Florida Southern College (visited 2/5/16)
Want to join a varsity waterskiing team?
Maybe you’d like to major in Citrus?
Are you a Frank Lloyd Wright fan?
Would you like a work-study job walking Riley the Therapy Dog?
Then check out Florida Southern!
FSC takes a well-balanced, holistic approach to education. The college President said, “Students have to actively engage in the learning process and apply what they’ve learned. If you’re looking for an anonymous experience, go to UF. If you want to be involved with professors and see how learning is applied in a real-world way, this experience becomes transformative.”
Florida Southern has 3 distinctive guarantees:
- Graduation in 4 years. Students must follow certain straight-forward guidelines; if they do so and still can’t graduate on time, FSU will help cover the cost of the remaining time.
- Internships: Everyone is guaranteed an internship in their field of study if they want it, although these are not required. However, real-world readiness is stressed here and the National Society of Experiential Education Ranked FSC #1 in engaged learning. Almost all students (98%) do internships, practicum, field work, research, or study abroad.
- Study abroad. Many students do traditional study abroad, but FSC offers Junior Journey at no or reduced cost to all students. They’re eligible after completing 4 semesters of study. They can apply this to a longer study abroad experience if they want.
Students have fun here, but academics are important: “I’m surprised how much more academically focused I am,” said one of the students we spoke to. The most popular majors are accounting, business, broadcast and print/online journalism, economics and finance, education (offered in multiple areas), marine biology, music, nursing, and psychology.
For students interested in fine and performing arts, this is a great place. Interested students must audition (remote auditions are available). They just added a new Dance Performance and Choreography major. Their thriving music program includes music education, performance, management, and musical theater. Theater students can major in performance, theater arts, and technical theater/design. Fine arts students have options of graphic design, studio art, art education, and art history. There’s a large art gallery on campus used extensively by students. There are 30+ performance and gallery shows every year, including a full opera accompanied by the orchestra.
The new Business building opened in August 2015, and in the fall semester of 2015, students had the option of majoring in Political Economy which is only offered at a few universities in the nation.
Biology, Marine biology, and Biotechnology are all strong. Lakeland and the university are within an hour’s drive of both coasts, and there are 29 lakes nearby. FSC students often work with other students from schools like USF and UCF. Dr. Langford, a biology professor, spoke to us. His “how to” for getting students involved in research is: “Recruit students sophomore year, give them original projects, train them, get out of the way, and brag about their results!” Students have access to a ton of topics either self-developed or with professors: they’re actively working on shark ecology, antibiotic discovery, genetics and evolution, paleobotany, wetland ecology, marine microbiology, herpetology, parasitology, and invertebrate phylogenetics among other things, and they present regularly at regional, national, and international meetings and have publications in peer reviewed in scientific journals.
There’s a strong sense of campus pride and inclusivity here. With 11 dorms, 3 apartment complexes (with a 4th on the way), and Greek housing (about 1/3 of students rush, but not all live in housing), this is a highly residential campus; first-year students are required to be on campus unless living with parents (94% are on campus). Dorm rooms are big and many have water views. Greek rush happens during the 3rd week in the fall. Students can join both a social and a professional Greek organization.
FSC has 19 varsity DII sports, and they’ve won 28 National Championships. There are 25 intramural options including Inner Tube Water Polo, Rock Paper Scissors, and Kayak Racing.
Students can walk to downtown Lakeland in about 15 minutes (“or about 3 minutes on a bike”). Students like the town: “It’s little and cute and there’s plenty to do,” including First Fridays, coffee shops, a great farmer’s market, and a flea market. If they get tired of Lakeland, beaches and Orlando are both an hour away. This is the oldest private school in Florida, founded in 1885, and is the largest single-site collection of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture.
Students perform 32,000 hours of community service a year. Although the university is affiliated with the United Methodist church, there are no religious requirements; those who are interested can help run chapel services.
The college is responsive to students and what they need and want: for example, they kept the library open later when students asked for it. They’ve changed up the food options; there are now more food trucks on campus. They have offered more vegan and other options, as well.
Some of the students’ favorite classes are:
- Philosophy: “The professor is Lebanese and has a different perspective on a lot of things; he took it to a whole new level.” Bikes apparently are useful but not used so much.
- Marketing Principles: “The professor is really straight-forward; we do cool projects!”
- Speech class: The professor is passionate.”
- Intro to Microbio Research: “We do concrete projects. The professor is interesting and has expanded the content past the textbook.”
Things that they’d like to change are:
- More centralized parking: “All students can bring a car but parking can be a struggle. It’s there but can take awhile.”
- “Sometimes school spirit for athletics gets forgotten. It’s very academic here. People would rather go to the library than to a game.
- “I’d change the accounting program.”
Traditions students particularly like are:
- WaterDome Splash: going into the fountain is forbidden except for seniors at graduation who are allowed in.
- Blast Off: on the day before classes, clubs in the gym host a club fair.
- Pizza with the President: “She’s super involved; she even got kicked out of a basketball game because she was yelling so much!”
- Winter Wonderland: “they bring in snow to the green”
- One student said, “It’s not a traditions, but I’m going to miss my professors when I leave.”
Admissions is rolling between September 1 and March 1 with an ED deadline of 12/1. They admit approximately 45% of total applicants; admitted students average a 3.6 GPA, 26 ACT, 1134 SAT. They will superscore both tests.