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UCF enrollment tops 60,100, a record, as university touts "wonderful" freshmen class

Enrollment at the University of Central Florida has topped 60,100 for the fall term, a record for the state's largest university.

That's a slight increase from last year, when UCF enrollment hit 60,000.

UCF's also has enrolled a "wonderful freshmen class," a diverse group with strong academic credentials, said Vice President Al Harms.

Average ACT scores for freshmen, for example, are tied with last year's, which were the best ever, and average SAT scores and grade-point averages are tied for second best ever.

There are fewer fall freshmen enrolled this year than last -- about 3,400 compared to about 3,600 -- but overall enrollment is up thanks in part to a six percent hike in transfer student enrollment, officials said. Enrollment is also up at UCF's medical school.

Preliminary enrollment figures show 6,485 transfer students this year compared to 6,110 last year. 

Total enrollment at the east Orange County university was about 60,150 last week, Harms said.

UCF, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, has faced criticism for growing so large, especially because one result is also having the largest faculty-to-student ratio in Florida's university system.

In the 2011-12 year, state figures show, UCF's ratio was 1 to 32 compared to 1 to 21 at the University of Florida and 1 to 27 at Florida State University.

 But Harms said the university has grown, in part because its mission is to accept transfer students from Valencia College, Seminole State College of Florida, Eastern Florida State College and Lake-Sumter State College.

"We’re about inclusion and not about exclusion," he said. "If you can qualify, and you’re hard working, there ought to be a place for you."

At the same time, getting in has gotten tougher for students looking to start UCF as freshmen. The school has been able to attract National Merit scholars as well as other high-performing students it recruits as "provost scholars" -- those viewed as an "inch away" from National Merit status, Harms added.

New campus facilities, including more dorms, a football stadium and shops, have made UCF more appealing, while the new medical school has added a measure of prestige, he said.

 "They love our campus. It’s new , it’s vibrant, it’s friendly," he added. "All those things add shine to the ball."

Some UCF freshmen statistics for fall 2013:

Average high school grade-point average: 3.89

Average SAT score for reading and math: 1248

Average ACT score:: 27.1

Number of National Merit scholars: 61

Percent minority: 37

Where they are from: 92 percent from Florida, but they represent 43 states, Puerto Rico and nine other countries.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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