A Visit to Rollins College

If you live in the northern part of the country, right around January (post holidays but well before the onset of spring), you understand the winter blahs and the appeal of heading south for a few days to soak up enough sun to (hopefully!) get you through the weeks before warmth returns to our part of the country. Thus, you understand my reasoning for departing a few days early for the College Preparatory Invitational Horse Show in Wellington, Florida.

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Spanish-style architecture is a hallmark of Rollins’ 70-acre campus along the shore of Lake Virginia.

The extra time also gave me the chance to do something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, which is pay a visit to Florida’s oldest institution of higher education, Rollins College in sunny Winter Park.

Located just north of the excitement and activity of Orlando, Winter Park is a sleepy hamlet situated on the shores of Lake Virginia and the Rollins campus rolls out its 70 acres right along the lake’s shoreline. (U.S. News & World Report named Rollins one of the 50 most amazing campuses in the nation for a reason, readers.) What’s more, unlike the sprawling public universities that Florida is largely known for, the college is small (just under 2,000 students, plus a small graduate population of around 500) and centered on the ideals of the liberal arts.

Thanks to its tourist-y location and proximity to some of the nation’s most popular theme parks, business is Rollins’ most popular major (with international business a very popular focus – over 70% of the student body studies off campus at least once during their four years), followed closely by marine biology (which is also no surprise, given the College’s location). The theatre and music arts are also extremely popular with majors and non-majors alike and productions and concerts are well-attended so there’s always an audience for those who wish to perform.

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The campus walkways are tree-lined and you might even catch a glimpse of one of the resident campus cats as you pass from building to building.

Rollins attracts outdoor lovers from all corners of the country (40 states and even more countries are represented in the diverse student body) and with 22 NCAA Division II varsity sports – plus a water ski team that competes in NCAA Division I – it’s easy for students to stay active in the Florida sun. (In fact, whether you’re athletic or not, it’s hard to pass up the opportunity to take your homework out onto the Green in the center of campus and study outside year-round.)

For riders, Rollins offers a club team that competes in the hunt seat division of the IHSA and eventers should consider putting the school on their list if they want a great liberal arts education within an hour and a half of the Ocala eventing scene.

Finally, for visitors to the Rollins campus, I recommend a stay at the nearby Alfond Inn, a high-class boutique hotel that not only offers an exceptional experience for guests but also feeds its profits directly into a scholarship fund for future Rollins students. (Also of note, the French toast on the breakfast menu alone is worth the price of admission!)

Would Rollins be a good fit for your next four years? Contact me to discuss or pick up a copy of my book to guide your college search from start to finish.

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