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New College connects through outreach

President Donal O’Shea

From SRQ on 1-9-21:

Finding the ideal college can be a daunting task for high school students, especially in an economic climate marked by financial uncertainty. So, this year, we at New College have taken extra steps to let Sarasota-Manatee’s students know they don’t have to travel far (or spend more) for a world-class education.

Just this fall, our enrollment team launched a guaranteed admission program for qualified students enrolled at six area high schools (Booker, Lakewood Ranch, North Port, Riverview, Sarasota and Southeast). Students who met the GPA, test score and course requirements were invited to apply to New College by December for the Fall 2021 semester. We can’t wait to introduce new local scholars to an exceptional college experience right in their hometown.

“New College is eager to attract more students from our surrounding communities who seek an affordable, highly individualized college education that integrates superb academics with career-building experience,” says Damon Wade, Ph.D., New College’s vice president for enrollment management. “For students in Sarasota and Manatee, the state of Florida’s honors college is literally in their backyard.”

We know that the rigorous academics at New College are a major draw for prospective applicants, but affordability can often be a hurdle. And we want students to be aware that we offer numerous financial aid programs at the federal and state levels, as well as scholarships that are unique to New College (such as the Four Winds Scholarship program and the Barancik Access Leadership Scholarship).

“Access Leadership is a New College program created to engage and support high-potential young leaders,” says Bill Woodson, Ph.D., dean of outreach and engagement and chief diversity officer at New College. “It is intended to reduce or eliminate financial barriers that might otherwise prevent a Manatee or Sarasota County high school student from benefitting from the exceptional preparation and leadership development opportunities that a New College education can provide.”

Woodson, who developed the College’s guaranteed admission partnerships, envisioned them as “a concrete commitment to accessibility to an all-honors education for qualified Manasota students.” The program is also open to State College of Florida students.

In November and December, as part of an effort to spread the word about these opportunities communitywide, New College joined a collaborative initiative called Choosing the College That’s Right for You (CCR4U).

During three CCR4U panel-style discussions, leaders from New College, SCF, the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee and Ringling College of Art + Design teamed up to connect with more than 100 Sarasota-Manatee high school students.

As members of the Cross College Alliance, all four colleges offer cross-registration, allowing students at any CCA school to sample classes from the other three institutions at no additional cost. This is a truly magnificent partnership that gives students access to more than 400 full-time faculty members and hundreds of courses, so that they can gain the skills they need for their future career goals.

Not only did the CCR4U panels give students information about their local higher education options, but they also introduced them to area youth leadership and scholarship programs, including UnidosNow (which focuses on the mentorship of Hispanic youth), the A. Jean Battie Scholarship Fund and the Sarasota YMCA Achievers.

From these panels, the young scholars in our area were able to learn more about New College and the incredible opportunities our institution provides.

They learned about how New College is known for its small class sizes and one-on-one mentorships with professors, and for having one of the highest proportions of future master’s and doctoral degree seekers of any school in the country. They heard about the remarkable success our alumni enjoy in their careers and graduate school programs (for example, within four months of graduation, 86 percent of students in the class of 2019 reported that they were employed, enrolled in graduate school or completing internships).

The CCR4U and guaranteed admission programs are just facets of a much larger goal—to continue connecting high school students with New College. We look forward to guiding them, welcoming them and showing them that the college of their dreams may be just around the corner.


Founded in Sarasota in 1960, New College of Florida is a top-ranked public liberal arts college and the state's Honors College of Florida. New College prepares intellectually curious students for lives of great achievement by providing a highly individualized education that integrates academic rigor with career-building experiences. New College offers 45 undergraduate majors in arts, humanities and sciences, a master’s degree program in data science, and certificates in technology, finance, and business skills.

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