Photo courtesy of GT Communications

The Peach State Tour came to a close at North Atlanta High School on Sep. 8, having begun in August at Wheeler High School.

For the past 11 years, admissions representatives from Tech and the University of Georgia (UGA) have been touring the state of Georgia once a year to educate students and parents about the college admissions process.

Typically, representatives from Georgia State University (GSU) only joined Tech and the UGA for a few stops on the tour; this time, GSU joined the tour for all twenty-three stops.

Part of the reason GSU became a bigger part of the Peach State Tour this year is due to its recent merger with Georgia Perimeter College. The consolidation made Georgia State one of the largest schools in the country, with an enrollment of over 53,000 students. Now, more Georgia high school students have the opportunity to attend a state research university.

In the past, the Peach State Tour consisted of only about a dozen stops. However, this year, it has expanded to cover more parts of the state, including schools in Marietta, Augusta, Macon, Carrollton, Bainbridge, Fayetteville, Valdosta, Louisville, Lawrenceville, Vidalia, Albany, Athens, Columbus, Tifton, Clayton, Gainesville, Savannah, Brunswick, Blue Ridge, Waycross, Dalton, Cartersville and Atlanta.

“Our goal is to be within 50 miles of every Georgian,” says Rick Clark, director of undergraduate admissions.

The goal of the Peach State Tour was to make Georgia’s largest universities both visible and accessible to all students so that admissions could better serve the Georgia students.

Additionally, the tour not only encourages the best and brightest Georgia students to attend the three top public universities but also helps talented students from more rural parts of Georgia who may feel hesitant about attending a large university or moving far away from home to a big city.

“Our part of that is making sure that we’re there and meeting them on their own turf to start the conversation and then hope that draws them to apply or come visit,” Clark said.

The Peach State Tour went differently than it has in previous years thanks to new changes in college admissions standardized testing and financial aid.

“There is a lot of change going on within the college admissions process,” Clark said.

With the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) switching to using the prior year’s tax return and the redesign of the SAT, admissions had a lot of ground to cover with counselors, parents and students.

This year, each visit had two parts: one program for counselors and a separate program for parents and students.

At each school, admissions representatives met with school counselors in the mornings, a portion they called “common ground,” and presented to students and parents in the evenings.

The program tries to put any admissions changes in context and inform prospective students about how to adjust. Ideally, the Peach State Tour will ease any anxiety that parents or students may encounter when applying.

Each program typically lasted about an hour and half, and each school received roughly 15 minutes to present.

The order of the presentation varied by location and vicinity to each respective university. When in and around Atlanta, Tech and GSU presented second and third, respectively. In Athens, Tech went first, and the University of Georgia went last.

Early Action applications for next year’s incoming freshmen will be due Oct. 15, and Regular Decision applications will be due Jan. 1 of next year.