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!