Eight myths about getting into Georgia Tech: What applicants need to know

Georgia Tech announced today it will follow UGA’s example and offer automatic acceptance to Georgia high school students who graduate first and second in their class.

In writing about education policy for the AJC since 1997, one question from readers has become far more common: Why is it so dang hard to get into the University of Georgia and Georgia Tech?

Mary Tipton

Mary Tipton Woolley

Blame two factors: The HOPE Scholarship and the increasing cost of college. As Tech and UGA became more competitive as a result of elite students remaining in Georgia because of HOPE, the colleges themselves and their national standings improved.

In talking to  parents, I find mythologies have developed around who gets into Tech and UGA and why. So, I sent both campuses some of the common assumptions to see how many were on the mark. And Georgia Tech responded first.

Rick Clark

Rick Clark

These responses are from Rick Clark, director of undergraduate admissions at Georgia Tech, and Mary Tipton Woolley, senior associate director. Georgia Tech’s early action deadline is Oct. 15 so share this blog with any high school seniors planning to apply to Tech.

The statements in bold are what I asked Tech to address:

It is easier to get into Tech if you live in rural Georgia. Conversely, it is harder to get into Tech if you attend a metro powerhouse school, such as a Walton or a Lambert, from which many top students apply. 

We review all applicants based on the context of the high school they attend and the opportunities available to them both in and out of classes. Our goal is to enroll a geographically diverse freshman class from across Georgia. This was part of the impetus for the current Peach State Tour.

This year’s freshman class includes students from 89 Georgia counties. Currently, 62 percent of Georgia Tech’s in-state freshmen are from four metro Atlanta counties — Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett.

More information on applicants from individual high schools in Georgia can be found on our Institutional Research and Planning website.

It is easier to get into Tech if you apply for an under-subscribed major and avoid the high demand ones such as computer science. Colleges claim your major doesn’t matter, but, if so, aren’t schools at risk of being overrun with finance and business majors? 

Georgia Tech does not admit students to a specific major as freshmen. However, we do consider students through the lens of the major they intend to pursue. We discuss whether or not a student’s high school courses, academic performance, activities and essays align with their intended major.

Since nearly 40 percent of our students change their major during their freshman year, we must ensure that any admitted student is capable of excelling in any of our programs of study. In order to create a well-rounded class, we are intent upon enrolling students with a variety of passions and talents both inside and outside the classroom.

Even though the ACT has four parts, science, math, reading and English, Tech admits based only on the math and English scores. So, a student may have a composite score of 33, but could be rejected because of lower scores on the math and English portions. So, students should not worry about the science and reading portions of the ACT and concentrate on the math and English.

We consider all four main sections of the ACT – English, math, science and reading. The writing section is optional but recommended. More information is available here.

Everyone knows someone in Georgia with a strong SAT/ACT score, a 4.0 GPA and lots of activities who did not get into Tech. Why would such a candidate be denied admission?

One of the most difficult parts of the admission process is understanding the competition that talented students face. With an applicant SAT average of 1350 and a GPA average of 3.99 on a 4.0 scale, the truth is most applicants could succeed on campus. Beyond academics, many students denied admission are clearly amazing people who have had an important impact on their family, school and community.

But, based on supply and demand, we simply cannot admit them all. There is no easy answer here. I am simply thankful that we have a very strong University System in Georgia. Students we are unable to admit based on capacity have tremendous opportunities at other institutions.

We do admit approximately 620 Georgians annually as transfer students. With a variety of transfer partnership pathways, we provide talented, committed students the opportunity to ultimately earn a degree from Tech, even if they do not begin here as freshmen.

Tech says it superscores SAT and ACT, but don’t admissions counselors really look at all the scores?

Within the SAT or ACT, we look at the highest section score from any test date. This means the highest section scores we consider may come from multiple test dates. Our process is geared toward granting students the best possible opportunity to showcase their highest scores from either test and across any testing date.

Tech cares a lot about how a student performs on the SAT and ACT.

Testing is only one part of the evaluation. The applicant ACT composite average last year was 31, while the admitted ACT composite average was 32. The difference between students who are admitted or denied is negligible, and this shows the necessity of looking at a wide variety of factors in our admission review.

Class rank doesn’t matter because while public schools still rank students, most private schools do not.

It is true that fewer and fewer schools rank. Some are public and some private. The biggest issue is that class rank is not uniform. Some take rigor into account, but many don’t. The ones that do put rigor into ranking may not value the same thing we do at Georgia Tech.They also will often rank many students at the same point. For example, we’ve seen 14 students “sharing the rank” of No. 2 or No. 10 in the class.

