Sunday, June 22, 2014

A Pink Marble Palace by the Bay

It sneaked up on me. Truly, only a few years ago I am fairly certain, I could be found bent over clasping tiny hands as he delighted in his newly acquired skill of semi-walking. It couldn't be that long ago, could it? So how is it that I suddenly found myself visiting colleges this weekend, discussing the pros of one college versus another, and remembering The Big Red Barn reading sessions as if they occurred just a few days ago?

Inexorably, time manages to march on, despite my insisting it linger awhile. So this past weekend I found myself on the campus of New College of Florida, listening to a faculty member tout accolade after accolade. If I hadn't been with there with Jacob's friend and his mom, I think I might be able to convince myself that it was a dream.

The email instructed me to drive to the "pink marble palace by the bay," and so, with these colorful commands, we arrived on the Sarasota campus, remarking at how quaint and beautiful the surroundings were. 
The Pink Marble Palace by the Bay!
It turns out the pink marble palace by the bay was actually the home of Charles Ringling, of the Ringling circus family. It now houses classrooms, offices, and events for the college. 

We gathered there to learn more about New College in the dining room of the venerable house.










New College is fascinating in that the students do not receive grades, but rather a narrative evaluation of their work. That being said, the students have no trouble going on to graduate school. In fact, it is the number two ranked school in the nation for top tier graduate school admissions after the University of Michigan. Additionally, the students are mentored by their professors (10 - 1 ratio, no less) and they get to know them quite well. For these reasons, along with the smaller-sized student body of only 900, my son was quite smitten with the school.
View from the back of College Hall. The location isn't bad either!
We returned to my parents-in-law's home to stay the night and woke up early the next morning for college visit fun, part two! After a rousing drive through Okeechobee via Highway 70 across the state, we reached the campus of Florida Atlantic University just before the tour was to begin.

The university, a part of the state university system of Florida (as is New College), is located in beautiful Boca Raton, Florida, and it boasts the only ocean view college football stadium in the nation. The mascot is the Burrowing Owl, as it is a sanctuary for that animal.
Owlsley, the FAU mascot!
The campus was beautiful with lovely gardens. Liz and I spotted a gorgeous tree and found out it was a sea grape tree. Unfortunately, the tree can't survive frost, so Jacksonville is just a smidge out of its zone.

FAU boasts of quite a few amenities. The business school has its own Wall Street ticker room. The class size is on the smaller side for a state university, and it is also the most diverse campus in the state. I loved the look of the school's library!
The library

A business lecture hall

While the school is large, at approximately 30,000 students, it still had a smaller feel, and indeed, felt much smaller than my alma mater of the University of Kansas. At some point, I'm looking forward to taking my son to visit FAU's honors school, located 45 minutes to the north, in Jupiter, Florida. Called Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, it boasts a student body enrollment of just 600. 

The drive home lasted about four hours, and I know each of us was tired and our heads were spinning from the quick trip. Still, we had learned a lot. Both schools have their strengths and weaknesses. There are still many more schools we want to investigate. Yet it was a special trip, one that I will cherish in my heart for the rest of my life, and I will welcome the opportunities opening to my son, remembering how I felt at that season of my life!

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful times. Love the last picture. Jacob starting down a walkway to who knows where. God knows.

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