Visited by Beth Cassie
University of Tampa was the final college I visited on my recent tour of colleges in southern Florida. Set in the heart of downtown Tampa, UT is a self-contained campus. Buildings are a mixture of new and well maintained older Georgian-style brick. There is ample green space with winding paths, trees and benches. And you can’t miss Plant Hall, the main administration building with it’s ornate Victorian gingerbread and topped with minarets, cupolas, and domes.
Students come from 50 states to this private university of 7,000 undergraduates. 30% are from in-state, 50% are out-of-state with NY, NJ, MA and PA sending the largest numbers. The student body is diverse; 20% are international, and 18% are minorities (primarily African-American and Hispanic). Average class size is small (21) with only 46 classes on campus having 40 or more students. All classes are taught by professors. To help with the transition from high school to college, all freshmen take a First-Year Seminar course taught by their advisor (usually tied to their intended major). Faculty are accessible and first-year students meet with their advisor on a weekly basis. My tour guide shared that she came to UT planning on studying Marine Science but really struggled in her science classes. She was very appreciative that her professor and advisor intervened early on and worked with her to find a new major, Criminal Justice, which is a better match for her skills.
Most popular majors are Finance, Biology, Marketing, Criminology/Criminal Justice, Nursing (students do clinicals at Tampa General Hospital located 5 blocks from campus), and Management. New programs include Cybersecurity, 4+1 MBA, and physics. Experiential education or “learn by doing” is the mantra here, and easy access to internships in Tampa allows students to put into practice what is taught in the classroom. Nearby internships include: Florida Aquarium, Tampa General Hospital, Tampa Bay Times, Tampa Bay Lightning, and many banking and finance opportunities.
The new Entrepreneurship Center on campus is most impressive with innovative meeting spaces throughout the building set up to encourage collaboration. Does working around a kitchen table appeal to you? Then reserve the “Kitchen Collaboration” meeting room for your group. Want a private and cozy area for a team meeting? Small pod-like seating areas are available for study groups. There’s also the Shark Tank Pitch room that replicates the famous board room on TV. The Entrepreneurship Center is not just for business majors, but for all types of entrepreneurial activities on campus. Students can major in entrepreneurship or add an entrepreneurship minor to their major in any other field (biology and film are two examples they spoke about).
Athletics are big and UT competes in the Sunshine State Conference, the toughest of the DII conferences. Athletic facilities are top notch and a new athletic center is under construction (if it’s anything like the other new buildings on campus, it will be spectacular). “DII school with DI facilities” is how UT describes themselves. Students do attend games and there is a rah-rah feel especially at basketball games. Fan buses are organized to transport students to the hockey games. There is a lovely pool in the middle of campus, and while it was chilly in February, the lounge chairs were very inviting! The student center was lined with tables of club and Greek life representatives advertising activities for the upcoming Valentine’s Day festivities.
Admissions are on a rolling basis, and applying early is advised. Applications have doubled in the past four years, so students are encouraged to apply by 11/15 as they start admitting students in mid-September. Average accepted GPA is 3.3 with median ACT of 24, SAT (CR+M) of 1065. Cost of attendance is about $38,000 (tuition approximately $28K, room and board $10K). Financial aid packages go out on 1/5, so again, applying early only benefits the student. Students are automatically considered for merit aid with awards ranging from $1,00 per year to up to $15,000 per year for top applicants. Applicants with a 3.5 GPA and 1200 SAT/26 ACT are automatically considered for the Honors Program which provides numerous benefits including merit scholarships, special classes, research opportunities, special travel-study programs, and honors housing.
All freshmen live on campus, and the double room we saw was spacious, nicely furnished, with an individual bathroom. Freshmen are not allowed to have cars, encouraging students to become involved in campus activities.
My visit ended with a student panel who shared their reasons for choosing UT and some of the highlights of their experiences thus far. While their experiences were each unique, they gave us good insight into why students are attracted to UT: hands-on learning, small class size, connections with professors, weather, urban location, and excellent internships. If that’s what you’re looking for, UT is a great school to consider.
401 W. Kennedy Blvd.
Tampa, FL 33606