So your student wants to be a Gator?
That’s understandable – Time Magazine ranked UF as the best school in Florida. UF is a great university, right down to the beautiful brick buildings and deep-seated traditions. And it’s brimming with opportunity. The question is — how does your son or daughter become a Gator?
Even as far back as 2008, I heard this same question asked with great concern at a Gator Alumni event titled, “How to get your child into UF.” The eye-opening answer was that most of us alumni in that room would not meet current UF admission standards. (Ouch!) At that time, they were moving from being a selective admittance school to very selective. Today, UF is extremely selective, assessing not only at grades and test scores but student involvement, leadership roles, and a personal essay that not only stands out but shows why the student stands out as well.
Record High Applications
Applications reached a record high this past year with over 40,000 applicants for approximately 6,500 seats. The statistics: 4.3 – 4.6 average academic GPA; 29-33 ACT; 1330-1460 SAT total, are pretty clear-cut numbers in regard to what UF is looking for in a student. So we have a few additional suggestions about how your student can tweak their high school preparation.
Grades and test scores are (obviously) important, but so is showing that your student is not just about the numbers. This means showing UF that there is more to their student resume than grades. They can do this by being involved in clubs, teams, or organizations that show they have a passion for and an investment in something beyond schoolwork. And don’t just join; lead. Take a leadership position in one of those clubs or teams.
As both encouragement and example, my older daughter ran for every officer slot possible in the clubs she belonged to, as well as for Student Government. Her high school class numbered well over 600 students, and she never ended up being selected. But she took advantage of a section in the application where the student can mention other pertinent information they feel UF should know. This was a great place to show her persistent efforts at seeking leadership roles. Be sure to have your student use this area to mention anything that will show off attributes that are not already stated elsewhere in the application.
All About the Challenge
Show some rigor in their class schedule. While A’s are really nice, it can be better to get a moderately lower grade in a class that shows your student is challenging themself. Much of the UF experience is about the challenge, so don’t rule out AP Physics or AP Spanish too quickly.
Then, there’s the essay. They should absolutely write an amazing application essay. Do you have any idea how many essays UF Admissions has to read…and how they all begin to sound the same? Your student’s essay needs to stand out and be different. Simply stating that they bleed orange and blue is not going to be enough. Nor will stating that they have dreamed of being a Gator all their lives. Remember that most of the 34,000 prospective students will avow exactly the same thing.
If your student is unsure how to go about doing this, feel free to seek help. We recommend Essential Essays College Essay Consulting for assisting students with brainstorming, planning, and writing college essays that will reveal their personality and give their application a positive edge. The essay is a huge part of the application. It’s really the only opportunity your student has to shine beyond grades and test scores. Most importantly, it gives their application personality.
What Major, Gator?
When applying to be a UF Gator, advise your student to be extremely thoughtful about the options available. Not only can they choose to apply for Summer B instead of Fall, but there are also separate application opportunities via the Innovation Academy and the PACE program. I know students in both of these programs that are very happy with their Gator pathway. It’s wise not to rule out any avenue if UF is truly the only college they want to attend. Learn more about these two UF specific programs here at PACE and Innovation Academy.
You should also have your students consider whether the major for which they are applying is among the more popular majors: business, engineering, finance, health science, and marketing. If your high school student anticipates going into college with one of those majors, it may decrease their chance of acceptance if their application is not at the highest level of excellence. Again, this is a numbers game, due simply to the volume of applications for that major. They might want to consider a secondary or sideways choice of major, or even apply as undeclared instead. Gator students can change their major ANY DAY once accepted! The initial acceptance is key. Your student can opt to change their major as they make their way through the registration process, or later, as they gain a better understanding of how UF can best work for them.
If UF is your student’s dream school and they don’t get in, do not automatically rule out some of Florida’s other great universities. Have your student evaluate what they want to study, because other colleges may offer a stellar program in their preferred major. HaveUHeard that we have the inside skinny on most of them? Visit our Home Page and read all about it!
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