Loran Smith: 6,200 incoming freshmen will look back on their UGA experience in the ensuing years as the greatest time of their lives

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Loran Smith: 6,200 incoming freshmen will look back on their UGA experience in the ensuing years as the greatest time of their lives

Loran Smith
Loran Smith

With the semester system in place at most colleges across the country, incoming freshmen have now settled in, beginning a journey which should be enhanced by their campus experience.

A negative circumstance will befall some along the way—that, unfortunately is life—but for the most part, most of the 6,200 incoming freshmen will look back on their UGA experience in the ensuing years as the greatest time of their lives.





This advanced group was chosen from more than 43,500 applicants, and according to the UGA Today is one of the “largest and most academically qualified groups in university history.”  They boast an average GPA of 4.13, an average 30 ACT, an average 1339, SAT.  These Dawgs are smart.

In addition to the class of 2027, approximately 2,860 students who hail from 48 states and 63 nations along with 500 professional students in law, veterinary medicine, and pharmacy, are part of the incoming student body that has high hopes of seeing the Bulldogs make history as three-peat national champions in football.

Of particular interest at our address is the enrollment of our granddaughter, Zoe, and her roommate, Olivia Cole.  Zoe, the youngest child of our son, Kent and his wife, Stephanie, is from Dallas, Tex., and her roommate, whom she met on-line, is from Portland, Oregon. Georgia is the only school Zoe wanted to attend.  Her roommate applied for admission to 13 schools and was accepted at all.  She visited 12 campuses.  The one place she did not visit, UGA, was the one she chose to further her education.





Over the summer, both Zoe and Olivia shipped a variety of 

goods and accessories to our house to the extent that our front room looked as if it might be a Federal Express depot.   During that time, we had a small dinner party which required creating a path among the boxes so that our guests could weave their way to a sofa or chair.  Our friends didn’t mind and were amused by all the pre-enrollment package accumulation.  

Suddenly, the kids were here, which led to happy hours, tours and a social comingling of other kids and parents who were in town to assist daughters with the same mission of getting their offspring moved into their dorms.

Anna Edleman is another of those from out of state who found her way to Athens after a lifetime of a rooting interest in another institution—the University of Michigan.   She grew up in a family of devout Wolverine fans but narrowed her choices down to Georgia and Michigan.  She could have enrolled at a number of schools but found everything she wanted at Georgia including scholarship aid, which she could not get at Ann Arbor.  (Michigan does not offer scholarship assistance to instate students.)  The next move for her was to keep Georgia restfully on her mind.

There were other Dallas residents to join a pizza party at our house, Jeannie and Kevin O’Neal and their daughter Maggie.  Then when sorority rush ended last Sunday, a serendipitous moment took place as our daughter-in-law and her former roommate at Texas, Shannon Summerville, connected with another Texas family at the Kappa Kappa Gamma House.  

Robin Tucker is from Houston and her daughter, with a lineage that is firmly affixed with Texas, decided to break with family tradition.   She preferred a campus other than Texas, one with elevated academic reputation, a vibrant Greek life and where football was very important.   Georgia’s status across the board brought Sarah Tucker to UGA.  The eyes of Texas are upon Athens, you might say.

All the foregoing revived memories of my own experience in the mid-fifties—a barefoot country boy, fresh off the farm, naïve, and as green as the grass that grows at the Augusta National Golf Club.  Things went well for me until I found my way to a chemistry class.  I began my UGA academic life planning to study entomology.  That, however, bugged me and I found a home in journalism.

This led to two degrees.  One from the Henry Grady College of journalism and one from Harry’s Restaurant at Five Points where Dan Magill, an encyclopedic and clever man, the ultimate court jester, plied me with tales of his life as a native Athenian who was imbued with a deep and abiding love of UGA—with one liner insights and caustic hyperbole that had me learning and laughing with equal helpings.

Once I set foot in Athens, I never wanted to live anywhere else.  I met a stunning coed who became my life partner.  Our kids are graduates of Georgia and now we have a granddaughter joining us in the Classic City.

The past is so memorable and the future, for us, is so warm and engaging.  Fortunately, it is the same for many others—coast to coast.





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Greg is closing in on 15 years writing about and photographing UGA sports. While often wrong and/or out of focus, it has been a long, strange trip full of fun and new friends.