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 is brimming with opportunity. The question is, how does your son or daughter get in?
I remember back to 2008 when I went to a UF Alumni event titled, “How to get your child into UF.” The takeaway was that most of us in that room would not meet their current admission standards (hard to hear but so accurate). Then, they were moving from being a selective admittance school to very selective. Today, UF is extremely selective, looking not only at grades and test scores but student involvement, leadership roles, and an essay that stands out, is personal, and shows why the student stands out as well.
Record High for 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 in regard to what UF is looking for in a student, but here are a few thoughts as to how your student can tweak their high school preparation.
Grades and tests scores are (obviously) important, but so is showing that they are not only about the numbers. They need to show UF that there is more to them by being involved in clubs, teams or organizations that show they have a passion for and an investment in something beyond school work. 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 position possible in the clubs she belonged to, as well as for Student Government. Her high school class numbered well over 600 students, so she did not get 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 strong 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 stated already in the application.
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 they are challenging themselves. 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 as it is the only opportunity your student has to shine beyond grades and test scores. Most importantly, it gives their application personality.
When applying to UF, advise your student to be extremely thoughtful about what they are applying for. Not only is there the choice of applying 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. It’s wise not to rule out these avenues if UF is truly the only college you want to attend. Learn more about these two UF specific programs here at PACE and Innovation Academy.
You should also have your student consider whether the major for which they are applying is among the most popular majors: business, engineering, finance, health science, and marketing. If your high school student anticipates going into college as one of those majors, it honestly decreases their chance of acceptance if their application is not at the highest level of excellence — simply because of 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. Students can change their major ANY DAY once accepted! The initial acceptance is key and your student can opt to change their major as they make their way through the registration process and 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 rule out some of Florida’s other great universities. Have them evaluate what they want to study because other colleges may offer a stellar program in their preferred major.