One of the key considerations for choosing a college is the location. Students have to go through various criteria when picking the right school. From hard factors like the quality of the school and majors offered as well as cost to softer factors like the school’s culture and support services the list is long. But students need to create a list of schools that are a good fit to their requirements.
One of the locations that is increasing in popularity is Florida. There are some excellent colleges in Florida, including the University of Florida which is ranked #28 in the 2022 edition of Best Colleges among National Universities. If you want to go to a college in a state with warm weather, great beaches, and a vibrant student life, a school in Florida may be the perfect option for you.
Of course, when choosing a specific location in which to study, there are always going to be a mix of benefits and perhaps a few hidden costs.
Here are a list of things to keep in mind if you choose Florida as a destination for your college education.
Benefit: Reasonable Tuition Rates
College can be expensive, and the cost of education is one of the key factors in choosing where to go for college. Florida has the lowest average yearly in-state tuition of $4,443 at public institutions according to Hanson, Melanie, “Average Cost of College by State” EducationData.org, July 12, 2021. While this may be true, there are some schools in Florida that are also considered to be among the most expensive in the country such as The University of Miami so you will need to research each of them.
Benefit: Internship Opportunities and Jobs After Graduation
The job market in Florida is growing and according to the state’s government website, as of October 2021, Florida’s labor force growth represented a 5.4% increase over the year compared to 0.8% nationally.
This may not be matter too much as a freshman entering college, but as you get closer to finishing school and looking for internship or full-time job after school, these employment opportunities can help one land a great job. There are particularly many good opportunities in the STEM field. So whether looking for an internship opportunity while in school or an employment that will allow you to stay in the state after college, Florida is right for you.
Benefit: Vibrant Nightlife and Arts Scene
When people think of college experiences, dorm parties inevitably come to mind. However, in Florida there are far more exciting opportunities to experience beyond the immediate campus. Most Florida cities have an incredible nightlife which is perfect for anyone who wants something more than just the social and extracurricular activities offered by the university. With the warm weather, outdoor dining and sunsets at the beach are often a year-round part of the nightlife. There is also a vibrant arts and culture scene that can speak to your current interests or perhaps spark a new curiosity. Florida is also full of natural resources, parks and outdoor venues that can be valuable for those who are interested in the environment and sciences.
Cost: High Rent in Florida
The room and board cost are also another major consideration when determining which school to go to. While the tuition cost for some schools might be reasonable, the cost of accommodation can be expensive. Florida is ranked in the top 15 state for average rent in the country. While rent is high in Florida, in fairness, rent has been increasing across many states such as New York, New Jersey and California. So it is important to always check the specific location a college is located and to dive into the details regarding accommodations and rent costs. You will want to check out on campus dorm costs as well as off-campus rentals as most students eventually move off campus.
You also may want to think about renters insurance costs in Florida. When renting anywhere you need to take out a renter’s insurance. This covers your possessions in case of theft or damage. In Florida, this insurance it is especially important due to extreme weather such as hurricanes and flooding (double check that it covers flooding as this is the most common damage due to storm surge). Nonetheless, a renter’s insurance can cost as little as $5 a month, and includes personal liability coverage in case you cause damage to anyone else’s property.
Cost: Extreme Weather
Florida’s extreme weather conditions can cause a lot of issues for individual education and property damage. Hurricanes, tornados, flooding and rain in the past have caused schools to close for a period while delaying one’s education and requiring students to leave the area. Doing so can end up costing you more money and leave you with managing the stress from going through an event.
But the biggest issue may be the extreme heat in the summer months. This may require time to adjust to things and come up with strategies to tolerate the hot. Areas along the cost may benefit from breezes, but much of central Florida is hot and muggy. This is especially true if you come from the colder climate in the north-eastern part of the country.
Cost: Broadening Your Experiences
Florida has a great nightlife and an incredible arts scene, but that also makes it a state in which you're likely to spend a lot of money on entertainment. When the weather is warm, students tend to want to go out more and enjoy participating in activities outside of school. Living in a slightly less vibrant state may be less exciting, but you’re less likely to shop and go out for fun quite as often and focus a bit more on your education.
In summary, studying in Florida has many advantages from a lower cost of tuition in some schools to experiencing a vibrant art and entertainment scene to career opportunities after you graduate. It also has disadvantages from the possibility of experiencing extreme weather to the higher cost of rent and entertainment.
Good luck on choosing the location for your school that is a good match to your interests and lifestyle beyond the academics!