5 (More) Misconceptions about Attending College in Florida
Last month, I touched upon the first five topics that most people could find confusing when considering in-state educational options. Hopefully, people were able to take away some useful information from all of that. The State University System (SUS) here is so unique compared to the rest of the country that families need to have a better understanding of how it all works. It took me years of working and studying to make sense of it but, unfortunately, many of the policies keep changing on a regular basis so it’s a challenge to keep up. Here are what I believe to be the next five most important aspects of staying in Florida for college:
6) Non-Holistic Review – People get so worked up all the time about the personal statements, interviews and recommendations. However, in this state, those materials are not required to apply for the public universities. Yes, UF has an essay but it’s really just a part of the Coalition Application. It’s up to the admissions office if they want to download the file. When applying to the SUS, the schools focus on the standardized test scores and the high school GPA. With so many tens of thousands of applications, they don’t have time to read what your teachers think, check your volunteer hours, look at your social media, have you meet with an alumni interviewer or review what would be in your essays.
7) Deadlines – There used to be a common application for the SUS that was discontinued a few years ago. There is no set reasoning for the dates for each campus. FSU was the earliest in the country at October 15th but, this year, will be the same as UF on November 1st. There is no advantage to applying earlier in the summer, regardless of what anyone tells you. UF doesn’t make admissions notifications until February 15th. UCF doesn’t even have a deadline to apply, as it goes with a rolling system. What you do have to keep in mind is that housing, honors programs, scholarships and financial aid will all have varying deadlines. You don’t want to get admitted and then not have a place to live.
8) GPA Recalculation – Students are able to achieve a “weighted” GPA by taking more rigorous courses, such as AP, DE, AICE and IB. However, the SUS has to be fair to everyone in the state who is paying taxes to support the public universities. As a result, the FL Board of Governors made a policy that equalizes the playing field for students who attend high schools that don’t offer such rigorous curriculum. The weighted points are cut in half. So if an AP grade of A equals a 6 on the weighted scale, then the unweighted A of a 4 is subtracted from it. The difference is 2. Cut that in half for a 1 and then add that back to the original 4 (=5). So any student who has weighted credit will have their GPA drop when applying to the SUS. A grade of an A in honors equals a 5. Now you are given a 4.5 in the new calculation. It’s something that almost no one knows about but it can make a big difference in your admissions profile.
9) Dual Enrollment – Yes, everyone can take DE courses through their local community college but that isn’t the same as signing up for university classes. If you attend a public university in Florida, then the law says that they must accept those credits. However, if you go to college out of state or at a private school, they don’t have to count them toward your bachelor’s degree. Four year classes count evenly at other four year institutions. But, there are a few exceptions. For example, Johns Hopkins won’t accept ANY dual enrollment credits from a high school student – no matter where they are taken. And Notre Dame won’t count any courses that are being used to satisfy a high school graduation requirement, such as ENG 101 for senior English IV. You will need to check with your potential colleges in advance to know their individual policies. And any classes that aren’t directly applied to the major would simply count as elective credits (which are still good to have and do save you money).
10) Bright Futures – In the past few months, the Governor has signed into law an increase in the BF Scholarship award levels. The Academic is now 100% of tuition and fees at one of the 12 state university campuses (@$6,700). The Medallion is now 75% of this (@$5,000). However, ALL of the remaining expenses are still required to be paid by the individual families (not counting financial aid). So plan on another $12-15,000 based on the campus, dorm choice, meal plan and books needed. You do NOT attend college for free. I’ve had several people mention to me that they thought the new law covered the entire expense. However, you can apply those dollar values to a private college in Florida.
Later in the Fall, I will begin to discuss the specific statutes that are written into law here that greatly affect how the public state universities are administered. Be sure to consider all of your options: public, private, in-state and out-of-state. As always, please feel free to contact me directly with any questions that you may have about your college admissions process. I am open to accepting calls from anyone across the state or elsewhere. Thank you for your interest and good luck in your search for the right academic program and setting for your particular style of learning. And check out my new website!
Scott Daigle, M.Ed.
Premier College Advisors
Boca Raton, Florida
(954) 448 – 1624 Cell