Inaugural Val-Sal Scholars Share Their Journey to Georgia Tech

The 2023-24 academic year marked the first time the Georgia Tech Val-Sal Scholarship, a scholarship for eligible Georgia high school valedictorians and salutatorians, was awarded at Tech. Offered to 25 students for the inaugural year, the scholarship covers up to $5,000 a semester for those who may not be able to attend the Institute otherwise. Two Scholars reflect on their time at Tech so far and what brought them here. 

Dayleigh Mims poses for a photo with Buzz
Dayleigh Mims (right) is a first-year Val-Sal Scholar studying civil engineering.

Despite her love of engineering, Dayleigh Mims did not originally see Georgia Tech as an option for her college career. Believing it to be too competitive, she wasn’t sure if she would get accepted. Not only did she get accepted, but she received multiple scholarship offers – one being the Georgia Tech Val-Sal Scholarship – which made her dream of Tech all the more accessible.  

“I didn’t initially have my sights set on it,” she said. “But I spoke to a friend, and he told me not to limit myself and go for it. Obviously, I’m glad that I listened.” 

Mims has always loved math. After moving to Lamar County High School from Stockbridge, Georgia, she found herself outpacing the math courses available. This ultimately led to her involvement in her high school’s gifted internship pathway, where she worked for the math department and then the school counselor. 

The counselor assigned her career readiness work, where Mims found engineering as a suitable outlet for her enjoyment of math. After realizing this, her counselor assigned Mims a project — analyzing the bridges in Lamar County. The project confirmed that engineering was the right path for Mims. 

Now, as Mims moves in to her second semester at Tech, she’s finding her path and adjusting to college life. Mims looks forward to getting involved in more classes directly linked to her major. 

Azaniah poses for a photo
Azaniah Blackmon is a first-year Val-Sal Scholar studying mechanical engineering.

In high school, Azaniah Blackmon wasn’t sure where his next steps would take him. As he started his college planning, his parents were the first to suggest Georgia Tech to fit his engineering aspirations. Blackmon was quick to get on board given that he could study his passion at an elite institution while sticking close to home.  

He applied, and received the Val-Sal Scholarship, confirming that Tech was the right choice. Since coming to campus in the fall, he’s enjoyed the opportunity to learn at an elite level while being close enough for his family to make the occasional visit. 

When it came time to make a decision about which branch of engineering to pursue, Blackmon was stuck between mechanical and civil engineering. After some thought and time on campus last fall semester, mechanical engineering ultimately won out. 

“I saw myself going further in that field,” he said. “I went to the career fair just to see what was out there in both fields and felt like there were a lot of directions to go within mechanical engineering.” 

Blackmon spent last semester adjusting to the new types of coursework and exploring his interests. Chemistry was his favorite class of his fall semester, though he looks forward to getting involved with more major-specific courses as he builds his expertise. 

Philanthropic support for scholarships like the Val-Sal Scholarship makes it possible for Georgia Tech to recruit the brightest, most talented students from around our state and around the world. Support students today. 

Financial Aid Executive Director Finalists to Visit Campus, Deliver Presentations 

Four finalists have been identified in the search for the next executive director of the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid at Georgia Tech. 

As part of the final evaluation process, each candidate will visit the campus in the coming weeks to deliver a presentation to outline their vision for advancing the Institute’s strategic goals as they relate to financial aid and scholarships.  

These presentations are open to all members of the campus community, including students, faculty, and staff. 

The presentations are scheduled to take place from 10:30 – 11:30 a.m. in Clary Theater in the Bill Moore Student Success Center. Those attending in person do not need to register in advance. Online registration is provided through the links below:

Co-chaired by Chaffee Viets, director of the Office of Special Scholarships, and Mary Tipton Woolley, the interim executive director for the Office of Undergraduate Admission, the search committee is dedicated to finding the ideal candidate for the executive director position. Participation and engagement in this important process is appreciated. 

