The number of UF applicants didn’t go down this year, students just procrastinated.
UF received 48,066 applications, the most ever, in the midst of a pandemic. More than 11,000 were received on the day of the deadline, and UF doesn’t have an answer for why.
“None of us has been through an application cycle during a pandemic,” said UF spokesperson Steve Orlando. “So, we're really not sure what factors were at work here.”
Applicant numbers appeared grim early in the cycle, and the deadline was extended from Nov. 1 to Nov. 16. President Fuchs said applications were down 23% at an Oct. 15 Faculty Senate meeting.
It is normal for application numbers to fluctuate daily, UF director of communications Brittany Wise wrote in an email. She said 21,500 applications were received in the three days before the deadline during last year’s Fall 2020 application cycle.
Days after Fuch’s calculation, more applications rolled in. Wise calculated a 14% decrease by Oct. 19.
Orlando said UF doesn’t know why application numbers went through a lull before surpassing last year’s record by nearly 2,000 applicants.
He said that the university’s admission standards did not undergo any changes this year.
This means UF was looking for the same GPA and test scores of applicants as they had planned. The UF 2020 freshman profile lists the middle 50% of accepted students scoring between 30 and 33 on the ACT and between 1320 and 1460 on the SAT.
COVID-19 inflamed the already stressful process of college applications, as multiple delays in the nation’s standardized testing schedule made testing difficult for students.
Emma-Gail McMillan, a 17-year-old Buchholz High School senior, was not one of the more than 20% of applicants who got her application into UF before the last day, and she feels good about it.
Being a senior in high school during a global pandemic has kept cheering fans from attending her swim meets and has cancelled cherished events like prom, McMillan said. Getting into UF would definitely brighten up the cloudy haze of her senior year, she said.
“Being around the Gator community is such an exciting thing,” McMillan said.
To Rebecca Stewart, an 18-year-old PK Yonge Developmental Research School senior, the pandemic became a major roadblock for standardized testing.
Stewart planned to take the SAT in the summer before this school year started, but COVID-19 changed her plans. She had to submit her application without SAT scores because she hasn’t been able to take the test yet.
Stewart will take the college entrance exam on Dec. 5, just 10 days before the due date to send scores to the university. She will have to send her score blindly and hope for the best.
“It is definitely scary because if I don't get the score that I want, then I won't know until those scores are ready and then UF will already have my application by then,” Stewart said.
Stewart has spent over 20 hours on college applications so far, she said. UF is one of 11 schools to which Stewart has applied.