Florida Colleges Blog – Part 1

Posted on 2nd October 2023

When making your college list, be sure to consider Florida—the Sunshine State—as it has a range of hidden gems to offer. Located in settings from bustling Miami and Tampa to serene coastal retreats, the state's colleges provide a range of experiences that cater to varied interests and aspirations. Our College Counsellor Martine recently took part in a counsellor bus tour of Florida universities after this summer’s International ACAC conference in Miami, and visited lots of amazing campuses! Our two-part blog will cover Floridian public and private research universities and arts colleges (in this blog), and liberal arts and technical colleges (in the next instalment).

University of South Florida

The University of South Florida is a pre-eminent research institution and AAU member with campuses in Tampa, Sarasota-Manatee, and St. Petersburg. There are 6,000 students at the main Tampa campus, and 50,000 across all campuses. The university features an Honors College with its own separate application, and Division I sports.

USF offers excellent academics and facilities at a good value, and has achievable academic metrics, with accepted student ranges of 1130-1260 / 23-27 ACT (the score range for accepted students varies: those students with higher school grades may be admitted with lower test scores, and those with lower school grades should aim to submit higher test scores.)

USF offer flexible application deadlines, with a priority deadline of 1 November, and a final deadline of 1 March. However, students should still apply as early as they can: the process gets more competitive as time passes.

University of Miami

At the University of Miami , students enjoy a tropical campus in the lush neighbourhood of Coral Gables just outside of downtown Miami and a wide selection of academic programmes: there are 40+ majors in their College of Arts and Sciences! Although it’s a large university with over 10,000 undergraduates, students are not needles in a haystack here: professors know and support them. UMiami also gives students time to enjoy life whilst experimenting with academics, with amenities including the large outdoor pool on campus, and the Division I Miami Hurricanes sports.

UMiami is quite selective, with an SAT range of 1400-1500 for admitted students, and 31-34 ACT; the university is test-optional, but those students applying without tests should have strong academic credentials.

There are a range of study options, including various schools within the university, like engineering, business, music, architecture, nursing and others. UMiami’s curriculum offers a communications minor to all students, and the Cognate Program requires three classes in three different fields: arts/humanities, STEM, and people/sociology. Students can then use these as a base for minors (by adding two to three classes) or majors (by adding three to five classes). Students are asked to confirm their majors by junior year, giving them a bit more time to make their choices. Study abroad programmes are offered, with the opportunity for students to create their own programmes.

The campus features a hurricane simulator, and is close to the Johnson & Johnson laboratories, giving undergraduates real-life research opportunities.

Students are very involved with volunteering, with 200,000 annual hours of service carried out by students.

UMiami offers financial assistance for international students in the form of scholarships and work-study programmes. Ten percent of international students are eligible for merit and need based financial aid.

Stetson University

Stetson is a private university located in DeLand, in central Florida. Its mission is to create a creative community where learning and values meet, and to cultivate students’ hearts and minds. Stetson is famous for gifting incoming freshmen (Hatters) with a hammock so they can hang out  in the verdant and peaceful Palm Court when they need a break.

The university’s main academic focus is on experiential learning and research; this emphasis is reflected in the senior research project, in which students complete a graduate level thesis at undergraduate level, often leading to publication. To complete their thesis, students work one-on-one with a faculty member. Stetson is a great fit for students who are looking to explore their interests and want to mix and match rather than specialising in one thing straight away.

Stetson has around 2500 students, with an 8% international student population. The university is actively looking to increase its international population, and the number is rapidly rising. 75% of students live on campus for all four years.

Stetson offers 109 undergraduate programmes of study, Division I sport, active Greek life, accommodations help and support for students, ample study abroad opportunities, and a location close to lots of exciting destinations like Orlando, Daytona, and Disney.

Standardised testing is optional at Stetson (though students are encouraged to submit scores if they have them, as scores won’t count against them!), and students can apply through the Common Application with a $60 (around £45) application fee, or through Stetson’s own portal for free. This flexibility in admission is also reflected in the university’s rolling admissions programmes, through which students can get their decision within two weeks. 

Ringling College of Art and Design

The Ringling College of Art and Design , located on a beautiful campus in Sarasota (south of Tampa and voted by Time magazine as one of the world’s greatest places), is a small, close-knit community of around 1700 students, almost 25% of whom are international. The college offers 13 BFA degrees, including Game Arts, VR, and Animation, which are considered STEM-based programmes if students wish to apply for a 2-year OPT after graduation. Ringling’s 3D Animation Program is rated first in the world and its career services invite top international employers to interview and meet students throughout the year. The curriculum helps prepare future artists and creators by exploring both the aesthetic and the practical.

Ringling offers a residential campus with state of the art living quarters and facilities. Students can also participate in sports (the Ringling Rollers), clubs, wellness, and volunteer work during their studies for the full college experience as they develop the skills to become the artists of tomorrow.

A portfolio is required for application, and it can be submitted via SlideRoom once a student has filled in the Common App. Portfolio prep and examples are available on Ringling’s website to help students prepare. Notable alumni have gone on to work at Marvel and Disney (including Nilah Magruder, the first Black woman to write for Marvel!), and employers hold graduates in high esteem as Ringling alumni have worked on Oscar nominated (and winning) films and blockbusters alike, with titles such as Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, The Avengers: Endgame, Toy Story 4, and How to Train Your Dragon.

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