Each year millions of high school seniors face the prospect of a drastically different life in the coming months. They will move out of their parents’ homes and live on their own for the first time. College freshman will for the first time have more control over their lives and be responsible for their own decisions such as going to class, shopping for groceries and necessities, and finding part time work to help support themselves. Perhaps the biggest decision these students face is deciding where to go for college.
There are roughly 4,216 accredited universities and colleges in the United States (as of 2004) that confer degrees upon their students at graduation. Each year a new class of high school seniors must choose between these schools when deciding where they want to attend college. These schools are found scattered around the country and consist of publicly funded four year institutions, private four year institutions, two year public and private schools, and community and technical colleges. While these schools are spread throughout the country, some of the best to choose from are located in America’s Gulf Coast states.
The Gulf Coast colleges region is known for its warm, damp summers, cool and comfortable winters and of course their beautiful and expansive sandy beaches. The Gulf Coast region is home to five states including:
All five of these states have coast lines that meet up with the Gulf of Mexico. In addition to almost year round beautiful weather, the region is home to some of the country’s top tourist destinations. What could be better than attending college in a region where the sun is always shining and the rest of the country pays thousands of dollars to come see beaches you can get to for much less?
The five states of the Gulf Coast region aren’t merely tourist destinations however, they make great places to live as well and draw thousands of students each year with the promise of good educations and employment afterward. Of the 4, 216 colleges and universities across the U.S., the states of the Gulf Coast region are home to 565 accredited institutions of higher learning. These 500+ schools are scattered throughout the five states as follows:
- Texas: 198
- Florida: 166
- Louisiana: 85
- Alabama: 75
- Mississippi: 41
Texas is home to nearly 200 colleges and universities, making the state home to the fourth highest concentration of higher learning institutions in the nation behind California (413), New York (309), and Pennsylvania (260). Texas is home to a number of America’s biggest and most vibrant cities including Dallas, Austin, Houston, and San Antonio. The weather is beautiful in the state year round with hot, humid summers and cool, comfortable winters. The state’s Gulf Coast region stretches from Galveston near Houston all the way through Corpus Christi and on down to the U.S.-Mexico border. Students who choose to go to school in Texas can enjoy the night life provided by the big cities such as Austin (renowned for its music scene) and Houston; or relax on the beaches of Galveston and Corpus Christi.
Florida houses the second highest concentration of schools in the Gulf Coast region and is well known for its pristine, white sandy beaches. The state has long been a tourist destination for millions of American who flock to cities such as Pensacola, Tampa Bay, and Naples to enjoy warm and humid weather throughout the year. Attending school in such a tropical region almost feels like an extended vacation instead of four years of learning!
Louisiana is next on the list with 85 colleges and universities scattered throughout the state. The Bayou State is unique among its Gulf Coast neighbors with a southern coastline dominated by more swampy marshes and water than solid, dry land. The beautiful scenery provides a lot of space for outdoor activities ranging from water sports to hunting and fishing. Should you choose to enroll in a school in Louisiana, don’t forget to take a break and visit New Orleans. Home to the French Quarter, Mardi Gras, and some of the best cuisine in the country; New Orleans is a treat for any visitor!
Alabama and Mississippi may have the least colleges and universities among the Gulf States, with 75 and 41 respectively; but they are not short on charm and beaches of their own to lure students. Students attending school in Alabama can travel north to the state’s largest city of Birmingham for modern shopping and entertainment, visit the capital city of Montgomery, or enjoy the beaches in and around Mobile. Mississippi bound students can visit the picturesque capital city of Jackson or head for the beaches of Biloxi on long weekends.
While most individuals in America are aware of the major public universities that exist in each state, many might be surprised by the immense variety of Gulf Coast colleges available to them. The various Gulf Coast colleges available in the Gulf Coast region include the following:
- Alabama: 47 Public Institutions (18 four year, 29 two year), 28 Private Institutions (17 four year, 11 two year)
- Florida: 40 Public Institutions (12 four year, 28 two year), 126 Private Institutions (83 four year, 23 two year)
- Louisiana: 61 Public Institutions (14 four year, 47 two year), 24 Private Institutions (12 four year, 12 two year)
- Mississippi: 26 Public Institutions (9 four year, 17 two year), 15 Private Institutions (11 four year, 4 two year)
- Texas: 109 Public Institutions (42 four year, 67 two year), 89 Private Institutions (56 four year, 33 two year)
As is plain to see there are a wide variety of Gulf Coast colleges for high school seniors to choose from, all of which are located in states with similar yet different climates. The social life, entertainment, and shopping are second to none and students will likely feel like they are on vacation as opposed to being stuck in school. Considering a Gulf Coast college could be the best decision you ever make!