I will be talking to Brent Benner, the Director of Enrollment Management at the University of Tampa about the many good things currently happening at the University of Tampa and why it should be a school you would take a closer look at.
About The University of Tampa
Tampa is a private University located in urban down town Tampa Florida on a 110-acre campus that has over 8,000 students representing all fifty states and 140 countries. The University supports its students that have an active campus life with numerous publications, student ran TV and radio stations and newspaper. There are over 200 student organizations, intramural sports and ROTC units for army, navy, and air force. The school offers 200 areas of study and has completed $530 million dollars in new construction since 2008, adding academic, athletic, recreational, living and parking facilities.
In This Episode You Will Learn
- advice he would give high school students to get into the University of Tampa
- what type of course load and rigor he expects to see students take in high school
- his opinion on weighted GPA
- some interesting things people may not know about the University of Tampa
- the tremendous internship opportunities available to University of Tampa students
- the types of students who are going to thrive and do well at the University of Tampa
- You are heavily involved with recruitment and application processing, what else keeps you busy?
- In terms of time of year the application deadline for Early Admission 1 has just passed. You have Early Admission 2 in January and then you’ve got your Regular Admission Date of March 1. So how busy are you doing application processing at this point?
- How about some of your strategic objectives that you currently have at the University of Tampa that factor into the types of students you admit?
- What are your popular graduate programs right now?
- When I looked at the $530MM spending your school has done over the past 10 years, it’s remarkable. You’re able to invest into the amenities of the school which I’m sure has been really well received by students. Is this an important principle of the school?
- What advice Brent would you give to high school freshman considering college one day? What kind of advice would you give them to help them out and get them on the right road to getting admitted into schools like the University of Tampa?
- What would you say about rigor in terms of high school classes? A lot of students today are taking a heavy course load in IB, AP, and Honors. They are trying to get a high grade point average and land in a high class rank. Is that an important approach do you think to take a rigorous course load?
- Tell me a few things that some people might not know about University of Tampa.
- What is it that gets students those internships? So if I’m thinking about University of Tampa and I’m going to be close to a lot of corporations, you are in an urban area, what majors are these companies interested in? Does major matter?
- For new students what kind of students do best at your school, you know when they arrive there as freshman what kind of students are going to thrive and do well?
- How should students that are interested in finding out more information about the University of Tampa, schedule a college tour, or apply to your school?
Jason Hilliard: Hi welcome to this episode of the higher graduate podcast I’m Jason Hilliard your host and today we will be interviewing the director of the Enrollment Management at the University of Tampa Brent Benner, now for those of you who don’t know the University of Tampa is a private University located in urban down town Tampa Florida on a 110 acre campus that has over 8,000 students representing all 50 states and a 140 countries. The University supports its students that have an active campus life with numerous publications, student ran TV and radio stations and newspaper. There are over 200 student organizations, intramural sports and ROTC units for army, navy, and air force. The school offers 200 areas of study and has completed 530 million dollars in new construction since 2008, adding an amazing academic athletic fitness and recreation living and parking facilities. I noticed the mayor of Tampa Bob Buckhorn described how Tampa is in the midst of an amazing ten year transformation and that the University and the Entrepreneur Center are a big part of that. So on the line we have Brent Benner, Director of the Enrollment Management at the University of Tampa.
Thank you Brent for taking the time out of your busy schedule, I see we’ve just passed the early action 1 deadline of November 15th this week, so you entering into a busy season of your applications.
Brent Benner: That’s true Jason I’ve spent a lot of times reading files these days.
Jason Hilliard: I bet you do, you are heavily involved with recruitment and application processing, what else keeps you busy?
Brent Benner: Well you know Enrollment Management is kind of an intriguing 21st century term. As Director of Enrollment Management, it’s kind of a fancy way of saying that you are over college admissions. But it is a little bit more than that. I am over undergraduate admission, graduate admission, the registrar’s office and financial aid at the University at Tampa. Our goal is to try and make everything more of a one-stop shop, rather than having those four different units moving in silos. So that’s basically what I do.
