With admission to state universities in Florida becoming more and more competitive each year, parents have a valid concern to wonder if their child will be accepted. Whether you’re saying “Go Gators,” or doing the Seminole chop, the changing face of college admissions in Florida can be tricky to keep up with, even between your close-together children’s senior years.
“Our state is going through what North Carolina, Virginia, and Michigan went through 25 years ago regarding their flagship universities,” says Ryan Riggs, Episcopal’s Director of College Counseling. “The University of Florida and Florida State University are seeing more applications from in-state students than they have in the past. This means being accepted has a higher threshold than in the past.”
For example, at UNC Chapel Hill, the in-state admit rate has dropped from 49% to 41% in just two years. And in-state acceptance has been a challenge in Virginia as well, for more than 20 years.
“The change at UVA was more gradual, but we had kids with a 3.2 GPA getting into UVA in the 1980’s. Now it takes a 4.0 and strong test scores. Colleges are now built around trying to achieve more selectivity each year,” says Jim Jump, the long-time Director of College Counseling at St. Christopher’s School in Richmond, Virginia.
Additionally, because UF and FSU are both on a new application platform, the Coalition Application, their raw application numbers will continue to climb, which will drive selectivity. Last year, UF had 29,000 applicants for 6,500 freshman beds, and FSU had 30,000 for 6,100 freshman beds. UF, especially, has a keen eye on the US News & World Report rankings. They have zoomed up this list in the past five years, and are now ranked 35th among national universities. UF wants to continue to increase their applications, their yield (the number of students they admit who choose to attend), their number of out of state students, their number of international students, but decrease the overall size of the undergraduate population.
With admission to both the University of Florida and Florida State University becoming more and more competitive each year, there are important steps students can take to ensure they have the best applications possible. And while acceptance anywhere is never guaranteed, taking the time to think ahead and plan can help.
Understand How GPA is Calculated at the School You Apply To
Both UF and FSU count only the core five academic classes when they recalculate a GPA. They use English, Science, Math, World Language, and History classes only.
“So if a student’s GPA has a boost because of Speech, Sports and Fitness, Ceramics, and Desktop Publishing, then they will lose that boost when UF or FSU recalculate the GPA,” says Riggs. “This is not to say these aren’t worthy and important classes, because they are, but parents and students should understand what each particular college is counting when they are looking at GPA.”
Additionally, both UF and FSU throw out pluses and minuses in GPA calculations. A grade of B+ becomes a B; a grade of A- becomes an A. Usually this does not change a student’s GPA much, but for a student who has earned all B+ and A+ grades in core academic classes, he or she will see a drop in the recalculated GPA.
Understand How Your Current School Calculates Their Admissions Stats
Does your school limit the number of students applying to a certain state school? Do they mandate that students in the very top of the class apply to both UF and FSU? This can affect the yield numbers for acceptance at these universities at your student’s school. Make sure to ask what, if any, rules exist for who applies where, and how that might affect your student’s chances.
Do Your College Counselors Make Sure Your School is Known?
Do the college counselors at your school have the ability, support and time to travel to individual colleges, national and regional college admissions conferences? Do they have the opportunity to “wave the flag” for their school and its students whenever they can so that college admissions officers are familiar with the school, its curriculum and its students? What is their relationship with their particular admissions rep from the University of Florida and Florida State University? Make sure your student is taking the time to meet with the admissions representatives from each school when they come to your student’s campus. While there are never guarantees for admission, all of the above may help.
Test Prep is Really Important
While many colleges have gone “Test Optional” for the SAT and ACT, Florida’s state schools have not. Test scores weigh heavily in their admission decisions. Make sure your student is taking the time and making the effort to score the best they can on these exams if their top choice is a Florida university. Whether that’s SAT vocabulary flash cards at the dinner table or extra prep classes on Saturday morning, the importance of these scores still matters to these flagship schools.
Now, ready, set, apply! (Right, like it’s that easy. We know, we know!) But we hope to see you wearing your orange and blue or garnet and gold at the next UF-FSU rivalry game weekend!