Black Admissions Up, But Black Enrollments Down at the University of South Florida

The following headlines appeared four days apart in the Tampa Tribune and the St. Petersburg Times:

Push for Diversity Yields Results at the University of South Florida

University of South Florida Gets Fewer Blacks in Classes

Why the discrepancy? The Tampa Tribune was reporting on admissions figures released by the University of South Florida in Tampa. Those figures showed that 1,300 black freshmen were admitted this year, an increase of 23 percent from a year ago. This was a significant improvement considering the university had toughened admissions standards which resulted in an overall acceptance rate of 51 percent of all applicants, down from 58 percent a year ago. Remember, too, that state-operated colleges and universities in Florida are prohibited from using race as a factor in their admissions decisions.

Four days later the St. Petersburg Times’ headline reflected the development that many of the black students accepted at the University of South Florida decided not to enroll. Only 301 of the 1,300 blacks admitted to the university actually enrolled. This is down 12 percent from a year ago. In 2005 black enrollments were down 19 percent from 2004 levels.

Thus, while the university was successful in boosting the number of black applicants, it continues to experience a serious problem in convincing accepted black students to enroll. University officials believe that many of the state’s most qualified black students are choosing to attend private colleges and universities outside of Florida where financial aid may be more plentiful.There was some good news to report. University officials report that black enrollments at the graduate level are up 42 percent from a year ago. Overall, blacks make up 11.3 percent of the student body at the University of South Florida.