FL choices for high stats OOS

Florida is high on the list of places my rising senior would like to go for undergrad, but so far only Rollins is on her list so looking for other options. She gets a little hung up on reputation, but is also super practical and can’t imagine paying $70,000/year for undergrad. Our budget is about $50,000. We are full pay and yes I’ve done NPCs. We could find more if necessary, but I agree with her and struggle with justifying more than that. She’s homeschooled with a 4.0 UW and 4.63 W GPA (most classes were at a private school or online school, DE, so no “mommy grades”). ACT 32, retaking this weekend and hoping to gain a couple points. Strong ECs and leadership but hasn’t cured cancer. She is totally undecided but area of interest is communications/writing, maybe something in business (management or marketing, not accounting or finance). Wants a personalized experience - enjoys discussion and appreciates a relationship with professors. Small to medium (max around 10k students). Interested in studying abroad. Wants a fun residential campus but does not want a scene dominated by Greek life, drinking and football. Schools I’m thinking might fit but can’t get her too excited about are:
Eckerd (she doesn’t care about the water amenities and worries it’s too stoner/surfer vibe)
U Tampa
U Miami (she doesn’t love Miami)
Stetson (did a drive by and liked but didn’t love area)
Palm Beach Atlantic?

Florida Southern and Southeastern definite no - didn’t like the area.

Our state of residence is NC. She will apply to UNC-CH and Elon and probably Wofford and Furman in SC.

I guess our main question about schools like Flagler, Tampa, Eckerd, PBA and Stetson: Are they all on the same level reputation-wise in Florida? Would they rank up there with Rollins and Miami? If I were an employer I would put more stock in a graduate from U Miami, then Rollins and PBA at the bottom. Do these schools have any name recognition if she were to move out of Florida after undergrad? I know not to bank everything on reputation, but realistically if you move to Texas as a graduate of Eckerd and are interviewing against someone from Southern Methodist, are you going to be at a disadvantage? It’s hard to measure this from your own bubble. I think of Elon and Furman in the same category, but I know that Elon is very popular with northeast kids, so I think it has better name recognition there.

Any words of wisdom?

In my experience, anytime one moves out of a region where a school is located other people are highly unlikely to know the names of smaller colleges, even when they are top LACs. The “man on the street” recognizes names of those that do well in popular sports and those around where they live, but that’s about it. Most can’t even name all of the Ivy schools.

Those in education know far more schools, so for grad or prof school it rarely matters, esp when talking about what most deem to be a decent LAC.

The good thing is most folks hiring don’t care a hoot about name of the college. My DIL Georgetown grad mentioned this to me a couple weeks ago. She’s now involved some with hiring for her company (based in the DC area) and told me she picked Georgetown because she thought it would help her get places, yet she’s found at her company people come from many schools and all walks of life. Georgetown certainly wasn’t a bad education and she loved her time there, but it wasn’t necessary to “succeed.”

U Miami will be more well known by the man on the street due to sports. To many, better at sports means better at everything, including academics. (Around here some will argue Penn St is the best school one could ever go to.) Both Miami and Penn St are good schools… I’m not dissing that. I’m solely talking name recognition and what I’ve seen from students and parents for their thoughts even though they know nothing about course content or even majors offered.

Palm Beach Atlantic could have a negative in its column because it’s an openly Christian school. This is ok if you are dealing with Christians who are hiring or places that don’t care at all about name on a diploma, but can be a negative with some who are against the faith - generally assuming everyone who went to a Christian school is going to preach to fellow co-workers and trying to avoid that HR problem. Most openly Christian schools have that problem. Those that tend to be loosely related to Christianity (Jesuit places, or I’d put Eckerd in that category) don’t have the problem.

I have a son who visited 4 schools in FL before selecting Eckerd as his only school to apply to. U Miami, Palm Beach Atlantic, and Nova Southeastern were his others - looking for Tropical Marine Bio at the time. Palm Beach Atlantic and Nova Southeastern didn’t have nearly the Marine Bio programs Eckerd did - not sure if fNova Southeastern could be one you’d like to consider though. U Miami has a good program, but grad students “get to do all the fun stuff” (his words).

Eckerd is a drinking and more school though. He liked it there (also a solid Christian - still is post graduation), but he’s ok with a live and let live attitude. If that atmosphere turns people off, the school won’t work well for the student.


