Officially known (since 1975
) as The New College of the Univeristy of South Florida
, this is a small college of about 600 students in Sarasota
. The primary features of New College are its small class sizes (10:1 student to teacher ratio), its narrative
evaluations in place of traditional grading, its contract system, and its demanding senior theses
. For a couple of years, New College was named as Money Magazine
"Best College Buy" -- which may be why most New College students go for the Economy Sized
five- or six-year education. The experimental
academic program of the college links it with Hampshire College
, Reed College
, and The Evergreen State College
. Visitors can expect to find many students who experiment on a daily basis (the school is widely known as a drug haven
, but what college isn't these days?
The campus is divided by US 41, with one side having buildings designed by I. M. Pei. The other half of campus occupies the former estate of Charles Ringling, of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus. The school is situated just next to the Sarasota - Bradenton International Airport, fueling paranoia that the school is secretly run by the CIA to keep America's most brilliant deviants distracted by drugs and the sound of jets idling at all hours of the day.
New College has it's problems, primarily lack of diversity. When 95% of the student body is white, at least 25% queer, the slightest voice of dissention can become the threat of evil Nazi homophobia. Still, I'm glad I graduated from a school with the motto "The natural state of the human spirit is ecstatic wonder. We should not settle for less."