Florida is a state perhaps best known for its extraordinary tourism industry. From coast-to-coast, all throughout the landscape, there are activities and attractions that appeal to any visitor's tastes and interests. What with all the fanfare that some of the state's attractions and activities get, less attention is often paid to the fact that Florida has a significant number of outstanding educational institutions at the university level. Three of these fine schools are briefly highlighted here.

University of Central Florida

Located in Orlando, the University of Central Florida (UCF) boasts an enrollment of 68,571 students in 2019, and according to Hilton, they’re one of the largest universities in the US. Although most everyone knows what the Orlando area has to offer tourists—home to the Walt Disney World complex, Universal Studios, Sea World, and other attractions—this is not an exhaustive list.

Originally opened in 1968, as Florida Technological University (and renamed UCF in 1978), its early mission was providing personnel to support our nation's space program at Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Their academic focus has expanded much wider, well beyond technology and engineering, but its space roots are still there, as they lead the NASA Florida Space Grant Consortium.

University of Florida

The University of Florida (UF), based in Gainesville, is unquestionably best known for its top-flight football and basketball programs in the powerful SEC conference in NCAA Division I play. But UF is also recognized as one of the nation's finest academic institutions, ranking number seven nationally among all public universities in 2020. Student enrollment adds up to 56,079, making it Florida's third-largest university by enrollment. According to Avis, the University of Florida is America's 8th largest campus and students make up one-third of the population of Gainesville. UF is a public-land grant, sea-grant, and space-grant research university which dates back to 1853.

Among the extensive list of accolades, UF is classified as "R1: Doctoral Universities-Very High research activity." Outside of hitting the books, there are plenty of college extracurricular activities for students going on here. Offered on-campus are more than 60 club and intramural sports, two lakes, a midnight fun run, personal training, and one of the finest fitness facilities in the nation. Off-campus, there are many things to do in Gainesville itself. Visitors can check out activities and sites in town, which include: bars and nightclubs, boat tours, concerts and other shows, zoos, aquariums, museums, and watersports.

Florida International University

What may come as a big surprise to most everyone outside of the campus, is that Florida International University (FIU) is the second-largest university in Florida by enrollment. Located in the greater Miami area, it is classified as a research university by the Florida Legislature and a "very high research activity" university under the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. FIU's School of Architecture is recognized as being among the nation's finest programs in this curriculum.

Other programs offered here include: Music; Arts, Sciences, & Education; Business Administration; Engineering & Computing; Honors College; College of Law; Medicine, Nursing, & Health Sciences; Hospitality & Tourism Management; Journalism & Mass Communication; International & Public Affairs; and Public Health & Social Work.

Ranked in the top 5 most visited states in the U.S, there is not much you can’t do in Florida. But Florida isn’t all just fun and sun, they also boast some amazing educational institutions and programs. These programs turn out hard-working grads that will be helping to shape our nation's future for many years to come.

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