call, email or send us notes and other items of thanks, we love you! To the ones that scream, yell, curse and threaten, never mind, you just do not get it.
  • To all the 18,000 or so freshman applicants for your interest in UGA and being a bulldog, thanks for considering UGA as one of your college options.
We are almost done opening, scanning and merging the mail into all the student files, but be patient, as our system is not a live update system. We will be double-checking incomplete files over the next few weeks to search out missing items, but if it has been 8-10 business days since something has been sent and it is still not showing up, talk to the sender. If need be, send the missing item again, and make sure it has your full name and birthdate on it!

Now back to file reading! Go Dawgs!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Quiet Time for Admissions

It is now quiet time in our office, a practice that we have done for about 5 years. We will still be taking calls and answering emails, but the admissions counselors will be focused on freshman file reading, and thus will not be able to take calls or visit with students/families that visit our office. They will still be conducting information sessions and they will be talking to guidance counselors, but in order to get decisions by late March, we need to focus on file reading. Our information clerks will still be taking calls and answering emails, but responses may be a little slower as we go along. For more information, please go to the Quiet Time Information page on our website.

I have enjoyed reading the limited number of files I have been able to get to so far, and I look forward to learning more about all our applicants!

Go Dawgs!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Deadlines, myStatus and Materials - The Cliff Notes

At this point in the the Admissions process, everyone (my office included) is somewhat worn out, exhausted, but glad that we have survived the deadline. Here are a few random thoughts about the process over the next few weeks.
  • The myStatus page is updated every business day during the early morning (and occasionally a rare afternoon), so it is not a live update. If your teacher submits a recommendation letter today, it will not appear today. 
  • The mail takes time to get here! I received an email yesterday from a student who said that her teacher mailed the recommendation letter yesterday, and it was not showing up yet on the myStatus page yet. Reality check! We have received over 20 bins of mail, and we can only open so much, scan so much, and input so much in a day.
  • Faxes will be shredded!
  • We hate staples. We really hate staples!
  • A postmarked deadline means when it is put in the mail, not when it gets to us. And remember, we will work with you on missing items (up to a point).
  • Make sure your teacher knows your real name, and how to spell it. I have tracked down at least 5 letters today with last names spelled wrong, 10+ with the first name as something other than the official first name, and two with just a first name on the letter. It happens, and we deal with it, so be patient.
  • Patience, patience, patience!
  • We import test scores within a few business days of receiving the score reports. They do not go in instantly, as it takes several different offices to get them in correctly. If it has been a while since your scores were suppose to be in UGA's hands, look at your score report to make sure it was sent to UGA, that your name is the same on the score report and the application, that your correct SSN is on the score report, etc. If there is no SSN and the name or bdate is different (and you have been patient), then contact us about it to see if we can hand match the scores.
  • Did I mention that we shred faxes and hate staples?
  • We want to complete your application file, so make sure that all materials are sent, and work with us.
  • If you contact us, give us the details of the situation (when something was sent, the name it was sent under, how it was sent, etc.). As well, remember that we want to work with you, so be pleasant and patient.
  • Do not do a mass email to the entire admissions staff, or call 2+ admissions counselors in the hopes that this will speed up your situation. This only slows things down and causes us to become frustrated, as we are now all working with one student instead of multiple students.
  • You do not have to send things multiple times right away, as that slows down the process in our office. I just looked at a file where three transcripts came in within a one day period. 
  • Did I mention patience? How about faxes?
  • Relax, enjoy this semester, and know that we are working hard to get all the files complete and reviewed. Make sure to track your application on the myStatus page, and give us 8-10 business days from when something is sent in to UGA to then get it into your file.
  • Go Dawgs!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Next Steps!

Now that the Freshman application deadline is in the past, and as all of the supporting documents roll in, here are a few of the things that will be going on in the Admissions Office over the next few months.

