Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Emergency Codes

Last week, I volunteered for my 23rd year as a cabin counselor at Camp Sunshine, a camp for children with cancer. The campers during my week range from 7-12 years of age, and there is a wide range of situations with the campers, from ones who have been off treatment for years and having no challenges to campers missing limbs or going through medical care while at camp. Every year before the campers arrive, the camp staff goes over a list of camp rules to make sure the week goes by without any problems. This training covers a wide range of things, from important safety information from the medical staff (hydration and sunscreen are key buzzwords),  to the codes for a variety of different possible emergencies. Here is the short list of the emergency codes from camp:

Code Red
- Fire emergency at camp.
Code Blue - Possible bomb/active shooter.
Code Yellow - Missing camper emergency.
Code Gray - Thunderstorm spotted.
Code Black - Tornado Warning.

When you're working with a large group of people scattered around a huge camp space, you need to prepare for any possible issue and quickly alert people to any issue. As you can guess, most of these codes never occur. The only code used this year was code gray, but thunderstorms are normal for summer afternoons in Georgia. I did have a code yellow once, but the camper was just hiding out in the snack shack eating candy bars prior to leaving camp. Emergency codes fit the idea of the quote from Benjamin Franklin "If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail."

A number of different organizations have "codes" in place for issues, from K-12 schools to manufacturing plants to hospitals, with each group aligning their codes to the possible emergencies at hand. My wife has been a nurse for almost 30 years, and I know that if we are talking on the phone and I hear "Code Blue" in the background, I need to get off the phone with her. Different codes have different levels of urgency and actions to take.

While there are no official Emergency Codes in Admissions, there are a few codes all of us in admissions would probably like to add. Please take these with a large grain of salt:

  • Code Red - Academic Implosion. When a student has an overall strong application, but there are areas on the transcript with seriously low grades (multiple C/D/F grades). This code becomes more serious the later the implosion occurs in the four years of HS, with little chance of survival if it occurs in senior year.
  • Code Blue - Over-involved Parent Emergency. When a parent becomes the main conduit for communication about the student's file. The level of seriousness grows exponentially if parent pretends to be the student over the phone or in an email.
  • Code Yellow - Missing application effort. When a student gives us almost no information about themselves in the application, especially in the activities areas. Extreme complications occur when a student writes "Sorry, I did not have time to do the essays." Code usually occurs in the hours leading up to the application deadline.
  • Code Gray - Over-inflation of activities/essays. When an applicant embellishes on their activities/essays in describing their high school years. High level of alert can be found when the student's primary assistance in the essays is a thesaurus.
  • Code Black - Extreme Overconfidence. When a student/parent does not understand that there are 30,000 freshman applying to UGA, thus causing a misunderstanding of the competitiveness of the applicant pool. Level of the code is raised with trophies/awards from elementary school years are mentioned.
I hope you have reviewed these "admission codes" with a sense of humor as intended, and Go Dawgs!

Thursday, May 30, 2019

2020 Freshman Essay Questions

Every year, our office reviews the freshman application for changes that we would like to see for the next year. During this review, we also look at the short essay questions that are required for First Year applicants. Based on our review of the essays from last year, we are keeping the essay prompts the same as last year. We require one short essay that all applicants must complete, and four additional short essay topics with the applicant selecting to respond to one of these. These two essays should be between 200-300 words and remember to focus on substance and not word count.  Before submitting your application and essays, always remember to proofread and edit!  The First Year application will be available on September 1, but we thought that some people would want to know the essay prompts earlier than that date. Based on the essays we read last year, we do have one suggestion - Please remember your audience. For some reason, we had a large number of essays about bodily functions this year, and while these might be good stories for late night gatherings with friends, they might not be the best admission essays.

Here are the five essay questions, with Essay 1 being required and Essays 2-5 being four options from which the applicant selects one.  
  • (Required) The college admissions process can create anxiety. In an attempt to make it less stressful, please tell us an interesting or amusing story about yourself from your high school years that you have not already shared in your application.

Essays 2-5, Choose one of the following four:
  • UGA’s 2017 Commencement speaker Ernie Johnson (Class of ’79) told a story from his youth about what he refers to as blackberry moments. He has described these as “the sweet moments that are right there to be had but we’re just too focused on what we’re doing …, and we see things that are right there within our reach and we neglect them. Blackberry moments can be anything that makes somebody else’s day, that makes your day, that are just sweet moments that you always remember.” Tell us about one of your “blackberry moments” from the past five years.
  • What is the hardest part of being a teenager now? What is the best part? What advice would you give to a younger sibling or friend (assuming they would listen to you)?
  • Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it.
  • Describe a problem, possibly related to your area of study, which you would like to solve. Explain its importance to you and what actions you would take to solve this issue.

I have also included a sample essay from this past application cycle to give you an example of what we consider a strong essay, and it is from "interesting or amusing story" prompt.

