Good things come in small packages

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in srqmagazine.com on Saturday, March 9, 2019

By Donal O’Shea

Dr. Donal O'Shea
Dr. Donal O’Shea

As a small, public liberal arts college, New College of Florida offers students advantages that are difficult to replicate at larger institutions. At the same time, we are not immune to the challenges facing small colleges across the United States. As SRQ writer Jacob Ogles noted in an article earlier this week, we plan to increase our student enrollment over the next several years, but will do so without decreasing the quality of our students or the rigor of the education that we provide.

New College prepares intellectually curious students for lives of great achievement, and we deliver on that mission spectacularly. Our small size is critical to that. Even after growing to 1,200 students, we will still be the smallest university in the State University System by far. And we will be among the smallest of the nation’s top liberal arts colleges. Unlike many small colleges that are private, however, we are a public institution. We offer in-state tuition to Florida residents and guaranteed scholarships to virtually all admitted first-year students. As a result, our students graduate with the lowest student debt among all universities, public or private, in the state. Our affordability is one reason The Princeton Review named us to its list of the Top 200 Best Value Colleges in Higher Education.

New College has received financial support from the state to increase the number of our faculty members in order to maintain our low student/faculty ratio of 10-to-1 as student enrollments increase. Close interaction among faculty members and students is the crucible that powers a New College education. Our undergraduates work one-on-one with faculty on their research projects, which are a cornerstone of a New College education. Every student completes three independent study projects and a senior thesis in order to graduate. Observers liken the experience to graduate education for undergraduates.

New College is a member of the Cross-College Alliance here in the Sarasota-Bradenton area. Our students can access the diverse course offerings of five institutions while still enjoying the benefits of a small residential campus. We remain true to our mission of providing a distinctive academic program that develops students’ intellectual and personal potential as fully as possible.

I look forward to welcoming more students to New College and to the Sarasota-Bradenton community in the coming years. We are proud to serve as The Honors College of Florida.

Donal O’Shea is president of New College of Florida.

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