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USF becoming more selective

As a result of USF’s desire to attract more top-level students, prospective students may meet more resistance at the admissions office than they have in the past.

“As the state population grows and as USF gains more national accolades, it’s going to become increasingly competitive to gain freshman admission,” Undergraduate Admissions Director Bob Spatig said.

As for altering admissions standards, Spatig said nothing is finalized.

Vice Provost Ralph Wilcox predicts that USF will have to start turning more students away.

“Providing access to higher education to citizens in the state of Florida will remain very important to the University of South Florida,” he said. “The thing is, we can’t continue to open our doors to everyone. We realize that we can’t continue to enroll every student that would like to come to the University of South Florida.”

In order to attract higher-level students, USF is attempting to improve its academic standing.

“It’s a goal to attract more students at the high end of the scale,” Spatig said.

Improving SAT scores is a top priority and one of USF President Judy Genshaft’s “Strategic Imperatives,” a list of 18 areas of focus designed to steer the University into performing at a higher level. The SAT scores of this fall’s incoming freshmen rose by 2.4 percent from last year.

To help recruit these students, Spatig said USF is implementing new strategies.

The Office of Admissions, for example, is undergoing a reconstruction to create new units. One is for high-ability student recruitment, the other for outreach and access, which, according to Spatig, ensures that “we’re not losing sight of underrepresented populations.”

“We’ll be targeting (high school) students beginning in their sophomore year who have high GPAs and high test scores,” Spatig said. “We’ll be doing that both in-state and (in) selected markets outside the state.”

Wilcox said any changes are a result of USF wanting its student body to be on par with the University’s increasing reputation as a top-tier research university.

“We realized we weren’t attracting the sort of freshmen one would normally expect to find at a national research university,” he said. “We want to attract more and more students who can contribute to, and be successful at, a premier national research university.”

Also, Spatig is spearheading “recruitment initiatives,” which he hopes will attract students from outside of Florida.

Yolene Joseph, a senior in USF’s Honors College, thinks USF gets bad press for admitting “almost everyone.”

“A lot of people don’t give USF the credit it deserves because it’s easy to get into,” she said. “If USF increases its admissions standards, I think more top-level students (would) come here because a lot of them don’t think USF is challenging enough.”While USF’s overall enrollment rose again this year to 43,250, the number of first-time-in-college students dropped by 2.1 percent from 2004, a possible sign USF is becoming pickier.

“We’re going to have to be a little more selective than we’ve been in the past,” Wilcox said. “Students are going to have to work harder in high school and community college to ensure they have a place at the University of South Florida.”