January appeared bittersweet. Exhilaration filled my body with new year jitters and reminders that half a school year remained. Sadness marinated as winter break ended, and 3AM bedtimes became nonexistent. I walked through my home in fuzzy socks, hoping school would delay itself one more week! My Christmas presents no longer had much of my time, and I struggled finding the coziest jacket for ice-cold temperatures. As Christmas time floated away, I began to cherish the moments.

The night of January 2nd, I was wide awake as if Santa would arrive. I shared stories on FaceTime with my friend and smothered myself in warm blankets. The night grew old, and I dozed off into a cozy slumber. Around 8:30 AM, I was awakened by my 21-year-old brother. Confused and half-awake, cranky was an understatement, because my 3 AM bedtime never fibbed. He informed me that someone was outside to meet me!

Immediately, I stumbled from my bed to get dressed. I raced down the stairs to meet someone special to my heart. I slung the door open and embraced the gorgeous sight. A neat blanket lay on the grass, as if for a picnic. Words were not spoken, but soft whispers tickled my ears. I heard the echo of a pale, booming voice. On January 3rd, he swaddled me, and cold air trickled down my spine. Chill bumps ran vigorously around my body, and shrieks escaped my lips as he tickled my face. We danced on the ground like there was no tomorrow. South Georgia had been invited to a party hosted by the snow!

Although sixteen, I felt six years old on January 3rd. I threw majestic snowballs, named my snowman, and created beautiful snow angels. Snow had not met Baxley, Georgia in eight years. I was more than elated to attend the meeting! I embraced the moment that I knew could possibly never happen again. Abnormal but beautiful, many memories were made. Jackets were warm enough, and winter break concluded beautifully. I am not so sure that the beginning of January will be bittersweet ever again.  - Jahnae N., Baxley, GA.

Good luck with your essays, and Go Dawgs!

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Test Scores and Air Bags

This past weekend, I was driving my father to the Atlanta airport, and as is usual, the topic of college admissions came up. There was a recent opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal which discussed the SAT. In one section of the op/ed piece, the writers stated "the SAT is still the best objective measure of student aptitude and has proven to be a good predictor of college performance." While discussing the editors knowledge (or lack of ) about grades/course rigor vs test scores, the sunlight hit the windshield just right and I flipped down the visor to block the light. On the back of the visor was the airbag warning sticker, and it got me to thinking about the interplay between different systems in trying to solve a problem. Putting aside the other variables of a college admission review (essays, activities, recommendations), how can a college best utilize grades/rigor and test scores?

If you actually read the airbag warning, you will see that one of the key points is "Always use seat belts and other child restraints". In other words, while airbags can help in an accident, seat belts are the actual key factor in auto safety, while airbags are secondary safety devices that, along with the seat belts, help to best avoid serious injuries. In looking studies on the effectiveness data on seat belts and airbags in possible fatalities for drivers, three-point seat belts alone had a 48% effectiveness rating, airbags alone had a 14% effectiveness rating, while the two together had a 54% effectiveness rating. Effectiveness data for passengers was slightly lower, but the same concept of seat belts being the primary safety factor and using the two devices together yielded the best results. In other words, seat belt usage is the best individual predictor of surviving a crash, but using both seat belts and airbags gives you the best possible survival rate. And as the sticker (and other statistical data) shows, the airbag providers understand their products role as a supplemental safety feature, not a stand alone one.

In the same vein, multiple studies have shown that the best individual predictor of how a student will do in college is their performance in the classroom (grades/coursework) during their high school years. Even the ACT and the College Board begrudgingly admit this fact, while also noting that looking at grades/rigor and test scores together can give even more insight, similar to the modest increase in safety that airbags add to seat belts when used together. At UGA, we recognize this in our review process, and use test scores as a supplemental part of our review, but not as a primary or dominant factor. Of course, there is still a great amount of debate on how much different factors actually predict college success, but I think the results are pretty clear that the Wall Street Journal's op/ed conclusion that test scores are the best objective measure is just plain wrong. And just like the growth in safety features, colleges now have so much more information available to use in their reviews, from multiple recommendations to writing samples, volunteer work to activities and leadership roles.

Different college admission offices have different thoughts on how to balance the variety of different factors in an admission review, and I am fine with each college making the choice that best fits their situation and insight. College A wants to be test optional? I'm good with that. College B wants to use student submitted videos to add to all the other admission information? I'm good with that too. Every college admissions office needs to do their research and find the best balance of the different variables they will use in their review, and balance that with their staffing and timeline challenges to find the best process for their own institution. As our office has stated multiple times, what a student does over four years in high school (grades and coursework) plays a much more vital role in our academic review that an SAT or ACT score. We still look at both of these factors, along with a wide range of co-curricular information, but how a student does in the classroom is the main academic factor in our review.

