There are many factors to consider when making a choice about which university or college to attend, including the institution’s ranking, personal finances, location, extracurricular activities and the range of subjects available. The priorities for each prospective student will differ greatly depending on circumstances, and as such it is important to do research before making a shortlist. Fortunately, Florida provides a wealth of options across each of these categories, ensuring that students can attend a top-ranking university at the same time as satisfying their own individual needs and wishes for a higher education experience. Additionally, the state of Florida boasts several schools that rank highly on a national level. The following list of top-ranking Florida colleges and universities will help students navigate their decision by providing details of the surrounding area, cost, enrollment capacity, the status of the institution and any onsite facilities and opportunities for students.
University of Florida (UF), Gainesville
The University of Florida was established in 1853 and is a public institution with undergraduate enrollment of approximately 35,000 each year. Located two miles from downtown Gainesville, the campus setting is suburban in nature, spanning 2,000 acres. Among nationally-ranked colleges, UF is currently at number 42.
UF’s reputable football team, The Florida Gators, is based at the nearby Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Gator Growl, so named because of the school’s team, is an annual event held over Homecoming Weekend, which is thought to be the biggest student-led pep rally in the United States. There are more than 60 fraternities and sororities, which involves approximately 20 percent of the student body. Freshmen are not obliged to live on campus, although over 75 percent do so. Gator Nights are held each Friday, where there is free entertainment late into the night along with a midnight breakfast. In terms of learning opportunities, there are distinguished graduate programs offered in subjects such as law, engineering, business and medicine. Being well-integrated with the local retirement community of Oak Hammock, there are also employment, mentorship and internship opportunities available here for interested students.
University of Miami (UM), Miami
The University of Miami is a privately-run institution established in 1925 with an annual undergraduate enrollment rate of close to 11,000. The campus is in a suburban setting and spans about 240 acres. Among national universities it ranks at number 46. With its southern Florida location, UM is ideally situated for students with a love for the outdoors, given that popular spots such as downtown Miami, Florida Keys, Everglades National Park and South Beach are easily accessible for hiking, sunbathing, water sports and cultural experiences. Around 2,400 students take part in the more than 30 sororities and fraternities, and there are over 250 organizations and clubs to choose from. Living on campus is not required, although there are five popular residential colleges modeled after the housing provided at the historic Oxford and Cambridge universities in England. The community activities at these residential colleges complement the attractive layout, including poetry readings, group meals, learning opportunities and sports. The university is well-known for its research and there are many such courses offered at the undergraduate level. Numerous annual events take place celebrating student learning and extracurricular interests, including the Canes Film Festival, Sportsfest and the Homecoming Boat Burning Ceremony at Lake Osceola.
Florida State University (FSU), Tallahassee
Florida State University is a public institution that was established in 1851 and provides students with an urban setting in the city of Tallahassee. The 476-acre campus enrolls close to 33,000 undergraduates per year, and the institution is currently ranked at 81 among the best colleges in the country. There are over 600 student-run organizations and 18 NCAA sports teams. Additionally, given its good ties with Central American and European institutions, there are many opportunities to study abroad. Graduate schools are plentiful and varied, including pursuits in medicine, law, business and engineering. Richard Simmons, well-known fitness expert, and Spanx founder Sara Blakely are both alumni of this institution.
University of South Florida (USF), Tampa
Founded in 1956, the University of South Florida has an annual enrollment of about 31,500 undergraduates, a sprawling campus of over 1,500 acres and offers an urban setting in the bustling city of Tampa. Currently ranked at 140 nationally, USF is primarily a research college that also operates satellite campuses in St. Petersburg and Sarasota, Florida, alongside the public campus in Tampa. Freshman are required to live on campus, unless they are over 21, married or commute from close-by. Over 400 student organizations and a large-scale Greek community are available for those who are campus-based. Such extracurricular activities are placed on the co-curricular transcripts that students can later use to showcase their skillsets to potential employers.