David Graves      March 4th, 2020 in Blog

For some reason, people love an urban legend or conspiracy theory. Are there really aliens being kept at Area 51? Do Bigfoot and the Lock Ness Monster really exist? Was there really a second shooter on the grassy knoll? When there is the unknown, some individuals look for any explanation, no matter the proximity to reality, to try and make sense of things. An Urban Legends horror movie trilogy was even made in the late 1990’s/early 2000’s based on a variety of myths (as well as a lot of dark stairwells, creepy villains and a lot of blood and gore). I still remember Leonard Nimoy hosting the show “In Search Of …” back in the 1970’s, and it has now made a comeback with Zackary Quinto as host. I guess you can never get enough about unsolved mysteries and unfounded theories about why something happened.

After we release final decisions in mid-March, a whole host of admissions urban legends and conspiracy theories will pop up on social media, in comments on this blog, and in high school hallways. I can’t stop these rumors from starting, but I can at least give you some ammunition to stop these theories from spreading.

  1. Rumor #1 – UGA admits only a certain number of students per year from my high school, and after a cap is met, they stop admitting students.
    • Fact – We don’t have the time, energy or desire to have a quota of admitted students for each high school. We are dealing with over 28,500 applicants from 4,805 different high schools. I just want to make sure we get through the review of each applicant in the timeframe we work within, so we don’t have time to slice up the decisions based on a certain percentage or number from each HS. Even if we did have the time, we would not want to have “quota numbers” per high school, as we are focused on admitting the strongest individuals from within the entire applicant pool regardless of HS. Last year, one GA high school had 342 students apply to UGA (and it is up to 354 this year), and we admitted 184 of those students. You would not see that high of an admitted group if we limited things based on a HS quota.
  2. Rumor #2 – It is easier to be admitted if you are from Georgia, not from Georgia, from an International School, from X part of the state of Georgia.
    • Fact – We are looking at students as individuals, and we make our decisions based on the individual, not the location of the applicant. We have different numbers of people admitted and enrolled based on the individual applicants and the strength of their record, and our enrollment numbers are driven by the decisions made by accepted students (with Georgians accepting their offer of admission by at least 3 to 4 times the rate of out of state students).
  3.  Rumor #3 – UGA looks at Early Action (EA) applicants in a more positive light than Regular Decision (RD) applicants, or RD applicants in a more positive light as compared to EA applicants (take your pick).
    • The difference in EA vs RD is in the timeline of the process, not in the decision process. We look at EA and RD applicants the same, just within a different timeline for each. There is no specific benefit for one decision plan over another, and as such we tell a student to select the one that fits their situation the best.
  4.  Rumor #4 – UGA looks at the demonstrated interest an applicant shows towards UGA, so make sure to email, call, or write a letter to your UGA counselor (or better yet do all three!).
    • My best estimate is that we have 175,900+ freshman prospects in our system for the 2020 enrollment cycle, with again over 28,500 of those who then applied. This is a lot of people. A lot. We do not have the time or the interest to somehow use demonstrated interest in our review process, and we do not feel like it is a good metric to use in admission considering there are a number of students with limitations on visiting campus and interacting with our counselors. Just because someone says they really like you 20 plus times does not mean they are a better applicant.
  5. Rumor #5 – Students are denied because they are so strong overall that UGA predicts they will not attend UGA, or the so-called Yield Deny theory (where admitting the student would hurt our rate of enrolling (or yielding) the student.
    • We don’t play that game. We go into each file review with the understanding that the applicant is interested in UGA, and that if admitted, they may or may not enroll here. But we do not guess about whether the student will enroll or not, and we do not ever use this in our decision making.
  6. Rumor #6 – Students who have a certain academic level or co-curricular activity will always be admitted. For instance, a 4.00 GPA, a certain high test score or a certain accomplishment (such as being an eagle scout) means a student will be admitted.
    • There is no one factor that determines admission, and we have a number of students who are not admitted yet have a high GPA, a high test score or a specific accomplishment. A 4.00 GPA does not take into account the overall core rigor of a student’s curriculum or their extra-curricular accomplishments, a high test score does not guarantee strength in the other areas, and having a certain activity would not mean we would overlook all the other areas of consideration. We are looking at everything in our review.
  7. Rumor # 7 – Being a legacy applicant (having family who previously attended UGA) has an impact on a decision. 
    • UGA does not use legacy in the admission review of a student. We ask the question on the application because other offices on campus want this data, but that does not mean it factors in any way in an admission review. Whether your family attended UGA or not does not change your grades, your curriculum, your activities or your admission review.
  8. Rumor #8 – UGA uses your intended major in determining whether to admit you or not.
    • While some universities use major as one of the factors in admission, UGA does not. At times in our review, we will look at your major in better understanding your course selection or choice of activities (a prospective engineer has decided to focus more on STEM courses and is involved in creative outlets such as Robotics or coding, or a theater major has chosen to be very active in One-Act and musical performance), but only to get a better understanding of the overall applicant. We are not selecting students based on a specific major, and we do not have different admission standards for different majors.

I know there are more rumors out there than just the ones I have listed above, but these are the ones we hear about most often, especially when a student or parent is looking for a reason for why a denial decision was made. The reality is that we have a large applicant pool of very strong students, and we can only admit so many overall. I am sure that almost every single student who is not admitted can point to at least one real strength in their application, but we are looking at the overall application and the overall applicant pool, and we see everything in the process.


I hope this helps to better understand our process, and Go Dawgs!

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