  1. We have 8+ bins of mail waiting to be opened, sorted, scanned, and dropped into the proper files. I expect that we will have a fair number of items that are still in the process of being delivered, so it will take until late next week to get through everything (or even later!).
  2. We had over 1,100 applications come in over the extended weekend, and another 700 or so on Monday (and we will have a few more straggle in today from people with application issues that we are clearing up). We now have to search through all our holding files (where we keep documents that have not been matched up yet, usually because they come in before the application), for all 1,800+ applicants. We probably have over 5,000 documents in the holding files, so this takes a while.
  3. We will continue to import SAT and ACT scores, and we will do this until we receive the January 22 SAT scores, most likely in the second week of February. 
  4. We have begun file reading season, and we will be going to what our office calls "Quiet Time". This means that we will not have a counselor available for phone calls, but the wonderful information clerks who answer the phones will still answer them, and will still help anybody who contacts us. As well, they will be answering emails and helping visitors. We will still be doing 8 information sessions per week, and we will be helping applicants and their families, but we also need to set aside time from January through March to be able to read files.
  5. We will still be doing limited travel, but file reading takes a lot of time, so we try to hold off on most Spring travel until after mid-March.
  6. Our evaluation team will be working through mid-February reviewing high school transcripts and checking self-reported grades, and then they will start reviewing transfer files (working on Summer transfers first, then Fall transfers). 
We ask that you have patience as we get through the mail, the surge of applications, and the large amount of files that need to be read. It is a fun time, but it is also exhausting!

Go Dawgs!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

File Completion Deadline Extended to January 21

Due to the school closings throughout the Southeast, UGA has (as previously stated) extended the application deadline to January 18, and we are now extending the File Completion deadline to Friday, January 21. This means that the materials that are sent in accompanying an application (transcript, teacher recommendation, school evaluation, part II, etc.) can be postmarked by January 21 and still be fine for UGA Admissions. Remember, the application deadline is still January 18 at 5 p.m. EST. We hope that since a large number of schools will be out on Friday due to icy weather, and then have a national holiday on Monday, the extended File Completion deadline will help everyone out next week.

Have a great day, and Go Dawgs!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Extended RD deadline

Due to the severe weather issues surrounding UGA, Atlanta and the Southeast, the freshman Regular Decision application deadline and file completion deadline of January 15 has been extended to January 18 at 5 p.m. EST. Please remember that we will be flexible with materials coming from high schools, and we will keep the online school evaluation and teacher recommendation forms open for a short while after the deadline to assist school officials. Please be safe during this severe weather situation, and I suggest not waiting until the last minute to submit your applications!

Go Dawgs (and be safe!).

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Incomplete Emails and Incoming Materials

At this time of year, we send out a number of emails to freshman applicants letting them know that their files are incomplete. This is a standard email that is sent out roughly 10-15 days after a student has applied, and it is to alert the student that as of the time of the email creation, we did not have all the required materials in their file. NOW (and I put this in caps and bold letters for a reason), the email also states that an applicant should check their myStatus page to see what is in and what is missing, and that the myStatus page has the most up-to-date information. This means do not call us saying that the myStatus page shows you as complete but the email says incomplete.

There is about a one day delay between a document being put in a student's file and that information then being relayed to the email system. So, if the email is created today to be sent out early tomorrow morning, there could be a document that came in today that now completes the file, and that may be shown on the myStatus page on the next day (the same day that the incomplete email arrives). If you are one of the few people who gets an incomplete email but the myStatus page shows that everything is now in, you do not need to panic. The myStatus page is the most up-to-date system, and you should track your materials from there. The email is just a reminder to make sure you know what is going on with your file.

We will be getting a large volume of applications submitted over the next two weeks (I am guessing 3,000 or more), and a huge volume of materials (I am guessing 20,000 or more documents), so please be patient as we sort our way through everything. We will be working hard to get everything matched up with your file, but it will take a little while, especially right around the deadline. Again, be patient with us during this time.

Hopefully this helps explain the situation, and will ease your mind.

Go Dawgs!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Where's the Effin Waffle House?- A Story of Misunderstanding

About 7 years ago, my wife and I were driving home after picking up our six year old son at my in-laws house, with  him firmly strapped into his car seat  in the back. As six year olds are prone to do, his discussion turned to bodily functions and a wonderful discussion about gas. My wife, raised as a proper southern woman, re-enforced the notion that one should not use the word "fart", even going as far as to say "remember, we do not use the F word". Of course, this turned into a wonderfully painful discussion about what other words he should not say, from the S word, the H word, and the other, dreaded "F word".

