Dr. James Ammons, president of Florida A&M University, on Tuesday handed out scholarships worth some $566,000 to 37 students in Broward and Miami-Dade counties during the last leg of his “Up Close and Personal” tour at Miami Carol City High School. The amounts ranged from $64,000 to $4,000 – welcome financial aid at a time of national economic distress.
Dr. Ammons brought with him not just scholarships but also an exhortation to young people to strive for excellence.

“We can take you from bachelor’s to master’s to law school or a doctorate and you won’t have to pay a dime,” he told the students and their parents, “but you’d better be good.” Companies are willing to “invest in your development, offer internships and jobs,” he added, “but only for the best.”

By giving out more than a half-million dollars to reward those who have proven they are good, Dr. Ammons backed up his words with action. But now the challenge to excel is getting even greater. The State University System has tightened the requirements for admission into Florida’s 11 public universities. Those applying for the first time must show in their high school transcripts that they completed four English, three natural science, three social science and two foreign language credits. The student’s grade point average must be at least 3.018 academic units and higher scores are needed on the SAT or ACT.   For the SAT, the minimum requirement for Math is now 460; for Critical Reading, 460; for Writing, 440. For the ACT, it is: Reading, 19; Math, 19; and English/Writing, 18.     .While all this may seem to make getting into college even more daunting – and it does – the alternative is to be left out of the race to the top. The greater the challenge, the greater the effort and, as Dr. Ammons has shown already, the greater the reward.