Incoming Students Get a Preview of Their Next Destination

On Saturday, April 9, USF held Destination USF, the biggest on-campus event for incoming students. PHOTO COURTESY OF JON RICE

The Hilltop was packed with future Dons on Saturday, April 9 as prospective, admitted students arrived for a day of connection and exploration. 

Destination USF is the University’s largest event for prospective students. Last week, the event returned in person after a pause for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Running from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., the all-day event featured campus tours, mock lectures, performances from student organizations, and opportunities for admitted students to connect. 

“For today, we really just want them to see what life is like at USF,” Undergraduate Admissions student worker Abby Debbuba said. “We really want them to feel like they’re on campus as a student who could be coming here in the fall. One important thing that they should be seeing today is how strong our USF community is, and just how diverse we are. I know we say that a lot, but it’s really true; you see it everywhere.”  

Debudda is not wrong, as USF was recently named the most ethnically diverse college campus in the nation, according to the U.S. News & World Report 2022. This diversity is only increasing with the fall 2022 pool of applicants. USF has received 23,069 first-year undergraduate applications, a record high, increasing 5% from last year alone. 

Additionally, the number of applicants who applied in 2019-2020 has increased by approximately 14% for the upcoming fall 2022 semester, something that was unexpected by Interim Vice Provost for Strategic Enrollment Management April Crabtree. “One of the things that surprised me, in a really good way, is that we continue to see these applications grow, even through the pandemic,” Crabtree said, “What this is, I think, is just a good dose of optimism.” 

In addition to their volume, the admitted class of 2026 is more diverse than any before, with a 0.4% increase in Black applicants, a 32% increase in applicants hoping to major in engineering, and a larger number of students from the Midwest, South, and Pacific Northwest, as reported initially in University data. 

University student ambassador Cassidy Chung revealed that many of the students who attended the event were either already committed or close to it. “A lot of the prospective students I’ve talked to have officially committed to USF, and the others sounded like they were strongly leaning towards committing but just haven’t hit that button quite yet,” said Chung, “I hope that today helps them make that decision.” 

For prospective psychology major Lee Stalling, the event helped affirm their decision to commit. “I had already visited the campus twice, but I really got a feel for USF culture today and this made me really excited to become a part of it next year.” 

Throughout the day, Stalling attended several information sessions for the Center for Academic and Student Achievement, study abroad, and Admitted Students Next. The highlight of the day for Stalling was being able to sit in on classes and meet their future peers. “I enjoyed the mock lectures for The Art of Storytelling and Communications. But in general, meeting people has been the best part,” Stalling said, “I’ve loved being able to enjoy how different and diverse the school is. Everyone has been very welcoming.” 

Other students, such as prospective economics major Victor Silverman, found Destination USF helpful in learning more information about the University before taking the major step of committing. “I’m still considering a few options for where to go next year so I was hoping this would help me narrow it down a little more,” Silverman explained. 

When asked if the event had helped sway his decision towards committing, Silverman said, “Yes, definitely. I’ve loved being here today, just getting to see the campus, eating food, and enjoying the time have all been really helpful.” 

When reflecting on this pool of prospective students, Crabtree discussed how well the incoming class aligns with USF’s values, “These are high school students who are looking into the future, seeing that there is a way forward. No matter how horrible things may look at a particular moment, they have big dreams for how the world should be. That’s why they’re a good match for USF.” 

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