We finally made it through the "words that should never be said" talk, and focused on the drive home from Greensboro, GA to Athens. We had just reached the bridge crossing I-20, when from the back of the car we heard the statement "Where is the effin Waffle House?" My wife jerked her head around in horror and asked "What did you just say?" in a tone only a mother knows. My son grinned back at her and said "Where is the effin Waffle House?" She sat stunned, unable to speak, when he once more repeated "Where is the effin Waffle House?", only this time pointing forward and up in the sky. My wife turned to look, and saw the Waffle House sign up ahead in the dark sky, with one of the F's dark from a burned out light bulb. In other words, "Where is the F in WAFFLE HOUSE?" Luckily, I was able to keep the car on the road through all the laughter, but it was not easy.

Why do I tell you this story, other than it is the best story I have in my parental bag of stories?

Around deadline time in January (and really throughout the year), we will get phone calls and emails from students, parents and counselors asking about an application. The student will ask if the application is in the system and okay, and we will check to see if it made it into our files. When we say yes, we go away thinking that the student now knows the application has been submitted (and letting them know to check their myStatus online), but the student may hear the words "okay" and think that their file is complete. A counselor may call to say they have just sent in the high school transcript and so the applicant's file should be complete shortly (and thus we say okay), only to later find out it was sent by fax and we could not even read the name on the page, much less the grades. A parent may call to make sure UGA has received their child's ACT scores (and we would see they came in on X date), but not see the myStatus situation or see the UGA email indicating that we are still missing an ACT Writing score. As you can see, it all comes down to an issue of misunderstanding what was communicated by both sides.

So when you contact any admissions office, make sure you are asking specific questions, make sure to submit  things early in the process in case there is a problem, and make sure to use the sources at hand (myStatus, your counselor, etc.), to insure that your file is complete.

Timeline Leading Up To (and Beyond) January 15

Between now and January 15 (and even a little while after that!), the UGA Admissions Office will be receiving a huge volume of materials, both electronically and in the mail. Since it has been less than two hours since we have returned from our holiday break, please allow us time to get these materials into our system and make sure that you monitor your myStatus page. Deadlines are always a hectic time of year, and the January 15 one is the most stressful, as it is the final deadline for admissions materials. Here are a few suggestions for the next few weeks.

  1. Be patient, as UGA (and all the other colleges to which you are applying) are still trying to get back into the office, and it takes a while to get through all the materials.
  2. Make sure to check with your counselor, teacher, school official, boss, or whoever is sending in materials for you and make sure they have been sent, and remember that items sent through the mail take time to get to UGA.
  3. Do not wait until the deadline to do things! I repeat, do not wait until the deadline to do things! Yes, we will take applications that are submitted on midnight of the deadline, but this means that you are putting yourself in a position with no room for error. And please do not go to your counselor on January 15 and ask for materials to be sent. They will send it, but you are putting them in a tight spot of trying to do things while rushed, and this many times leads to errors.
  4. Make sure that your counselor and teacher writes your legal name on the forms/letters. If your name is Jonathan Taylor but you go by J.T., make sure that Jonathan Taylor is somewhere on the pages.
  5. Do not send in items by FedEx, overnight shipping, etc. Our deadlines for mailed items are a postmarked deadline, so I do not want you to have to pay $18 just to have a transcript sent in, when a basic stamp will take care of it just as well.
  6. Do not fax items to the admissions office! As I have said before, there is a reason that the shredder is right next to the fax machine. We do not accept official documents by fax, as transcripts, forms and rec. letters come out horrible when sent through the fax.
  7. Try not to use staples, as we just have to pull them out to scan the documents, and it makes the scanning process go slow and makes the separate sheets of paper stick together in the scanner. Ditto colorful binders! Paper clips are great (or better yet, electronic submission of materials!).
  8. As stated before, be patient. I am guessing that by about January 25, we will have most of the materials into our system that were sent in by the January 15 deadline. 
And remember, Go Dawgs!