When I am driving my 2004 minivan with 230,000 miles on it (yes, I am a dad with two kids who works in education), the first thing I do is put on my seat belt. I am glad to have the airbags, but I know that the seat belt is the thing I am relying on to keep me safe. In the same way, when I am looking at an admissions file, my focus in the academic portion of the review is on how a student has performed in the classroom day in and day out, with the SAT/ACT scores to help provide context but not dominate this review area. We are happy to have a wealth of information about our applicants, and we also understand the importance of each of the different pieces of data.

I hope this post gives some insight into our viewpoint, and Go Dawgs!

Friday, May 3, 2019

2019 Wait List Update

Starting today (May 3), we will begin to finalize our decisions for students on the Wait List. I expect that all decisions will be completed sometime in the next few weeks, but I do not have an exact date. Due to the fact that our deposit numbers are very close to what we predicted for next year, we are very limited in the number of offers we are able to make. We will be making Wait List decisions in the same manner as our other admission decisions, where a decision will be displayed on the status page and an email will be sent shortly after a decision is made to alert the applicant that a status change has occurred. Admitted students have a  two-week Commitment Deposit deadline from the acceptance date. We will be releasing a group of Wait List admits late this afternoon totaling 150 students, with most of these being for Fall 2019. We are not finished with the Wait List yet, but will finalize things over the next few weeks. Only students who are admitted today will receive a decision and an email indicating a change in their status today.

In reviewing the students who we admitted off the Wait List, there were a variety of individual reasons for the offers that were made. As such, I cannot give an overarching reason for the decisions. We did take into account our earlier reviews of the files, along with a wide range of information that we had on hand.

For those many strong students we will not be able to admit from the Wait List, we thank you for choosing us as one of the options for your higher education.  We wish you the very best of college success.  We very much appreciate your patience “waiting on the Wait List.”  Please remember that there are a number of complex reasons why the University made the decisions it has, and we respectfully remind all that this blog cannot be used for comments about why you or other individuals did or did not get admitted in the Wait list process so far.

We hope that our quick turn around of the Wait List situation will allow students and families to make plans on a much earlier time frame than initially projected.

Monday, April 29, 2019

April/May 2019 Random Admission Thoughts

Late April/Early May is always a challenging time in Admissions, and it always brings about interesting questions. We are at the end of one cycle of admissions for the freshmen and transfers starting in Fall 2019, and we are starting to begin working with rising HS seniors for the following year. Throw in the anxious time surrounding the May 1 deposit deadline, working with Wait-List students and getting everything ready for orientation in the summer and you have a wide range of activities and emotions. As such, here are some thoughts on the upcoming days/months ahead.

Admitted Students

  • May 1 is the freshman deposit deadline. We have sent out a huge number of communications about this date to accepted freshmen, and it is important that you not miss this date if you want to attend UGA. We don't accept late deposits, so make sure to submit it on time to assure a place in the freshman class.
  • If you are not going to be attending UGA, we wish you the best at your future college destination. If you are able, go to your status page and reply to your offer of admission that you will not be attending. 
  • Wait-List students, please be patient with us as we review the deposits that have come in, what our class looks like, etc. Every year seems like a marathon race to get to May 2 (the day after deposits are due), so please let us catch our breath before asking about the WL. We need some time to review everything before making any decisions on the WL. When we are ready to release WL decisions, we will reach out to the students who have decided to remain on the WL, and we try to move quickly on this process.
  • Accepted transfers, your deposit deadline is June 1, so make sure to let us know by then what your plan is for the future. As well, make sure you send us an updated transcript with Spring work so we can post the credit prior to your orientation date.
  • Orientation registration will occur in early May, and you will receive an email soon with dates and instructions for signing up for the event. Among other things, orientation is when you will meet with an advisor and sign up for Fall classes.
  • Remember to check your status page to see if you have taken care of a few required steps for enrollment: Verification of Lawful Presence (VLP), Proof of Immunization (through Health Center) and a final HS transcript for freshman. The final transcript should be sent in shortly after it is available from your HS, as we know different schools/states have graduation at different times.

Rising HS Seniors

  • Spring is the perfect time to start working with college admission offices. The first step is to get on the college's radar. This is as simple as completing their online Information Request form, sending them official SAT/ACT scores, or setting up a visit to campus. Most colleges have different on-campus and off-campus events in the summer and fall, and they can't invite you if they don't know you exist. 
  • On the other side of the coin, you will be receiving a huge volume of emails and mail over the next 10 months or so from colleges across the country. The best way to manage this is, especially if you are not interested in a college, is to open an email and Unsubscribe from their mailing list. This helps both the college and you narrow down the list of possible matches.
  • As you probably know, late Spring and Summer are great times to visit a campus and take a tour. Remember to check the weather prior to the visit, dress comfortably (you do not want to tour UGA in the summer in khakis and a blazer), and let the college know if you cannot make the tour (there should be an option to cancel in the confirmation email). 
  • During the summer, get a copy of your HS transcript with junior grades included. This will help you in remembering your previous three years of grades, it will let you know what admission offices see in their file review, and it will help you understand your school's grading system.
  • For HS students in Georgia, make sure you know how your school adds weight to your grades on your HS transcript, as this impacts how colleges review your grades. If your school adds points to your actual teacher grades on a transcript (so an 88 is changed to a 98 on a transcript for an AP grade for instance), know what this means for a review. For instance, you can find out how UGA calculates a GPA at https://ugaadmissions.blogspot.com/2013/11/calculating-uga-gpa.html. We have heard from a number of HS's who are considering changing how their grades are shown on a transcript, so make sure to work with your HS counselor.
  • When looking for advice on what courses to take senior year, some families call our office. Don't. We have no idea about what courses are offered, how prepared you are for certain classes, or what you are ready for overall academically. Talk to your HS counselor.
  • Enjoy your summer! Connect with friends, find the perfect senior quote (I suggest Calvin and Hobbes), read a book or two, and get ready for an exciting senior year.
Go Dawgs!

