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Students walk the campus at UCF Orlando between classes. / Source: highlander411 via Flickr

UCF One of Nation’s Top Ten Most Innovative Universities

ORLANDO, Fla. — The U.S. News and World Report’s Best Colleges of 2019 named Central Florida University among its top ten most innovative universities in the country. This places the college ahead of Harvard, Yale, and Johns’ Hopkins University, having climbed an impressive 15 spots since last year’s evaluation. The ‘Best Colleges’ report is a nationally recognized ranking system, and quantifies “innovative improvements in terms of curriculum, faculty, students, campus life, technology, (and) facilities.”

UCF’s innovations include but are not limited to: Digital and Adaptive Learning, real world internships in downtown Orlando, state-of-the-art medical research facilities, and the DirectConnect to UCF Program.

Digital and Adaptive Learning is UCF’s unique version of online school, which is believed to accelerate the process of earning a degree. The curriculum of 80 per cent of students at UCF involves at least one online course. “We have a unique opportunity to serve more students as a national model for academic excellence, inclusion and affordability,” says President Dale Whittaker, UCF. The availability of such resources as web-based coursework has no doubt revolutionized the collegiate experience.

The development of online educative techniques such as teacher Tammy Muhs’s personalization of Freshman algebra courses echoes research in meta cognition. Muhs’s fresh take on the virtual classroom includes templates for determining individual aptitude, and allows students to complete coursework at their own pace within the predetermined timeline of the semester.

 

An anonymous student of one such online program says of online learning: “It’s super easy. I can just Google the answers from the tests and I never have to retain anything.” Virtual classrooms, while convenient and cost effective, may actually be a hindrance to the educative process because they allow students to bypass crucial checks and balances within the system; and to secure high GPAs without ever actually learning anything other than how to navigate a search engine.

UCF”s downtown location will offer 7,700 students of UCF and Valencia College the opportunity to engage in internships in their respective chosen fields. This kind of real-time learning will aid and facilitate the application of classroom knowledge to real-life situations. This is actually a good idea, and addresses the growing schism between print qualification and hands-on job experience.

University of Central Florida’s Lake Mona Medical and Cancer Centers both feature state-of-the-art treatment and research facilities. The Centers offer a space in which students, teachers, and researchers are able to conduct the development of potentially life-saving treatments and cures.

The DirectConnect to UCF program acts as a sort of assimilation aid for upwards of 46,000 students, especially those belonging to underrepresented groups, and enables them to earn high quality four-year Bachelor’s degrees. The program guarantees admission to students from a pool of six state colleges and embeds advisers on campus who help to ease students’ transition from state college to university.

UCF was also featured in the following categories of the US News’ Best Colleges of 2019 report:

  • “A+ Schools for B Students”
  • Best Undergraduate Engineering Program (#80)
  • Best Public University (#87)
  • Best National University (#165)
  • Online Undergraduate Programs (#13)
  • Online Undergraduate Programs for Veterans (#25)

President Whittaker also commented: “UCF is defining what it means to be a 21st-century university committed to fueling the talent, ideas and innovation that will drive our community and state forward.” UCF has not only received public commendation from the US News, but stands on a short list of universities being accredited by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundations as examples of what a higher education should look like.

Following Melinda’s and his visit to the campus last October, Bill wrote on his blog that “conventional wisdom in higher education dictates that bigger is not better. UCF is challenging this storyline by proving that a university can have it all: a large, diverse student population, high standards and affordable tuition.” He went on to praise the University’s success in nearly tripling its student population since 1992, as well as “reducing costs, boosting its graduate rate and expanding access for low-income and first-generation students.”

The University boasts a whopping 15,000 graduates each year, with this year’s number of enrolled students reaching numbers of around 68,000. Not only does the University have a quantity of students; with an average Freshman GPA of 4.11, the establishment boasts the appearance of quality in education as well.

 

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