Why Self-Reported Grades?

  David Graves      October 2nd, 2018

In our admissions recruitment system, we have 39,427 organizations listed as high schools. We have schools with 1,500+ seniors and schools with one senior. We have Syrupmakers and Sea Kings, Jaguars and Leopards, Dragons and Wolverines, and even Jem Bears and Unicorns (You go Unicorns!). And you know what? It seems like all 39,427 schools have their own way of doing things, especially when it comes to grades. Different grading scales, different grades, different weighting systems, and just plain being different in how they do things. Even the transcripts look different, with some being hand-written, some being 12 pages long, and some with grades from kindergarten up to 12th grade. The one big thing in common is that many of them will have students applying to UGA, and we have to somehow convert these varying grades and grading scales into a somewhat common GPA system so we can look at the academics on a level playing field. As you can guess, the recalculation of GPA’s for 27,000+ applications takes a while. And the more time we spend on trying to figure out a GPA, the less time we have to do holistic file reads. As well, the longer we take in trying to decipher each grading system, the longer it takes to get out admission decisions. This is why we decided roughly eight years ago to ask our applicants to self-report their high school grades on their application. UGA uses these self-reported grades as a framework for the GPA calculation, […]

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Swipe Left or Swipe Right?

  David Graves      March 23rd, 2018

I will admit it, I have never used an online dating app. I am old. But there has always been one constant in the world of dating: Accentuate your strengths and de-emphasize your weaknesses. Athletic? Show some pictures of you competing on the court or hiking up a mountain. Brains? Highlight that amazing degree, the books you read and your passion for Shakespeare comedies. Sense of humor? Dazzle them with a few witty comments in your profile. And as for those weaknesses? Bury them. Bury them deep. By the time they get to know you, they will happily ignore obsession with the toilet paper having to go over instead of under, or your slight obsession with The Bachelor or Rick and Morty. The same thought process seems to holds true for students and parents posting college admission data on blogs, ChanceMe sites, and social media. Accentuate strengths and de-emphasize weaknesses. Have a strong GPA? Highlight the grades you made and the overall trends. Have a strong test score? Post the best SAT and ACT your child made, and emphasize how few make these scores nationwide. Active in School? List all the clubs, sports and volunteer work to far off lands. And if there are areas that are not so strong, then just leave off that part. The only difference is that while outside viewers only see the positives that are posted, Admissions Offices already have all the details on the students, and are able to see both the strengths and […]

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2018 Early Action Decisions are Available

  David Graves      November 17th, 2017

Early Action decisions are now available online! For students who were deferred, please understand that this is not a denial decision.  We want to be able to have a more in-depth review of you, including short essays, activities, recommendations, etc.  Please be sure to read the deferred student FAQ page before commenting on here. The 2018 Early Action Decision press release gives more details on the class, but here are a few numbers from it. Quick Early Action Numbers* Applications Received: 14,989 Offers of Admission: 8,060 Mid 50% Admitted Average GPA: 4.00-4.27 Mid 50% Admitted Average SAT (EBRW+M): 1320-1470 Mid 50% Admitted Average ACT: 30-32 Mid 50% Admitted AP/IB/MOWR courses (over 4 years: 7-11)      -Academic Rigor is based on an overall core course review, but this gives a good glance at the challenge of our admitted student’s curriculum. * Please Remember that these numbers are mid-ranges, not minimums. If you have questions about your specific decision, please do not post them on this blog.  As well, do not give out or request personal academic information in your post, as we would then need to delete these posts. We are not able to answer questions about individual students here because we will generally not have your information in front of us and we cannot disclose individual student information in a comment.  I would recommend talking with both your family and high school counselor first, then reviewing this previous post on suggestions about how to react to an EA decision, and finally reading the […]

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Updated AP/IB grade Weighting for 2016