Tech is admitting more foreign and out-of-state students as they pay full freight and that helps compensate for the deep cuts to higher ed by the Georgia Legislature. 

The admit rate for Georgia applicants this year was 39 percent. It was 26 percent for domestic non-residents and 11 percent for international students. We are committed to serving and educating students from our state as reflected by the fact that while students from Georgia generally comprise less than 20 percent of our freshman applicant pool, they make up 60 percent of our undergraduate population.

We are in the business of preparing students to become global leaders, entrepreneurs and problem solvers in a complex, diverse world. Creating a dynamic ethos on campus is part of that preparation. Students from abroad — while only 10 percent of our undergraduate population — provide an invaluable perspective, enrich discussions inside and outside the classroom, and enable our residents to gain a global vision and a network that will benefit them not only during their Tech career but long into the future.

Reader Comments 1

27 comments
AL Corndog
AL Corndog

Georgia is a worthless cesspool dump.  Foreign people often praise Tech as a wonderful excellent school, when they should be scorning it and avoiding it like the plague.  They often go there, graduate, get no job offers in the USA, then go back to their country and start fish farms, and never work in the field of engineering they graduated in.

MotocrossSurvivor
MotocrossSurvivor

Most of those who think so highly of Georgia Tech are people (like parents) who never actually attended.  I attended, albeit some time back, but I was almost shocked.  Everything from a full professor having to read from notes when at the blackboard with virtually every lecture, to krappy lab equipment, to some students who didn't appear too bright, to that overall uncaring attitude that Ma Tech has long been known for.  Many of the classes are taught by TA's and lots of the frats have tons of exams they all practice with, leading to false aces of them....at least that's what I remember.

AlreadySheared
AlreadySheared

@MotocrossSurvivor Lecture: the process by which the professor's notes are transferred to the students' notes without passing through the minds of either.

Gene G Johnson
Gene G Johnson

GA Tech didn't own up to its racial discrimination admission policy. They give preference to black applicants by guaranteeing admission and support all the way though graduation to every valedictorian and every salutatorian from an Atlanta Public school and, of course, except for two high schools, those students are all black.
Most Atlanta Public School valedictorians and salutatorians are completely unprepared for any college, much less GA Tech. One of the Atlanta Public School valedictorians couldn't even pass the GA graduation test.
GA Tech is not alone in this racial discrimination. Most colleges give a much higher preference to black applicants but it doesn't make it right.  


Tia Simone
Tia Simone

@Gene G Johnson lol this is literally laughable! Black applicants get shown favoritism and they are under qualified? your making this up...

Wendy Hayes
Wendy Hayes

I'm an IEC, an associate member of IECA and a member of NACAC and this is the first I'm hearing about the changes in how the ACT is being considered in the application process this year. I'm also concerned that none of my IECA colleagues knew about this change either, meaning GT doesn't seem to have communicated the changes to the people who help them get qualified applicants. I'd love an official response from Rick Clark on when this policy took effect and why this wasn't communicated to the national associations. 

MK24
MK24

@Wendy Hayes Agreed, Wendy. I've spent a few hours today since my original post fielding emails and phone calls from panicked parents, and I pinged 7 other professional guidance counselors (some who work at high schools, some who are IECs like yourself). Not one of them had heard of this change or remotely believed me until they saw it in print. 

This ACT score change policy was never announced anywhere on the nascent (barely 11-month old) GT admissions blog; even if it had been, the blog has a mere 30 subscribers according to the box at the bottom.


UGA has confirmed that they are not making radical unannounced changes that hurt kids' futures and parents' wallets like this unpublicized GT decision, per the UGA admissions blog earlier today that got the same question. (See the most recent comment: http://ugaadmissions.blogspot.com/2016/09/2017-freshman-application-is-open.html#disqus_thread)

MK24
MK24

Georgia Tech has drastically altered their ACT admissions policies since last year with no notice given to guidance counselors, parents and families, and that is a shame. The "myth" that Tech focuses solely on English and Math has been absolute truth, as anyone who has applied in the last decade knows.

Georgia Tech, please tell plausible lies. In the era of the Wayback Machine, every page is archived for all history and posterity. Please see the following page archived from the Wayback Machine from last year's admissions cycle as proof: 
https://web.archive.org/web/20150822020603/http://admission.gatech.edu/freshman/actsat-scores


QUOTE: "We do not use the ACT Composite score, nor the Science or Reading section scores." This is the page from last August (last admissions cycle).

No notice was given to anyone.

The Class of 2017 has already been heroically messed over by all of the SAT/ACT changes these past 12 months; Georgia Tech drastically changing the rules of the game with 30 seconds left in the 4th quarter is a great injustice to students who prepared and played based on the published rules of the game for the better part of the past decade. 

