Here are answers to the
most commonly asked questions about the Florida College Student of the Year Award.
1. What is the Florida College Student of
the Year Award?
It's Florida's premier scholarship
program for outstanding college students. In its 19th year, the annual Award recognizes 20
campus leaders from colleges and universities statewide.
2. Who are the Florida College Student of
the Year winners?
They are 20 of Florida's most
outstanding campus leaders. They are students who volunteer on their campuses and in their
communities, are academically excellent, and usually work to support themselves through
scholarships or jobs.
The judges look favorably at students
who give of themselves selflessly and who are not motivated exclusively by the accolades
they may receive. Therefore, the winners may not necessarily be their campus' most visible
3. What are the primary criteria for
Students must have a high GPA, be
involved in campus and community activities and service, and demonstrate self-reliance by
working and earning scholarships to pay for school expenses. The Award strives to
recognize students who balance these three important characteristics.
4. How many winners are selected?
There are 20 "Florida College
Student of the Year" winners. Thirteen of the 20 are honorable mention recipients and
seven are finalists. One of the finalists is named the overall winner and one is honored
as the first runner-up.
5. Who can apply for the Florida College
Student of the Year Award?
Any student attending a Florida college
at least part-time, with a few exceptions. First-year students with fewer than 30 credit
hours completed are not eligible and neither are students taking fewer than 12 credit
hours over a calendar year. Please see the official application for complete details.
6. How important are grades?
Academic achievement is important, but
it is only one of the three main eligibility criteria. All applicants must have at least a
cumulative 3.25 GPA. Some of the judges place greater emphasis on academics, while others
may value community and campus service over grades. Previous recipients typically maintain
high GPAs while balancing part-time work, classes, and community and campus activities.
7. Are any degrees and fields of study
given priority in the review process?
No. Students studying any
major and discipline are eligible. However, the judges, at their discretion may place
greater weight on the achievements of students in academically demanding majors.
8. Is financial need a requirement to be
No. However, the criteria appreciates
and recognizes students who support themselves financially through work and scholarships.
9. What prizes do the winners receive?
In 2005, seven finalists and 13
honorable mention winners received scholarships and prizes totalling more
thanks to benefactors such as SunTrust Education Loans,
Office Depot, Gulfstream International Airlines, Jiffy Lube, Checkers and others.
10. Do students have to be nominated by
their colleges or universities to apply?
No. Students are encouraged to nominate
themselves. Students do not have to be nominated by their schools to be eligible. Some
schools do encourage certain campus leaders to apply, but you do not have to be nominated
or be your institution's "official representative" to be eligible.
11. How do students apply?
First, get a copy of the official
application, which gives specific application instructions and spells out eligibility
requirements. An application may be downloaded at this site.
Completed applications must be postmarked by February 1 of each year.
12. What is the deadline for the annual
February 1. There are no exceptions. All
application materials, including transcripts and letters of recommendation, must be
postmarked by February 1 to be considered. Applications received by overnight delivery
services are not eligible.
13. How many students apply each year?
In 2005, 141 students applied. In 2003,
students inquired about how to apply, and 156
students met the stringent eligibility requirements. In
2002, 5,000 students inquired and 121 applied. In 2001, about 4,000 students inquired
and 121 applied. In 2000, 3,000 students inquired and 140 applied.
In 1999, 2,600 students inquired about how to apply, and 171 applied. In
1998, nearly 2,100 students inquired about how to apply, and 206 applied. In
1997, 1,600 students inquired and 207 applied.
14. Are students from outside Florida
Yes. However, eligible applicants must
currently be attending a college or university physically located in Florida. Non-Florida
residents are eligible if they attend a Florida college or university. Students from all
accredited Florida colleges and universities are eligible.
15. Are nontraditional-aged students
Yes. There is no minimum or maximum age
limitation for applicants to be eligible. In the past, many nontraditional students have
been among the recipients.