Friday, March 15, 2019

2019 Freshmen Final Admits

We plan to make the final wave of freshman decisions available today, March 15th, in the late afternoon time frame. For those of you who have been admitted to UGA, here is a post for you and a chance to comment.  Please remember that this is not a blog where you should post statistics or throw fellow students under the bus. These types of comments will be deleted.

Congratulations to all of the freshman who were admitted and we look forward to you becoming part of the Bulldog Nation.  The next steps for a new student can be seen in the flyer in your admission packet, so please go ahead and review what you need to do next.  In addition, there will be a great deal of information you can access off of your Status page.  When you have the time, please review this, as there is key information in the Next Step materials.  Please remember a small number of students will be admitted to start in January 2020.  You will find specific information on your Status page and in your admissions packet.

Here are some rough statistics on the Entire Freshman Admitted Class for 2019-November, February and March waves, where we admitted 13,050 students total, which is slightly above last year's offers of admission (I do not have separate data on just the final group, sorry):

UGA Calculated Grade Point Average mid-range/average:  4.00 - 4.27, with a 4.10 average
  • Please remember this is not the GPA students see on their high school transcript, but rather the GPA that UGA recalculates for everyone based on the core academic courses taken in high school and looking at the actual grades posted on the transcripts. Roughly 88% of the HS core grades were A's, and 11.5% were B's.
AP/IB/Dual Enrollment course mid-range/average: 6-11 courses, average of 9
  • We determine academic rigor based on all core classes a student has taken (CP, Honors, Advanced, AP, IB, DE, etc.) as compared to what is offered in the school/community. This is not based simply on the number of AP/IB/DE courses, but instead we look at the overall coursework over four years in the core areas and the progression of rigor over the years. The AP/IB/DE information is the most specific data I can give on it, but the numbers do not cover all of our curriculum review.
SAT Best Score SAT Total (Using SAT or converted ACT) mid-range: 1330-1460
  • Best score data is the strongest of the SAT or the converted ACT for each admit
ACT Best Score Composite (Using ACT or converted SAT mid-range):  29-33
  • Remember, UGA focuses on ACT E and M. For reporting purposes, we give out the best score overall ACT score, but the ACT E and M are very similar to the overall score.

For the small group of Spring 2020 admits, this decision is final. We are not able to change students to Fall and we are not able to consider them as Wait List students. An email will go out explaining the Spring offer in more detail.

The Housing and myID pages may need a few business days before your information will be available.  Please be patient with these sites. As well, we will continue to offer scholarships through late March. 

You have until May 1 to submit a commitment deposit in order to hold a spot in our freshman class.  We hope the next stage of the admission process is a little less nerve wracking than the decision process.  As you celebrate, make sure to be considerate of others in your school who may not have been admitted.

Good luck in the next stage of the college admissions process.  Go Dawgs!

2019 Freshman Wait List

We plan to make the final wave of freshman decisions available today, March 15th, in the late afternoon timeframe.   For some students, you will be offered a place on our wait list.  Every year our office has to predict approximately how many students we can admit in order to enroll our freshman class, but we can never be sure how many students will enroll until after the May 1 commitment deposit deadline has passed.  If the number of students who say they will be attending UGA is lower than we expect, we may need to go to our wait list group in order to get the size that we want for our freshman class.  This year we have 1,542 students on the wait list.  We carefully monitor the deposits coming into the University to see where we are in comparison to the predicted freshman numbers. The FAQ can answer information on Wait List numbers, past year Wait List data, and other details (such as no, the Wait List is not ranked).

For those of you who have been wait-listed, here is a chance for you to ask questions.  Please remember that this is not a blog where you should post statistics or throw fellow classmates under the bus.  These types of comments will be deleted. Before commenting/asking questions here, please review the decision letter and the FAQ, as they give a great deal of details of the Wait List process.

The Wait List FAQ can answer some questions, but the most important thing you need to do is decide if you want to remain on the wait list.  Follow the instructions on the status check to let us know if you want to stay on the wait list or if you want to decline this option and move forward with admission at another college.  If you decide to stay on the wait list, you should still move forward with an alternate college plan as we will not know about any wait list options until May at the earliest.  If you select to stay on the wait list, we will know that you still want to attend UGA if an opportunity opens up.  The key word in wait list is wait as this is not a quick process.  So please be prepared to wait.

