Archives for March 2016

The Wait List…yea, you know. Part 3.

Good news, bad news. Good news is my editor just had a baby. That means the filter is off and you’re going to get an even more concentrated dose of transparency. Bad news is my editor just had a baby. That means the clean sections, readability, and schedule of these blog entries is going to take a hit. Bonus good news: this beautiful new baby just became part of a loving, amazing family.

waitlist-300x200

I coach little kids soccer. My goal (no pun intended) when the kids were three and four years old was to keep them all on the field, heading the right direction, and not crying uncontrollably. If you could achieve the trifecta in one game, it wasn’t just a win– it was like a championship run! Now most of those kids are seven or eight. We have progressed to periodic passing, trapping, and calling for passes, etc. But beyond the fundamentals we also focus a lot on sportsmanship/exhibiting class. You knock a kid down, you help him up; you lose a game, you still line up with your head up and earnestly say “good game.” The other day after a game I saw two kids pushing each other a little bit. These were not my players. Still, I couldn’t help myself. I walked over, and just as I got in earshot, I heard one of them say, “Oh, yea. What are you going to do about it?!” Now the kid really had me pissed because not only was he being a jerk, but he used one of the lamest lines of all time. Come on, man!

For the last two weeks we’ve bemoaned the wait list. We’re on a three step process to healing. Step 1: Acknowledge. Step 2: Yell it a little louder.

Step 3: What are you going to do (and not do) about it?!

1- Do your part. At most schools the wait list offer is just that– an option. Check what they sent you or what they put on their website. Typically, you need to take action of some kind to accept or claim your spot. So do that (Or don’t. That’s also your choice. You can absolutely cancel your application, and you should, if you’ve decided to go elsewhere.)  If you do claim your spot, be sure you do anything additional that they instruct. Is there a supplementary short answer question to respond to? Do they want you to send another recommendation letter or schedule an interview? Each school will handle this differently, so read your letter, email, or online collateral carefully.

2- Don’t get crazy. We’ve had students send a painted shoe with a message on the bottom reading: “just trying to get my foot in the door.” Cute? Well, I remember it. But it was ultimately ineffective. We’ve had lots of chocolates, cookies, and other goods sent along with poems or notes. I can’t speak for all admission offices, but there is no way I’m eating any of that, even if it’s been shrink wrapped, vacuum packed and appears to be delivered straight from the vendor. Call that paranoid or callous if you will. I’ll find my own dessert.

3- Do reach out to your admission counselor. (Unless they specifically tell you not to.) Check out our wait list website here. We’ve been told that it’s terse. Perhaps. But it’s pretty darn clear, right? We’d rather be accused of being brief and directive than vague and verbose (put that in your SAT pipe and smoke it.) If you have met or corresponded with someone from the admission office, perhaps when they visited your high school, or while you were on their campus, send them an email. Let them know you claimed your spot on the wait list, completed the school’s stipulated form, essay, etc. You are indicating continued interest in attending. Remember in Wait List, Part 1 when we talked about the university’s perspective? If they miss their class and need to go to the wait list, they want to do so as quickly and efficiently as possible. This is your wink and nod that you would accept an offer if made. Now let me be clear– I’m not tell you to reach out every day. This is a one and done proposition. One year I received a letter, email or call every day in April from a student wanting to “demonstrate interest.” There is a distinct line between demonstrating interest and stalking… and it she leapt over it with both feet.

4- Do deposit elsewhere. The university that has offered you a spot on their wait list should be instructing  you to take this step, but I cannot reinforce that enough. Because most schools won’t have a firm sense of deposits until late April, the majority of wait list activity occurs in May and June. Since May 1 is the National Deposit Deadline, you need to go ahead and put money down before that point to secure your spot in a class. I understand and sympathize with this position. I know you don’t want to forfeit money, as these deposits are typically non-refundable. And I know that from an emotional and mental standpoint this is a challenge. So I’ll just conclude where I began– with a sincere apology that wait lists exist at all. They suck!