Applications Open for Campus Tour Guides

Applications for Summer and Fall 2024 tour guides will close at 11:59 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 26, 2024.

A tour guide speaks in front of a crowd

Georgia Tech is now accepting applications for campus tour guides for Summer and Fall 2024. Georgia Tech campus tour guides are current students who provide prospective students and their families with an informative and engaging visit around campus.

Applications for Summer and Fall 2024 tour guides will close at 11:59 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 26, 2024. The Summer 2024 application can be found here, and the Fall 2024 application can be found here.

Being a campus tour guide allows students to develop or refine their communication skills, as well as meet other enthusiastic students. Thirty slots are available for both summer and fall. For prospective students, a campus visit helps them get a feel for whether the Institute is a good fit for them.

“Not only does a visit provide a more in-depth look, but students can also learn more and connect virtually as well,” said Tera McDonald, assistant director for Campus Visits in Undergraduate Admission. “In-person tours provide students the opportunity to connect with current students and faculty and learn more about the campus culture, community and environment.”

Register for a campus tour here.

Talking Tradition: Driving the Wreck at Georgia Tech

Each year, Georgia Tech’s Ramblin’ Wreck is driven by a single student to all its appearances. This year’s driver, Matthew Kistner, reflects on the Wreck and the Institute’s unique take on traditions.

Editor’s Note: The Ramblin’ Reck Club has used the spelling “Reck” to refer to the car since its inception. However, the Institute uses “Ramblin’ Wreck” and holds a trademark on this spelling. 

A beloved symbol of tradition since 1961, many Georgia Tech students are quick to smile when they hear the rumble of the Ramblin’ Wreck’s engine or the shrill beep of the horn on campus. While the 1930 Ford Model A Sport Coupe is best known for leading the football team onto the field, the car is often spotted around the college grounds, attending events or otherwise bringing cheer to the student body. 

Matthew Kistner stands with the Ramblin' Wreck, a gold and white 1930 Model A sport coupe

In the opinion of third-year computer science student Matthew Kistner, the Wreck is the perfect symbol of how tradition at Tech goes beyond what can be found anywhere else.  

“We have a lot of things that are really out there,” explained Kistner. “And that just means we’re fostering something really special for students to pass down.” 

Kistner himself gets to play a unique role when it comes to the Wreck – starting in January, he began his yearlong term as sole driver. As such, Kistner is the only person who can drive the Wreck from point A to point B: football games, campus events, weddings, and beyond. 

The Wreck has been driven by an elected member of the Ramblin’ Reck Club, a student organization devoted to spirit and tradition at Tech, each year since 1968. Along with driving, Kistner is also responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the vehicle. Though he’s early in his tenure, he’s already completed several grease changes and an oil change.  

Kistner stands underneath the Ramblin' Wreck, which is on a lift, to perform a grease change.
Kistner changing the grease on the Wreck. Image courtesy of Matthew Kistner.

For him, having such a role in one of Tech’s most recognized traditions is an honor. Kistner has long described himself as spirited, and knew that finding a university where he could express that spirit was a priority in his college search. After researching Georgia Tech and finding the Ramblin’ Reck Club, which also plans yearly traditions such as the Mini 500, the Freshman Cake Race, and the homecoming Ramblin’ Wreck Parade, Kistner knew Tech was the right place for him. 

“This club played a huge part in how I ended up here,” said Kistner. “The Reck Club gets a ton of opportunities when it comes to getting directly involved with Georgia Tech sports and student life. I got on campus my first year and immediately was looking for this club.” 

In 2022, Kistner’s first year in the organization, he told then Wreck driver Evalyn Edwards that driving the Wreck was eventually what he wanted to do. Now, two years later, it’s his reality. 

Though much of the car remains the same as when it came to Tech, a few pieces change with each driver. The flags on the front, which read “to Hell With Georgia” and “Give ‘em Hell Tech,” are given to the driver as keepsakes at the end of their year, as are the step plates and radiator cap. The radiator cap traditionally takes the mold of a quail, though drivers may choose whatever animal they like.  