There are three options for the wait list reply.  You can say no, please do not consider me for the wait list.  The next option is to remain on the wait list, but only if it is for the Fall term.  The third option is to remain on the wait list and be considered for both Fall and Spring terms.  This is so that if there is space available for the Fall term, we will look at all of the students who have asked to remain on the wait list.  If the only space available is for Spring term, we will only look at students who said Fall or Spring.  Once you select an option, you cannot change it so be sure to think about your decision before you make your selection.

Things to Remember:
  • UGA does not use the GPA from a HS transcript, but instead we calculate our own HS GPA based on core academic courses. For our admitted freshman, roughly 88% of their core grades were A's, and 11.5% were B's. In our holistic review, we also look at grade trends to see how a student has progressed through their HS years.  
  • UGA looks closely at academic rigor, specifically what a student will take over four years as compared to what is available. This is not based simply on the number of AP/IB/DE courses, but instead we look at the overall coursework over four years in the five core areas and the progression of rigor over those four years.
  • When we are looking at activities in the holistic review (clubs, sports, pt work, artistic activities, etc.), we are looking at depth and time commitment in these areas in addition to the actual organizations. 
We will most likely not know details about the wait list until after early May, and it may be well well into June before we make wait list decisions.  Please be patient with our office and read the FAQ before asking questions as it can give you a great deal of information. If you do not feel like you can wait until mid-May through mid-June for a decision, it may be that the wait list option is not for you.

2019 Freshman Denial

We plan to make the final wave of freshman decisions available today, March 15th in the late afternoon time frame. Unfortunately, we are not able to admit a number of strong applicants as we are limited in the size of our freshman class.  We know that you have a number of other strong college options and suggest you focus on the other great opportunities that are ahead rather than on a denial from UGA.  If your ultimate goal is to graduate from the University of Georgia, then we suggest you look at transfer opportunities down the road.  For now, focus on your current college options, find one that fits you best, and have a great freshman year there.

Please read our Denied Student FAQ if you have questions. If you decide to contact us next week, please understand that we will not be able to give you a specific "reason" for a denial, as in this process we have looked at everything within an applicant's file, and the overall reason is really that the overall applicant pool is very large and very strong.

Things to Remember:

  • UGA does not use the GPA from a HS transcript, but instead we calculate our own HS GPA based on core academic courses. For our admitted freshman, roughly 88% of their core grades were A's, and 11.5% were B's. In our holistic review, we also look at grade trends to see how a student has progressed through their HS years. 
  • UGA looks closely at academic rigor, specifically what a student will take over four years as compared to what is available. This is not based simply on the number of AP/IB/DE courses, but instead we look at the overall coursework over four years in the five core areas and the progression of rigor over those four years.
  • When we are looking at activities in the holistic review (clubs, sports, pt work, artistic activities, etc.), we are looking at depth and time commitment in these areas in addition to the actual organizations. 
Please remember that this is not a blog where you should post statistics or throw fellow classmates under the bus.  These types of comments will be deleted.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Admissions, Baseball and the Land of Statistics

When I was growing up in Connecticut, baseball was my passion. My sister was a NY Yankees fan, so naturally I became a lifelong Boston Red Sox fan. I lived and died (mostly died) with the Red Sox, and my hero was Jim Rice, the home run hitting left fielder for my beloved team. I can still name most of the Sox starting nine from the late 1970's, from Hobson at third, Scott at first, Evans in right, Lynn in center and Fisk behind the plate among others. And like any baseball fan in the 70's and 80's, I collected baseball cards. There was nothing better than getting a fresh pack of Topps baseball cards to see which players you got (and nothing worse than the cheap stick of gum with a texture like cardboard and flavor that lasted for three minutes tops).

The greatness of a baseball card was not just the photo on the front, but the wealth of each player's statistics on the back of the card. This information transformed a kid from a mere fan into a fountain of baseball knowledge, with the ability to magically produce statistics like rabbits from a hat, amazing your friends by knowing exactly what Carl Yastrzemski's batting average was in 1977 (.296 in case you are wondering).

But statistics are a funny thing. Data that at one time seemed vital to success now is not so important now, while lesser know pieces of information suddenly take on a much larger role in predicting success. The batting average of a baseball player (percentage of hits compared to at bats) has been overtaken by a players OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage), which includes walks, hitting for power, and total bases. It's no longer just about getting a hit, but instead about the most efficient way for players to get on base, score runs and win the game. In the same vein, the importance of stealing bases has dropped sharply, as in general the data shows the cost of being caught stealing exceeds the rewards of being successful stealing the base. We might never see the likes of a Ricky Henderson, the greatest base-stealer ever, again in baseball.

