College of Florida: educating free thinkers, risk takers and trailblazers


Illistration by Aubrey

Alligator eating grad

In Today’s climate, colleges and universities face challenges due to enrollment declines, rising costs and student debt, political interference and problems with diversity within the campuses. Throughout the years colleges have tried new initiatives to make campus life more diverse and overall a more enjoyable environment to be in and a big adjustment that was made was technology; especially in recent years when COVID-19 was at its high and technology was important so that students could complete their class courses. 

A school that has been recognized for standing out and being unique for its culture is The New College Of Florida

A school that has been recognized for standing out and being unique for its culture is The New College Of Florida. The college originated in 1960 and was called The  New College and then later merged into The University Of South Florida and then in 2001 became an autonomous college. After a few years the school became independent and earned its new name: The New College Of Florida.  This college is located in Sarasota, Florida and is a liberal arts college with a large library that is used by college students across Florida. 

What makes this college so distinguished is its “contract system.” In this system, students are given written evaluations rather than receiving grades. Along with these contracts students have to agree to semester long contracts in which they have to pass a certain number of classes. For example, in a “three out of five” contract, if a student were to fail two classes, they would face no penalty, but if they were to fail three classes they might lose all of the credits from that semester.  This contract system was developed in hopes to  encourage academic experimentation and spark one’s curiosity in what they are studying. 

Another unique education technique this college uses is having undergraduates complete a step-by-step career education plan that encourages professional career development throughout the students’ college years. A part of this education plan has students work with career coaches and faculty sponsors to help students earn professional internship opportunities. With all that special individualized student care being provided it makes the overall college population very small; only 675 attending students as of Fall 2020.

Another big way this college expresses itself is by representing diversity. This college reports to “celebrate diversity and encourage individual expression” and encourages kindness and mutual respect. A lot of students who attend this college are from all walks of life and different cultural backgrounds, but at this school they are all given the same opportunities and hands-on learning. Back when the original college was founded, The United Church Of Christ initially funded the college and they stipulated that, “college shall be open to all students qualified for its academic program. Race, creed, national origin, or cultural status shall not be considered as a basis or denial of admission”.

No other college in Florida, public or private, had an open admissions policy and the Church demanded that the college’s board of trustees be open to the nomination of Black trustees. The church protested for equality and equal opportunities and the college stuck with that being their core belief. The college’s founder stipulated that, “the college is not just tolerant of all faiths; it expects proponents of all various beliefs to be mutually respectful and willing to open their faiths to the community”.

On the website of this college it shows that the following months are respected and celebrated: Black History Month, Latinx Heritage Month; along with some of the following student groups that are respected and funded: Black Student Union, Hillel, New Life, Queery, and T-Part and several resources are provided to reach these groups.

The New College Of Florida is a college defined by diversity, equality and respect on the campus, supported by clubs and groups accessible to any student. As of recent weeks, however, Florida governor Rob DeSantis has removed six of the school’s thirteen trustees and has replaced them with allies that support more of his conservative views. With there being almost an entirely new board in the school, the students attending the college have been deprived of what they once knew. Along with several changes being made to the actual political climate of the college, the new board was able to force out the college’s president and DeSantis himself was able to replace her. DeSantis is said to have “White House Aspirations” and has made several attacks on public education central to his politics. So far, his administration has been able to ban instruction of gender identity and sexual orientation through third grade, along with limiting what schools can teach about racism. The New College Of Florida was a school that found pride in diversity and equity but after DeSantis unveiled higher education policies, the freedom has been taken away and now surveys are being given to professors and students to gather information about “necessary groups”.

Though the college has been reported to have its physical flaws such as: rustic dorms and the need for a lab renovation, the school was loved for its acceptance of all students. Not only did it accept those who were raised in different cultures but it was an adaptable environment for students that struggle with learning development. The students aren’t mad that DeSantis wants more conservative students to attend the college, they are concerned that his conservative agenda will take away from the colleges acceptance and change the education for those who don’t feel comfortable in any college in the United States. 

Along with having a diverse and equality driven campus, this college is also known for its undergraduate programs and popular majors. Some of those majors include: Liberal Arts and Sciences, General Studies and Humanities, Biological and Physical Sciences, Environmental studies, Foreign Languages and Literatures and International/ Global studies. This college has a 74% acceptance rate and is a little bit more than $10,000 after aid. 

With the rapid change of adjustments in colleges and universities it can be stressful as an undergraduate ready to be applying to schools. With things in mind like, pricing, campus life, finding a learning department that is appropriate for your major and general liking of location and convenience. Something that is very important to keep in mind are hidden benefits of schools, for example The New College of Florida’s “undergraduate education plan”. Along with hidden benefits, finding a college that has a safe and mindful environment and campus is important to the college learning experience.