2020 Updates from FSU, UCF, UF, USF and Other Florida Public Universities

Yesterday the college advisors at International College Counselors attended the virtual 2020 State University System (SUS) of Florida Admissions Workshop. At this invitation-only workshop, our team heard from officials from all 12 of the Florida public institutions: UF, FSU, UCF, USF, New College of Florida, UNF, FAMU, FAU, FGCU, FIU, UWF, and Florida Poly.

Below are some workshop highlights. Note that all answers pertain to the State University System of Florida only.
What advice can you give to students who do not have a test score? 
All First Time in College (FTIC) students need to complete testing to be admitted to a public Florida university or college. All of the institutions are united in their wish to be test optional; however, this is a decision made by the Florida Board of Governors, and individual institutions do not have control over this matter. Florida is just one of three states that hasn’t moved to test optional. The institutions expect a shift in the statistics of the middle 50% they accept. They foresee that scores of admitted students in the Class of 2021 will be 40-50 points lower on the SAT and 1-2 points lower on the ACT. The institutions are encouraging students to try to take the tests and to take them as many times as possible.

Have there been any significant changes to the applications?
On the Common Application and Coalition Application, there is a new question about how a student has been impacted by COVID. If a student has been impacted in any way, they should take advantage of the space to explain this in their application.

How does a student’s senior year schedule factor into admissions? 
The senior schedule helps admissions understand the student’s trajectory; therefore, students should take challenging courses. They should also take classes that will help them prepare for the major in which they are interested. If a student has been impacted by COVID or other natural disaster, they should note it on their application, and colleges will be able to factor this into their decisions.

If a student has a learning difference, will it be considered in the application? And how do colleges assist students with learning differences? 
While all schools offer resources for students with learning differences, a student’s learning difference will not be known nor considered unless the student reveals their learning difference in their application. If a student decides to appeal their admission decision, and they did not reveal the learning difference in the initial application, they may choose to reveal that information in the appeal. If a student has a particular disability or prefers a certain resource, they should check with each individual college to see if they offer this resource. All schools recommend that students seek out resources early, either when they get accepted and/or when they arrive on campus. Communication is very important.

Should students take AP, IB, AICE, or Dual Enrollment?
The SUS institutions do not have a preference. Students should attempt to take the most rigorous schedule they can handle successfully. The colleges do not want students taking a class or course load that isn’t a good fit for them; students do need to push themselves, but they should not be overly stressed.

What types of resources are available for students who are homeless or wards of the state? 
The SUS institutions offer many resources for students in these situations, including exemptions for tuition and fees. Each of the 12 schools has a liaison to work with these students and to explain to them the school’s service offerings.

How will service hours be counted for the Class of 2021? 
The Bright Futures scholarship still requires service hours. Students have many opportunities to complete community service online. Websites such as volunteermatch.org provide ideas. International College Counselors’ clients should also check with their advisor for volunteer suggestions.

What are some changes to the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program? 
In order to be eligible for the Florida Academic Scholarship (FAS), students must earn a 29 on the ACT or 1330 on the SAT. In order to be eligible for the Florida Medallion Scholarship (FMS), students must earn a 25 on the ACT or 1210 on the SAT.

Are colleges offering physical tours?
FAU, Florida Poly, FGCU and UNF are offering limited capacity tours. Guests need to comply with safety regulations. Many of the institutions are offering virtual information sessions and tours. Students may also learn about the schools through virtual college visits to their high school. Check the admission events section of each institution’s website.

What safety measures are taking place on campus? 
Each university had to submit opening plans and each school’s plan varies. Plans can be found on the institutions’ websites. All plans include safety precautions aligned with CDC guidelines.

If a student receives an AA degree and high school diploma at the same time, how should the student apply? 
If a student did not graduate from high school before earning the AA, they should apply as a freshman/first time in college student. Once a student takes 12 or more credits after high school graduation, they are considered a transfer.

How many 2020 seniors took a gap year?
When a student takes a year off between high school and colleges to do a co-op, internship, volunteer, or work, this is called a gap year. As there were not many opportunities like this–in-person or virtually-this past summer, there was not a big increase in students taking a gap year. Colleges did see an increase in students deferring from summer to fall, fall to spring, and spring to summer. But it was a small increase; FIU, for example, only had 29 students defer.

If a student takes foreign language at a state college, do they need to take it again?
No. As long as the student passed level 1 and 2 of the foreign language, all the SUS institutions will accept the credit.

Which colleges are using the Student Self-reported Academic Record (SSAR), which are using a different self-reporting system, and which are not self-reporting? 
Nine of the twelve SUS schools are using the SSAR: UNF, UF, FSU, UWF, FAMU, FGCU, FAU, FL Poly and NCF; UCF is using SPARK (new this year); FIU and USF require a transcript from your high school.

Will colleges be limiting admissions based on the number of students who deferred last year?
No. Students in the class of 2021 will not be at a disadvantage.

Which Computer Science (CS) classes will apply as a core math or science classes? 
No computer science class is considered to be a core math or science class.

If a person purchased the housing option on the Florida pre-paid program, what happens if a student cannot use it?
The family can expect to get a refund from Florida pre-paid. Families should go to the Florida pre-paid website to get more information.

If a university requires students to live on campus the first year, are they being flexible?  
Universities have been adapting and making accommodations to promote social distancing. Families need to check with each university to learn about their policy.

Do students need to submit their Dual Enrollment transcripts with their application? 
Students are only required to submit their high school transcripts but are not required to submit their dual enrollment transcripts until after they enroll at their college.

How are colleges evaluating extracurricular activities when many have been delayed or cancelled?
All the colleges are sympathetic to the delay and cancellation of extracurricular activities. Colleges are aware that many spring and fall programs were cancelled. They will take into account what students did during their freshman through junior years. At the same time, colleges will take a look to see if students adapted and took on new activities. Adaptability is key during this period. 

What has been the impact of the pandemic on racial disparity and the application process? 
There has been a lot more collaboration among the institutions. The colleges understand that if they stand together, they will make a louder, stronger statement. The institutions are also working with groups on campus to address these issues.

What are colleges doing for undocumented students? 
DACA is currently still in place. Students have the opportunity to fill out fee waiver requests and fill out forms to be eligible for in-state tuition once school starts. That said, the SUS cannot provide scholarships to undocumented or DACA students. Students should instead go through private scholarships like TheDream.us, Hispanic Scholars Fund, and others. Colleges offer this information to their students.

Have there been any deadline changes? 

FSU moved its deadline back to December 1. The school is also allowing students to provide test scores through the month of December to be considered for admission and scholarships. The other colleges did not mention deadline changes.

For assistance with applying to the Florida public universities, please call or email us at International College Counselors:
[email protected] or 1-954-414-9986. 

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Virtual College Fair

On Wednesday, Sept. 16 and Thursday, Sept. 17, attend a free, virtual college fair hosted by the Coalition for College. The event features 130+ colleges and universities all committed to access, affordability and student success.  


Upcoming Workshop
Effective and Efficient Academic Writing Workshop
Mondays & Thursdays – Starting in September
In this online workshop students will learn the stages of essay writing, how to plan and write an essay from outline to end, how to form thesis statements, how to express ideas clearly and more. Open to students in grades 9-12.
Cost: $350
For questions and more information, contact Aimee Heller.


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