Just like with baseball statistics, admission statistics are not always static from year to year, and many times the information is misunderstood or the importance of data points changes over time. Here are a few examples of what I mean:

  • HS GPA vs UGA GPA - If you look at your average high school transcript, you will see at least one field labeled GPA, with some schools getting up to three or four GPA's (weighted, unweighted, etc.). The GPA could be on a 100 point scale, a 4.00 scale, a 5.00 scale, a 6.00 scale, even up to a 10-12 point scale. Each high school or school system has its own way of determining a GPA, and my office has no control over this (nor do we want it). But the problem is that there is no sense of standardization in a HS GPA. A 4.21 could be great in one method (4.00 scale), but merely average in another method (6.00 scale). As such, UGA does not look at, use or care about the GPA on your transcript. We calculate our own GPA so we can have a standard data point that is the same for all applicants. If you ever see us list a GPA, it is a UGA GPA that we are listing (and I have several blog posts showing how we calculate it). 
  • SAT/ACT test scores - If you had asked most college admission offices 20 or more years ago about the importance of different factors in admissions, test scores would have been near the top of the list. But as universities have done research on the factors which predict success and strong grades in college, the impact of the SAT and ACT scores have lessened greatly. On the academic side, what a student does day in and day out in the high school classroom and the strength of the student's coursework have shown to be much better predictors of student success. This is why you are seeing a number of colleges go test optional for their admissions process. When I see "Chance me" comments on certain web sites, SAT and ACT scores are generally the first or second thing listed in their description. This is not the order in which I would put them at all.
  • AP/IB/DE Data- When admissions offices talk about course rigor, it is almost impossible to convey things in a meaningful way. When we say that the average admitted student had a "Very Rigorous" schedule, this does not convey any real information, and leaves people wanting more details. As such, we have tried listing the mid-range data for AP/IB/DE courses taken over four years, but even this is somewhat misleading, as colleges are not telling students to shoot for a certain number of rigorous courses. What we are looking at is how a student has challenged themselves overall from 9th through 12th grade in their core area courses, and especially in the broader sense of their academic passion, as we want students to be prepared for the rigors of UGA's classes.  We are not looking at a certain number of AP/IB/DE courses, but instead on how you have overall prepared yourself for UGA academic experience within the options at your school and in your community. 

In addition, as UGA has moved (and will move even farther in the future) to a more holistic review process to look at the entire applicant, there will be more focus on the context of the individual student's personal situation. What are the academic options for the student within their community, what challenges has this student faced in their personal life, what has the happened within the student's academic and co-curricular activities over the period of their high school years, etc. We are looking at the trends within the student's application (how have their grades and rigor progressed), and how they have challenged themselves in the five core academic areas over time. If a student has faced a hurdle, how have they overcome it? If a student has a passion (be it theater, fencing, birding or whatever), how have they pursued this passion (I have seen all three of these this year). 

The overall admissions process at UGA has changed a great deal over the past 20 years at UGA, and the information and key data points have also changed. Just like with the baseball statistics, it is now a whole new ballgame.

Go Dawgs!

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

The Past and Present of College Admissions

You hear it all the time - "Back when I was applying to college ...". Yes, things have changed over the last 20+ years in admissions, but trust me, that is actually not a bad thing in many cases. I am currently reading a book titled "Factfulness" by Hans Rosling, and he writes about how, in contrast to what some would have us believe, life is a great deal better today as compared to the past. While there are still areas where the world can improve greatly, Rosling shows that in areas ranging from poverty, health, war, food, etc, the world is actually moving in a positive direction. From the admissions side of the table, there have been some amazing improvements over the years. Here are a few things I remember from when I first started working in the UGA Admissions office.

