Another Record-Setting Class Enters USF

This fall’s overall student profile also reflects an increase in total campus enrollment, including a big jump in international students.

By Kevin Burke

Special to USF News

TAMPA, Fla. (Sept. 5, 2013) — A 4.0 grade point average and 1200 SAT score are impressive for any new high school graduate, but at USF they are the norm for the newly arrived Class of 2017.

Data released following the first full week of the new academic year indicate that this fall’s incoming freshman class at USF is the best qualified, scholastically, in the university’s history, boasting a highest-ever average GPA of 4.0 (up from 3.94 last year) and a mean SAT score of 1200. It is the third straight first-year class to enter the university with an average SAT of 1200 or above.

“Enrolling students who are prepared to complete a challenging and rigorous academic program is a critical component of our student success initiative. We are particularly pleased with the improvement in the overall high school GPA, which is the most accurate predictor of success at the college level,” said Paul Dosal, USF’s vice provost for student success. “It gives us great confidence that this class is likely to set the record for the highest six-year graduation rate in our history.”

Dosal noted that more than half of this fall’s entering students also graduated in the top 20 percent of their high school class.

A total of 2,889 freshmen are enrolled for the fall semester, an increase of slightly more than three percent from the previous year’s 2,801. Coupled with a five percent year-over-year gain in graduate enrollment — to 9,276 from 8,818 — including and a 26 percent surge in medical program students (847 vs. 672), particularly in the College of Pharmacy, the aggregate number of students on campus in Tampa this fall has climbed to 40,860, up roughly two percent from 2012-13.

Notably, approximately six percent of that total is comprised of degree-seeking international students, whose enrollment also jumped 26 percent - from 2,106 in fall 2012 to 2,657 this year - bringing USF closer to its strategic goal of 10 percent international enrollment by 2018.

“This is an unprecedented increase that is reflective of the strategic priorities of our university,” said Roger Brindley, vice provost and USF System associate vice president for USF World.

“We have had deliberate and profound growth in international student recruitment and enrollment, attributable to three main factors: our very successful INTO USF partnership, our hard-working international admissions team, and the impressive contributions of our International Services department,” Brindley added.

The three entities have worked together to ensure current and prospective international students receive high-quality services and communication when they contact USF, Brindley said.

“With the academic vision of USF leadership and can-do attitude of our faculty and staff, we are creating a wonderful, globally engaged academic and social community where international students feel welcome and supported on their higher education journey,” he said.

Some 140 nations are now represented on campus, helping make USF one of the 40 most diverse public universities in the country and the second-most diverse public university in Florida, according to U.S. News & World Report’s recent Diversity Index ratings. At 613, the greatest number of international students comes from China, followed by India (387), Saudi Arabia (148), Venezuela (115), and Kuwait (82).

Already recognized as one of the most diverse public research universities in the nation, six percent of USF students this fall identify themselves as Asian, 10 percent as black, 17 percent as Hispanic, three percent as multiracial, and 55 percent as white. Two percent provided no information.

As for gender balance on campus this fall, female students hold the edge over their male classmates, 57 percent to 43 percent.