ATHENS, Ga. - Forty-two tubs of mail were delivered to the University of Georgia admissions office in the span of eight days as thousands of students decided to take advantage of UGA's first early admissions process.
On Nov. 1, the date that early-action applications had to be postmarked, eight tubs of mail were brought to the admissions office.
Three days later, a record 14 more were delivered.
"The most anybody could remember seeing on any given day was six, and we have people who have worked here for 20 years," said Bob Spatig, the associate director of undergraduate admissions at UGA, noting that 83 percent of the applications have not come through the mail - they were filed online.
Under the nonbinding system, students are free to apply to other institutions and are not obligated to attend UGA if they are accepted.
Most of the prospective students attending an informational session held last week by UGA's admissions office had already applied through the early admissions process, and many said they were relieved that they will know by mid-December whether they have been admitted.
Nathan Lord, a senior at Centennial High School in Roswell, has been a quick study of the admissions process. He completed a practice application before filling out the real one, researched UGA course offerings with care and maintained good relationships with possible recommenders.
"I decided to apply early because UGA was pretty much my first choice, and their early decision is nice because you don't have to wait six-odd months to find out," he said.
Students will be automatically admitted if their applications are deemed "academically superior," based on the merit of their high school grades, academic rigor and standardized test scores. UGA officials, however, have not yet decided what the standard for automatic admissions will be.
Nancy McDuff, the director of undergraduate admissions, said she is running numbers in the computer system every two days or so, gauging the quality of the applicants' test scores and grades. Once all of the early-decision applications are entered into the system, Ms. McDuff and her staff will set the bar for automatic admissions.
Applications deemed "not competitive" will be denied after a second reading, and anyone requiring a more detailed review - a thorough reading of essays, recommendations and extracurricular activities - will be deferred to the regular admissions process.
About 5,000 first-year applications have been received, and 90 percent of those are early-admissions applicants. Last year, the admissions office received 12,800 applications and eventually admitted 8,000 applicants. Of those accepted, 54 percent decided to attend.