University of South Florida, Tampa
Four-year public research university
Distance from home: You can (almost) see it from here!
Admission difficulty: It was easy to get into USF. I had good grades, was involved with my high school newspaper and other organizations. I know since I was admitted, it has become much more difficult to get in.
Size: About 40,000 undergraduate and graduate students, including commuters, some of whom travel long distances daily to attend classes.
Cost: Around $6,000 a semester (depending on course load and dormitory)
Who goes: People who want to be very involved. There are a myriad of organizations to choose from, which I absolutely loved! I worked for The Oracle my entire time at USF, joined a sorority. was involved in multicultural organizations, and even performed in the Vagina Monologues my senior year. Also, there are organizations for those who plan on applying to graduate school. I think my work at Oracle definitely gave me an edge over other candidates when applying to journalism graduate programs.
Pros: A vibrant student life; there is absolutely a student organization for whatever you want to be involved in. You'll get excellent prep for future careers. Also, definitely the diversity of the student body. As a minority, I never felt out of place, which meant a lot because in high school I was one of very few minorities in my classes. Also, there are many different events such as concerts and lectures that give you something to look forward to beyond your classes.
Cons: There are so many activities going on, you will have a hard time choosing which to attend. With so much temptation, it might take extra work focusing on your studies. Also for those who live on campus, how expensive it is when you lose your key and need a replacement! I think USF forgets sometimes that its students are not the wealthiest. I also hate the book buy-backs at the USF bookstore, they do not give you back nearly as much as the book originally cost.
Places: Five Guys Burgers & Fries on Fowler Avenue, and Tijuana Flats! I had many good times there with friends. And Beef o' Brady's on campus has some great quesadillas.
Biggest misconception: The belief that because USF is a state college you will not be as prepared compared to college students who attend a private college. That's not true. You will also hear people say that at USF you stay forever, also not true. There are options even if you slip behind. There are summer courses and many other options that make it possible for you to graduate on time.
Amaris Castillo, Clearwater High Class of 2005, is a 2009 graduate of USF. She received her master's degree in journalism in May from Columbia University and is a freelance writer.