Miami has the National rep. You will likely get $25k merit so you will be out of budget by a few thousand and it costs more than they say. All schools do.

Tampa will be affordable. My daughter dropped it bcuz she got on the new student Facebook and it was just party party party. As a did I was not impressed with their outcomes. I supposed it’s what you make of it.

Rollins and Stetson are good enough but as someone noted will be unknown.

Might I suggest FSU. obviously that doesn’t work for you size wise but you’ll get an OOS waiver so you’ll be under $25k. you can try the Honors College to get the small school feel.

I would also suggest UGA given your budget. Their Honors is also strong…to shrink the campus.

Finally I suggest applying to W&L because 10% earn the Johnson. Then your cost is $0. Get on their email list. You’ll get a free app.
I know you mentioned florida. But it’s diverse geographically. So I threw in a few others.

My daughter turned down all I mentioned.She will be an International Scholar at C of Charleston. I’m OOS. She has free tuition next year.

Good luck.

Ps given your needs I say none of these. I’m thinking and it’s not Florida but Emory. It’s a reach but not impossible. elon as you say. If in Florida, Miami is it. Mercer maybe in Macon but has religion. Unc Asheville

Maybe New School in Florida but likely too small.

Well good luck but that’s y I selected a public Honors College. FSU. It’ll be cheap. And you can make a big school small. Honors is not an easy admit btw. My daughter was turned down but into UGAs and U of SC

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Take a look at career centers and job fairs offered by each college to see which industries&employers recruit there.

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I think your daughter should look at the FAU Honors College. While the main campus of 25,000 students is in Boca Raton, the Honors College is its own entity in Jupiter. It is a small, close-knit community of really bright kids.



That looks great to me. Outstanding find. Thx for sharing. Well I’m not the OP :slight_smile:

In terms of reputation or recognition…




Ncf is not for the faint-hearted academically and may have too many stoners for your taste.
Rollins and UMiami both have reputations for hard partying (alcohol&drugs). Eckerd is more weed than hard liquor.

Most colleges will have big parties.
If your child wants to avoid them, she can check that there are substance-free or quiet dorms.

Does she want Florida for the seaside/ beach? Hot weather? Because she could also look at Unc Wilmington, or College of Charleston


OP asked if a graduate of Eckerd College would be at a disadvantage for employment in Texas.

Yes, as the alumni groups from the University of Texas, Texas A&M, SMU, Baylor,etc.are very loyal to their schools.

OP: Which schools are of interest to your daughter ?

If I may ask, why was your daughter homeschooled ?

You could use the word ‘cult’….especially A&M. It’s religion.

I was at a car dealership grand opening. At least I was supposed to be. It was really an A&M alumni celebration. The dealership which was owned by the A&M alum might as well have been a rented hall. All the mngrs. Aggies

But I imagine at large companies you can find a home from any school.

But they really are hard core!!


My favorite schools/towns are Flagler and Rollins. Huge difference in the price but both towns are nice. Rollins is also more of a party/sports school, but I loved it.

Florida Southern is a beautiful school and its students do well. There is a big biology group and has a nursing school. There are seven Frank Lloyd Wright structures (walkway, chapel, fountain), it is set on a hill overlooking the lake, has a Greek village that is part of the campus so the buildings look like dorms and not awful frat houses. The town itself is industrial, but the area around the college is nice. An hour to Tampa, an hour to Disney.

I’m surprised your daughter didn’t like Florida Southern but did like Stetson. Neither of my kids liked Stetson at all (I wasn’t impressed either). Stetson is about an hour from our high school, but I don’t think I ever heard anyone mention Stetson. Also receiving no interest were PBA and NCF.

My daughter went to Florida Tech, and even though it was only 2.5 hours from our hs, no one had heard of it except our dentist. Who has heard of it? Engineers from all over the country. If your daughter finds a program she likes, businesses or grad schools will have heard of it.

To Florida high school students, there are UF, UCF, and FSU. Then there are the other state schools that draw more from one area, like a lot from our (east coast) school went to U North Florida or FAU or FIU. My nephew lived near Tampa so more from his school went to USF or Florida Gulf coast. Most still went to the big 3.

When Lynn University hosted a presidential debate (2012?) it became more known. There are also St. Thomas and St. Leo to add to your list of private schools.

