Thursday, February 24, 2011

2011 File Reading

 
While this is our "Quiet Time" in the office, with our counselors tied to their desks (figuratively, not literally), I thought you might appreciate a little insight into some interesting things we are seeing in the applicants we are reviewing:
  • One applicant is studying for a year in Germany as a part of the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange
  • A GA sports stacking champion, who also holds a Guinness World record for team sports stacking
  • A wonderful mix of Girl Scouts (many gold awards!) and Boy Scouts (a number of Eagles!)
  • Founding member and judge of an extreme scootering club
  • Numerous study abroad trips to Europe, Asia, South and Central America on exchange programs
  • Miss Teen Kansas 2010
  • An amazing number of musicians, from marching bands to jazz bands, orchestras to personal bands
  • Job as assistant Pit Boss for the Atlanta Plaza Theatre Rocky Horror Picture Show showings
  • Several members of Quidditch clubs (I know there is a great match each year in Gwinnett County)
  •  One student who took two years off to play international junior hockey
  • A number of perfect attendance records throughout high school (and I am guessing a few K-12)
  • A huge group of 2 and 3 sport athletes, with a few 4 sport athletes thrown in as well.
  • Favorite Female Member of the Black Eyed Peas Fan Club
  • An applicant who can solve the Rubik's Cube in 30 seconds (2 minutes if using just one hand)
  • Head Lumberjack of the Lumberjack Club ("and as Head Lumberjack, I make the pancakes!") 
As you can guess, these are just a few of the unique things we have seen so far from our applicant pool, and these are not the norm for most of our applicants, although most of our applicants are very active in their schools and communities. Please remember that just like everything else, there is no specific "weight" that is given for activities (or essays, recommendations, etc.), as we are looking at each applicant in this group as a whole. As well, just because we mention some activity, it does not mean that this drives an admission decision, only that these are some of the interesting/creative things that make up a part of the 2011 freshman applicant pool.

Go Dawgs!

    Tuesday, February 22, 2011

    Updating the Blog - Please be Patient

    During this time of year, things get a little quieter than normal, as everyone on our side of things are hidden away in their offices, reading files. On the applicant side, everyone is waiting patiently (or not so patiently) for decisions to come out. As such, this is a good time to try and update a few features on the blog. I have added some tabbed pages recently, cleaned up the labels section, and now I am going to try and update the comments section. As you can tell, when comments flow at a nice steady pace, it is easy to comment, and my reply is usually right below your comments. But during the hectic times, comments roll in at such at quick pace that I am unable to keep up, and my responses are come in groups and sometimes are hard to connect with the original comment. So I hope the new comment feature will allow for an easier, more linear comment option. Wish me luck!

    Friday, February 18, 2011

    February Freshman Admits now available on myStatus

    The status check is now updated and the wave of freshman February admit decisions (roughly 1,800) that I discussed earlier are now showing up on the site. Please remember that this is a small group of admits who meet the EA criteria used in our December admits (and are mainly RD applicants due to this fact), and remember, I cannot comment/discuss specific decisions on this blog.

    As I posted a few days ago, there are no set "EA critieria levels", as it is a review of the combination of grades, rigor and test scores, so please do not ask what EA SAT/ACT, GPA or rigor criteria is. There will be a few EA deferred students who are admitted in this round, mostly because of an increase in their academic standing (new test scores) or if we needed to re-review their other academic information due to another issue (change in course schedule, issue with a transcript and self-reported grades, etc.)

    Do not panic if you have not been admitted in this wave, as we still have a number of files to read and numerous of decisions to make. Final decisions will be made by roughly the end of March, so try to be patient as we finish up the process over the next month or so.

    As I said in my previous post, I have not run the mid-ranges on these admitted students, but they should be fairly similar to the EA admitted students.

    Go Dawgs!

    Thursday, February 17, 2011

    February Decisions

    In the late afternoon of Friday, February 18, we will be releasing the February wave of admission offers (please do not ask me what late afternoon is, as I put it as late afternoon instead of a specific time for a reason). As I stated in an earlier post, these admits, who are primarily Regular Decision (RD) applicants, are students who meet the criteria that UGA admissions used for Early Action (EA) admits. Just to stop any questions, there are no set "EA critieria levels", as it is a review of the combination of grades, rigor and test scores, so please do not ask what EA SAT/ACT, GPA or rigor criteria is. There will be a few EA deferred students who are admitted in this round, mostly because of an increase in their academic standing (new test scores) or if we needed to re-review their other academic information due to another issue (change in course schedule, issue with a transcript and self-reported grades, etc.)