“I thought about picking a frog actually,” Kistner said. “But the quail is traditional, and I wanted to stick with that.” 

Tradition plays an important role in life at Tech. From receiving and filling out RAT caps at new student Convocation, to leaving offerings at the grave of Sideways the dog for good luck, and the Whistle sounding off throughout each day to signify class ending, the day-to-day for Tech students often features some homage to the school’s deep history.  

For students coming to Tech in the future, Kistner’s advice is to embrace it. On top of that, finding ways to get involved is key. 

“There’s a common misconception that Tech isn’t a very social school,” said Kistner. “People that want to get involved in social clubs can and should. Sign up for as many things as you want – you can always drop things later.” 

The Ramblin’ Reck Club recruits each spring semester. View a full list of registered student organizations and learn more about tradition at Tech. 

Undergraduate Admission Delivers Over 31,800 Decisions to Early Action 2 Applicants

Admitted students join those accepted in December during Early Action 1, an application pool reserved for Georgia students.

On Friday evening, more than 31,800 students who applied to Georgia Tech in Early Action 2 received their admission decision.  

The overall admission rate for Early Action 2, which encompasses both international and U.S. students residing outside of the state of Georgia, stood at 9%. The 3,000 students admitted in this round represent all 50 states, 78 countries, and 1,800 high schools globally. These students join the 2,688 Early Action 1 admitted students from the state of Georgia who received their decisions in December. 

The Office of Undergraduate Admission received a record number of 31,826 Early Action 2 applications, a 15% increase from last year.  

“The students who apply in Early Action 2 represent over half of our applicant pool this year and have a tremendous depth and breadth of talent and experience,” said Mary Tipton Woolley, interim executive director of Undergraduate Admission. “The volume and quality of applicants in this round are a challenge each year, and the team in Undergraduate Admission has worked incredibly hard to process and review each application.”  

Campus visits and outreach opportunities are already in progress for all admitted students, with additional information available on the campus visits page. 

Students who applied in Regular Decision or were deferred from Early Action 1 or 2 can expect to receive their admission decisions in March.  

Learn more about potential first-year admission decisions and transfer pathways

New 2024-25 FAFSA Form Now Available

Georgia Tech students can now complete the new FAFSA form, which launched on Dec. 31.

Editor’s Note Jan. 23, 2024: The priority aid deadline for the 2024-25 FAFSA has been extended to Feb. 15, 2024. This applies only to the 2024-25 FAFSA. The deadline for the GT App and CSS profile (for first-year students only) remains Jan. 31, 2024. Students should complete the FAFSA as soon as possible.

The new 2024-25 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is available now and should be completed before Georgia Tech’s priority deadline of Jan. 31 to maximize financial aid opportunities. The application can be found here.

The new FAFSA made changes to the application in accordance with the FAFSA Simplification Act and launched on Dec. 31, 2023. Though users may have experienced some initial issues with the application functionality and availability, the form is now fully accessible for families to complete.  

“The new FAFSA is designed to be more user-friendly through a shorter application with less manual data entry, ultimately aiming to ease the process for students and families navigating this challenging time,” said Paul Kohn, vice provost for Enrollment Management at Georgia Tech. “Unfortunately, the changes to the form and timeline have undeniably posed challenges for the financial aid application process. We understand the stress it is causing for prospective and current students and their families.” 

In addition to completing FAFSA, students should also complete the Georgia Tech Application for Scholarships and Financial Aid (GT App) annually. The GT App opens Oct. 1 each year and only takes a few minutes to complete. 

By filling out the GT App, students can access follow-up forms to be considered for institutional scholarships and other types of aid. They’ll also get reminders of any upcoming deadlines for the aid they want to apply to receive. 

Though the FAFSA released later than the typical October launch date, the priority deadline to apply for financial aid at Georgia Tech remains Jan. 31. Families should plan to complete the FAFSA as soon as they can to accommodate the shortened timeline. 

