Underwhelming campus visit to UTampa

Recently visited campus with DS19. We are in search of a “financial safety” and it appears that Tampa would fulfill that role. DS loves campuses that are in cities, but self-contained, as well as medium schools the size of UTampa. There aren’t many of those out there! So we wanted to love our visit, but admittedly, had some concerns. We were aware of two bright kids from hs class of 2014 that transferred from
Tampa after their first year there. We were aware that incoming stats seemed low. This visit did nothing to make us feel like a higher stats kid would be happy here.
At the Info Session before the tour, we had the impression that the Admissions officer wanted to be anywhere else. He did not come off as at all professional. And in telling us about the number and types of clubs available at Tampa, he let us know there was even a “Tanning Club”. Again, I wouldn’t call that a selling point for a serious education.

The tour guides (there were two), looked like they had rolled out of bed and been told to show up to give a tour. One had eyes that were so bloodshot that my DS asked me if he was high? Fortunately, we were placed in the other group. Our guide was not particularly articulate and made no conversation with any of the kids in our group during the whole tour. She did however, converse with the other current student who was on the tour with us. This is probably the 30th college tour I’ve done since this is our youngest child, and all I kept thinking was “Is this the best student that UT has to offer to represent?” And bc I have two kids in college, I think I generally tend to be sympathetic toward the guides. Btw, the tour guide ALSO referenced the Tanning Club.

The tour itself was fine. Zero mention of anything even semi-related to DS’ course interests…complete emphasis seemed to be on Business with a couple passing references to science, especially Marine Bio. The facilities and the amenities here were amazing. Cannot complain from that perspective. Safety was mentioned multiple times, and I wouldn’t have had any concerns from that angle. On the tour, we stopped by the pool, where I suppose the Tanning Club meets, and were told about how kids like to study there. I understand they were trying to sell the FL experience, but it really came off like they aren’t into serious education.

Learned that only freshman are guaranteed housing, and most upperclassman live off campus. There is apparently an apt style dorm where some upperclassmen live, but it seems to be sophomores only, and not all are lucky enough to live there. These apts were referenced both on the tour and in the admission session as being extremely luxurious…as this seems to be a selling point to them. After talking to a few students, they mostly drive in from other parts of the city…they aren’t near campus. And we did indeed see students flowing in and out of commuter lots. So I question how much of a campus community feel there can be when students are living far off campus after their first year.

So, lovely facilities all around, great location, food we tried for lunch on campus was really good (and there was a lot of food to choose from!), but not the school for DS. I wouldn’t describe him as a big intellectual, but he is looking for a little more of an intellectual vibe than we got from UTampa. He would likely be happier at USF (also in Tampa) from that perspective.


My feelings are similar when we toured with D back in November. Stunning campus in terms of location, historic architecture (Plant Hall is amazing) blending with bright-and-shiny new buildings. Our tour was really quite good (despite tour guide getting the golf cart stuck at a major corner intersection with cars weaving all around us!), given by two different girls who were passionate about their school. But,…there was something just not right during our tour. I didn’t feel any real welcoming from the students as we walked by them. The place as a whole seemed like a “country club for rich kids”–if I may stereotype. The student body just didn’t seem overly interested or friendly. Freshman retainage is VERY low in comparison to virtually any competing school. There has to be a reason why.

Our D is focused on the somewhat acclaimed College of Business and Entrepreneurship in particular. The facilities were quite amazing. Beyond that, did you notice the library? During our tour, I insisted on walking in even though that was not part of the tour. We’ve done eleven tours and the library is ALWAYS included. This seemed like a small town, rural library that hadn’t been updated in 40 years. It was surely the weak link on campus.

Other things:

Freshman absolutely not allowed to have cars (no exceptions). We’re out of state and need one!

Literature we receive is amazing. UT has put a lot of $$ into marketing via literature and videos. Better than any school we’ve seen, including from a couple of Public Ivy’s D was accepted into. I immediately wonder ‘why’ the need to go to this level?

Something’s just not right at this school. I love the City of Tampa, the school’s location, and most of the physical aspects of the campus. But there are enough question marks left for us to continue looking elsewhere.

Well, glad to hear that we weren’t the only ones! Funny you mention the library… I didn’t realize until we were driving away that we never saw it and I thought that was really odd. At the time, I chalked it up to just being another example of not emphasizing their academic offerings. But, it makes more sense that they just weren’t showcasing it because it is not a selling point.

Interesting comments. We toured recently and thought the facilities were outstanding. The fitness center was one of the best we have seen and the way campus is situated with proximity to downtown Tampa and the building set up was unique and accessible. We also loved the baseball field which was situated right in/on campus. Our session was very well-done and we even had an awesome conversation with a very bright student in the fitness center. She took time to take us through the fitness areas and discuss her experience at the school. She is staying on for an additional year for her MBA and was very enthusiastic about her courses and her internship experience. Yes–I agree that there aren’t many schools which meet y(our) criteria. And also----it’s astounding at the number of flyers and materials each school circulates. It’s part of the marketing “game” for so many institutions. Keep us posted if you find other schools to your liking. And I’d definitely give UT your constructive feedback since I am sure that they might like to know about your concerns in order to make some changes. Best wishes!

Interesting indeed. We have not toured so I have that disclaimer but have seen many reps at different admissions soirees and had similar impression of the “push” to appeal to the Florida/vacation type school. We were still curious as two of my kids really want southern schools for college but was turned off further when our niece who is a current Freshman there decided over December break to transfer out after her Freshman year. Yes I am sure it is a good school and good fit for some but our gut feeling and her impressions after being a student there have now crossed it off our list. We are looking at Univ of So Carolina for the safety or Elon so we are moving on…good luck I am sure Tampa fits the bill for some