An Introduction to Colleges & Universities in Jacksonville

by Doug Schmitt
An Introduction to Colleges & Universities in Jacksonville

Jacksonville is the largest city in the United States, geographically covering 841 square miles. Known as Florida's "River City", it has a population of over 800,000 people. Originally inhabited by the Timucua Indians, the first European visitor was Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon in 1513. He claimed an area 25 miles from modern day Jacksonville for Spain. In 1562, French explorer Jean Ribault arrived, exchanged gifts with the Timucua, and laid claim to the area for the king of France. In 1564, the French established a colony that was later destroyed by Spain, who had already occupied the area. In 1819, Spain ceded the area to the U.S. for $5 million. It was given the name "Jacksonville" after Andrew Jackson, the president of the U.S. at the time.

Due to its location in northern Florida, Jacksonville climate is temperate, with the seasonal change that is not found in the other cities of Florida. Crisp blue skies with sunshine year-round offer ideal weather, making Jacksonville nice no matter what season it is. Temperatures average from 90°F during the summer months to 50°F during the winter months. Combine this weather with Jacksonville's state parks and public beaches, and the environment welcomes an array of outdoor recreation including biking, kayaking, hiking, swimming, surfing, fishing, bird watching, and camping.

Along with Jacksonville's ideal weather are a variety of attractions and activities in which to participate. For those who seek the fun and excitement of the nightlife, Jacksonville has many offerings. Enjoy live music and drinks at Thee Imperial or the Jacksonville Landing. As well, satisfy appetites of all flavors at the Burrito Gallery and The Wine Cellar. If attractions are on the list of things to do, see exotic creatures at the Jacksonville Zoological Gardens or peruse various art exhibitions at the Jacksonville Museum of Modern Art. The city certainly doesn't leave sports fans out. The NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars can be seen playing at ALLTEL Stadium.

Jacksonville is the leader in transportation and distribution for the state of Florida. The city's economy is strong and diverse, being equally balanced amongst financial services, transportation, distribution, biomedical technology, information services, manufacturing, consumer goods, and other industries. As well, the city is the largest deepwater port in the South Atlantic, leading the U.S. in automobile imports. Several companies have operations in Jacksonville including CSX Transportation, Winn-Dixie, TNT Logistics, Gate Petroleum, Tiger Telematics, and Stein Mart.

Going to School in Jacksonville

The Jacksonville area has several of institutions of higher education. These include private, public, and technical/professional schools. A sampling of these include the following:

Private Universities/Colleges

Public Universities/Colleges

Technical/Professional Schools

The educational institutions of Jacksonville offer several areas of study to students. A sampling of a few of those areas is as follows but not limited to:

Accounting, Anthropology, Applied Mathematics, Architectural Urban Design, Architecture, Art, Biological and Physical Sciences, Biology, Broadcasting, Business Administration and Management, Business Marketing and Marketing Management, Chemistry, City Community & Regional Planning, Civil Engineering, Communications, Computer Information Sciences, Counseling and Guidance, Criminal Justice, Curriculum and Instruction, Economics, Education Administration, Educational Psychology, Electronics, Engineering, English Composition, Technical Writing, Environmental Science, Finance, French, Geography, Geology, German, Health Services Administration, History, Information Systems, International Business, Journalism, Landscape Architecture, Library Science, Mathematics, Mechanical Engineering, Music, Organizational Behavior Studies, Philosophy, Physics General, Physiological Psychology, Psychobiology, Political Science, Psychology, Public Administration, Social Sciences, Sociology, Spanish, and Special Education.

When so many options exist in company with so many more, how can a student decide on one that's right for them? A good place to start would be examining one's own values, strengths, skills, and interests. During this process of self-assessment, questions students could ask themselves could include 'what do I want to be?', 'what do I like to do?', and 'what am I good at?'

Additionally, students can seek out career counseling by utilizing a school's student services. During this process, students can try to establish their particular niche. Once a student has established this, they can begin to pursue it by researching the industry and attending networking events such as career fairs. As well, they can do an internship at a related job, to gain experience as well as a taste for the field. It's important to have experience both in and outside of the classroom.

Beyond interests, a student could also consider the area's economic demands, should there be an interest in remaining there after they've graduated. "Right now, Jacksonville is focused on aviation and aerospace, health sciences, and construction and manufacturing" says Paula Chaon, Senior Director of Education and Workforce Development at the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce.

