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Time survey names Florida A&M 'College of the Year'

Florida A&M campus

Flurry of college guides offer students advice

August 24, 1997
Web posted at: 2:10 p.m. EDT (1810 GMT)

(CNN) -- Time magazine and the Princeton Review College Guide began a new tradition this year by naming a single school College of the Year. The Time/Princeton college guide, which hits newsstands Sunday, tapped Florida A&M as its first winner.

The designation spotlights a school that has achieved excellence, while nurturing its student body. Jillian Kasky, senior editor of the guide, said the award does not necessarily mean Florida A&M is the best college in the nation.

"A lot of places say who they think is best, but we wanted to choose a college that was addressing one specific issue that our panel of 10 experts thought was the most critical issue this year," Kasky said.

After surveying the panel, they pinpointed access as the issue. "When other schools and other state systems are turning away minority students, Florida A&M is looking to create a better environment for those same students," she said.

Flood of college guides

The Time/Princeton Review guide includes information about hundreds of colleges, as well as a questionnaire to help students figure out where they might fit in.

It comes out amid a flood of publications aimed at anxious high school students and their parents. The publications cover just about every aspect of campus life, from finances to frat parties:

  • Looking for the most bang for your college buck? Money Magazine put the California Institute of Technology and Rice University at the top of its 1998 Best Buys list.

  • If parties are a priority, the Princeton Review guide -- a separate publication from the Time/Princeton publication -- lists The Best 311 Colleges, in which students rated West Virginia University as the top party school. The same guide lists overall quality of life for students, with categories like "Dorms like Palaces" and " Great Food" vs. "Is it Food?"

  • U.S. News & World Report takes a more serious look at colleges, with its top-to-bottom ranking of more than 1,400 schools. Harvard and Princeton tied for first this year.

Frederick Humphries

Florida A&M improves academics, students

Although the traditionally African-American Florida A&M might not be the best school for every student, the school has been recognized for making important gains since Frederick Humphries was seated in 1985 as its president.

The school has tripled its graduating class since then. At the same time it has gained recognition for its improved programs and higher-quality student body. Humphries says the school's purpose is to nurture African-American excellence one student at a time.

"Our theme for the university is excellence with caring," Humphries said.

"We demand a high standard, but we also are very sensitive to a student's needs and we try to fold them in, help them with values, teach them the promise of hard work and good academic performance in the classroom and then create a vision for themselves so they can go out and be first," he said.

He has been known to personally recruit top black high school achievers. And students at the university say entering freshmen get a message that the school offers more than an education.

"No matter where you come from, no matter what you were part of before, right now, from here on out, you're part of the family," one student said. "Here, it's love."

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