This week, UCF welcomed to campus one of the most accomplished incoming freshman classes in the university’s history and UCF Downtown will celebrate its first anniversary.

Preliminary statistics indicate UCF’s fall freshman class has an average GPA of 4.18, the strongest in university history. The Class of 2024 also ranks among the university’s top three classes for standardized test scores with average SAT and ACT scores of 1322 and 28.7, respectively.

UCF’s total student enrollment for the fall is expected to be slightly higher than last year, which was approximately 69,500 students. UCF also anticipates a record-high number of freshmen returning for their second year, with about 92 percent of freshmen who began last fall registered to continue their studies at UCF this year. Summer 2020 enrollment was up seven percent over last year and was the university’s highest summer enrollment ever.

Aug. 26 marks the first anniversary of the opening of UCF Downtown. A joint venture with Valencia College, the campus provides its more than 7,000 students with unique educational and career opportunities in the heart of downtown Orlando.

This fall, more than three-quarters of UCF’s lecture, lab and discussion classes will be online or remote, and about one-quarter will include an in-person experience. Typically, the busiest class hours on campus have around 18,500 students in classrooms. This fall, that number will be closer to 3,000.

The university is launching more than two dozen new degree programs, tracks and certificates this fall — most designed for online delivery — that target high-demand fields ranging from business and engineering to optics and health. New programs include a master’s degree in travel technology and analytics, new degree tracks in accounting and aerospace, civil, mechanical and environmental engineering, as well as 11 new online graduate certificate programs designed in direct response to COVID-19.

A Focus on a Safer Return to Campus

In an effort to enhance the health and well-being of the campus community, UCF has implemented several changes. The university developed a new COVID Self-Checker for its existing mobile app. Faculty, staff and students are asked to complete a daily questionnaire in the app, which asks about symptoms of, and possible exposure to, COVID-19. Those with symptoms are not cleared to return to campus.

The entire campus community is asked to take the voluntary “Armor Up Pledge,” acknowledging their personal responsibilities to help protect themselves, classmates and the campus community. Any student, staff or faculty member who is concerned about exposure or who wants a test can contact our COVID-19 hotline at 407-823-2509 for a referral to get tested at the drive-through testing site in Garage A on the main campus.

This summer, UCF implemented extensive new cleaning and sanitization measures on campus, expending close to $5 million for improvements that included adding Plexiglas in high-traffic locations, installing hundreds of touchless fixtures, and upgrading ventilation systems and filtration.

Both incoming freshman and returning students will see finished renovation projects and safety modifications implemented at several key campus facilities.

The newly renovated Student Union — the Heart of Campus — reopened on Aug. 8, featuring expanded dining options, a full-service Starbucks on the second floor, and additional seating and square footage.

The university completed the first phase of an expansion to the John C. Hitt Library, the first major overhaul to the library — UCF’s oldest building — since 1984. Library renovations include a new north entrance, fourth floor reading rooms with a 270-degree view of campus, and a special collections gallery space, which will display a variety of library-owned art.

The UCF Recreation and Wellness Center and RWC @ Downtown have both reopened with modified hours, a new reservation system and updated safety guidelines.

UCF Dining Services has increased safety and cleaning procedures throughout the dining halls and restaurants they manage. Grab-and-go and take-out meals are encouraged along with using outdoor spaces to eat, but limited indoor, physically distanced seating eating options will also be available. Students can also take advantage of mobile ordering from any UCF Dining establishment through the Grubhub app.

The annual weeklong celebration to instill school spirit, Pegasus Palooza — which welcomes students to the fall semester with a mix of virtual and physically distant in-person events — kicked off last night with the Knighting. Events will include a drive-in Movie Knight near Bounce House Stadium and a Comedy Knight on Zoom.