Stetson University (visited 2/10/16)
This is the first university I’ve visited that has power tools, sewing machines, soldering irons, 3D printers, and more in the library for students to access. They have a whole innovation lab in the library at the students’ disposal.
I enjoyed Stetson and can see why students are drawn to it. People are friendly, the campus is attractive, and its ranked Top 5 Universities in the South by USNWR. It’s a small school with a big school feel. Even the town of DeLand (just north of Orlando) was named in the “Top 3 Best Main Streets in America” by Parade Magazine (www.destinationdeland.com).
Stetson is growing, currently with just over 3,000 undergrads. About 40% of students come from outside Florida, including 185 students from 55 countries. They make it easy to get to and from campus with airport shuttles. They’ve added dorms to keep up with the demand: there’s a 3-year residency requirement, but most seniors stay on campus with 86% of students on campus. Almost 1/3 of students go Greek; housing is available but limited.
This is an animal-friendly campus; we saw several dogs around campus, and a student had a dog with her in the library as she was studying. There is a friendly, family feeling here. Students talked about lots of traditions such as the candle ceremony at the beginning of the year where freshmen carry a candle through the original gates.
All students need to accumulate 24 cultural credits to graduate. These can include anything from watching a debate and discussing it, attending any of events at the music school, or going to a lecture by a visiting academic. “It’s easy to do. Most people go to these things anyway, and most of my friends are done with their 24 events well before the end of sophomore year.” This is a highly engaged campus in many ways including with high voter turnout. The political divide is almost equal: 32% democratic, 28% republican, 18% independent. Whatever political side you lean towards, it’s ok here.
There are 18 DI teams (as a side note: Stetson alumni won the Cy Young and Rookie of the Year awards in the same year). Football is in its 4th year. They have a Mad Hatters section for students at games which is often full (yes – they’re the Hatters … it is Stetson University, after all!)
They’ve hired several new faculty members to keep up with the increasing academic opportunities, and classes are kept small. Our tour guide’s smallest class had 6; her largest was 33 (Intro to Bio). On the student panel, we asked what their favorite classes were and why:
- Pirates: “Pirates are just cool!”
- Poverty and Micro-credit: “it was a service-learning class; we worked in a prison helping with entrepreneurship.”
- Predictive Analytics: “We did real-life stuff like working with an airline.”
- Calculus 3: “The professor combined computer programs and the process and theories behind it. It was hard but learned a lot.”
- Spanish: “The professor offered us accelerated learning when he saw that a few of us were ready to move ahead more quickly.”
They have 3 undergraduate schools as well as a law school (Florida’s first):
- The School of Business Admin is accredited in both business and in accounting.
- Finance is the biggest major in the university
- Family Enterprise
- Business Systems and Analytics
- Sports Business
- International business
- The Roland George Investment Program got 110 applications last year for 25 spots. It’s a 4-credit class; “25-40 hours a week is a conservative estimate of the time commitment.” All majors are welcome, but “business is heavily represented – and occasionally math,” said a student we talked to in the room (which is limited access – they have to swipe a card to get in!).
- Arts and Sciences: They have many traditional offerings plus:
- Their School of Music is impressive.
- They take 80 students per year and graduate 55-60. Many change majors but stay at the university. They’re encouraged to dabble early if they’re interested because it’s so heavily proscribed – it’s easier to move out than in.
- Everyone majoring or minoring need to audition and must be admitted to both the university and the music department. Because it’s a school of music and not a conservatory, they can be accepted at several levels (for a minor but not a major, etc). They can also audition for entry during their freshman year.
- About half of the students go into music education; they’re in very high demand. 50% graduate in performance or composition.
- There’s no marching band (no football team!) but the students can get experience working with a local high school that has a 400-member marching band.
Many students Study Abroad, and those who do a language immersion can complete a minor in 1 semester or a major in 2.
Students in the Honors Program can design their own majors by combining any passion and interest; their degree is whatever they label it as. One student combined Art, Art History, and Chemistry to make an Art Restoration major. Students live in honors housing, receive a $2000 stipend for travel or research, and are exempt from many of the gen ed requirements. Students admitted to the honors program average 31.5 ACT or 1410 SAT. They like a 30 ACT and at least a 600 on each of the SAT sections.
The Bonner Program brings in 18 students each year as a cohort; this is reserved for people with a true passion for community service and engagement. The application deadline is Feb 25 with the finalists invited to campus later in the spring.
All students complete a research project. Their major will determine the type of research they do, but there’s always an oral presentation component. A Senior Research class gives them some time and structure to do this as needed, but there are multiple opportunities outside the class to do the research.
Admissions is test-optional. If students choose to submit their scores, Stetson will superscore the SAT but not the ACT. They will recalculate GPA (.5 to Honors, 1 point to AP and IB). Students who visit get their application fee waived, and 0ut-of-State students get a 1-time $1,000 travel scholarship. International applicants can have the TOEFL waived if they completed 3 years in an English-speaking school; otherwise, they need a 79 on the test.
Students are automatically considered for Merit Scholarships up to $33,000. Music scholarships are done separately and require an audition; the deadline is 2/25. Non-majors are welcome to apply. Scholarships for DI athletics and ROTC are also available. These are stackable with merit scholarships. The J. Ollie Edmunds Scholarship awards 1 full-ride scholarship each year: students with a 3.5 GPA are eligible to apply. They usually get about 350 applications for this. Four finalists are selected from this pool to come to campus to interview. The winner gets everything paid (including fees) plus 2 study abroad stipends. Additional scholarships for those qualified for the JOE scholarship include one for Humanities, Environmental Sustainability, Writing, and Business Systems and Analytics.
We asked students on the panel to complete this phrase: “I want to thank Stetson for …”
- Making me who I am.
- The people. I had a question for a professor who couldn’t answer it right away but had an answer in my email by the next day.
- Lots of connections with professors and the alumni.
- Being welcoming. Sometimes change is hard. They did a good job at making the transition easier. People reach out. Everyone has a hard transition but no one admits it. Everyone has that moment when it clicks and you know you’re supposed to be here. The support is here.
- Expecting us to step up into leadership positions.
- I had a wakeup call with academics. You might have been the best student in High School, but they expect a lot here. I had a 20 page paper due but never wrote one longer than 5 before. I wasn’t getting the grade I wanted, but the professor met with me in the coffee shop and worked with me. The writing center is there. You can do it.