"Internet technology, logistics, finance, and insurance are significant too. Fidelity National Financial just moved their headquarters here," she adds. "Merrill Lynch will be adding 800 jobs here as well."

The economy in Jacksonville, as it is expanding, leaves some employers with a higher demand for skilled individuals. "The nursing shortage, nationally, is reflected in Jacksonville's economy," says Chaon. "We need more nurses. Jacksonville has several health systems with a lot of jobs."

Costs

Tuition rates in Jacksonville vary depending on which school a student attends. In most cases, tuition at private institutions and technical schools are higher than those at public institutions. A few examples of tuition rates are as follows:

Private Universities

  • Jacksonville University - $9.985 per semester, full-time

Public Universities

  • University of North Florida - $1,634.25 per semester, full-time resident; $7,455.30 per semester, full-time non-resident

Technical/Professional Schools

  • Florida Technical College of Jacksonville - $26,000 (based on an 18 month associates degree program)

The listed examples are basic tuition rates and do not include additional costs such as lab fees, housing fees, book fees, meal plan fees, and several other miscellaneous fees sometimes applied by institutions. Students should check into these additional costs as well.

Financial Aid

While often seeming an insurmountable task, there are ways that higher education can be made affordable. To start, there are conventional financial aid programs that nearly every institution of higher education offers. These programs will offer tuition assistance to those who demonstrate financial need. Information on these programs can be acquired through schools' financial aid departments and/or websites.

Along with financial aid programs are grants. These do not need repaid. They may come from the institution itself, or the government. In addition, state and Federal loans are available. Beginning six months after the conclusion of studies, loans must be paid back. Examples of such loans are the Federal Stafford, the Federal Plus, and the Perkins loan. Out of 10 million student's applications for these loans every year, 9 million will receive them.

Additional options are scholarships, which do not need to be paid back. Some are scholarships available nationally to students as part of a competition. Others available are limited to those that fall within set criteria. These criteria may include but are not limited to ethnicity, sex, geographic location, sexual orientation, race, and field of study.

Examples of scholarships available to students in Jacksonville are as follows:

  • Florida Academic Scholars Award: 100% of tuition and fees paid
  • Florida Medallion Scholars Award: 75% of tuition and fees paid
  • Florida Gold Seal Vocational Scholars Award: 75% of tuition and fees paid

For more information on Florida-specific programs, visit the Florida Department of Education Office of Financial Assistance and the Florida Student Aid websites.

Internships

Employers want to see more than an education when they look over a resume. Practical work experience is a valuable asset that they expect to see as well. So why should one do an internship? An internship provides an opportunity to gain that experience, as well as make valuable networking contacts that could come in handy in the future. "Students will gain valuable knowledge and experience related to their major field of study," says Lenroy Jones, Associate Director of Career Services at the University of North Florida.

More than a job, an internship is a chance to study, to give to the community, and to cultivate the skills and conduct necessary to do the job. As well, it can help a student to determine if they have chosen the career that is right for them. "Many students remain with their internship employer through graduation," Jones continues, "and many receive offers of full-time employment upon graduation."

Available as both credit and non-credit; paid and un-paid, internships may occur in many settings including non-profit, corporate, and non-profit business sectors. In due time, they give the student an upper-hand advantage that's is necessary to be successful in today's job market.

Employment in Jacksonville

The schools Jacksonville provide numerous resources for students in regards to careers and employment. An excellent example of these resources is Career Services at the University of North Florida. "We start by assisting students with internships through cooperative education" says Lenroy Jones. "Internships can turn into a students first job."

UNF also provides several career expos and job fairs, which can provide numerous full-time and part-time opportunities to students. As well, these events can provide students with valuable networking contacts for future use.

"The UNF Career Expo provides students with an excellent opportunity to develop their network, explore career options, and discuss employment opportunities with representatives from a wide range of organizations," Jones adds. "It is not an 'interviewing' fair. Students give them resumes and get business cards to follow up at a later time."

Summary

Jacksonville, a city bursting with cultural diversity, provides several educational resources for students. Combine that with a prosperous economy, idyllic weather, and numerous recreational activities, and anyone can see that Jacksonville is a great place to pursue higher education.

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