My wife loves Grey’s Anatomy. She is a nurse, and can handle seeing blood spurt out, people impaled on poles, and limbs sticking out at seriously wrong angles. Me, I can’t even handle the site of the scalpel cutting into a body. But some of the most interesting scenes for me are when they do post mortems. The doctors look at what went wrong, either with the person’s health or the medical treatment, to determine the cause of death. While doctors can never tell you exactly how to live to be 100, many times they can tell you what to avoid so you can have a good chance of a long life.
One thing we cannot do in admissions is tell students/parents the exact path to getting admitted. Life in admissions changes too much for this, with shifting application numbers, academic strengths, etc.
But what I can do is take a closer look at the denied students (an admissions post mortem so to speak), and give out some information on trends in our denied group. FYI-This is not a post about data on the overall denied applicant group, but only a view on some data which stands out within that subset. I apologize up front for the somewhat gruesome medical comparison, but if nothing else, it catches your attention.
- Core Course Rigor: One of the biggest correlation factors for applicants being denied was their course preparation for UGA, and for college as a whole. If you were going to prepare yourself to bat against a college baseball pitcher, you would probably not go the batting cage and dial that machine up to 40 MPH. The average college pitcher is going to throw a fastball in the 85-90 MPH range, so you need to prepare for it by setting that pitching machine dial on high. When we look at applicants at UGA, we are looking at every student’s academic rigor. For the applicants whose course selection was average or above average (as opposed to very rigorous or most rigorous), the chance of denial was over 96%. We know that some applicants have health and personal issues which cause some challenges to their academic rigor, and we take that into account, but most students do not have these limitations. Remember, we review course rigor by looking at what is taken in the five core academic areas over four years of high school in relation to what is offered at the school or in the community. As such, for those students/parents who think the best path to admission at UGA is to take the easiest courses, think again.
- Grades-Specifically core course grades: High school grades are the best factor in predicting college grades. UGA knows that applicants at times will face a challenge in certain courses, or trip up early in their HS career. But in looking at applicants with grades in the lower range (C, D and F grades), the chance of admission drops down. For students with C/D/F grades, the chance of denial is over 85%. On an even lower note, students with D/F grades chances of denial drop to about 96%. If a student has several C/D/F grades, they need to make sure and show that in their overall academic performance, these low grades are the exception, not the rule. This does not mean that we negatively focus on students just because they have C/D/F grades, but instead that the overwhelming majority of applicants and accepted students have extremely strong grades where the high majority are A’s.
- Depth/Dedication to Activities: This one is less about data and more about internal discussions both during and after our holistic review process. When UGA is looking at a student’s clubs, sports, work, volunteer service and other co-curricular activities, we are looking at how the student chooses to use their time and how in-depth their activities have been. We see a little bit of everything in our review of a students activities, and that is okay. But we at times will see some less active students who decide to pad their resumes with a number of one year only activities, usually in the 12th grade. While we understand students try new clubs and activities (and we are fine with that!), please know that our review of co-curricular activities is as much (or more) about depth of the involvement as breadth. When we see a sudden flurry of activities added to a student’s resume after 3 years of somewhat limited involvement, it makes us wonder why. Having a resume with a a range of activities which have depth and breadth does not mean admission, but the reverse can pose challenges.