“While we are not changing our deadlines at this time, we will keep a close eye on what our students need to make an informed decision about a future at Tech,” said Kohn. “Students and families should complete the application process as soon as they can and be patient as financial aid professionals do all they can to award aid packages as soon as possible.” 

The sooner Georgia Tech receives a student’s financial information, the sooner they can prepare for the financial needs of the student body. 

Announcements and resources to understand the changes being made to the FAFSA can be found here. Contact the financial aid office with any questions. Below, view a recording of a webinar walkthrough of the new FAFSA.

Georgia Tech Outreach Prepares Students for Technology Jobs and Future STEM Education

In early December, Georgia Tech accepted over 2,600 students from 111 different counties. The first student admitted, however, was from an unexpected locale – Twiggs County – where in many years no student applied, and no other applicant had been admitted since 2000.

Cameron Pearson smiles while holding his acceptance letter. He stands next to Mack Bullard, who is also smiling and looking at the camera.
Cameron Pearson (left) poses with his acceptance letter to Georgia Tech next to Mack Bullard (right), the superintendent of schools in Twiggs County. Cameron was the first student to receive his acceptance letter to Tech this school year. 

In late November, a group of 60 Twiggs County High School students visited Georgia Tech’s campus. Among them was senior Cameron Pearson, who had recently applied to Tech as an electrical engineering major. Just a few days away from releasing Early Action 1 admission decisions, Tech surprised Cameron by presenting him with his acceptance letter in person. 

“While Georgia Tech has an international reputation, our top priority is attracting talent from communities around our state and providing them with a world-class educational experience,” said Rick Clark, executive director for strategic student access in the division of Enrollment Management at Tech. 

From its founding in the late 1800s, Tech has focused on equipping Georgians with the knowledge and skills necessary to improve the state’s economy and competitive standing. Nearly 150 years later, through research, training, and statewide partnerships, this commitment and mission is stronger than ever: guaranteeing admission to Georgia’s high school valedictorians and salutatorians, providing millions of dollars in scholarships to talented Georgians through the G. Wayne Clough Georgia Tech Promise Program, and partnering with Georgia communities to help them improve and innovate. 

One way Tech is reaching across Georgia is through its Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics, and Computing (CEISMC). CEISMC provides K-12 support through professional development, STEM enrichment, and other outreach programs and partnerships that have become essential to Georgia’s thriving technology industry. 

“Engaging with communities in all regions of Georgia allows us to have an open dialogue about the resources Tech can provide to assist in preparing students for life beyond school,” said Sirocus Barnes, senior program director for CEISMC. “We can also help prepare students who decide they want to earn a degree from Tech.” 

One of CEISMC’s efforts, the Computer Science for Rural Georgia High Schools Pilot Program, began in 2022. This program, in partnership with Georgia Tech Research Institute’s (GTRI) K-12 outreach program STEM@GTRI, connects participating districts and their students to Georgia Tech faculty and staff, as well as quality instruction and high-level resources. 

Twiggs County was quick to become a partner in the program, joining in the fall of 2023 to bolster their computer science program. 

“In 2021, the technology sector in Georgia prospered with over 100,000 jobs, spanning areas such as programming, coding, cybersecurity, software engineering, technical repair, and artificial intelligence,” said Mack Bullard, superintendent of schools in Twiggs County. “Specifically, there are more than 25,000 IT and technical repair occupations and over 24,000 cybersecurity and system engineer positions in the state. Through our partnership with Georgia Tech, our students and faculty gain valuable exposure to highly respected faculty, cutting-edge research, and professional development programs. This exposure is integral to preparing our students for technology-related career fields.”  

On top of CEISMC’s efforts across the state, the Office of Undergraduate Admission at Georgia Tech greatly expanded their state travel efforts in 2023. Counselors visited 98 counties, 60 more than their usual pre-pandemic circuit, and connected with nearly 4,500 students at 282 schools. 