  1. There was a point in time when we only accepted paper applications. We would print them out and do a huge mailing in late summer to get the applications out to both students and high schools. This also meant that we needed a large staff of people who did one job, entering in a student's biographical data (name, address, school, etc.) into our record system. Every year, we would need to have the printing of the applications bid out (and of course, lowest bidder won the job), and that year, a printing company based out of a state prison won the bid. I can still remember driving to a high school in Louisiana when I got a call from my boss to see if I had heard about the printing issues. A riot had broken out in the prison, and our application print job was on hold due to the issue. Imagine explaining that to students calling in wanting an application sent to them.
  2. When you have thousands of paper applications, you need to have a place to put them. Our office had roughly 20-30 six foot high file cabinets for all the application files, and we used "bankers boxes" (or open lid boxes) to route files by application submission date from one part of the process to the other. Every day when documents came in, we would have to either match them to existing files (by running around and finding the right box) or putting them in the orphan documents bins, which we would then check every day against the new applications for the day. 
  3. Old methods were not just relegated to the application process. For a long period of time, one state used to require admissions people to bring their own table to every college fair. Luckily, this state was within easy driving distance, and we would just have a card table ready for anyone traveling to that state. 
  4. The world of google maps on your cell phone roughly ten years ago was a break-through for admission travel, as we survived on three things; Old paper maps that were horrible to fold and did not function well while driving, Mapquest/Garmin, which seemed to get you lost as many times as it helped to get somewhere, and driving around looking for school signs or the lights for the HS football fields. It was even worse in some cities, as I clearly remember visiting schools in New Orleans and having the street dead end at one of the many canals in the city and seeing the high school just across the water.
  5. Everything was paper. I mean we were overrun with paper. One record setting year, we came back from the December holiday time to 45 bins of mail. It was ugly. The applications were filled out by hand and sent in by mail, the recommendation letters were all done by hand, the transcripts were mailed in, and even a number of test score results were sent by paper. And then it became a game of find the file so you could add all the paper to the application. Then you add in all the paper we sent out, from postcards letting students know what was missing (and it was out of date immediately due to materials flowing in daily), brochures being mailed out, letters being sent, etc. The worst were decision letters done in house in envelopes that had to be licked. Paper cuts on your tongue are the worst. I almost cried when we got our first real recruitment system that sent out automated emails. I did cry when we got our first batch of peel and close envelopes for acceptance packets.
  6. Admissions give-aways are so much better these days. Twenty years ago, the best you would get would be a bumper sticker for your car (not even a static sticker, but an actual bumper sticker) or a pen/pencil with UGA on the side. Now you're getting socks, shirts, backpacks, sunglasses, phone popsockets, stickers, etc. Enjoy it while you can.

While college admissions has its challenges, there was a whole other layer of challenges 20 or so years ago. Be glad that you can submit your application online, that test scores and documents can be matched in seconds to your file, and that you can see your admissions status page online. Like Billy Joel sings in Keeping the Faith, "cause the good ole days weren't always good, and tomorrow ain't as bad as it seems".

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

UGA Decision Dates for 2019

The final two decision dates for UGA freshman applicants are now set (unless some major issue impacts our office), and the smaller February wave of decisions will be released on Friday, February 8, while the final decisions in March will be released on Friday, March 15. In addition, transfer decisions will begin being released on Friday, March 1. Decisions are all released in the late afternoon, but I do not have an exact time (so don't ask me for one).

February Decisions - UGA will offer admission to just around 2,000 freshman applicants on Friday, February 8. This group of decisions is made up of only offers of admission, and if you were admitted, you will be able to see the decision on your Admission Status page (so only admitted students will see a decision change on their status page) and these admits will receive an email communication. Additionally, an admissions packet will be sent out in the mail the following week. Our office is too busy reviewing files for me to run any mid-range academic averages at this time, but the academic information should be very similar to the Early Action admitted students (it will not be exactly the same, as we had a large number of EA admits who were applying for our top scholarships, which slightly skews EA stats a little higher). My earlier blog post about Early Action decisions gives you more insight into the academic strength of this range of student. As we did in the November Early Action offers of admission, there will be some scholarship offers in this group, and those who have received them will see it on the status page. We will continue to offer scholarships through late March, so please be patient as we do these reviews. These admitted freshman, made up of mostly Regular Decision applicants, met the stringent academic criteria of Early Action admission that we used with our much larger wave of November admission offers. Do not panic if you are not admitted with the February group. We are still very much in the midst of carefully reviewing documents and data on a great many more files, and there are still lots of decisions to make.

March Final Decisions - On Friday, March 15, all final freshman decisions will be released. There will be three decision groups (Admit, Deny and Wait-List), and I will try to post some information on all three of these decisions during the week leading up to the final decision release. We will also have a small group of freshman that we will admit for the Spring 2020 term. We are still deep in the holistic read process, and I do not have any numbers on how many final admits we will make, what the statistics will look like overall, or how many students will be put on the wait-list. When we do release final decisions, I will have statistics on the overall applicant pool and admitted group the following week, but not broken out into the different release dates. After we make final decisions, we will continue to offer scholarships through late March, so please be patient as we do these reviews as well. Thank you for your patience during this review process.

Transfer Applicants - We have begun reviewing the Summer and Fall transfer applicants, and we will release the first group of transfer decisions on Friday, March 1. We will then continue to release transfer decisions every Friday. All applicants with a decision will receive an email alerting them to a change in their status, so you do not need to constantly check your admission status page. We generally review transfer applicants by term first (so summer decisions before fall if possible), and then roughly by the date the file becomes complete. This is not exact, as some transfer files are more complicated than others to review. As such, please do not compare application date to release dates with others, as it might vary due to other factors (included days when several hundred applications were received/completed).

Go Dawgs!

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Summer/Fall 2019 Transfer Application

The Summer/Fall transfer application will open today, January 22. While the application opens today, please take your time completing it. Make sure you are applying for the correct program, the correct campus, the correct term, etc. Here are a few suggestions and updates for transfer applicants. 

