This is my first ever post on CC, so please hang with me - I am not looking for any hard and fast answers, only opinions of parents who know that UF and FSU are the best economical choices and are very good schools, but whose child doesn't want to stay in Florida now or even later. My D is not an athlete nor is she an extrovert, but does have a small group of good friends. (old soul) She's one of those kids who isn't in the cool crowd but isn't a nerd, either, and is ranked right in the middle of her IB class. She has not had a good experience socailly in high school because she doesn't like all of the FAKE, the hyper competitve IB program, or just the high school crowd in general. The only reason she is open to Greek life is becasue we've convinced her it will make the experience easier for meeting people, even though she isn't interested in partying or drinking. (can a girl be in a sorority at UF or FSU and NOT drink?!)
We drove through UF and FSU and while the campuses are beautiful, the 40K undergrads seems very overwhelming and Gainesville and Tally are just meh to her. Also, the kids we know that choose those schools are very different from her and she wants to go to college and just start over. Who would consider giving up free tuition so that your child might have a much more enriching college experience in a place that they liked? NOW - We are defintily applying to UF and FSU, and depending on how the money shakes out for the other schools she is applying to, she knows that more than likely she will have to deal with it and move on. She has a 31 ACT and a 3.6UW/4.4W GPA with about 300 volunteer hours and a couple of leadership positions. Her top choices are Tulane, U Richmond, Elon, Baylor, Rollins and possibly U Arkansas/U South Carolins Honors Colleges, which would make those two large state schools a bit smaller.
Better yet - If money was not an issue and your kid was like mine, would you gladly spend $30-40K/ year on a private/small to medium sized school that was a great fit, or would you stick with the highly ranked state uni solely based on it's high rank?