CEISMC plans to expand the pilot program to include eight additional schools this spring. To learn more about CEISMC, view their fall 2023 CEISMC Impact Magazine. To provide support for CEISMC and other outreach efforts, visit the Transforming Tomorrow campaign website

Georgia Tech Continues Commitment to Expanding Student Access With New Executive Director Role

Enrollment Management at Georgia Tech introduces a new role to continue the past decade’s work in expanding access to Tech for Georgia students. This first-of-its-kind position will break down financial barriers to obtaining a Tech education.

Rick Clark speaks with students on campus.
Rick Clark (center) filled the new role, where he will focus on continuing Georgia Tech’s long-standing commitment to expanding access.

At the start of the new year, Georgia Tech’s division of Enrollment Management introduced the groundbreaking role of executive director of strategic student access. This role continues Tech’s commitment to increasing opportunities for talented students to study at the Institute. 

Effective Jan. 1, Rick Clark, associate vice provost of Enrollment Management and executive director of Undergraduate Admission, assumed the new executive director role. Mary Tipton Woolley, senior associate director of Undergraduate Admission, stepped in to serve as the interim executive director of Undergraduate Admission. 

The executive director of strategic student access position will create and implement a strategic plan to increase opportunities for financially vulnerable undergraduates to earn a Georgia Tech bachelor’s degree. The creation of this position underscores Tech’s commitment to the state of Georgia and life-changing access to a Tech education.  

This position will collaborate with a variety of stakeholders, including administrators, faculty, staff, K-12 superintendents and principals, community leaders, government agencies, corporate sponsors, philanthropies, alumni, students, and donors.  

“At Georgia Tech, our commitment to expanding access is a cornerstone of our mission because we believe talent has no limits and that financial limitations should not stand in the way of any talented student,” said Steve McLaughlin, provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs. “Rick Clark’s time at Tech, experience, and passion for our mission prepare him well to serve in the inaugural role as we work to dismantle financial barriers.” 

Notable initiatives to increase access to a Tech education over the past decade include the Atlanta Public School Scholars Program, which began in 2014 to grant scholarships to eligible valedictorians and salutatorians in Atlanta Public Schools. This was followed by the creation of the Georgia Tech Scholars Program in 2017, a program guaranteeing admission to eligible high school valedictorians and salutatorians statewide.  

In 2016, Georgia Tech also joined other universities across the country in the American Talent Initiative, a collaborative effort between multiple colleges to share strategies to help more financially vulnerable students obtain a degree. 

Then 2023 brought the expansion of the G. Wayne Clough Tech Promise Scholarship to offer a debt-free experience to students from families with an estimated income of $55,500 or less. The scholarship, which is the first of its kind offered by a public university in the state of Georgia, has served over 1,000 eligible students since its establishment in 2007. 

Also in 2023, Georgia Tech created the Val-Sal Scholarship for valedictorians and salutatorians from the state of Georgia with financial need. This scholarship was offered to 25 incoming first-year students for the 2023-24 school year. 

Together, these efforts have provided the opportunity for more qualified Georgians than ever to study at Tech. 

“Empowering dreams, breaking barriers. In Enrollment Management, we take pride in our commitment to student access,” said Paul Kohn, vice provost of Enrollment Management. “From the inception of the APS Scholars admission and scholarship program in 2014 to the recent addition of the Val-Sal scholarship recognizing Georgia’s highest achieving high school students, and now the introduction of the executive director for strategic student access role, we’ve been dedicated to creating pathways that elevate and expand opportunities for every student. Together, we’re shaping a future where access knows no bounds.” 

On Jan. 1, Clark turned his full attention to his new role, where he will focus on building relationships with education and community leaders as well as connecting with the Office of Development to implement strategies to exceed fundraising goals for need-based scholarships. Additionally, Clark will work with campus partners to ensure accessibility of resources for all students, regardless of income.  