  • We project we will begin reviewing transfer files in early February, and we will start releasing decisions in early March. Once we begin releasing decisions, we will do so every Friday afternoon. If a decision is made on your application, you will receive an email late afternoon on that Friday notifying you that a decision is available on your status page.
  • Review our transfer procedures and requirements, as well as our academic consideration levels. The summer and fall deadline for both the application and the materials is March 1. 
  • Select the term you wish to attend, not one you have heard is easier to get in (this is a myth). If you select summer, for instance, we expect you to attend for summer, and if you do not, you cannot then attend in the fall.
  • We are fine if you send in transcripts before or after you apply. As well, we need all transcripts from colleges ever attended as an undergraduate, even if you attended a college during HS.
  • If a transcript has a different name than the one you applied with, please make sure to let us know so we can match up documents. The "other last name" filed is the place to put any other last names, and this will catch any transcripts.
  • If you started a freshman application earlier to set up an account, you will need to select the Freshman application you started on your admissions dashboard and change your application type to Transfer.
  • It is much better to get everything correct before applying rather than try to fix things after you submit an application, so triple check everything.
  • Once you apply, be patient. Review the timelines page on this blog, give us time to match up things, and relax. For document matching purposes, we suggest you give us 10 business days from when you apply or submit transcripts, whichever one comes last.
  • Make sure to monitor your status page after sending in transcripts, but give us time to complete your file.
  • We generally start reviewing transfer files based on the date the file is complete (application submitted and all transcripts are in), but this is not exact. As well, we expect over 1,000 applications in the first day alone, so understand this process takes time and some students will hear before others.
Go Dawgs, and be patient!

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Random UGA Admission Thoughts for 2019

It is the start of 2019, and a wide range of things are happening in the UGA Admissions Office. We have just closed down the freshman application for admission, we will open the transfer application for summer/fall 2019 on January 22nd, and we will be spending the next two and a half months or so hiding away in our offices as we read admission files. As such, here are some Admissions Thoughts as we move forward.

  1. The application deadline for freshman was 1/1, and the document deadline is 1/8 for materials. The required documents for freshmen are an official transcript and a counselor school report/recommendation (not a school profile). As well, any test scores must be requested to be sent to us from the testing agency by 1/8 (not an in office deadline), and the last test scores we can use were from the December SAT/ACT. If things are sent in after 1/8, we might be able to use them, but we cannot make any promises. If the item in question shows up on the status page, that means we have imported it into your file as on time. 
  2. We have a very large freshman applicant pool, with the overall number of EA and RD applicants together totaling 29,500+. Some of these applicants will not submit all the required items, so the official number of complete applications will not be known until later (but I expect it will be close to 29,000).
  3. Starting on 1/14, our office will be in quiet time, which means our counselors will not be available to take calls and any email replies will have some delays. Remember, UGA does not use designated interest as a decision factor, so there is no need to send a note to the counselor assigned to your school/area to let them know UGA is #1 on your list. Right now, just make sure all materials are in on time and have patience. When your file is complete, you will see all the checklist items on the status page have a green check and the words "Awaiting Decision" show under the UGA counselor next to the Application Status indicator.
  4. If you applied through the Coalition application system, please make sure to complete the Self Reported grades form off the UGA admissions status page. We do not use the complicated Coalition self reported grades section, as our form is much less complicated and matches what the non-Coalition applicants completed. This helps us to keep on track with our decision time lines, so thank you.
  5. Once you have submitted an application, we cannot go back into it and make changes. If you need to add something to your freshman application that you left out or wanted to submit, either use the Update Form (for deferred EA applicants) or update it as a part of a resume that you upload on your status page. 
  6. On January 22nd, the Transfer application for Summer/Fall terms will open. There is no difference in our review of summer vs fall applicants, so select the term that you truly will be attending. If you are admitted for summer and do not attend, you cannot just show up for fall and enroll. Acceptance is only for the term for which you were admitted.
  7. The consideration level for Summer/Fall have changed for transfer applicants with 30-59 transferable hours, and it is now a 3.30 transfer GPA. Remember, this is not a cut point or requirement, but instead is the GPA for us to begin considering a transfer student with 30-59 hours for transfer admission.
  8. Roughly 5,000 freshmen applied during the last 3 days before the RD deadline, so please be patient as we match up documents. Of the 12,000+ RD applicants, roughly 65% of them have complete files. As such, 4,000+ still need to get in materials and/or test scores.
  9. We will continue to award scholarships through the end of March, so please be patient as we get through the freshman file reading, the transfer decisions and the scholarship process. 
  10. I cannot, will not, and am not able to guess about any decisions. I feel like I am Dr. Seuss when I say this (I will not guess in a box, I will not guess with a fox). 
  11. Remember, senior courses and grades are still very important. We will be looking closely at the final transcripts of all enrolling students in the summer, and we will contact any student who has serious declines in their grades (large % of C's or have D/F grades). If all indicators point to a student having problems freshman year, we would rather take steps prior to enrollment then ask a student to leave or lose any merit aid after their first year at UGA.
  12. Have a great last semester, enjoy your final months of being a senior, and I wish everyone well in the overall college admissions process!
Go Dawgs!