Jason Hilliard: Great, okay, well I’m sure that keeps you busy. In terms of time of year the application deadline for Early Admission 1 has just passed. You have Early Admission 2 in January and then you’ve got your Regular Admission Date of March 1. So how busy are you doing application processing at this point, since is it early in the cycle? Do you have much fewer applications now or are you starting to see a groundswell?
Brent Benner: No we have already had almost 10,000 applications submitted and we’ll probably have close to 23,000-ish this year. Most of the students who enroll at the University of Tampa do apply early and most years we are completely full by February 1st. We start wait listing students from February 1st forward, so early is definitely good when it comes to applying. I think this applies to anywhere in the country pretty much but particularly here at University of Tampa.
Jason Hilliard: Okay, well that’s definitely good to know. I think, and from research and from hearing from other schools that early admissions is not a bad thing to do if you have decided on that short list of schools that you’re interested in. I think that a lot of students are expanding their options to try to make sure that they are getting entry into schools because it is more competitive these days. How about some of your strategic objectives that you currently have at the University of Tampa?
Brent Benner: Well, at University of Tampa, part of our mission has always been what we call international competency. We help students study here in the US and as you mentioned earlier we are not a regional University. With our demographics we have 140 countries represented unlike a lot of universities that have students from namely just one country, or one continent. We do have a lot of international students, about 15% of or student body which is a nice slice of the world’s pie. Students come from all over and so that’s part of our mission because we think that’s very important for students to not only know people across the country but people across the world. In the 21st century pretty much every business, every field is an international one, and we think that’s really important in giving our students a leg up when they do graduate from here. So the diversity issue is always a strategic objective of ours. We travel all over the world to recruit students, we actually go to Zimbabwe to recruit students, my director of international admission is in the Middle East right now going to Dubai, Jordon, United Arab Emirates. We go everywhere and so that’s a big part of our mission. I would say we’re about maxed out in terms our undergraduate population. We’ll grow a little bit every year but no major growth there. However in our graduate programs we do expect to expand and we are currently doing that. Right now to give you an example we have 7,300 undergraduate students and about 1,000 graduate students. That percentage is going to change as our percentage of graduate students will grow in the future.
Jason Hilliard: It sounds that there is potential for growth in your graduate programs, what are your popular graduate programs right now?
Brent Benner: Mainly business, nursing, education, and MS in exercise and nutrition science which is pretty big, and we are going to be starting a Physician Assistant program. We’ve already hired a Director for the PA program. We are also rolling out a Masters in Criminology and Criminal Justice.
Jason Hilliard: Great, sounds like some good things on the horizon. When I looked at the spending your school has done over the past 10 years, it’s remarkable. I can only envision cranes set up all over your campus building all of the new facilities. That’s just a tremendous show of give back into the school. It demonstrates that the University of Tampa has enjoyed some success. I see record application growth and a lot of positive things. You’re able to put that back into the amenities of the school which I’m sure has been really well received by faculty and students.
Brent Benner: Oh absolutely. In fact a lot of university presidents put money into the school’s endowment fund versus into the physical plant and the programs at the University. Our president is a firm believer in putting the best foot forward for the students. He’s a dad as well as a college president, his daughter was a pre-vet biology major here in Tampa, who is now a practicing vet who does veterinarian medicine here in Tampa. Having a daughter go through he knows how important it is to provide your students with the best facilities, the best labs, the best experiential learning and education you can. So it’s nice because you know putting a lot of money into your endowment doesn’t really do a student a lot of good. It may look nice on some of your reports and may make your board of trustees feel good, but it’s really, it’s all about the student experience so they really take advantage of great facilities.
Jason Hilliard: Yeah, it definitely shows through and in the profile that’s available on your web site is really outlined a lot of that new building and development in those amenities and all those academically, athletically, recreationally, living areas, and parking. It is just quite remarkable, so I was definitely interested in seeing all that and going back in time would definitely think Tampa would be a wonderful opportunity and something I would consider when building my college list. So that’s great to see.
Jason Hilliard: What advice Brent would you give to high school freshman considering college one day? What kind of advice would you give them to help them out and get them on the right road to getting admitted into the University of Tampa?
