As an Independent Educational Consultant (IEC), part of my job is staying current on all topics related to college admissions. Professional and educational development is offered to me all year round and as a “student ofcolleges” I always incorporate visits to schools wherever I happen to be visiting. I have had a busy fall traveling; Indianapolis for NACAC (National Association of College Admissions Counselors) and I just returned from Orlando where I attended the IECA conference. While these conferences offer us the opportunity to connect with others from all over the world, the best parts of school visits and the seminars we can participate in. There is no topic left unturned as part of my ongoing education; from generational trends, to social media and teens, to financial aid, to Learning Differences and the college process I receive a wealth of information to help me better serve students and their families.
My trip to Orlando gave me the opportunity to visit three schools, all very different, but each with its own distinctive “vibe”!
I hate to say I have biases, but as with anything we have our favorites. I have always loved Eckerd and as this was my second visit there, I fell in love with it all over again. Located in St. Petersburg, FL, on a spit of land and surrounded on three sides by water, you can’t go wrong on this gorgeous campus. Relatively young, it was founded 58 years ago and has grown significantly in the last decade. With 1800 students, class sizes are small and student engagement is very high. They are known particularly for marine science, biological science (brand new building), environmental studies, communications and creative writing. A new arts facility is in the works housing such things as photography, film, and ceramics.
Abroad opportunities abound at Eckerd. Many students do a winter term (January) abroad with study options all over the globe, from London to China,to South America to Africa.
All applicants are automatically considered for merit aid and also need basedaid. About 80% of need will be met. There are scholarship opportunities in art, marine science, and business. 3-2 engineering is available as well.
Career services consist of a step by step 4 year plan encompassing internships, experiential learning and study abroad.
The students at Eckerd characterize themselves as adventuresome, global and liberal thinking.
University of Tampa
Located in the heart of Tampa, UT reminds me of the University of Denver in many ways. A private, mid-sized urban school, UT has more than 160 areas of study in four colleges. There is the College of Arts and Letters, College of Social Sciences, Mathematics and Education, College of Natural and Health Sciences and the Sykes College of Business. Tampa has 351 days of sunshine a year (beating Colorado out by a few days) and an average temperature of 72 degrees. Class sizes averages out to 21 and the student/faculty ratio is 16:1.
The Business School has an international emphasis which includes a language requirement and study abroad. The school itself has a high percentage of international students – about 20%.
UT has an Honor’s Program which requires a 3.5 GPA, 1200 SAT or 26 ACT. This includes an Oxford Semester, honor’s courses and research opportunities. Internships are both locally and elsewhere are available and study abroad is offered in semester and yearlong segments.
Students characterize themselves as metropolitan, active and independent.
Florida Southern College
Located in Lakeland, FL, FSC is the oldest private college in Florida.
With 2200 undergrads, FSC likes to boast of their distinctive guarantees. They are as follows:
1. Guarantees graduation in 4 years and if your students is unable to graduate, they will cover the cost of remaining tuition.
2. Guarantees every student an internship
3. Guarantees every student a travel-study experience at no additional cost.
Top majors are marine biology, sports communication, marketing and management, musical theater, dance, Doctor of Education and Master of Accountancy. There is also a nursing program with a state of the art “dummylab”. They even have a Citrus major if you are an orange grower. Pre-professional programs are available as well.
Selectivity is moderate and financial aid is very good with 96% of students receiving some kind of aid. There are merit awards up to $17,500, talent awards, awards by department and need based aid.
FSC is beautiful campus with an active, outdoors student body. A Division II school with 27 athletic championships, including water skiing, there is no endto the activities students can participate in. Fraternities and sororities along with clubs and other organizations give students plenty to choose from. While there are many things to do, I did not sense any polarizing tension on campus. Everyone seems to get along very well – a very harmonious school.
While not critical to the college list, I have to point out this was the only school I have eveer been to where laundry is free.
I have posted pictures of all these schools on my Carolyn Francis Consulting Facebook page – please feel free to check them out along with articles and commentary about the college application process.