5- Do wait well. Last time I said I did not have a tip for you on this. Well, that’s because I knew I’d need a fifth bullet point in this blog. Here’s my advice. After you’ve claimed your spot and deposited elsewhere, take some time to write down a few things you are looking forward to in college. In doing so, you’re focusing on “why” you are going to college, and de-emphasizing the “where.” (Keep that list and re-visit it next year at holiday break and after freshman year.) This April I want you relish your senior year. Enjoy spring break, go to prom, take the opportunity to thank a few teachers or read something outside of school that you’re genuinely interested in. When talk about college comes up, whether that be with family or friends, steer the conversation away from where and towards what you want to study, experience, learn, and accomplish.

I distinctly remember being in your spot in April of my senior year. People seemed so sure of themselves. It appeared they knew exactly who they were going to live with, which fraternity they were going to pledge, and what football games they would be going to in the fall. Let me tell you something: Life does not change in that regard. Other people always seem like they have it all together. Life looks easy for them (especially if you believe their social media account). But we all have our challenges, our doubts, and our insecurities. If you have the confidence to embrace uncertainty, and can be open to and excited about the adventure of not knowing, you will not only navigate the next few weeks well, you’re going to live a rich and content life.

Comments or questions welcome. @gtadmission on Twitter.

The Wait List Sucks (part 2 of 3)

waitlist

The Student Experience

Again, I officially apologize that we on the college side are not smart enough to hit our targets dead on right out of the gate. As we established earlier, if we could do that, there would be no wait lists, anywhere!

Wait lists suck for students for several reasons, but here are a couple of specific examples:

 

If the school that wait lists you is your top choice, it just means more waiting. 

You’ve already done this for a few months since applying, and you may have already been deferred from an earlier round (putting you in a special level of admission purgatory). That’s rough–I get it. You’re a senior. You want to simply enjoy the final weeks or months of high school, and knowing definitively where you are going would really help. Worse still: none of us can bend space and time, so there is literally nothing you can do here.

Honestly, I don’t have a good tip for you. Waiting is hard. Uncertainty is frustrating and unsettling. I don’t have a solution. The only thing I can tell you is that life is full of situations like this. Will I get a new job and when? Will a house come on the market that we can afford in the area we want to live in? Will the results of this test come back from the doctor with life-changing implications? For some students, this is the first of many big processes or situations that mean waiting, hoping, praying, and learning to be content and joyful in the present, regardless of your circumstances. No matter how old you are, I think that’s always a challenge and something we all have to work on to thrive in life.

It’s an ego hit.

We talked about this along with the Deferral process, specifically in “The Other D Word.”

“What’s wrong with me? Why did that other kid get in and not me? How is my 3.8 and 1520 not good enough?” Please, hear me screaming: This is not a value judgment! Yesterday, we talked about “institutional priorities” and “shaping a class,” neither of which has anything to do with YOU. YOU are amazing! YOU are talented. Yes. I am talking to you. YOU- with the iPad out or scanning phone, or reading this while you’re pretending to listen in class or to someone else who’s talking (stop that and actually listen– it’s a life lesson). The tough spot you’re in is tied up in supply and demand, institutional priorities, and demographic shaping of the class.

Ironically, at the end of the day, the wait list exposes the fatigue of students as well as admission officers. We are both ready to be done. To have things settled. To know what “next year is going to look like.” And similarly with pride, it has us questioning our skills, potential, and future. So we are effectively in this together.

But it still sucks.

Later this week- No easy solutions or quick fixes, but some tips and insight for the weeks ahead.

The Wait List Sucks (part 1 of 3)

There’s just no easy way to say it. There’s no funny intro or creative analogy. And frankly, it sucks for everyone. To understand the student experience (which we’ll delve into next week), you first have to understand the college’s perspective.

The Admission Experience

The wait list is a reminder that I’m not very smart. If I were better at my job, I could predict exactly how many students each year would accept our offer of admission (a term known as “yield,” which is the percentage of students who say YES to your offer and choose to enroll). In fact, if I were really good, we’d have 100% yield (the national average is 33.6%). In this perfect world, all of our new students would come to campus smiling, earn 4.0 GPAs, retain at 100%, graduate in 4 years, get high paying and highly fulfilling jobs after graduation, name their babies after the admission director… you get the picture.