Brent Benner: Well I think what a lot of students don’t realize is that grades provide opportunities. The higher a student’s grades the more options they are going to have. More opportunity and less cost. When it comes to going to college a lot of people think that it’s highly complex to get in and to pay for. The cost of college is pretty simple. It will usually just come down to three factors: what a student’s grades are, what their test scores are, and what their parents expected family contribution or EFC is. That’s really the bottom line in terms of what students will have to pay to college plus what their debt is going to be when they leave college. I would just drive home the importance of getting good grades. It’s not about pleasing your parents, it’s about providing you options for the future. And again I’m a dad of four kids and I know of my kids the ones that got good grades had a lot of options, the ones that didn’t had very limited options.
Jason Hilliard: Yeah, that makes sense. What would you say about rigor in terms of high school classes? You know a lot of students today are taking a heavy course load in IB, AP, and Honors. They are trying to get a high grade point average and land in a high class rank. Is that an important approach do you think to take a rigorous course load?
Brent Benner: I think it’s very important to take a rigorous curriculum and the research shows it. Even here we do a lot of predictive modelling and a lot of research on what type of students succeed. I think this true nationally not just here in Tampa but even students who get Cs in AP courses do better in college than students who don’t take AP courses. Now I’m certainly not suggesting that students get Cs in AP courses. In fact, many people in college admissions dislike weighted grades and I’m one of those people. I remind people that if you going to take AP classes or IB classes you really need to get As in them because don’t think that a B in a AP class is going to be viewed as an A, or a C in a AP class is going to viewed as a B by your college administrator, it’s not. It just shows if you can do well and if you can compete with the other people sitting in that class. I always like to remind parents of students that a weighted grade point average is a really minor league thing in college. There’s no such thing as a waited GPA in college. If you sit in a 4-hour Organic Chemistry class that A is worth just as much as an A in a 4-hour Theology class. The sooner students can get weighted average out of their minds the better off they are going to be. I have kids come up to me and they say Mr Benner I have a 5.1 GPA. That means absolutely nothing to me. I have no idea what that means. They could have gotten many B’s. But when I go to that same student and say. “What was your GPA in the four point 0 scale?” and they say 3.9, well I know what that means. So again waited GPA is often misleading. I think the importance of that is, while people view that as very important in high school, people in college don’t do view it important at all. In fact it’s a bit meaningless.
Jason Hilliard: Okay, alright that’s good to know so thank you for that, now tell me a few things that some people might not know about University of Tampa.
Brent Benner: Well we talked about one of those things that people are shocked about how diverse we are, not only in terms of ethnicity here or where people are from or religion but we are socioeconomically diverse. We’re very diverse in what people study here, we have a lot of talent base major such as art, performing art, music. We even have Applied Dance as a major. Film is huge here. On the other end of the spectrum in fact we have Finance and Accounting majors. We’re very big in Science so it’s kind of fun in a sense that you don’t have a lot of people studying basically one type of curriculum here, you have, it’s kind of a melting pot across the board. So that’s one thing I don’t think a lot of people know is our level of our diversity. The second thing I think a lot of people don’t know is you have the ability to walk to internships and really build your resume while you going to school. That’s a huge advantage that our students have over other schools, who would have to wait until summer to build their resumes and get internships. I don’t think people know how relatively easy it is to really build your resume here during your four years at the University of Tampa.
Jason Hilliard: I think that is a very value add point to make here that is, it needs to be heard I believe by our listeners. I had internships at every year of college. My experience taught me that I didn’t want to be a lawyer, it taught me I didn’t want to be a stock broker, and those internships were very enriching. My senior year I had an internship at an insurance company in the finance department. I had a finance degree undergraduate and that experience basically got me my job offer. The spring of my senior year I crossed the stage at graduation with a job offer waiting for me in corporate America. I graduated happy with a job. Internships I do believe are huge and are very critical, almost as important as any other thing that you can do at college. I think having that access to internships and corporations at the University of Tampa is an advantage. I think I saw in your college profile online about a thousand internship opportunities available in any given year at the University of Tampa, which is tremendous.
