Distinguished by its alternative method of evaluation, which will be explained in greater detail below, and a notable number of Fulbright Scholars, New College of Florida is a small liberal arts college that definitely has much more to offer besides a scenic campus and lovely views.
Upon arrival at this Florida institution of higher education designated as an honors college for the liberal arts, one cannot help but be impressed by the absolute beauty of the campus. Besides its enviable location overlooking Sarasota Bay, this small liberal arts college is considered a hidden academic gem by many, offering an environment where creativity is encouraged, individuality is key, and great minds come together to experience an alternative form of education at an affordable cost. Named third in the nation for best value in public higher education, New College of Florida is where intellectual pursuits are not governed by one’s GPA, but rather by a process where teacher and student are encouraged to connect with each other in an academically rigorous environment, a process which stands out amongst other liberal arts colleges of its size.
There are not many students who can relate to the experience of writing a thesis as an undergraduate or setting their own challenging academic goals, but as a student at New College of Florida, that level of academic rigor is expected.
Consider this: New College requires graduating seniors to perform not only oral cross-examinations but also submit a thesis prior to graduation. Arguably, what makes this possible is the enrollment rate of approximately 825 and a student to teacher ratio of 10:1, which facilitates personal attention to all students in assisting them to meet their academic goals.
The New College of Florida (NCF) is a fully accredited public state institution originally founded as a private institution in 1960. New College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
NCF offers a variety of degree programs and majors. “Majors” at NCF are referred to as “areas of concentration,” or AOC. Since the school is very proactive in terms of encouraging a student to pursue numerous intellectual agendas, students are not required to take certain traditional core classes or degree plans that are associated with many other schools. For example, students are not required to take X number of sciences, X number of English courses, or X number of a foreign language in order to graduate or transition from under classman to upper classman. Instead, students are encouraged to take courses from a wealth of disciplines and concentrations.
Overall, the school offers 30 majors to choose from across three different areas of studies: humanities, arts, and science. Keep in mind that many of the graduates continue on for an advanced degree, hence the school also offers students the chance to focus on pre-professional programs such as pre-med or pre-law.
Perhaps you are asking yourself given the non-traditional aspect of New College’s academics, what type of majors does the college actually offer? The college offers your traditional majors such as philosophy, French, mathematics, public policy and Russian language. Furthermore, academic flexibility is definitely encouraged at New College as there are various ways to pursue a major concentration such as the following:
Double Majors: Students can choose to pursue a double concentration, where said student will have to meet the academic requirements of two separate areas of concentration.
Joint/Combined Programs: Interdisciplinary in nature, these joint programs “can only be completed as part of a combined area of concentration.” At NCF, they are also known as “slash majors.” These slash majors are only offered in particular fields. Students pursuing a slash major in computational science,for example, would be encouraged to take courses in a related subject matter such as chemistry, physics, or biology. New College offers a similar program in two other disciplines including gender studies and theater. It is only expected that students involved in this program take advantage of the interdisplinary nature of these fields and explore courses accordingly.
Special Program Area of Concentration: This type of concentration allows students to be able to create their own major. This option is particularly useful for someone who is interested in pursuing a degree that is otherwise not offered by New College.
Unique New College Programs:
Instead of receiving grades, students are assessed using what is known as narrative evaluations. These evaluations are prepared by the professor and contains feedback pertaining to the student’s strengths and weaknesses.
Students enter into academic contracts with their instructors. They are required to sign an agreement pertaining to the instructor’s expectations and the student’s overall academic goals.
The year is divided by two 14 week semesters. During the break, the January term, students take on their own mini-projects. These projects are known as Independent Study Projects.
Most Popular Fields of Study
Much like other universities, New College requires submission of the “Common Application”, a modest application fee, official high school transcripts, and SAT or ACT scores, along with one letter of recommendation.
Overall admission decisions are made on a rolling basis, but there are soft deadlines in mid April for prospective students who wish to attend in the fall. In some instances the application deadline has also been extended into the summer for the upcoming fall term. Of particular interest to transfer students, the NCF website states that courses with a C or above are transferable.