Georgia Tech’s freshman class size is 2,800. As a public school, our mission is to serve our state and expose all students to a world class education in a global context. Part of that education means enrolling students from states across our nation and countries around the world. Our ideal undergraduate population is approximately 60% from Georgia, 30% from other states, and 10% international students.

Due to finances, proximity, name recognition, rankings, girlfriends, and perceptions that people in the south do not wear shoes or have running water, our yield projections are based on demographics. In recent years, our yield from Georgia has been approximately 63%, 35% from abroad, and 24% from states around the country. We constantly analyze yield by state, gender, major, etc., but at the end of the day, although data, history, and trends are helpful, each student is different, each family is different, and each year is different.

Method Behind the Madness

Maybe I’m going into too much detail here, or belaboring a point you basically got after the first sentence: I’m not that smart. Essentially, the wait list exists to accommodate for demographics that were not met in the initial round of admission offers. If you have the right number of deposits from the West coast, you go to your wait list for more East coast students. If you have enough Chemistry majors, you may be going the wait list for Business students. Ultimately, the job of admission deans and directors is to make and shape the class, as defined by institutional priorities. Meeting target enrollment is critical to bottom line revenue, creating a desired ethos on campus, proliferating the school’s brand, and other factors.

If we come in with too few students, we lose revenue and are unable to fund initiatives and provide opportunities for the students who are here. If we overenroll the class, we run into issues with housing, inflated student-faculty ratios, quality of classroom discussion, space for labs, and long lines at Chick-Fil-A. I hate being blamed for all of these things, but walking into the student center just to get a coke and having someone tell me to stop enrolling so many students because the lines are long is just annoying.

Making the Phone Call

How wait list offers are made vary by college but it’s not atypical for a school to offer four to six students a spot from the wait list just to convert one after the May 1 national deposit deadline. It’s logical, as students have mentally committed elsewhere by that point. They’ve deposited, bought the t-shirt, attended an admitted student day, and met future classmates on the Facebook group.

I hate calling a student and hearing simultaneous excitement and pain. Pleased to have the option, but also realizing the option creates a quandary. Conversely, other students quickly dismiss the call quite brashly. “Nope. I’m going to X.” It’s the proverbial finger, and I get it. In fact, I remember Bucknell offering me a spot from their wait list after I’d already committed elsewhere, and it kind of felt good to turn them down. On our side of it, it doesn’t matter who X is, we lost– And nobody enjoys losing, right?

Next week we’ll delve into the student experience of the wait list.

Comments or questions? Contact us on Twitter! @gtadmission

Making the Most of Your Campus Visit: Part 2

Tech in spring

Today wraps up our 2-part series with guest blogger Elyse Lawson. Welcome back, Elyse!

There are hundreds of things that can be accomplished in 75 minutes but showcasing all a college campus has to offer isn’t one of them! As with most schools, you will see the recreation center and hear all about our extracurricular offerings, but it’s what lies OUTSIDE the tour that truly represents Georgia Tech and Atlanta. Here are our recommendations of spots to check out on your upcoming visit.

Academic Spaces

With over six colleges and 34 majors, ask your Tour Guide about the building that houses your potential major. Even if you’re not majoring in Business or Biomedical Engineering, be sure to check out these spots on campus:

Technology Square: This Georgia Tech- sponsored innovation district houses the Scheller College of Business, GT bookstore, startup incubators, innovation centers, lab and research space, as well as plenty of retail and office space. It serves as the urban “main street” of campus, connecting the Institute with the local community.

Tech Square

BioTechnology Quad: This unique research-based organizational structure allows students from all different majors to collaborate and work together. This 28,000 square foot structure houses science labs, chemical, computer, electrical and material science engineering labs, as well as classroom and collaborative work space.

Extracurricular spaces

Pi Mile: Looking for a unique way to experience campus and maybe squeeze in a quick run? Make sure to check out the Pi Mile. We have the best of both worlds with a college campus feel in the heart of the city and this trail allows you to really get a feel for our unique campus.

Plaque dedication for the running trail named for Tyler Brown, and alumnus and former student body president who was killed last September while serving in Iraq. -- Tyler Brown

Invention Studio: Are you interested in the maker movement, design and innovation projects? Do you want to be part of a community of dedicated inventors? If so, then make sure you stop by the Invention Studio! This distinctive student-run maker space is located on the 2nd floor of the MRDC building and provides students with access to cutting edge machinery (such as 3-D printers, waterjet and laser cutting machines, soldering tools and more!), workshops and experienced guidance.

