Campus News

‘Early-action’ applicants receive admissions decisions

Nancy McDuff

For some 5,700 high school seniors, there was an extra reason to give thanks this holiday season: They learned that they have been offered early admission to UGA.

Students who applied for early-action admission learned their status Nov. 18—two weeks sooner than usual—via the status check on the website of the Office of Undergraduate Admissions ( In addition to the celebratory fireworks that traditionally appear on the screen for those students being offered admission, UGA President Michael F. Adams offered a video message of congratulations.

Students with mobile devices were able to learn their status with the popular UGA Admissions App.

“Technology is definitely changing and speeding up the way we notify students of admissions decisions—both good news and bad,” said Nancy McDuff, associate vice president for admissions and enrollment management. “This year for the first time we are not mailing letters to students who have been denied admission, since getting that letter after learning the news via the status check is a double blow.”      

The admissions office received some 10,800 early-action applications for the freshman class that will enter in 2012–slightly more than last year. Those applying for early-action submit applications by an Oct. 15 deadline and learn that they are admitted, denied or deferred to the regular-decision pool. Those who are deferred are asked to submit additional information by the regular-decision deadline of Jan. 15.

“We always try to stress to early-action applicants that if their admission decision was deferred, they still have a chance to be part of the incoming freshman class,” McDuff said. “In the past few years, we have admitted about half of the students who were initially deferred and then completed Part II of the application by Jan. 15. Being deferred at this point does not mean that an application is denied.”

This year, close to 56 percent of early-action applicants are being offered admission, while about 7 percent of applications are being denied and, as last year, about a third of the total are being deferred. Other applications received were incomplete and will be added to the regular-decision pool.

Early-action decisions are based solely on academic criteria. McDuff noted that in recent years more students are waiting to apply until the regular-decision deadline in order to have additional factors considered, such as high school activities and volunteer work. “For some students, that’s a good decision, and we encourage it,” she said.

This year’s early-action applicant pool was academically strong and diverse, with high test scores and grades and a rigorous curriculum.  A quarter of the students applying for early action identified themselves as being from an ethnic or racial minority group. More than 740 early-action applications, representing nearly 7 percent of the total pool, were received from African Americans. Early-action applications from Hispanic students totaled 500.

Similar to last year, those offered admission at this point have an academic GPA mid-range of 3.87-4.09, an SAT mid-range of 1290-1420 (with a mean SAT writing score of 654) or a mean ACT range of 28-32. UGA requires students to submit writing scores for their ACT and SAT tests and those scores are an integral part of the selection process, McDuff said.

Those students admitted through early action also took an average of 6.5 Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate classes.

“The odds of being offered admission are always driven by how strong a student looks relative to the rest of the applicant pool,” McDuff said. “The first offers of admission are extended to students with the strongest academic records, but the most important factors in the regular-decision process are also academic—in particular grade point average and the rigor of the courses that the students have taken relative to what is available in their school. However, regular-decision applications and applications from students deferred from the early-action program are given a holistic review that includes other factors that tell us about students’ talents and activities outside the classroom.”

McDuff predicted that by Jan. 15 the admissions office will have received close to 19,000 applications for the incoming class, with a target enrollment of 4,900 new first-year students entering in summer or fall and another 200 in spring 2013. Typically, about half the students offered admission go on to enroll at UGA, a comparable yield to other selective universities.