16. Are dual-enrollment students eligible?
Yes, if they meet the minimum number of
academic credits required. See the application form and eligibility instructions for more
17. Must candidates by U.S. citizens?
18. How are the applications judged?
All eligible applicants are first
reviewed by the staff members of Florida Leader magazine, who choose 20 students.
From this list of 20, the field is further narrowed down to seven finalists. Resumes and
supporting information for each of the seven finalists are then sent to a statewide panel
of distinguished judges who rank the seven finalists from one to seven, with one being
"best." There are 20 judges.
19. How many students from each college or
university are eligible?
There is no limit on the number of
applicants or Award recipients from any college or university in Florida.
20. Do students from community colleges
have a realistic chance to win?
Yes. The 2003 overall winner, Chrissie Prichard,
hailed from Chipola College. The 1998 overall winner, Teresa Womble, attended Miami-Dade Community College. The 1997 overall winner Kimara March
attended Broward Community College. The 1988 and 1989 winners hailed from Miami-Dade
Community College and St. Petersburg Junior College respectively. Usually, a few community
college students are represented among the 20 finalists and honorable mention winners.
Some community college students haven't
yet had the breadth of leadership experiences that upper-division students often have,
which can make it difficult for them to compare favorably. The judges do take into
consideration each applicant's accomplishments with the knowledge of what activities,
organizations, and departments are available on a given campus.
21. There has never been a Student of the
Year winner from my school. Do I have a chance?
Yes. This year, Lake-Sumter Community College had
its first honoree. In 2002, Okaloosa-Walton Community College
and Indian River Community College had their first honorees. In 1999,
Lynn University had its first honoree. In 1997,
two Florida institutions, Rollins College and Eckerd College, had their
first Student of the Year recipients. Nearly every school
in Florida has had honorees over the program's history.
22. Do the judges consider applicants'
accomplishments during their entire college careers?
To an extent. However, the judges look
carefully at what each applicant is accomplishing currently, with less emphasis placed on
past activities. High school accomplishments are not considered.
23. Where is the awards ceremony held?
The annual awards ceremony is held on
the 22nd floor of Florida's State Capitol Building in
Tallahassee. The venue overlooks the campuses of
Florida State University, Florida A&M University, and nearby historic buildings.
24. Do students have to attend the awards
ceremony to be eligible?
Yes. All applicants must agree to attend
the mid-April awards ceremony and one-day leadership reteat.
25. What is the awards ceremony like?
The ceremony is an exciting event, well-attended by media
representatives, education officials, business leaders, and parents. About
150 people attended the 2004 and 2005 ceremonies.
The ceremony starts at 1:30 p.m.
and usually concludes by 3 p.m., with a brief reception afterward. Most
students and their families arrive in Tallahassee the day before the event
in preparation for the invitation-only leadership retreat
Friday morning, while others who live nearby may not need to
During the ceremony, each recipient is
recognized individually and presented with his or her scholarships and prizes, as well as
certificates or plaques.
26. Are there any features of the Student
of the Year competition that candidates might find unusual?
The judges try to "read between the
lines" to understand each applicant's motivation. The judges favor students who
selflessly give of themselves for the betterment of their colleges and communities.
27. What exposure and attention would
I get as a Student of the Year Honoree?
Most recipients receive flattering press coverage in their campus
and local newspapers, TV and radio stations, and magazines. They also typically get
congratulatory letters from administrators, education leaders, and business leaders across
the state. Because their photos and profiles are featured in Florida Leader
magazine across the state, honorees often are congratulated by students, faculty, and
staff who have seen the magazine or read the coverage elsewhere. The overall winner, first
runner-up and some of the finalists usually are featured on TV newscasts, and get
front-page coverage in the campus and local newspapers. For most recipients, all of the positive attention is exciting, invigorating, and
sometimes even a little overwhelming. The overall Student of the Year winner becomes
somewhat of a celebrity across the state.
28. What is the College Student of the
Year, Inc. foundation?
It's the non-profit, private educational
foundation that sponsors the Florida College Student of the Year Award. The foundation is
based in Gainesville, Florida, and is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a
charitable organization under the 501 (c)3 designation.