The first step in the financial aid process regardless of what university a prospective student plans to attend is to complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). The application is available on www.fafsa.ed.gov. This is the only website that one should access to apply for federal funding. Using the information provided on this application, colleges determine financial need. Also, keep in mind that colleges may have internal funding sources.
Transfer students are not required to submit an additional form in order to be considered for financial aid awards at NCF such as scholarships. Instead they are encouraged to apply by mid April for priority consideration. Among other scholarships available for transfer students are the Phi Theta Kappa Scholar Award, Florida Student Artist Music Award, and the All-Florida Academic Team Award. Additional information regarding these awards can be found on the college’s website.
Similarly, New College does not require incoming freshmen to fill out a separate form in order to be considered for scholarships. It is especially important to note that New College will offer scholarship money to all admitted students who are Florida residents. New College also offers other scholarships for incoming freshmen such as the Four Winds Award, State Science and Engineering Fair Award, and Affinity Awards. Keep in mind that New College provides access to both merit and need-based scholarships. NCF also administers federal, state, and institutional grants.
Some students will also be eligible for work study as determind by the information contained on their FAFSA; work study is a great way to pay for college while gaining valuable work experience.
Curiously enough, NCF students gather for outdoor parties which are known as “walls”. The student body is known to be intellectually curious, but also quirky and laid-back in a manner reminiscent of the 60s. In terms of location, students have access to sunny west Florida and all of its perks, including gorgeous sunsets, a strategic location right off a bay, and gorgeous beaches and national parks. Even if a student is not particularly interested in the outdoors, NCF is located only an hour from Tampa, a major metropolitan area on the West coast of Florida. Not to mention, the college is only an approximately 10 minute walk from downtown Sarasota, which although small, offers a few activities such as nice restaurants to visit and opera performances to attend as well.
The non-traditional nature of New College’s student body can definitely be seen in their commencement traditions, i.e. outlandish costumes and head-dresses worn on their graduation day.
According to the Fiske Guide of Colleges 2010, New College offers a host of other interesting traditions, including, the Male Chauvinist Pig Roast, an annual faculty/student kickball game, and what’s known as a “Bowling Ball” or rather a formal occasion where individuals put on formal attire and gather at a bowling alley.
Housing and Dining:
In terms of housing, students can choose to reside in dorms. Some dorms resemble apartment style living, some are characterized by a distinct urban style, while others are seen as more community based because of the presence of various common areas. Overall there is housing that takes into account varied preferences.
The college offers several areas for dining including the Four Winds Café and the student union. All types of cuisines are prepared for students whether a vegan or a pure carnivore. Furthermore, a meal plan is also available to interested students.
In terms of classrooms, the college has recently completed the addition of a new academic area, which will provide an additional 30,000 square feet of classroom and office space on campus.
Keep in mind though that because of the absolute beauty of the campus, the outdoors quickly becomes a meeting space for classes as well. Students and instructors also take advantage of the amenities and research opportunities available in state parks in the general area.
Obviously, for this college, small in size does not equal static when it comes to growth, as dynamic growth has occurred and is scheduled to continue across the board. NCF has added additional dorms created with “green”construction principles, renovated existing dorms, and plans to create an International Studies center are well under way.
There are no Greek organizations on campus or varsity teams. There are intramural sport teams such as Ultimate Frisbee.
Frankly, NCF is the right college for a student seeking an alternative but rigorous education, at an affordable price in a location that stays beautiful all year round.
Student Enrollment Demographics
Student Graduation Demographics
New College of Florida.n.d. Web. 18 Apr. 2011.<http://www.ncf.edu/>
Fiske, Edward and Robert Logue. Fiske Guide to Colleges 2010. Naperville, Illinois: Sourcebook, Inc. 2010. Print.
“Pomp & circumstance: new college graduates love tradition—but their tradition isn’t the typical cap and gown” Sarasota Magazine, 1 May 2007. Web. 18 Apr. 2011. <http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-163115883.html>