• Jacksonville parents, educators say college admissions more competitive than ever

    By: Brittney Donovan , Action News Jax


    Parents and educators agree the college admissions process is more competitive than ever.

    “The girls care deeply about going away to a fine university, and they’re both academically inclined and service-oriented,” Katherine Auchter said.

    Her two daughters are a junior and a senior in high school in St. Johns County.

    She told Action News Jax that her oldest has worked for years building a resume for her college applications.

    “It was very intense because it’s very competitive now. To try to pull all that together,” she said. “To think that somebody would try and pay their way in, it just is detrimental to the process for those who worked really hard.”

    The college admissions cheating scandal has brought to light a dark secret in how competitive admissions have become -- from SAT and ACT scores to GPAs, advanced classes and community service.

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    “There’s so much cultural awareness about college and cultural pressure to get into the best college,” Michele Larson said.

    Larson is the director of Knowledge4College. She helps parents in Jacksonville and elsewhere find the best schools for their children.

    She tells Action News Jax parents should investigate aid offered at schools. She said often private colleges give more grants than big-name universities.

    “We have so many good public and private schools here in Florida,” she said. “Your major is more important than where you went to school. We’re so caught up in brand-name colleges.” 

    Parents and educators agree it's about setting each child up for success.

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    "Helping them identify their God-given talents and purpose in life," Auchter said.

    After the admissions scandal, Action News Jax checked in with local universities to find out their procedures for admissions.

    Karen Lucas, the University of North Florida's vice president of enrollment, said a dedicated team reviews every application and that audits and reviews are conducted at the state, federal and university level.

    "If there’s exceptions, we have to record those with the state, so we are not in a situation where we would be open to this type of a scandal at a public institution," Lucas said.

    A spokesperson said the University of Florida's admissions office is confident in its processes. 

    Full statement:
    “The University of Florida admissions office is confident in the integrity of its processes, but in light of the recent events at other schools around the country, the university will use this opportunity to review those processes to ensure that everything is being done correctly. Regarding your question about red flags, each application goes through a minimum of four people and then to a committee. No one person makes a decision about an application.”

    Jacksonville University said it’s also confident in its procedures and is closely monitoring the unfolding story and its impact on industry best practices.
    Full statement
    “At Jacksonville University, we value honesty, integrity, excellence and hard work in every facet of our organization – particularly within our admission process. Our policies meet or exceed industry best practices outlined by the National Association for College Admission Counseling, and we regularly review those policies in collaboration with our Academic Standards Committee, consisting of University faculty members. Moreover, as a small, independent school with a tight-knit campus community, we take a holistic approach to evaluating potential students and determining whether they are a good fit for JU. Our goal is for every student to be successful here, and we believe a more individualized, deliberate, and comprehensive admission process helps us achieve that objective.”


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