  David Graves      June 10th, 2015

Ever since I have been at UGA (18 years or so), we have added .5 to every AP or IB grade during the calculation of the UGA GPA (excluding schools who add points to actual teacher grades on the transcript). In a review of the weighting practices of a large number of high schools with which we work, we have seen a growing trend of schools adding 7 to 10 points to every AP/IB teacher grade, so that an 85 in AP Biology becomes a 92 or 95 on the actual transcript. In light of these changing high school policies, UGA is changing the weighting policy for the applicant pool for 2016 and beyond and will be adding 1 point to each AP/IB grade in our calculation of a GPA (still excluding schools who add points to actual teacher grades on the transcript, where we will just use their weighted teacher grades). In practice, this means that if a student makes a B in AP Biology, this would count as a 4.0 (3.0 + 1.0) in our GPA calculation process. The University of Georgia values students challenging themselves in rigorous high school courses, as the best way to prepare yourself for college courses is to challenge yourself in the high school classroom. We encourage students to take the strongest courses possible in which they can still be successful, and we want to recognize this in how we calculate a GPA. We will continue to add weight only to AP or […]

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Calculating a UGA GPA

  David Graves      November 19th, 2013

During every admissions cycle, the question of how UGA calculates a high school GPA arises. I have seen so many GPA’s thrown out on college “discussion forums” that I start to cringe when I see these three letters. Because there are so many school systems using such a wide variety of grading scales, my best answer is always that we try to start everyone out on as level a playing field as possible. To give you an idea of the range of grading/GPA scales, here is a small sample; 10 point grading scales, 7 point grading scales, E/S/U grades, narrative grade reports, 6 point GPA scales (to include AP weighting), 4 point GPA scales, plus/minus grades, numerical only grades, 16 point GPA scales adding all four years together, etc. As you can see, the GPA on one student’s HS transcript could vary greatly from another’s. So step one is to look at the GPA(s) on your transcript, and then completely ignore it. Scratch it out, mark it out with a Sharpie, rip that section off the transcript, but do whatever you need to do to get it out of your mind. Step two, understand that UGA re-calculates all high school GPA’s, and it is based upon the individual grades (be it semester, trimester, full year, etc.) in all the academic classes using the grading scale at that school. In addition, we add 1.0 weight to every individual AP or IB grade (unless a weight has already been added to the […]

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A First Look at 2013 Admitted Freshmen Credentials

  David Graves      March 29th, 2013

UGA once again attracted an exceptionally strong applicant pool this year.  Competition for admission was stronger than ever.  Our 21,000 applications were a significant increase over last year, but it was unfortunately not balanced with an equivalent increase in the number of possible spaces for enrolled freshmen, around 5,200.  This goal still allowed us to offer admission to almost 11,000 students. For perspective, here are some basic statistics on those offered admission.  Because simple averages and highest-lowest extreme for summarizing groups of students can be misleading, our professional associations and testing agencies recommend describing applicant, accepted and enrollment cohorts’ statistics using the “middle 50%.” Here is a first look at four basic factors showing who was ranked between the 25th and 75th percentile: • College Prep Grade Point Average:  3.77 – 4.05 (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). • SAT Critical Reading + SAT Mathematics: 1200 – 1370 • SAT Writing:  590-690 • ACT Composite:  27 – 32  In addition, our average admitted student had taken 6 or more Advanced Placement and/or International Baccalaureate courses.  Around 1,500 also enrolled in dual enrollment courses. While we consider AP and IB courses as factors indicative of a student’s curriculum difficulty, we also look at the entire course selection in light of each student’s chances for […]

