On Tour: Florida College Gems
At this time of year the idea of attending college in sunny, warm Florida can seem awfully appealing. I recently visited two colleges in the Tampa area that attract many students from the northeast: Eckerd College and the University of Tampa.
Eckerd has 1,915 undergraduates and is situated on a beautiful 188-acre campus, located on the St. Petersburg waterfront. Its most popular major is business, but Eckerd is best known for its next most frequently chosen majors of environmental science, biology, and marine science and oceanography.
Students’ connections with the water are evident in the sailing team’s fleet, hammocks lining the shoreline, and its active Waterfront Program, including docks, a boat ramp, and various watercraft that can be checked out with a student ID. The Eckerd College Search and Rescue Team is the only collegiate organization of its type: a highly trained group of student volunteers who work closely with the U.S. Coast Guard, 911 Emergency Medical Response and other state and local agencies to answer more than 500 maritime distress calls per year.
Eckerd students self-identify as open minded, laid back, and sometimes as “hippies.” They have a strong sense of community, have advocated for gender neutral and pet-friendly dorms, and are very focused on sustainability. 80% come from outside Florida, and they travel an average of over 1,000 miles to Eckerd. There are no Greek organizations, and 88% of students live on campus.
A three-week autumn term offers incoming first year students the opportunity to take one class during August in order to acclimate to college expectations. The average class size is 20, and as one of the “Colleges that Change Lives” Eckerd focuses on close relationships and mentoring. Eckerd’s cost of attendance is $61,576 but 97% of students receive some financial aid. 73% of applicants are accepted with middle 50% ranges of 1060-1260 SAT’s and 23-39 ACT’s.
The University of Tampa is located right in the city, and students can walk to their internships. It also has a waterfront area with hammocks and a popular pool. Tampa accepts 53% of applicants with middle ranges of 1070-1230 SAT’s and 22-27 ACT’s. While their academic profiles may seem similar, Tampa students appear more pre-professional and traditional than those at Eckerd. About 20% of students are involved in Greek life. The average US student travels over 925 miles to attend UT, and the states sending the most students include NY, NH, MA and IL.
Undergraduates choose from the College of Arts and Letters, Sykes College of Business, College of Natural and Health Sciences, and the College of Social Sciences, Mathematics and Education. Popular majors include international business, biology, finance, marketing, criminology, nursing, management and psychology. Requirements vary depending on an applicant’s intended major. For example, calculus is required for entry to the school of business, but nursing students only have to take college algebra; no calculus or precalculus is required.
Campus is centered around the repurposed Tampa Bay Hotel built in 1891, which features distinctive minarets. Recent updates include a sparkling new fitness center and the Innovation and Collaboration Building. UT is mid-sized with 7,728 undergraduates but maintains an average class size of 21, and the largest classroom on campus is a business lecture with 84 seats. All freshman can live on campus, and juniors and seniors typically move into nearby off-campus apartments. Tampa strives to remain reasonably priced with a cost of attendance of $42,258. 92% of students receive some form of aid, and while Tampa does not meet 100% of demonstrated need they are very transparent about the criteria for receiving merit awards.
Both the University of Tampa and Eckerd College offer unique cultures and educational opportunities. Please reach out to your consultant to discuss whether they might be a good fit for you!