Friday, August 21, 2015

Suggestions for Freshmen Applicants

Yesterday, I posted some advice on what questions most admissions officers will not answer, at least not in the way that most prospective families are looking for in a response. Today I am going to focus on our suggestions for how to put your best foot forward with an admissions office. We truly love reading the applications of students who are passionate about attending UGA, and we want your application (and the application process) to be the best it can be.

  1. Always take care of things well before a deadline. A student who applies and submits all documents well before a deadline shows that they are the type of person who does not wait until the last moment to do things, from applying to studying to going to class. If X university is number one on your list of colleges, act like it.
  2. Proofread your application before you submit it. I am not just talking about proofreading your essays, but instead checking your whole application to make sure you are giving us the information you want us to see. We receive hundreds of emails right after a student applies to UGA asking for us to add X to their file where they forgot something, correct Y where they made a mistake, etc. After you complete your application, go over it one more time to make sure your birth date is right, all the clubs/activities that you want us to know about are listed, and your information looks correct. We even have one section that just lists the 8-10 most important items with your responses, and we ask you to make sure these are accurate before you hit submit.
  3. Be kind to your counselors and teachers. Make sure to give your HS counselor and any teacher who will be writing recommendations for you time to do their part. Don't rush in the day before the deadline to ask them for help, but instead give them 2 or more weeks if possible.
  4. Send in materials when colleges suggest you submit them. UGA heavily suggests that you send in SAT/ACT scores when you take them (since we only look at your best scores, there is no negative for sending all scores), but that you send in documents such as transcripts and recommendations after you have applied. The reason is simple; Test scores come in electronically and are matched by our back-end system, while document matching varies. If documents are sent electronically, we can almost always match them automatically (unless they are sent months before you apply), but paper documents must be scanned, hand matched, or saved in a "holding" file for later hand matching. I won't get into all the details, but you will see your documents much quicker on your application portal if you send things electronically after you apply.
  5. Don't listen to rumors/myths about college admissions. I have been over this many times, so I won't beat a dead horse. All I can say is that I have had three surgeries in my life, but going through the experience does not make me a doctor, just a good patient.
  6. Map out your college application plan. If you are like most students, you will apply to 3-5 colleges. If this is the case, you will have to track the deadlines, materials timelines and actions needed for all of these colleges. Get a calendar (electronic or paper) just for admissions timelines, and enter in the deadline dates, scholarship dates, campus programs, deposit dates, etc. for all these colleges. This is the best way to keep this process organized and to not miss out on something. The worst calls we handle are when a student did not do X by a certain deadline and we can't do anything for them except say sorry.
  7. Let your parents be involved in the admissions process, but only so much. It is okay to allow your parents to be a part of the college admissions process, but make sure that you are the one who completes the application, writes the essays, etc. Your parents can be great at helping you keep track of deadlines, make plans for visiting colleges, and giving you suggestions about your application. In the end, though, make sure you are the one driving/managing this process, as you are the one who will be at college next year.
I hope this helps, and Go Dawgs!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Said No Admission Counselor Ever-2016 Version

In the UGA Admissions Office, there are some things we will never say no matter what. Some people will ask questions hoping for one of these answers, but you will not hear us give an answer (at least not the one some people expect). I sometimes feel like Dr. Seuss in "Green Eggs and Ham", (paraphrasing) "I will not say that in a house, I will not say that with a mouse. I will not say that here or there, I will not say that anywhere." Here are some of the top things we would never say:

  1. "Sure, go ahead and cut back on your academic schedule so that you can add another activity." Academics come first. Let me repeat, academics come first. If you are struggling with being overloaded, I suggest looking at cutting back on an extra-curricular activity, not academics. You will thank us sometime during your first semester in college.
  2. "Yes, you should completely trust the information your neighbors, friends, and online college forum people give you about college admissions." While there are a number of well meaning people who want to help you with the college admission process, most of them do not have a background in the admissions process. Just because I had the transmission changed in my car does not make me an expert how to do this mechanically. While many people have gone through the admissions process, they are not reading files, analyzing enrollment data, reading essays, etc. They might have knowledge about how to apply, but not on how decisions are made. Trust us when we tell you how we do things, and ignore the myths.
  3. "Of course I can tell you what classes to take for the next year (or the next four/eight/twelve years)." While we know a great deal about high school classes, we are not an expert on what your school offers, when the courses are available, what you want to take and/or your academic preparation for courses. This is best decided upon after the student and family speak with their HS counselor.
  4. "Take the easiest courses so you can make the best grades possible." We want you to challenge yourself to the best of your ability while still doing well in your classes. You need to prepare yourself for the UGA classroom experience, and the best way to do that is to take strong courses.
  5.  "Go ahead and skip some application sections such as activities, sports, etc., because those things don't matter to UGA." Actually, when we are reviewing files for a number of scholarships and when we are reading files in our holistic review process, we want to know how you spend your time outside of school hours. We want to know what you are like as a whole, so let us know!
  6. "The SAT/ACT scores are the most important thing to UGA Admissions." While test scores get the most publicity, our first focus is how you do in the classroom and the courses you are taking in high school (see #3 again). In addition, we look at a great deal more than academics for during our holistic read process.
  7. "Sure, I can tell you whether to apply Early Action or Regular Decision." This is a choice that needs to be made by the student, as it is a timing issue, not an issue that impacts the chances of admission.
  8. "You need to make XXXX on the SAT/ACT to get admitted to UGA." UGA does not have a required SAT or ACT score needed for admission, no matter what your neighbor/friend/family member says.
  9. "It is no problem if you wait until the last minute to do things." Waiting until the last minute to apply or send in materials is just asking for something to go wrong. Please give your counselors and teachers time to send in items, as they have enough stressful issues on their plates without this.
  10. "Yes, I can guess about whether you will be admitted or not." Here is the big one! We cannot guess about an admission decision, sorry. We just cannot predict what the overall applicant pool will be like year to year and how you fall into the group. P.S.-this applies for both freshman and transfers.
I hope this lists helps everyone understand why we will not say certain things or answer some specific questions, or why we redirect some questions back to the student for the best answer. If I think of any other things we would never say, I will add them to the list!

Go Dawgs!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Updated Spring 2016 Transfer Information

At this time of year, the review of the 2016 Spring transfer applications is our main focus, and we continue to diligently work on these files. At this time, we have made roughly 600 decisions of the 1,200 applications we received this year. Based on statistical data, we are averaging about 30-40 decisions being made per day when we are able to focus full-time on Spring files. The one exception to this timing is during the dates between August 3rd and August 14th, when our evaluation team works full force to review summer work for both incoming and current students. This step must be done ASAP to allow for prerequisite checks for fall courses for these students. As such, I expect that we will be able to focus on Spring applications full time on roughly August 17, and so we hope for the most part to be finished with reviews by about early to mid September, (with exceptions as we get into some of the more challenging files to review).

Please remember we cannot tell you when you will have a decision as this depends on many factors. Applications are generally processed in the order in which the file was completed, but this is not always the case, as some files are more challenging, are from colleges where we are having to build a catalog in the new system, or are just complex. We also have two new staff members who can handle the more basic transfer files, so they might review some later files that can be done easily but might be out of "completion order". As well, I am not able to look at each individual file to see why someone did nor did not receive a decision based on X date.

If you are transferring from an out-of-state college or a college we have not had many students apply from, your application may take a bit longer to review and thus the timeline would not be correct for your situation. Transfer decisions are updated daily on the status check, and the myStatus page is updated at about 5 am every morning.

If you have been admitted and want to see how your courses transferred, you can use the transfer equivalency site off the admissions website. If you have submitted a deposit (fall transfer and beyond requirement), you can log on to DegreeWorks to see how your courses apply towards the degree/major you have selected.  As well, go to the Next Steps brochure to learn about what you will need to do next to enroll at UGA (this is also sent in the acceptance packet).

I hope this helps, and Go Dawgs.