Midtown Atlanta

Piedmont Park: Midtown Atlanta has so much to offer Georgia Tech students, but one of the greatest attributes that ATL boasts is Piedmont Park. Oftentimes referred to as “Atlanta’s Common Ground,” the 185 acres that make up Piedmont Park are where people from all over the city come together. Georgia Tech students not only enjoy the space for walking, biking and club sports, but they also enjoy the great festivals (such as the Dogwood Festival and Music Midtown) that bring great food, artwork and performers into the city.

The Atlanta Beltline: The Atlanta Beltline Project is one of the largest urban redevelopment projects currently underway in the United States, and it all started with at Georgia Tech! Ryan Gravel had a vision while working on his Master’s thesis to improve the city by re-using 22 miles of historic railroad corridor to bring together the city. This incredible transportation and development effort is changing the way the people of Atlanta access all that the city has to offer! If you have chance, you should stop by Ponce City Market and walk along the part of the Beltline.

Making the Most of Your Campus Visit: Part 1

This week Elyse Lawson, our Assistant Director in charge of campus visits, joins us as a guest blogger. Welcome, Elyse!

As May 1 approaches, students around the country will be deciding which college they will call their “home away from home.” One of the best ways to do that is by visiting campus and exploring the surrounding areas!

In Part 1 of this two-part series, we begin with a list of College Tour Do’s and Don’ts, to help you make the most of your visit at Georgia Tech!

To Make your Visit Enjoyable and Pain Free, DO:

  1. Register ahead of time: Our daily visits begin filling pretty quickly due to limited space capacity. To ensure that you have a spot, make sure you go online and register for your visit, as soon as possible.
  2. Allow for extra time to find parking and reach your destination: Make sure you do research and check out our parking and directions webpage. It will show you the different visitor parking options around campus.
  3. Wear comfortable clothes and walking shoes: Our tour includes about 1.75 miles worth of walking so you will want to make sure you are comfortable during your tour. If you need any special accommodations please contact our office as soon as you register for your visit.
  4. Allow enough time to soak in everything campus has to offer: Our info session is about an hour long and the tour can take up to an hour and half. Please plan to be on campus for at least 2-1/2 hours when you come to visit.
  5. Ask Questions: Parents, try and encourage your students to think about questions beforehand. It is important to ask questions that will allow you to get a true sense of what the student experience will be like.
  6. Inform your Tour Guide if you have another campus tour or meeting scheduled that day: Our tour guides want to be as helpful as possible! If you have another meeting scheduled at the end of your tour or need to leave a bit early, let them know!

Avoid These Common Visit Mistakes, and DON’T:

  1. Talk on the phone or text: Answering phone calls or texting while on your tour is disruptive for the tour guide and other visitors, and it can also delay the progress of the tour. Don’t use your phone, so that the Tour Guide can keep the tour moving along smoothly.
  2. Lag behind or get in front of the tour: Try your best to keep up with your tour group. It can be challenging for our Tour Guides to keep large groups together, so please make sure you stay as close as possible throughout the tour.
  3. Monopolize the Tour Guide’s time with questions that are not applicable to the group: Tour Guides love to share their experiences with you, but also want to make sure the information they are conveying applies to the entire group. If you have specific situational questions, we ask that you please hold those until the end of the tour. Our Tour Guides usually stick around after tours and love to answer questions and have personal conversations with families!
  4. Engage in side conversations when the Tour Guide is talking: There is time between each stop on the tour that you will be able to speak with your tour guide or get to know other people on your tour. We highly encourage you to take advantage of this time, but please be mindful when the Tour Guide begins speaking about the next stop, so not to interrupt the experience of others.
  5. Solely rely on your tour to help you learn about the school: As you will see in the second part of this series, there is far more that campus has to offer than we have time to show you during a 1.5 hour tour. Take time to explore Atlanta and the rest of campus when you come to town! There are so many great things to see!

Join us next week for part 2 of this series, with inside tips on what to see at Tech, and Atlanta!