Back on campus: Students ready for new academic year

The Class of 2018 includes the inaugural group of Presidential Scholars. Among the 25 scholars are, from left, Will Boose, Olivia Bockler, Lindsey Stawowy, Ben Pifer and Inam Sakina.
The Class of 2018 includes the inaugural group of Presidential Scholars. Among the 25 scholars are, from left, Will Boose, Olivia Bockler, Lindsey Stawowy, Ben Pifer and Inam Sakina.

Classes for the 2014-2015 academic year began Monday, Aug. 25, for about 41,500 Florida State University students, including graduate students and an academically accomplished freshman class of about 6,100.

Of those first-time-in-college freshmen who were accepted into Florida State for both the summer and fall, the average high school grade point average was 4.0, with an average SAT score of 1864 and an average ACT composite score of 28.

This year marks the launch of the innovative new Liberal Studies for the 21st Century, which teaches essential 21st-century skills and touches on areas that potential employers have identified as crucial for professional and personal success, and the Quality Enhancement Plan, which brings a heightened focus on teaching and learning critical thinking in the majors, according to Interim Provost Sally McRorie.

“These complementary initiatives are designed to challenge the minds and ignite the imaginations of our students,” she said. “Add a thousand other opportunities to learn and explore and it’s clear: It will be a great year.”

“Our new freshman class, like the current students they join at Florida State, are academically well prepared to succeed and take advantage of the many great opportunities we offer,” McRorie said.

A typical student accepted into Florida State’s Class of 2018 took more than five years of math and social sciences and more than four years each of English and natural sciences while in high school. The typical student also took more than three years of foreign language instruction, and almost 90 percent of the class took advanced coursework.

“We had nearly 38,000 freshmen apply to Florida State University, and I was very pleased with the overall quality of the applicant pool,” said Director of Admissions Janice Finney. “I am very excited to welcome another very talented freshman class.”

This fall the university welcomes the inaugural class of Presidential Scholars. The merit-based scholarship program provides a $4,800 annual scholarship for four years, and out-of-state tuition is waived for non-Floridians.

Presidential Scholars receive additional funding for educational enrichment opportunities including international experiences, research and creative projects, service learning projects or public service, internships and entrepreneurial development. The scholars also benefit from faculty mentoring, leadership training and regular group meetings.

Olivia Bockler from Sarasota, Fla., said it is exciting to be selected as one of 25 Presidential Scholars and be a part of a distinguished freshman class.

“It’s truly an honor, and it will push me to be the best that I can be,” she said, adding that after visiting the university, she knew that Florida State was the college for her.

“FSU made me excited about the person who I can become,” said the neuroscience and English major. “I always had the warmest, friendliest interactions here. On top of the opportunities, which are incredible, it’s really that homey atmosphere that made the difference.”

Will Boose of Naples, Fla., also is a Presidential Scholar. He is considering majoring in either history or philosophy and is interested in taking part in the undergraduate research opportunities at FSU.

“One thing that got me really excited was the pre-eminence status of the university, and I really would like to be part of what pushes the university up to the top,” he said.

As the academic quality of freshman classes continues to increase, FSU has seen an increase in retention and graduation rates. Last fall, 92 percent of students who began their freshman year in 2012 returned for their sophomore year. The six-year graduation rate for students who entered FSU as freshmen in 2007 is 77 percent, the second highest in the Florida State University System.

This year’s incoming freshmen join a diverse student body hailing from every county in Florida, all 50 states, the District of Columbia and more than 140 nations. After Florida, the state with the most new accepted freshmen is Georgia. Biological science, business and engineering are the most popular declared majors.

In line with national trends, women continue to outnumber men on the FSU campus, and 55 percent of the new accepted students are female and 45 percent are male.

About 25 percent of the first-time-in-college freshmen are the first in their families to go to college, which speaks to Florida State’s efforts to reach out to these students through such programs as the Center for Academic Retention and Enhancement (CARE). The center provides preparation, orientation and academic support to first-generation college students who may face unique challenges because of educational or economic circumstances.

Florida State’s total enrollment includes nearly 8,000 graduate and professional students, and the number of students graduating with doctoral degrees is increasing. In the past year, 436 students received a doctoral degree, a 13 percent increase compared to the previous year. The number of law and medical degrees also increased.

“As a pre-eminent institution, graduate education is central to the mission of FSU,” said Nancy Marcus, dean of the Graduate School. “As each year passes, we are excited to look forward and welcome a new group of students to begin their studies and research. Many of these students attended New Graduate Student Orientation on Aug. 19 to learn about the resources available to them and the responsibility they have in contributing to the rich scholarly community that is Florida State University.”