UGA class of 2019 will include some of state’s brightest students

Published 5:28 pm Friday, April 3, 2015

If you are a high school senior hoping to attend The University of Georgia, the oldest-state chartered university in the nation, located in Athens, the Classic City of the South, you have probably heard by now whether or not you have been accepted.

The target enrollment for the Class of 2019 is 5,200 and they will be smarter than a whip.

Nancy McDuff, associate vice president for admissions at the University of Georgia, says the two most important factors in being admitted as a freshman are grades in academic classes and the strength of the courses selected. In other words, “Easy As” won’t cut it.

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McDuff says, “We expect students to take advantage of the most challenging courses offered at their high schools. It is possible that a student with a 4.0 GPA who has avoided challenging courses may not be admitted while a student with a lower GPA who has attempted the most rigorous courses at their school is offered admission.” Remember, parents and students hoping to get in UGA next year: You read it here.

Leadership capabilities, strong writing, being an active member in school and in the community and showing growth from freshman to senior year are also considered important by the Admissions staff.

McDuff says the 22,300 applications for admission to the Class of 2019 was the largest in history.  I won’t bore you with a bunch of numbers but of those who have been accepted the mid-range Grade Point Average is between 3.84 to 4.09 and their test scores are out of sight. In addition, these brighter-than-a-bulb kids will have completed numerous advanced placement courses or International Baccalaureate classes. (Note to self: Hide diploma. No one will ever believe that I graduated from a school with these kinds of numbers.)

Back when I was actively involved in recruitment, a lot of high school guidance counselors would sniff when it was suggested that their best students might want to consider the University of Georgia as their first choice for college. They considered UGA their “back up” in case a more prestigious institution turned them down. No more.

For keeping more of our high achievers in-state, much of the credit goes to Gov. Zell Miller’s Hope Scholarship — one of the few education initiatives our intrepid public servants haven’t managed to screw up, despite their best efforts.

OK, so much for those who will and won’t get in my alma mater this year. What about those coming along behind them?  McDuff says the most competitive applicants will continue to be admitted regardless of high school, county or state. Some people think the university will accept only so many applicants from a particular school or county or even within the state. Not so. There are no quotas.

There is also the misconception that if a student’s family went to UGA, that will help them get admitted. Again, not so. Legacy does not play a role in the admission process. All applicants have an equal opportunity of being admitted regardless of whether or not there is a family history of attending UGA.

Getting the best and brightest to attend the University of Georgia has been the singular focus of Nancy McDuff, who will be retiring at the end of June.

During her 20 years on the job, more than 140,000 undergraduates — roughly 40 percent of all living alumni — have enrolled at UGA and probably another 140,000 wanted to. In my opinion, one of the toughest jobs in the university has been managed by one of the nicest people walking the planet.

Over the years, Nancy McDuff has been lobbied, cajoled, begged and bugged to admit some friend of a friend’s child who was not otherwise qualified. She has withstood the pressure with patience and grace. As one high school guidance counselor told me, “She doesn’t always tell you what you want to hear but she has always been a pleasure to deal with.”

While she is looking forward to turning the pressure cooker job over to someone else and enjoying her grandkids, McDuff says, “I will miss the people I have worked with. I take pride in knowing that our efforts have helped make this a better state.” That, she has done and done well.

To the Class of 2019: My congratulations. Getting in the University of Georgia is a lot more difficult than when I attended in the long-ago Dark Ages. But one thing will never change. Being a Georgia Bulldog is as good as it gets. Woof! Woof!