    Whenever we release these February decisions, we always get questions, ranging from "Why didn't I hear" to "Does this mean that more decisions will roll out through the month of March" and so on. The next group of decisions after this round will be in late March, and this will be the remaining freshman decisions. From now until late March, our office will be reading, and reading, and reading more files. Please do not contact us and see if you can get your decision earlier, whether due to a vacation, another college's schedule, a birthday gift for an applicant, etc., as we need to review all of the files before making final decisions.

    Roughly 1,800 students will receive an offer of admission in this round (we only do admits during this round), but we have a large number of students that we will be admitting in March as well. Based on planning and projections for next year, UGA will slightly increasing the size of the freshman class slightly, so we will be admitting more students that last year as a whole. As in previous years, we will also be enrolling about 200 freshmen for the following Spring term. I do  not have any specifics about this group (GPA, SAT, ACT mid-ranges), but they should be somewhat similar to the EA admitted group.

    I hope this answers a fair amount of your questions, congratulations to the newly admitted freshmen, and Go Dawgs!

    Friday, February 11, 2011

    Summer/Fall Transfer Decisions

    Our evaluation team is finally at the end of checking high school transcripts (no, this does not mean we are done with freshman reviews, only the HS transcript reviews), so starting next week, we will be able to begin the transfer review process. We will begin with the Summer transfer applicants, and we will then shift to the Fall transfers when we complete summer. Right now, about 400 students have applied for Summer transfer admission, and a large number of those still need to send us transcripts, so make sure all of your material is sent to us, and let us know if a transcript is under a different name.

    The review of transfer files is not a quick process, as we must determine if the applicant meets or exceeds the GPA consideration level for admission (30-59 transferable sem. hours needs a 3.20 or higher, 60+  transferable sem. hours needs a 2.80 or higher), and if admissible, we must then map out the equivalent UGA coursework for the classes that transfer into UGA. It can be as fast as 30 minutes for a file, or as slow as 10 hours, depending on how many courses, if we have seen these courses before, etc.

    My rough estimation is that we will be able to do about 30-50 decisions a day, but it also will vary depending on what else appears on our plates. Decisions will go out daily by mail and on the myStatus page, and I ask that you be patient, make sure that all transcripts from all colleges attended, even dual enrollment work, are in your file and updated. By updated, I mean that if you sent us a transcript from X college in November, then completed Fall courses at X college in December, you need to send us another transcript showing this work, and the date will change on the myStatus page.

    Go Dawgs!

    Wednesday, February 9, 2011

    Minor Changes

    After about a year and a half of managing the UGA Admissions blog, I think it is about time to make a few modifications to the site. I will be making changes slowly over the next few months, with some being functional and some being cosmetic in nature. A few days ago, I added the "Subscribe Via Email" link in the right hand column so that you can receive an email every time I add a post. In addition, there have been some requests to try to organize the comments a little better. While I do not control all aspects of the functional part of the blog (thanks Blogger!), I an able to add some new features as they become available to the blogging world. One such feature is a different style of comments that will order the responses better. In addition, while the look of the site is not bad, it could definitely use a little more excitement and color. Don't fear, I will not be making any radical changes, just some needed additions.

    Please let me know if you have any suggestions for the blog as far as features, and I will see what can be done.

    Go Dawgs!

    Monday, February 7, 2011

    Dual Enrollment and Challenging Coursework

    Every once in a while, the topic of dual enrollment (taking college classes while in high school) comes up on this blog. Every year, well over 1,500 of our freshman applicants will have some form of dual enrollment work, and most likely 700-900 freshmen will enroll with dual enrollment work. It ranges from 3 hours to 60+ hours of college work, from a variety of colleges, and a variety of courses taken. We are happy to work with students who have taken dual enrollment courses, and we look at this information when reviewing the rigor of an applicant's schedule, as well as all of the dual enrollment details and grades during our file reading process.

