Florida State University (FSU)

Florida State University (FSU) is a Florida public university with about 33K undergraduate students in the state capital Tallahassee, a small city in the northern part of the state.
Academics – Top majors at FSU are biology, business, engineering, psychology and clinical professions. The university has a 94% retention rate and a 90% six-year graduation rate. 
The engineering program is a joint institution serving both FSU and Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU).
Studying abroad – Over 2000 students study abroad each year in one of 20 countries. See “Financial” for a special deal for out-of-state students who study abroad for their freshman year.
Extracurricular Activities – FSU is a NCAA Division 1 school with a football team. There are no fraternities or sororities. One unusual extracurricular activity is the FSU Flying High Circus.
Housing – First year students live in a suite or an apartment style building. There are Living and Learning Communities for shared interests (e.g., social justice), shared majors (e.g., music), and shared career paths (e.g., health professions).
Financial – The in-state cost for tuition and fees, housing, meal plan, and books and supplies is about $18.3K per year, while the out-of-state cost for the same items is about $33.5K per year.
One unusual draw to FSU is that out-of-state students are eligible for in-state tuition for the remainder of their undergraduate degree if they spend their first year abroad in an FSU study center in London, England; Florence, Italy; Panama City, Panama; or Valencia, Spain, typically saving about $36K.
Applying – Students who apply by November 1 have a decision by January 31 and priority consideration for merit aid.
The student admitted profile for the Fall mid-50% is a core academic GPA of 4.1-4.5, and an SAT of 1290 – 1400 or an ACT of 28 – 32. 

The student admitted profile for the Summer mid-50% is a little lower: core academic GPA of 3.8 – 4.3, SAT of 1210 – 1310 or an ACT of 25 – 29.

University of Central Florida

The University of Central Florida (UCF), a public university in Orlando with over 54,000 undergraduates, is the country’s second-largest university. The main campus, on more than 1400 acres, seemed overwhelming when we first arrived on campus, but once we understood the school layout, it was much more manageable. Most of the buildings are laid out in circles with the Student Union in the center.
There are undergraduate degrees offered in twelve colleges and over 600 clubs and organizations. The most popular majors are Psychology, Health Sciences, Biomedical Sciences, Nursing, Mechanical Engineering and Hospitality Management.
Engineering Building
Admissions are rolling. UCF recommends that you get your application in early for the best chance for scholarship opportunities. Over 25% of the students get merit aid between $1,500 and $5,000 per year. 
The mid 50% of students have a new SAT score of 1270-1380 and a weighted GPA between 3.7 and 4.3.  UCF re-computes your weighted GPA using only academic core classes and adding a half point for honors classes and a full point for AP or IB classes.
The Burnett Honors College accepts about 500 freshman with an average SAT score of 1402 and a weighted GPA of 4.4. The honors classes are capped at 20 students. 
Freshman housing is not guaranteed; another reason to apply early is to improve your chances to get one of the 11,640 beds on campus.

Rollins College

General Rollins College is a private college with about 2000 students.  The Spanish Mediterranean style buildings are located on about 80 acres on a lake in Winter Park, Florida, not far from Orlando.  Winter Park is suburban with many restaurants and boutiques in walking distance from the college.

Academics – The school offers business and liberal arts majors. About one third of a student’s classes are in their general education requirements, one third in their major and one third electives.  Most majors require one internship. Double majoring is popular. Three quarters of the students study or intern abroad, for between 1 week and a year for no additional charge.

Campus life – Students are required to live on campus the first two years (unless their parents live within 50 miles of the college) and 70% live on campus all four years.  There are about 200 student organizations including Division II sports, Division I water skiing, and Greek life. Students can join a fraternity or sorority starting in January of their freshman year. Community service is valued and there are opportunities for alternative spring breaks for little or no cost.
Admissions – Students can apply Early Decision or Regular Admissions. The admissions profile of the accepted student is a 3.7 average weighted GPA with the middle 50% scoring between 1150 and 1280 on the SAT or between 25 and 30 on the ACT.  Rollins College is test optional and suggests that students with an ACT score below 23 or an SAT score below 1100 apply test-optional. 

Merit Aid – Students who apply by 11/1 are automatically considered for merit aid, even if they apply test-optional. Academic scholarships are between $10K per year to full tuition, room and board.