Brent Benner: Yeah, you know you are correct. Well again, if you are a student, and if this may sound odd that I say this but I really firmly believe it, but then again I’m being a dad of two kids that graduated from here and can say that if you don’t have a pretty solid resume and internship experience when leaving Tampa then you haven’t tried.
Jason Hilliard: What is it that gets students those internships? So if I’m thinking about University of Tampa and I’m going to be close to a lot of corporations, you are in an urban area, what majors are these companies interested in? Does major matter?
Brent Benner: I don’t think major really matters that much in terms of getting internships because so many are available. I would say there are three big industries that most students get internships at in Tampa. Number one is the sports industry, it’s huge in Florida, so if you are a sports management or human performance athletic training major you could walk to internships for the Tampa Lightning. In fact, I have a son who is a senior here and even though he’s a molecular biology major he’s got a Broadcast journalism type internship with Tampa Bay Lightning. We have internships with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Tampa hosts five Major League Baseball spring training teams within 45 minutes of here including two teams that they have high A ball in The Clearwater Phillies and the New York Yankees. Sports internships are just all over the place, molecular biology majors can get them trust me anybody can get them. And then the medical industry is huge here the number 1 hospital of Florida is Tampa General Hospital. We have four pre-med internships each year with Tampa General. That’s where our nurses do their clinical rounds. We have really good internships across the board. Not only in the medical industry but in the finance, we have finance majors, marketing majors, doing work with Tampa General plus we have one of the leading alzheimers Research Institute in the world here the Bird Alzheimers Institute and the Market Cancer Center which in today’s Tampa Bay times I saw there’s an 800 million dollar expansion plan for market cancer research institute. So again there’s a lot of things available there as well as in the industry that you started in Jason, the finance and banking industry. Tampa is one of the main finance and banking areas in West Central Florida. My daughter was a Marine Science major and for her internship she walked to her internship at the Florida Aquarium. We have the number one newspaper in terms of circulation at Tampa Bay Times, it’s 4 blocks from campus. NBC studios has opportunities. I can go on and on but I think you get the picture though because we the only University in downtown Tampa. The next closest University is thirteen and a half miles away so we really kind of own the internships here.
Jason Hilliard: I’m excited to think about that whole dimension of going to school, I think that’s as good of a way you can to school along with all that you offer.
For new students what kind of students do best at your school, you know when they arrive there as freshman what kind of students are going to thrive and do well?
Brent Benner: I have been here for eleven years and I’ve seen some students do well and I’ve seen some students not do well. The successful students commonly have three main characteristics.
- Number one successful students are very metropolitan people, they like cities.
- Number two successful students are very cosmopolitan, I think our students thrive on diversity they like studying with people different than them, with different cultures, from other parts of the world. Students self-select out if they don’t like the diversity apparent at our university. When prospective students come to our campus they see that, that diversity that we are all about.
- Number three is our successful students are confidently independent. We had two retention analysts on our campus and the number one reason students leave University of Tampa is homesickness. A lot of students think they can study far away from home like most of our students do. Again only 23% of our students are from Florida. Most students are studying here a long way from home, in fact the average just the average US students studies here 900 miles from home. Our students are very independent. I’m not saying our students are more mature than the average college students, I think students are very typical in terms of maturity but they are incredibly independent, they are much more independent and do well far away from mom and dad than the average student.
That’s what I think is big in terms of setting yourself up for success here.
Jason Hilliard: Well, Brent I have definitely learned a lot and appreciate the time you have taken to talk to us today. You have given us great information about the University of Tampa.
How should students that are interested in finding out more information about the University of Tampa, schedule a college tour, or apply to your school?
Brent Benner: They can do everything on our website. We have an online calendar where they can look at the many different visit opportunities we have and sign up with one that suits them. Our website is www.ut.edu. We accept the common application, the universal college application and have our own on line application as well.
Jason Hilliard: Okay, well great, thanks again Brent, and thank you listeners this has been helpful information for students building their college list and trying to figure out where to go to college.