“In my 20 years working in Tech’s Undergraduate Admission office, I’ve seen that talent is truly everywhere; opportunity, unfortunately, is not,” said Clark. “My goal in this position is to ensure that students — regardless of their socioeconomic background — can not only afford to attend Georgia Tech, but also engage in all the transformative opportunities we provide.”  

To learn more about ways to support current and future Tech students, visit the Transforming Tomorrow campaign website. 

Explore Living Learning Communities at Georgia Tech

Living Learning Communities (LLCs) are an opportunity to connect with campus in smaller groups of likeminded students. Each LLC lives together and has academic and experiential programming that coincides with the goals of that LLC.  

There are six available by application to incoming first-year students: Explore, Global Leadership, Grand Challenges, the Honors Program Living Learning Communities, First-Year Semester Abroad and the iGniTe Summer Launch Program. Each LLC has its own focus and goals, so research each one and find which fits your interests best. 

Explore: College of Sciences 

Explore is curated for students interested in research and pre-health pathways. Centered around exploration and experimentation, it encourages students to delve into various academic disciplines, research endeavors, and experiential learning.  

“I think the connections I’ve made here at Explore have changed my college life for the better,” said Explore student Michael Saenz. “I often find myself going to my peers for assistance in academic studies or simply just to have a friend to hang out with. Our experiences outside of the classroom have been enlightening and enjoyable, including weekly basketball games with our resident assistant and collaborative Jackbox games.” 

Global Leadership 

Students in Global Leadership learn how to approach global problems by engaging with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.  Through a blend of cultural immersion, leadership development, and academic exploration, students engage in cross-cultural understanding and collaborative projects.  

“If you’re curious how to apply what you learn at Georgia Tech to world problems, you’ll feel at home in Global Leadership. Candidates that want to strive to better themselves and the world as a team will also find success,” said Brandon Moncada, Global Leadership student. “I made many friends that will last a lifetime, and I learned how to work in a diverse team and use our differences as strengths to develop meaningful and pragmatic global solutions” 

Grand Challenges 

Grand Challenges helps students build problem solving and leadership skills by immersing students in addressing global issues through innovation and collaboration. It combines interdisciplinary coursework, mentorship, and community engagement to tackle pressing societal problems.  

“In many ways, Grand Challenges completely changed my life. It shaped the way I viewed innovation and ideation, emphasizing the importance of iterative and evidence-based product development tailored to identifying and addressing true problems in society,” said Shivani Murugapiran, Grand Challenges participant. “Beyond the academic experience, I formed deep bonds with people I call my best friends! I am incredibly grateful to have GC in my life and all the incredible, talented people who are now stuck with me forever.” 

Honors Program 

The Honors Program integrates academics, mentorship, and collaborative living. Through seminars and shared spaces, students cultivate lifelong connections, aiming to excel academically and exemplify progress and service.  

“The Honors Program community is the perfect place for curious and creative students who want to live together with other like-minded individuals.  Our apartment-style residence halls, robust schedule of approximately 75 classes per academic year just for Honors Program students, and numerous events and programs tailored to students’ interests create a close-knit community,” said Amy D’Unger, interim director and associate director of the Honors Program. “Being in the Honors Program offers the feel of a small, interdisciplinary college, but with the resources of a large research university.” 

For more information on the student experience in the Honors Program, visit their student profile page

iGniTe 

The iGniTe program at Georgia Tech provides students with the opportunity to get a head start on their college experience by offering summer enrollment. It allows participants to dive into coursework by taking 6-7 credit hours, explore interests, and engage in a supportive community before the traditional fall term. 

“There are so many benefits. I think the biggest for me was having a friend group going into the fall semester,” said Luke Gerguis, recent iGniTe participant. “I was told just how crazy the fall semester is for first-year students and already having a group of friends from day one was so helpful. Plus, I knew all about campus as well, so the fall semester wasn’t nearly as intimidating.” 