University of Florida

While on vacation, I visited the University of Florida (UF), a public university in Gainesville, with about 36,000 undergraduates, about 90 minutes north of Orlando. My guide was a senior finance major who had studied abroad in Barcelona one summer. He also had a summer internship that he got through UF which led to the job which he has accepted for after graduation.  
UF is among the largest universities in the nation. It has over 100 undergraduate majors, more than 1000 student organizations, and is on more than 2000 acres. Most of the buildings are low-rise brick buildings.  One fun fact about UF is that Gatorade was invented here.
Century Tower
Housing and Food – Freshmen are not required to live on campus but 75% do. There are about 8000 beds available on campus, including traditional doubles, suites, and apartments.    Housing is on a first-come first-serve basis so make a $25 deposit even before you get accepted, if you want to increase your chance of getting the housing you want. 
The school offers all-you-can-eat dining, as well as food from many chain eateries including Chick-fil-a, Starbucks, Subway, and Einstein Bagels. Hare Krishna sells the popular all-you-can-eat $5 vegetarian lunch.
Student Union
Scooter & Motorcycle Parking

Transportation – There are a lot of buses to take you around campus and around surrounding Gainesville. 
The most desirable parking is allocated to scooters and motorcycles.
Library – The libraries are organized from noisiest to most quiet floor as you go from the first floor up.
Football – Go Gators! Football is huge at UF.  Students pay $20 per game or $120 per season for seats.
Football Stadium
Applying – UF uses the Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success Application.  Students apply by 11/1 and get a decision on the 2nd Friday in February at 6 pm. Students can apply to start in the summer or the fall.
UF re-calculates your GPA using only English, Math, Science, Social Studies, and Foreign Language classes.  They weight grades depend on the difficulty of these classes (e.g., Honors, AP, IB).  The mid 50% recomputed GPA is between 4.2 and 4.5.  The middle 50% test scores are 28-32 for the ACT and 1290-1440 for the new SAT. UF also look at your senior year classes. 

Whats new at Lynn University

When I met in October with the Lynn University admissions rep, Paul McPhee, I wanted to know what had changed since I had visited Lynn in November 2013. Here are some of the highlights:
  •          An international business center opened.
  •          A new dorm for upper classmen will be complete by the end of this school year
  •          A new University Center will be opening in the 2018-2019.
  •          Every student gets an iPad Pro
  •          Faculty-authored e-books offer cost savings and are tailored to Lynn’s courses
  •          Lynn signed a partnership with General Assembly.  Initially 9 students will go to San Francisco for a 10-week IT boot camp followed by a 6-week internship in the San Francisco area.
  •         The freshman class will be growing from 680 to 700 students.

So what is the typical Lynn student like?
  •          Students come from over 100 countries and most US states.
  •         NJ is the 3rd biggest state that sends students to Lynn.
  •          25% are international students
  •          20% have learning differences
  •          Most were B/B- high school students
  •          44% apply test optional
  •          45% are business majors.

If you want to know more about Lynn, check out my November 2013 blog post.

New College of Florida

When I think of a state college, I generally think of a medium to very large college with big lecture halls.  New College of Florida (NCF), however, is an honors state college with only 800 students and an average class size of 18. The liberal arts and sciences college is on the water, in Sarasota.

Not only, is the college unusual in its size, but it is unusual in its academics.  There are no grades.  All students do independent research for three years  in the January term and all complete a senior project or write a thesis which they defend before a faculty committee. In lieu of grades, there is a written narrative for each class taken. Each semester students prepare a contract of work that they negotiate with heir advisor, a professor.  About 80% of graduates go on to graduate school.

A student who would fit in here is a liberal student who can drive their own education.  There is no core curriculum.  Everyone must take 1 course in humanities, 1 course in social sciences, 1 course in natural sciences and a total of 8 liberal arts course.  On the Thursday and Friday before a new semester’s registration, professors give 15-minute snippets of their classes, which students can take before registering.  Tutorials, which are self-designed classes are popular.  Professors generally teach 2 classes and may support up to 5 or 6 tutorials.  The college offers about 300 classes per year.

The cost for out of state students isn’t too bad either.  While the Cost of Attendance is $43K per year, every out-of-state student who gets accepted gets a minimum of a $15K merit scholarship making the price comparable to in-state fees for Rutgers.  Currently, about 20% of students are from outside of Florida and they are trying to increase this percentage.  NCF is a member of the National Student Exchange so you can attend another college in the US or abroad, and pay the NCF tuition.

This is a residential college which can accommodate up to 640 students with on-campus housing.  The rest of the student body lives locally.  There are 60-80 clubs and organizations and students can start their own club or organization.  While there are intramural and club sports, there are no NCAA sports teams.  Sailing is the only intercollegiate team.  There is no Greek life at NCF.  The college accepts the Common App and has rolling admissions with a priority deadline of November 1.