David Graves      July 19th, 2023 in Blog

As fall approaches and conversations about colleges enter your home, I want to share some tips from a parent’s perspective. I am a dad. I am not saying I’m a good dad, a bad dad, or whatever, but I have two kids, a wide assortment of cargo shorts and a few funny stories I have told thousands of times to back up the dad label. As such, here are a few pieces of dad advice to help both students and parents out there survive the admissions process, and to prepare you for college life and beyond.


  • What you do is who you are. In the admissions review, we are looking at what you have accomplished, both inside and outside of the classroom. Did you challenge yourself in your course selection during all four years? Did you put in the work to make strong grades and prepare yourself for the college classroom? Outside of the classroom, did you put in the time and effort to help others, whether that is working to help with family expenses, being a dedicated volunteer at a local non-profit, or tutoring a student in need? Were you active and dedicated in clubs or activities you were passionate about? Think about what you have actually been involved in, and don’t focus so much on a test score or an essay.
  • It’s good to say yes. If someone asks you for help, say yes. If your younger sibling asks to play with you and wear a silly hat, say yes. If a friend asks you to have coffee, say yes. If you get a chance to travel and learn about other cultures/people, say yes. If someone asks you to dance, say yes. Trying things, even if you are worried about failing, is a great way to grow. In admissions, we look at students who have pushed themselves outside of their comfort zone.
  • It’s also good to say no.  It is okay to say no if someone says “I dare you” (remember nothing good happens after 2 a.m.). It is okay to say no if you are feeling overwhelmed and just need a little down time. It’s okay to say no to stupid things like the ghost pepper challenge. It’s okay to say no, I don’t have time to do X. Saying no can help in allowing you to focus on what is important while at the same time avoiding problems (see below, owning your mistakes).
  • Be kind. Tell your server thanks for the extra guacamole. Help pick up the books/pens/stuff when a classmate accidentally drops their bookbag. Tell your parents you love them, even if it hurts to say it. First, be kind just because it’s good to be kind. Secondly though, people notice these things, especially the ones who write recommendation letters.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask. You never know if something is possible until you ask. Do you have any job openings? Do you have time to go over my essays (to your counselor or friend)? Is it possible to join this organization? Do you want to get a coffee? Is it possible to get an internship with your company? The proverb “nothing ventured, nothing gained” is very applicable for both admissions and beyond. UGA is a large school, and being your own advocate is key to your development in college. We have people here to help you with almost anything, you just need to ask.
  • Own your mistakes. This could be a low grade, an issue at school, or something similar. Don’t blame someone else. Don’t try and hide the evidence. Just say “Hey, I made a mistake, and here is how I am going to fix it”. Everyone makes mistakes, but the smart people are the ones who own up to them. Parents respect it when their kids take responsibility, and so do admissions offices.
  • Be positive, but also be realistic. As Michael Scott says while stealing a quote from Wayne Gretsky, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” If you are passionate about attending UGA, apply. But also look at the admitted class profile, recognize what we look at in our review compared to your academics/co-curricular areas are, and take a realistic point of view about the competitiveness of admissions. The worst that can happen is a no, but the best that can happen is pretty amazing.


  • Let your student drive the admissions process. I understand it, you want to guide your student and protect them from any negative outcomes. It’s hard not to insert yourself in the process. But if UGA is truly a place your student can see themselves at, they need to be the one to talk to us, ask the questions and handle the steps to applying. Take a step back, schedule a set hour every week to talk about admissions/applications so it does not become a daily question/grind, and then just enjoy being their parent.
  • Let your student fix their own problems. Again, I understand when parents want to take care of their student’s problems. But teaching them how to deal with problems is more important than fixing problems as far as preparing them for their next stage in life. Let them learn things now so when they have graduated from college and are on their own, they can handle conflict with their co-worker, asking for a raise, deal with a problem in their apartment, or change a flat tire.
  • Talk about finances prior to the first application submission. It is better to have a discussion about college financial planning and what is affordable at the start of the admission process instead of waiting until a student is admitted and is already making plans. Talking about finances and affordability now can help limit confusion and heartbreak later.
  • They will follow your example more than your advice. We all know that our kids will model the behavior they see from us more than the advice we tell them to take. If you tell them to drive carefully and then you break land speed records on I-85, how fast will they really drive? Be polite in your interactions with admissions people, tour guides, orientation leaders, etc., even if you might not get the answers you want. Let your student know they might not get the exact residence hall they want, or the exact schedule they are planning on, or the football tickets they want, as there are limits on things in college just like everywhere else. Show them how to work with others to get towards the outcome they want.
  • Be positive, but also be realistic. See the last point under the student section. Talk to your student about their strengths and challenges, and about how this might impact an admissions decision. Be honest in the discussion, but also be hopeful. I have had too many discussions with parents where I have to remind them about low grades, limited activities, etc. that were left out of the initial discussion. Just like with finances, a candid discussion about your student’s grades, course rigor and co-curricular involvement, especially in comparison to a college’s admitted student profile and the size of the applicant pool, is key when looking at college admission.

Good luck and Go Dawgs!