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Grades vs. GPA

  David Graves      November 21st, 2011

In the wake of Early Action decisions going out, we generally have a number of questions about why a decision was made, and a great deal of confusion surrounds the concept of GPA. Most of the disappointed comments and email I am seeing have a GPA listed in them, and usually they do not match what I have as a GPA. As such, here are a few examples of why UGA looks at the grades on a transcript (and recalculates a GPA), and not on the GPA listed on a transcript. In case you have not guessed, I have written about this in the past, but this is an updated version of previous posts. While writing this post, I have selected three files from the EA applicant pool that all have the same UGA GPA of a 3.32. Why did I select this GPA? Because it was the first random GPA to pop into my head. I then reviewed the transcript for each file and looked at the GPA listed on the top of each transcript. The first applicant has a GPA listed on their transcript as a 3.44 transcript GPA, the second has a 4.01 transcript GPA, while last one has a 4.45 transcript GPA. As you can see, what a high school has as a GPA may vary greatly from what UGA has calculated (that last one has a difference of 1.13!). Why is this, you may ask (yes, I know you are asking it right now). As […]

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Nickels and Dimes!

  David Graves      August 12th, 2010

Shel Silverstein was a great poet and philosopher (at least I think so!), and one of his best poems is entitled Smart: Smart My dad gave me one dollar bill ‘Cause I’m his smartest son, And I swapped it for two shiny quarters ‘Cause two is more than one! And then i took the quarters And traded them to Lou For three dimes-i guess he don’t know that three is more than two! Just then, along came old blind Bates And just ’cause he can’t see He gave me four nickels for my three dimes, And four is more than three! And i took the nickels to Hiram Coombs Down at the seed-feed store, and the fool gave me five pennies for them, And five is more than four! And then i went and showed my dad, and he got red in the cheeks And closed his eyes and shook his head- Too proud of me to speak! Why am I referencing this poem? To talk about grades and our self-reported grade form of course! When you are comparing something, whether it is coins or grades, you have to make sure you are looking at things the right way. Just as one coin does not automatically equal another coin, one grade does not automatically equal another. When you look at a coin’s worth, you need to look at the overall equivalency of it as compared to other coins. In the same way, you need to (at times) look at grades […]

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Grades and GPA, the sequel

  David Graves      March 15th, 2010

Since we are coming up on freshman final decisions shortly, and this is also the time when a vast number of high school juniors begin their college visits, I thought I would go over the concept of grades and GPA once again. Remember, this is how UGA looks at things, as I do not speak for any other colleges! While writing this post, I have randomly selected three files in our read pool, and looked at their transcripts. The first applicant has a GPA listed on their transcript as a 4.09 GPA, while we have a 3.47 GPA, The second has a 92.6 GPA, while we have one of 3.33, and the last one has a 3.85 GPA, while we have it calculated as a 3.19 GPA. As you can see, what a high school has as a GPA may vary greatly from what UGA has calculated (that last one has a difference of .66!). Why is this, you may ask (yes, I know you are asking it right now). As I have said several times before, UGA is looking at your actual posted grades in your academic classes, whether it is semester or block or trimester, and then calculates an admissions GPA based upon these course grades. In other words, UGA Admissions does not look at the GPA listed on your high school transcript! You can take a Sharpie pen and mark through it for all that I care, because we do not use it! And the reason why? […]

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Grades, GPA, and Confusion

  David Graves      November 14th, 2009

I have said it before and I will say it again, three letters cause more confusion in college admissions that any other; GPA. I have made it a point this year to try and stay away from the word GPA as much as possible (unless I am forced to talk about mid-ranges), and today brought this topic to mind again for me. I work with a great team of people, and one group’s focus during this time of year is to review and evaluate high school transcripts. At times, I pitch in and help a little bit, both to make sure everything is going well, but also so I can look at the transcripts for our freshman applicants and see if there are any new trends at the high schools. In looking at about 30 transcripts today, I noticed that a number of schools, from New York to Tennessee to Georgia, are starting to add weight to teachers grades. For example, if a student receives an 87 from his AP Lit. teacher for the Fall semester, some schools are now adding points to the 87 grade (generally somewhere from 2-10 points), so the teacher grade at school X that adds 7 points now becomes a 94. While I am all for schools having a say about their own grading system, I am worried that this is being done to have an impact on college admissions offices, and that the high schools do not really understand how this might affect their students. […]

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