    The most important thing I always focus on is that the student (and parents) should sit down with their guidance counselor and chart out a path that will challenge the student to the best of their ability. Is that taking the IB program in their school, taking Honors and AP courses, a mix of AP and dual enrollment, or if there are no advanced courses at the high school, focus on dual enrollment, etc. If you want to prepare yourself for college, and especially a competitive college like UGA, then you want to come in prepared to to the work. I sat in on a program for 8th grade parents last month that helped prepare students to register for 9th grade classes, and this same thought was stated as well by the school officials. We know the challenges of Honors and Gifted courses early on, and of AP/IB courses in the later years, as well as dual enrollment. For some students, AP courses are readily available and allow them to remain in their school throughout the day, and are a great stepping stone to the challenge they will see in a college class. For others, their high school may have limited options in school, and a local college course is the best route. At UGA, I have seen several students who were beyond their HS's capacity in the math and foreign language areas, and UGA was a great option to fill this need. But I will say again, the choice of courses needs to reside in the student's hands, not in UGA's. The only serious issue that I have seen with dual enrollment, especially if not taught on the college campus, is that a number of selective private colleges may not accept these courses as transfer work, but you would need to communicate with the colleges to which you are applying (or check their transfer equiv. charts).

    Now, when UGA calculates a high school GPA, we can use the applicant's dual enrollment grades if the grades show up on the high school transcript, which most do. When we calculate a GPA, we are trying to get the best understanding of the student's core grades as possible, but we also want to have as fair a process as possible in our review. When we add weight to a student's grades, it is only for AP or IB grades, as these course are nationally and internationally standardized through the College Board and IB programs guidance. While we certainly look at Honors/Gifted/Accelerated/Dual Enrollment courses in our review of a student's rigorous schedule, these courses are not standardized within a county or state, much less internationally. I have seen dual enrollment courses that range from Ivy League colleges to 2 year technical schools, and I have seen such a wide range of Honors courses to know that there is no nationally standardized basis for the coursework (again this year I saw an Honors PE course on a transcript).

    There have been a number of studies about students and challenging courses in high school (especially on AP courses), and the consensus is that a student is better prepared and has stronger college grades if they have taken advanced courses in high school. And the focus is generally not on the exam score of the course, but on the actual participation in challenging courses that has an impact on future grades.

    So challenge yourself now in high school, and you will be better prepared for the future.

    Go Dawgs!

    Friday, February 4, 2011

    February Decisions

    Later this month, we will be releasing acceptance letters for a small group of freshman applicants. These admits, who are primarily Regular Decision (RD) applicants, are students who meet the criteria that UGA admissions used for Early Action (EA) admits. Just to stop any questions, there are no set "EA critieria levels", as it is a review of the combination of grades, rigor and test scores, so please do not ask what EA criteria is. Whenever we release these February decisions, we always get questions, ranging from "Why didn't I hear" to "Does this mean that more decisions will roll out through the month of March" and so on. for those of you who have been following my blog, here is a quick reminder.

    The three freshman decision release dates:
    • Mid December - EA Decisions released
    • Late February - Admit letters for RD or deferred EA applicants meeting EA admit criteria
    • Late March - Final Decisions for all remaining freshman applicants
    Why do we release a small group of February acceptances? Well, if an applicant has applied Regular Decision, has a perfect 4.00 GPA, 12 AP classes in a variety of areas, and a 1540/750 SAT (an actual situation this year), why wouldn't we want to admit this student? Just like with EA admits, there are a group of Regular Decision applicants who are well above what is expected academically, and we want to move forward with admitting these students now. As well, this is a good example of the of how the rumors and myths out there, such as it is easier/harder to be admitted EA/RD, are not true. We are carefully reviewing the applicant pool, and treating them equally regardless of EA/RD.

    Please remember, we still have a large amount of file reading, reviewing of the overall applicant pool, and a great deal more admission decisions to make before this year's admission cycle is done, so be patient. Ignore any wild rumors, know that there will still be a substantial number of admit letters to go out, and finish up your senior year strong!

    Go Dawgs!

    Wednesday, February 2, 2011

    Almost through with matching materials

    At this point in time, we are caught up with the mail, and we are entering in materials as they come in to the office. As well, we have checked the entire holding file of unmatched materials (well over 5,000 items) against any incomplete files, and we are currently going through each incomplete file to check and make sure that nothing was mis-labeled or missed. By Thursday, Feb. 3, if your file is still showing something as missing, you need to take care of it ASAP. We will be waiting on the January 22 SAT scores to come in, along with any other test scores that come in by the date we receive the Jan. scores, and remember that we must have an ACT writing section to use your ACT scores. At this point in time, you need to make sure that everything is in your file and ready for us to move forward with the review. As you can guess, we are worn out, but we are glad to be caught up on things.

    Now it is time to breathe, relax, and read some files.

    Go Dawgs!