Florida Gulf Coast University – Southwest Florida’s Emerging Institution

Florida Gulf Coast University, or FGCU, is one of the newest universities to make its debut in academe, opening its doors in August 1996.  Much of the impetus behind its incorporation was the overwhelming desire of Southwest Florida residents to host a world-class university in their midst. Not surprisingly, the allure of a mild climate, lots of sunshine and nearby beaches has helped FGCU more than double its student enrollments every year since inception to more than 10,000 students for 2008-09.  In an era of college educations that cost upwards of $40,000 a year in tuition, FGCU is a relative bargain with out-of-state annual tuition averaging $17K.

Located on 760 acres in the heart of Southwest Florida, FGCU has carefully mapped out its location to maximize the surrounding wildlife and nature preserves and offer a “living laboratory” to students, faculty, and alumnae.  True to this mission, FGCU is heralded as one of the most ecologically sound campuses in North America.  The University recently purchased waterfront property in Bonita Springs with the intention of developing a marine research laboratory to further capitalize on its coastal location and the abundance of marine and bird life.

A co-ed institution, FGCU is four-year with accreditation to award associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees.  As of the fall of 2008, the University offers 51 undergraduate and 31 graduate degree programs in Arts and Sciences, Business, Education, and Health Professions. With the plethora of resorts and restaurants in the region, the Resort and Hospitality Management program is one of the more popular majors.  Students can participate in an active internship program at some of the world’s premier resorts located just minutes from campus.  Biology and criminal justice are also growing programs.  The Division of Justice Studies is in its first year of offering a Master of Science in Criminal Forensic Studies, paving the way for future CSI investigators.

Students praise the small class sizes and individual attention with an 18:1 teacher/student ratio at the undergraduate level. FGCU is also one of the most technologically advanced campuses in the world with a campus-wide high-speed Internet network.  Classrooms all feature fully equipped multimedia instructional systems that include Internet access, cameras and audio and video presentation capabilities.   Capitalizing on its expertise, FGCU has hosted an Informational Technology (IT) forum for the past eight years, connecting area experts with MBA students in Germany.

While many students barely tolerate dorm or off-campus living during their college years, the 2,400 students who live in FGCU campus housing enjoy a comparatively luxurious existence.  Residences are apartment-style, completely furnished and wired for high-speed Internet access.  Full-size kitchens, spacious living rooms overlooking the lake, and automated laundry facilities are additional touches that give new meaning to the college experience.  Other amenities include a swimming pool, barbecue areas, beach volleyball, and easy access to lake water sports.

Athletics are an increasingly large part of the FGCU program and encompass baseball, men’s basketball, men’s golf, men’s soccer, men’s tennis, softball, volleyball, women’s basketball, women’s cross country, women’s golf, women’s soccer, women’s swimming and diving, and women’s tennis, among others. The women’s teams have performed especially well, despite the newness of the programs with the women’s basketball team ending their 35-1 season with a loss in the Division II National Championship.  As of the 2007-2008 academic year, FGCU moved to Division I sports.

Despite its sunny climate and laid-back atmosphere, FGCU offers a solid classroom experience.  While students can take courses in paradise, graduates are well prepared to excel in today’s tech-savvy and increasingly green environment.

Accredited Life Experience Degree – How to Obtain One From a Reputable Institution

Don’t be fooled when you are looking for an accredited life experience degree. Some accredited colleges and universities do allow you to earn credit for life-experiences, but they do not allow you to earn your entire degree through experiences.

You cannot earn an accredited life experience degree based only on your life-experiences. Some learning programs consider students’ real experience and grant credits accordingly. There is some on-campus and online universities that offer students credit reductions for proven work experience and knowledge in a relevant field. The degree is mostly used as a search tool for a job and is not as impressive as the traditional degree.

Be careful, there are literally hundreds of institutions online offering a degree which could be fraudulent or illegal. Some institutions will reveal their accreditation status and some will try to fool you into thinking that they are a regionally accredited institution.

There are diploma mills that offer college accredited life experience degree programs and have no accreditation from an official accreditation board. Many of these types of institutions claim they have accreditation but they use a fake accrediting agency to make their accredited life-experience degree programs more attractive and also it makes them look more legitimate.

You can get an idea of a university’s general quality and reputation by its accreditation status. By attending regionally and nationally accredited universities you can be assured of a basic level of quality in education and services, your credits can most likely be transferable to other accredited institutions and your degree will most likely be recognized by colleges and employers as a legitimate credential.

Institutions are required to meet certain standards that the accreditation board establishes in order to become accredited. They are evaluated by their educational practices, policies, administration, financial standing, student services and their mission. If the institution is not listed on the U.S. Department of Education’s List of Nationally Recognized Accrediting Agencies then they are not a nationally recognized agency or The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

Before enrolling in a school make sure you check with the school’s admissions or the school’s counseling office to see if they will consider your outside experience and if they give credits for your outside knowledge and experience, many do not. Applying for accredited life experience degrees is not an easy task as you may think. It will take some time organizing and putting together your documents. You may be required to complete an experience application, present your work in a portfolio, provide references, meet with school officials and pass required test to obtain the credit which you are asking for.

In conclusion, if you are still interested in a degree and you have knowledge and experience in your field, but you have no diploma and you believe that an accredited life experience degree could give you some of the recognition you worked so hard for then consider only the regionally accredited programs to obtain your degree.