Founded in 1956, the University of South Florida is a public, tier one research university, and home to nearly 24,000 undergrads. Our tour began on the top floor of the tallest building, looking out at campus through large glass walls. From that comfortable vantage point, we could immediately see how expansive the 1700 acre campus is. Up there, the tour guide pointed out the 3 hospitals, the Cancer Research Center, the Theater and School of Music buildings, and the School of Psychology buildings, buildings we wouldn’t see as we embarked on our walking tour through a portion of campus. University of South Florida buildings are grouped by major, and the tour guide advised that students should focus on one major in their first two years at the school in order to keep the walk between necessary locations to 15 minutes. He said double majoring could make timely arrival at classes a logistical challenge, depending on the majors! Indeed, being on campus feels like living in a city within a city and buses run throughout campus streets and to surrounding areas.
Freshman general education classes tend to be 40-50 students per class or auditorium style (the College of Arts & Sciences has two 300-seat auditoriums). Faculty are required to hold weekly office hours. University of South Florida offers over 100 majors. Students can purchase an iClicker device to participate in the large lecture classrooms as well as to indicate their presence in class. Students are expected to meet with their assigned advisor at least twice in the freshman year.
USF offers three styles of dormitory living, and boasts 25 dining options, including 3 major dining halls. Freshman and sophomores may choose a “living/learning community” where they will be housed with students in their same major. However, students do not have to declare a major until their junior year and even freshmen are not required to live on campus. Tampa residents told me that USF is known as somewhat of a commuter school. Nonetheless, the campus offers an extensive fitness facility, and its Marshall Student Center is a hub of activity for students. With departments including the Office of Multicultural Affairs, Career Services and Alumni Support, and the Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement, I noted an extensive offering of community involvement opportunities. The sheer size of the library facilities is remarkable; students fill the public computing area as far as the eye could see, with others occupying the Digital Media Center utilizing extensive movie creation technology. The Division 1 athletics program includes football and students are transported to Raymond James Stadium, home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, to see USF home games for free. Greek life is very active, with over 40 organizations and housing in the popular Greek Village.
Over 49,000 students call themselves USF Bulls either on the Tampa campus or at the more intimate St. Petersburg or Sarasota locations. Students come from every state, every US territory and over 150 different countries. International students make up about 7% of the student body. Annual cost of attendance at this public research university is $21,410 for Florida residents and $32,324 for out-of-state students; 97% of students receive some form of financial aid. Students are encouraged to apply by Nov 1 to maximize scholarship opportunities. While the average GPA for an incoming freshman is 3.9, transfer students average a 2.5 college GPA. As I toured University of South Florida, the top producer of educators in the state of Florida, my overall impression was the critical trait for a successful incoming freshman student is self-discipline. My tour guide, a Filipino-American who grew up in an Asian community near Tampa, chose USF because “the school is young and continuing to grow. It’s a tier-one research university with strong science programs and a multicultural student population.” He followed in the footsteps of his two older sisters. His final message to the group: think about the FIT FACTOR. “My job is not to sell you on University of South Florida, it’s to inform you so that you can determine if it’s the right school for you. Go where you feel proud.”
Fay visited USF in 2017; you can scroll through her photo album below.