First Year Semester Abroad (FYSA) 

The First Year Semester Abroad Program at Georgia Tech prioritizes a global learning experience from day one. Students begin their Tech journey overseas in France or England, familiarizing themselves with various cultures while completing coursework.  

“I benefitted from FYSA in so many ways and as time goes on, I’ll probably realize even more,” said FYSA student Lydia Love. “The biggest way was how much I learned about myself. I made great friends, memories, and connections with professors of course, but the greatest impact was on how I view myself and the world around me. I became more independent, confident, and resilient from facing small challenges and great adventures while abroad with FYSA.”  

Learn more about LLCs on the Housing and Residence Life website. 

Georgia Tech Welcomes 2,688 Students in Early Action 1

Friday, Dec. 8, brought decision release for nearly 7,000 Early Action 1 applicants, with the Office of Undergraduate Admission personally delivering acceptance letters to students across the state.

On Friday evening, admission decisions were delivered to nearly 7,000 students who applied in Early Action 1, marking a 9% rise in applications from last year.

A total of 2,688 students were admitted, for an overall admit rate of 38%. These accepted students hail from 111 Georgia counties and 404 high schools across the state.

“Early Action 1 decision release caps off years of dedication to school and community by students in our applicant pool,” said Mary Tipton Woolley, senior associate director of the Office of Undergraduate Admission. “It takes an incredibly dedicated admission staff and months of training and holistic review to make decisions amongst such qualified applicants. I’m so glad some of our staff were able to celebrate with students in person today.”

Several students got their acceptance notification in the form of surprise personal deliveries.

At 15 high schools in Atlanta, Cartersville, Griffin, Athens, Hiawassee, and beyond, students were given their acceptance letters in person by members of the admission office and other Tech faculty and staff.

At Clarke Central High School in Athens, Georgia, six students received their acceptance letters from admission counselor Katie Mattli. Each student was surprised with the announcement while surrounded by family, school faculty, and staff.

Family members learned the news first, ahead of their student’s arrival. Keiko Ishibashi, mother of Sola Ishibashi, shed a few tears when she learned of Sola’s acceptance moments before Sola received the surprising news herself.

“She’s been stressing about this,” said Keiko.

Sola entered the room next, where she said she thought she was meeting to go over information for a class. Instead, she opened her admission letter and read the first couple of sentences that congratulated her on her admission to Georgia Tech.

“This is so much better than sitting in front of a computer screen,” she laughed.

Keiko and Sola Ishibashi stand against a plain wall. Sola holds a sign saying '#gt28'
Keiko (left) and Sola Ishibashi (right) pose for a photo following the hand delivery of Sola’s acceptance letter on Friday, December 8.

Announcements to other students went similarly, with faces of surprise from both students and families alike followed quickly by celebration. For Mattli, the magic of hand deliveries is unmatched.

“I’ve been doing this for quite a few years, and my favorite thing is getting to see the joy in that room,” said Mattli. “The college application process is stressful for students, and today we get to watch them look around the room and see everyone who helped them get to this moment and who have been in their corner — family, counselors, teachers. It’s just such a joyful time.”

The hand deliveries capped off what has been a banner year for travel for the admission office at Tech, which saw visits to 282 schools and connections with nearly 4,500 students.

A record high number of 11,000 degree-seeking Georgia students enrolled at Tech this fall, a 20% increase over the past five years. As enrollment from Georgia students grows, Tech remains committed to serving these students and the state.

“In recent years, the undergraduate admission office has focused on serving students in our home state,” said Woolley. “And that means ensuring students from all corners of the state have the opportunity for a Georgia Tech education.”

First-year applicants choose one of three admission plans: Early Action 1, Early Action 2, or Regular Decision, with Early Action 1 reserved for Georgia students. Early Action 2 decisions for non-Georgia students will be announced in January, and the Regular Decision announcement will occur in March.

Follow @gtadmission on social media to keep up to date on undergraduate admission at Georgia Tech or visit the Office of Undergraduate Admission website for more information.