Hopefully GT's admissions office will come to its senses, realize that the Class of 2017 has already borne enough of a brunt, and, if they so choose, implement this *drastically* different policy beginning with the **Class of 2018** who still has time to prepare according to the newly-set rules of the game, and not for this year's seniors who are literally about to hit submit on their early applications as we speak.

Nothing short of that is remotely fair as we sit here finding this out in September.

Another comment
Another comment

I write this as someone who has had a highly sucheful career as an architect and engineer in the Atlanta area for over 20 years. Most of it it the supervision and management and management of other architects and engineers. This very narrow cut score of who Georgia Tech has been accepting over the past few years leads to a very boring applicant pool. Not very interesting or creative architects. It also eliminates students who are first generation to go to college including white students ( like me) of getting an opportunity to be accepted.

Gerogia has a dearth of Architecture and Engineering programs. Many of us in the Architecture and Engineering community have been openly expressing our consternation at the dismantling of of a very good program at Southern Tech for the sake of football with the merger at Kennesaw. Now we see that the merger at Kennesaw was for lining the pockets of top administrators including Papp and others with dining, dorms etc.. Due to Kennesaws admissions standards being used, less than 20% of several engineering majors now graduate. Which will result in loss of accreditation.

I strongly recommend Ga students applying to colleges and Universities outside of Georgia. Auburn, LSU offer in state tuition for above a 3.5 GPA and certain SAT\ACT scores. I have seen 75% scholarships to Tulane. Purdues geographic diversity and offers scholarships to students outside of the Midwest.

ATlanta business do not hire only GA tech grads. They do not like this very narrow profile of who Ga tech is accepting into their classes. It just doesn't not work when you are trying to run a business.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@Another comment Consider going back to college to improve your writing skills.  This is one serious problem every time you post.  If you were able to better express yourself, you might even become more "sucheful."


Sorry if this seems petty, but it is EVERY post, and it makes your ideas and claims difficult to take seriously.

Another comment
Another comment

I always had a secretary aka admin asst. who was a former English teacher or English major who proofed all of our Engineers work before it went out. This is a blog, not an English paper. I have issues with my IPad not keeping up with my typing. The edit feature is extremely cumbersome.

rightofcenter
rightofcenter

@Another comment And yet the high tech companies are lining up to set up shop in Midtown to gain access to Tech and its students (Honeywell being the latest).  I guess they didn't get your memo.

redweather
redweather

The article says that "while students from Georgia generally comprise less than 20 percent of our freshman applicant pool, they make up 60 percent of our undergraduate population."


Can someone help me with the math? If 80% of the applicant pool in any given year are not Georgia students, what happens to them?

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@redweather Applicant pool differs from undergraduate population.  Applicant pool are those who apply; undergraduate population are those who actually attend.

DoubleDawg
DoubleDawg

@redweather they go to other schools.  The likelihood of Georgia applicants attending ga tech is much higher than that of out of state students who are applying to every engineering school in the country. In state tuition is a big pull for many...

rightofcenter
rightofcenter

@redweather Also, as stated in the article, the 60% figure includes the 620 Georgians that transfer in from other instate schools every year.

mattmac
mattmac

You must be a Georgia grad...

Starik
Starik

Of course, Tech also has to admit promising students with athletic skills, regardless of other factors.  These are necessary to entertain the student body and others. 

Starik
Starik

@Iggystooge @Starik Some don't. Don't you think it's a little silly for a world class school to admit athletes who barely meet the NCAA minimum?

Astropig
Astropig

@Starik @Iggystooge


" Don't you think it's a little silly for a world class school to admit athletes who barely meet the NCAA minimum? "


They don't recruit that kind of athlete at Tech.The coaches know that they can't keep them eligible,with the possible exception of the "one and done" basketball players.According to GT,their athletes graduation rate is within just a couple of points of the overall grad rate-again,severely impacted by hoops players that can play one year on The Flats and make enough money over the next 4 to last them the rest of their lives.(which is sorta the pint of going to college-to prepare for a career,however brief) Football grad rates are lower than the overall rate,but the athletic program is more than just the revenue sports.

Starik
Starik

@Astropig @Starik @Iggystooge Sure they do. They won't recruit somebody they know they can't keep eligible, but a good athlete who's a mediocre or worse athletic performer won't have a problem with admission.  I know everybody does it, well Division I schools, but should they?

Iggystooge
Iggystooge

@Starik Exactly.  No other colleges do this.
 Oh, that's right, they all do.


Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@Starik Ask the IR office how many students are special admits (talents other than academics, such as sports or how much money their alumni father or mother contributes). I think you will find a very, very low number.  Many special admits are also academically strong.