What Does It Take to Get Into the University of San Francisco?
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With an acceptance rate of 66%, the University of San Francisco has a reputation for being more selective than some public institutions. So, what does it take to make your application stand out?
Originally established as St. Ignatius Academy in 1855, the University of San Francisco is a private, Jesuit Catholic, urban university in California’s Bay Area. Notable USF alumni include Starbucks co-founder Gordon Bowker and former NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle.
Undergraduate programs are largely concentrated in the College of Arts and Sciences, which offers more than 60 majors and minors ranging from fine arts to computer science. The school is also home to many graduate degree programs across the School of Law, School of Management, School of Education, and School of Nursing and Health Professions.
Additionally, students participate in service-learning courses, during which academic coursework is complemented by volunteer work around the Bay Area. The university at large emphasizes its Jesuit mission in every degree program and is committed to bettering the community through partnerships with local organizations and work through the school’s research centers and institutes.
Clearly, USF is an amazing place to earn your college degree. But is the school the right fit for you? Keep reading to find out what it takes to get into the University of San Francisco, along with tips to keep in mind when applying.
Applying to the University of San Francisco: A Quick Review
If your goal is to attend the University of San Francisco, you should start by gathering the necessary application materials.
USF has both a binding Early Decision and a non-binding Early Action plan, as well as a Regular Action plan. The university urges first-year students who are confident in their grades and test scores as they stand after junior year to apply for Early Action, although most Early Decision plans are more likely to give applicants a slight advantage in the admissions process; you should only apply ED is USF is your top choice.
Along with the Common Application, aspiring freshmen must submit the following:
- Official high school transcript that includes Fall senior grades
- School report
- One recommendation from a guidance counselor or teacher in a core subject
- Official SAT or ACT (writing not required; USF superscores both tests)
- English proficiency test results if English is not your first language
- $70 application fee
USF Acceptance Rate: How Difficult Is It to Get In?
With an acceptance rate of 66%, USF is more selective than some public institutions. The early admission rate is higher than the overall rate at 76.1%. Keep in mind that it is a small and self-selecting school, with a 2018 freshman class size of 1,542 students.
The reported average GPA for this class was 3.55, and the average combined SAT score was 1228.
So, How Does One Get Into USF?
The University of San Francisco admits students who meet their specific academic requirements. For Fall 2018, the middle 50% of admitted students boasted SAT scores between 1140 and 1310. ACT scores were in the 23 to 29 range. The average USF freshman had a high school GPA of 3.56.
To ensure students will succeed at USF, the admissions committee looks for a rigorous high school coursework. Minimum entrance requirements include:
- 4 years of English
- 3 years of math, including Algebra I, Algebra II, and Geometry
- 2 years of foreign language
- 2 years of a laboratory science
- 3 years of social sciences
First-year students applying to specific majors should check their programs’ unique requirements. For example, the Science and Nursing programs mandate 2 years of laboratory science that include Chemistry and either Physics or Biology.
How to Make Your Application Stand Out
USF uses a holistic approach in reviewing applications, looking at every applicant’s story, both academic and personal to select students who enrich their community. The University is passionate about admitting students who have diverse backgrounds, experiences, ideas, and talents.
Beyond the specific academic requirements, focusing on the courses you take in high school and your extracurricular activities is a great starting point. Competitive applicants to USF go beyond the minimum requirements, taking AP, IB, Honors, or accelerated high school courses. If you want to increase your odds of getting that acceptance letter, not only do you need to excel academically but will need to show how you:
Emphasize diversity. USF is a diverse institution, tied for second among national universities for undergraduate student ethnic diversity in US News and World Report and boasting a student body including 74.7% students of color. The university also ranks 11th in international student enrollment.
That doesn’t mean you have to be a member of a minority group to be accepted, but you should emphasize your unique background or attributes in some way. Perhaps, for example, you’re a veteran or adult student, or you faced a unique hardship or have an otherwise interesting story to tell. Whatever it is, make it apparent that you are an individual who will add something special to USF.
Demonstrate intellect and ambition. USF students boast many academic achievements. For example, the school notes that it places students into medical school at nearly twice the national average.
As with many colleges and universities, USF weighs your academic record, including your transcript and test scores, in the admissions process. Make sure your grades and test scores are at least near the average of the freshman class, if not higher. You should also demonstrate a commitment to a particular subject or area to show that you are ambitious and have specific goals in mind.
Adhere to USF’s mission and values.While many students who attend USF are not Jesuit Catholic, and the university welcomes people of all faiths and backgrounds, the Jesuit mission of giving and service is heavily emphasized in the curriculum. For example, students perform volunteer work as part of academic courses, and the university has established partnerships with local, San Francisco nonprofits.
Demonstrate that your values align with those of the USF community by performing community service while you’re in high school, even if it’s not a graduation requirement. For example, your extracurricular activities might include tutoring inner-city students, working at a local hospital, or organizing a book or toy drive. Check out our list of community service ideas for more tips.
What If You Get Rejected?
Being denied admission to any college, particularly one of your top choices, is disappointing. Still, it’s important to take a step back and regroup. If you get rejected from USF, here’s what you can do:
Take a gap year or transfer in. If you had your heart set on USF or received bad news from the other colleges on your list, one option is to take a gap year and reapply next admissions cycle. If you do decide to go this route, make sure you have a productive plan for the year. You might undertake a research project, volunteer, study to improve your SAT scores, or take classes at a local college. Do know, however, that this path is risky, as taking a gap year won’t ensure your acceptance the second time around.
You could also begin your studies at another institution with the hopes of transferring. USF accepts nearly 500 transfer students annually, meaning acceptance isn’t out of the question. Note these transfer requirements.
Keep it in perspective. Even if USF was your top choice, chances are, you’ll find a way to make a college that did accept you work. College really is what you make of it, and if you put effort into adjusting to another school by joining clubs, working hard in your classes, and cultivating a social life, you’ll likely find that you can make a fulfilling college experience for yourself, even if you end up at a college that wasn’t your top choice.
For more personalized expertise on getting into the University of San Francisco, consider CollegeVines’s College Application Guidance Program. When you sign up for our program, we carefully pair you with the perfect admissions specialist based on your current academic and extracurricular profile and the schools in which you’re interested. Your personal application specialist will help you with branding, essays, and interviews, and provide you with support and guidance in all other aspects of the application process.
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