Application Season in Georgia


Chris Thomas, Staff Writer

As the NCAA basketball tournament reaches the Final Four, another version of March Madness is coming to a close for high school seniors across the country: college decisions. This year, more than 5.5 million college applications were submitted through the Common Application, the most widely used college application service. However, this surge in admissions was not evenly distributed. The nation’s highest ranking universities experienced unprecedented increases in applications while some smaller, less prestigious institutions struggled to stay afloat. The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), which routinely receives around 100,00o applications, garnered 139,500 during this record-breaking year. Further up the coast, Portland State in Oregon saw a 12 percent decrease in applications.


These drastic changes were spurred by the decision, of most universities, to waive standardized testing requirements. Coronavirus disrupted months of testing for the soon to be class of 2025, and many universities were already evaluating the efficiency of standardized tests as a true indicator of student ability when this decision was made. The combination of uncharted waters in testing requirements, applications received and deferrals of admission, left the class of 2025 with speculation about how their applications would be evaluated. That being said, the vast majority of schools still allowed students to submit test scores.


The University System of Georgia announced its decision to drop the testing requirement in August of last year. Private universities such as Emory University and Spelman College followed suit. 


The University of Georgia (UGA), the state flagship university, released its class of 2025 data on March 19. UGA received more than 39,000 applications, a 38 percent increase from last year. Despite this surge, the university was only able to offer admission to 1,600 more students. This brought the acceptance rate down from about half to just over a third. At the same time, the academic prowess of the student body grew as well. The middle 50 percent of admitted students’ GPAs increased from 3.94 – 4.21 to 4.00 – 4.27. This year’s GPA range is similar to that of UGA’s 2024 honors college. The standardized test scores experienced an increase as well, but this may be due to the fact that not all students reported their scores. 


UGA also made sure to laud its diverse class. All 50 states, including 149 Georgia counties were represented in one of the university’s most diverse classes to date. 37 percent of those admitted were minorities, as opposed to the 30 percent of minorities that make up the current student body.


Not to be outdone, the Georgia institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) released their class of 2025 data in the same week. UGA’s cross-town rival received over 45,000 applications, again a sizable increase from the previous year. Fortunately for those extra applicants, Georgia Tech increased their class size by about five percent. Georgia Tech also celebrated a diverse class, as the university praised the group of 3,450 for having “28% more black students, 20% more first generation students and 12% more hispanic students” than the previous year according to the GT News Center.


Emory University, Georgia’s highest ranking private institution, was not able to share specific academic data regarding their admitted class, but they did share that they experienced some of the same trends as other universities. They experienced an 18 percent increase in applications, amounting in a grand total of 33,780 hopeful students. The university attributed this growth to “the pandemic and… changes the university made to its application requirements.” It should be noted that the university has two different colleges, Emory College and Oxford College. Both of them received an increase in applications, but it seems that Emory became more selective as the acceptance rate dropped from around 18 percent to less than 14 percent. 


In line with other universities, it appears that Emory also welcomed a diverse class to both of its campuses. According to the university, they received “significantly more” applications from underrepresented minorities, DACA students and those with few financial resources. 


Other Georgia institutions, such as Kennesaw State University and Georgia State University (GSU), have yet to release info on their classes, and it does not seem that these universities do that. However, all universities release common data sets. These are documents that describe the most recent admitted class and the university as a whole. They are often more wordy than a class profile released by universities, but they contain much of the same information.


How exactly did Milton students fare in this new environment? Well, according to Naviance, things went pretty well for the Eagles. UGA and GSU were the most desirable locations, receiving 145 and 124 applications respectively. Georgia Tech came in a not-so-close third with 90 applications. Students have self-reported admit rates well above those of the general population at these universities. 64 of 145 were admitted to UGA, 112 of 124 were admitted to GSU and 55 of 90 were admitted to Georgia Tech. Given these statistics,  it is fair to say that Milton had a remarkable showing. 


It seems obvious that the pandemic and subsequent testing changes led to the most desirable universities receiving an influx of applications. It is also apparent that universities were able to diversify their student body. What is less clear is the impact that choosing to submit, or disclude, test scores had on applications. UGA stated that 40 percent of their incoming class withheld test scores and Emory shared that 31 percent of their incoming class did the same. Yet, we don’t know the academic, or even holistic, background of this group. In fact, it seems that there are not any universities in the US that are willing to volunteer that information so far. We may never know the true impact of test scores on this admissions cycle, but this is the secretive nature of college admissions.