Exclusive Q&A With College Admission’s Officers (FAQ’S)
October 16, 2018
With application deadlines creeping closer and closer, we interviewed both the Florida International University and Florida State University admissions directors to get many common questions regarding the college application process answered.
- Is a B in an AP class weighted the same as an A in an honors class?
“The 12 state universities in Florida weight all academic courses the same; .5 for honors courses and 1.0 courses for AICE/AP/IB and approved dual enrollment courses,” admissions director from Florida State University, Hege Ferguson said.
- Can a high GPA make up for a low SAT/ACT score or vice-versa?
“Every school does things differently, a lot of schools are going test optional. The standard tests are used as a predictor in combination with your grades. The standardized tests alone is not a single factor. So, yes some schools look at that in combination with strength of schedule and academic rigor and that can come up with a predictive model look at how you will perform your first year. It could be that your grades are a little lower but you’ve taken all of these challenging courses and you’ve done the sequencing and your test score might be a little higher and that is an indicator based on the number of success factors that indicate to the institution that yes, you will be successful and graduate in four years.” admissions director from Florida International University, Jody Glassman said.
- What do you look for in a college essay/what stands out the most?
“This is an opportunity to learn about you beyond what we see on a transcript and in test scores. What would you like for me to know about you if you only had this one opportunity to share something about yourself,” Ferguson said.
- How important is community service in the admissions process/ how much value does it hold compared to grades, scores, and essays?
“Schools wanna see a variety of things in a student, leadership, commitment to the community, commitment to service, commitment to the world around them, as well as their academics. But it’s going to vary by school on how important it is,” Glassman said.
- Is it “better” to have multiple extra curricular activities (being involved in various clubs and/or sports), or being committed to one activity over the course of high school? Or are they both seen as equally impressive?
“More than anything, we want students to explore their interests. For some, that means trying many things before you find something that you really like. For other students, they may find that special interest right away and that takes up much of their time. We are not looking for one particular activity being better than another… It is important we enroll a diverse group of students with a variety of interest. Get involved in activities that interests you and adds “flavor” to your life, and don’t worry if it is impressive or not,” Ferguson said.
- How do recommendations affect the admissions decisions?
“They are really good for students that we are on the fence about or on the bubble. It can really make or break a decision. Students need to have good letters of recommendation, it’s less about who is writing the letter and more about the quality. We definitely like to see from an academic teacher or somebody who really knows you writing that letter, and can really talk about your value, about what you’ve done, about what you’re going to contribute to the institutional community as a whole. If you struggled in math and the math teacher can talk about maybe something irregular on your transcript, or more than just that you’re a good kid and you showed up to class and you did your homework. We want somebody who is going to address something that happened or something that we might see in your transcript,” Glassman said.
- Does applying for the summer increase your chances of getting in?
“The accepted student profile for the summer is a little lower than the fall. I recommended that you apply to the term that you would like to start your college experience. If you do not meet fall, we will automatically consider you for the summer and offer that as an option if you meet the summer accepted student profile. If you want to start in the summer, you should apply for the summer term,” Ferguson said.
- How important is class rank?
“Here in Miami Dade County Public Schools, they don’t provide class ranking. So, kids in MDCPS are doing just fine in getting into colleges and universities all over the country. I guess MDCPS is proving that we don’t need it. I mean we don’t have it and your fellow students are getting into some of the best colleges in the country,” Glassman said.
- How helpful is it to be a legacy?
“We do not include legacy questions on our applications,” Ferguson said.
- Why do some schools only superscore SAT and not the ACT?
“I do not know the fact, I can only give you my opinion. I’m not sure, I don’t know why they would or wouldn’t do that. I don’t know if its a technology thing, I know years and years and years ago it was a technology thing. The system everybody used superscore the SAT but wouldn’t superscore the ACT, maybe because they weren’t built that way. I’ve only worked at schools that superscore both. When we superscore tests, I only look at the superscore, unless there are some crazy anomalies somewhere, but we usually only look at the superscored version,” Glassman said.
- What is your favorite and least favorite part of being an admissions officer?
“I love getting to know students, and feel honored to be a part of their journey of finding the ‘right fit’ college. The worst part is having to rescind an offer of admissions as a result of poor senior grades,” Ferguson said.