Friday, March 23, 2018

Swipe Left or Swipe Right?

I will admit it, I have never used an online dating app. I am old. But there has always been one constant in the world of dating: Accentuate your strengths and de-emphasize your weaknesses. Athletic? Show some pictures of you competing on the court or hiking up a mountain. Brains? Highlight that amazing degree, the books you read and your passion for Shakespeare comedies. Sense of humor? Dazzle them with a few witty comments in your profile. And as for those weaknesses? Bury them. Bury them deep. By the time they get to know you, they will happily ignore obsession with the toilet paper having to go over instead of under, or your slight obsession with The Bachelor or Rick and Morty.

The same thought process seems to holds true for students and parents posting college admission data on blogs, ChanceMe sites, and social media. Accentuate strengths and de-emphasize weaknesses. Have a strong GPA? Highlight the grades you made and the overall trends. Have a strong test score? Post the best SAT and ACT your child made, and emphasize how few make these scores nationwide. Active in School? List all the clubs, sports and volunteer work to far off lands. And if there are areas that are not so strong, then just leave off that part.

The only difference is that while outside viewers only see the positives that are posted, Admissions Offices already have all the details on the students, and are able to see both the strengths and limitations of each applicant. This difference in the information is generally what causes so much confusion between the viewpoint online and the actual review and decision.

Sometimes, data is just left out of the online post, such as lower test scores, C/D/F grades in the academic history, or a lack of academic rigor. In addition, sometimes the profile information does not always give the full information. Here are some common themes where an online profile does not always match the full details of the application:

  1. At times, the photo posted on a dating app might be several years old or have been re-touched in order to look a little better. Many times, a GPA posted on a forum is straight off the HS transcript, and could be very different from the UGA GPA we calculate. We have seen drastic differences in GPA's we calculated as compared to the one on a HS transcript, especially if the school uses an odd grading scale/system and includes non core work. 
  2. If you have gone mountain biking twice in the last few years, listing it as one of your favorite activities is probably not a completely accurate picture of things. The same could be said for activities/clubs where you have only put in a limited amount of time and energy. There are more than a few students who suddenly become active in multiple new activities in 12th grade only, or list an activity which involved 3 hours of time for the year from 9th grade. We are looking at the depth and time commitment of your co-curricular involvement.
  3. The numbers given in certain things are not always the numbers that are most important. Yes, you might be 27 years old, but if you have the maturity level of a 14 year old like me, then this could be an issue when dating. Same with admissions numbers. Yes, you might have a 32 Composite ACT, but since UGA just looks at the ACT English and Math, that Composite data is suddenly not a relevant. The same goes with AP/IB/DE course numbers. If you took 6 AP classes but they were all in Social Studies, and if UGA is looking at the overall rigor in all five core areas, then that number is not always a good barometer of the challenge of your curriculum.
In admissions, we are looking at more than the Tinder-like profile of an applicant. We look at everything in the file, warts and all. As such, decisions are not as simple as swiping left or right, but instead are full reviews of the entire application, as a brief profile never tells the whole story.

I hope this helps you understand our process a little better, and Go Dawgs!



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