I’m curious why you think this? No one outside of guidance I know of at school would recognize Rollins, and I’m not even sure the guidance officers would TBH. Everyone knows about Miami because of sports. We’ve had kids apply to Miami. I can’t think of any who ever mentioned Rollins.

Eckerd only became “known” at my school after my son went there. When he mentioned it to his GC the first reaction was, “where’s that?” Now we have a few students who have considered it and one other might have gone there (lost track of last year’s class with not having been at school).

I’m not sure I agree with the weed > hard liquor at Eckerd either. Both are popular, but as my son told me, when you have a college right on the coast people who just want to party are going to apply there. One poor gal died the night before her graduation (same year as my son). Alcohol related. I still feel for her family/friends.

They’re still super good for the sciences and I’m pretty sure they have a substance free dorm. They also allow pets.

Any college is what one makes of it TBH.

Rollins College is well known & respected in SE region of the country. Has a country club like atmosphere.

(FWIW Rhodes College is another excellent school with little national recognition.)

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Which matches what I said earlier about smaller colleges really only being known in their region. Outside of that, it’s rare unless they happen to be good at popular sports.

Unless I’m wrong, the OP was asking about outside of FL’s “region.”

We’re near Gettysburg and Dickinson. They’re very well known and generally respected by everyone around us, but in my travels if I mention either casually (close to where we live), I often get the response, “I didn’t know that college existed.”


Have to agree that Rollins isn’t as well known as UMiami, in or outside of Florida. it is not very well known in Florida because it is so expensive. Those who attended from OOS have to explain where the school is and why they picked it (usually sports).

In Florida, many kids heading to college have Florida Prepaid accounts. If they don’t go to a state school, they get about $7k per year. That’s not enough to afford Rollins. UMiami has a lot more money for financial aid, plus it is more likely their parent(s) are alums. That $7k goes a lot further at Florida Southern and Flagler, plus those schools seem to have more merit aid available.

Rollins College is typically ranked as the #1 Best Regional University in the South (#1 out of about 122 colleges & universities in its category) by US News ahead of JMU, Berry College, Stetson, Appalachian State, The Citadel, and the College of Charleston.

In my experience< Rollins College is well known in the SE US & known by many in the NE US.

My impression is that Rollins College offers a good amount of merit scholarship money.

Just checked Rollins College financial aid page. Lots of merit scholarships available. Possibly more than Flagler College & Florida Southern combined.


US News ranks Rollins in Regional Colleges and Eckerd in National Liberal Arts Colleges. Does anyone know why the different categories?

Editing this because my next post explains the differences. I should have looked a little harder before making this post.

Ok… I only had to use Google a little bit more to find my answer. Here’s how they make “whatever” list:

To make valid comparisons, we group schools by academic mission into 10 distinct rankings.

  • National Universities offer a full range of undergraduate majors, plus master’s and doctoral programs, and emphasize faculty research or award professional practice doctorates.
  • National Liberal Arts Colleges focus almost exclusively on undergraduate education and award at least 50% of their degrees in the arts and sciences.
  • Regional Universities offer a broad scope of undergraduate degrees and some master’s degree programs but few, if any, doctoral programs. We ranked them in four geographical groups: North, South, Midwest and West.
  • Regional Colleges focus on undergraduate education but grant fewer than 50% of their degrees in liberal arts disciplines. They sometimes predominantly award two-year associate degrees. We ranked them in four geographical groups: North, South, Midwest and West.


I know Rollins because some of our sports grads (Dallas) have attended, especially lacrosse. Miami is a rigorous admit but not sought after for business. Lots of overlap with SMU and possibly Tulane. I too would recommend looking at College of Charleston.

I’ve known several students who went to Rollins because of the money. They are strict with not allowing drugs in dorms.

Lynn U strives to work with students with LDs and emotional issues. Their Help centers are active.
I’ve had quite positive experiences with deans and counselors at both schools.

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To the OP, if you are considering PBA and are willing to look at GA instead of FL, consider Covenant College outside of Chattanooga. My oldest went there and got a great education. I’m not sure how they are in aid, but it was affordable for us. They also aren’t “big” into drinking, drugs, or those types of parties.

Academically I suspect they are a bit better than PBA, esp since they rank just 4 slots lower than Eckerd in National LACs. When my guy went there they were at the top for Regional Colleges in the south, so I suspect that means the two different ranking systems are about equal for those schools if they were in the same category. Covenant has changed categories since then - not sure when.