11 Reasons Orlando is America’s Best College City

To celebrate Orlando being ranked the No. 2 city for job growth, here are 11 of the many reasons The City Beautiful is the perfect place to call home.

A recent report from WalletHub ranked Orlando as the No. 2 city for college students in the country and the No. 1 midsize college city in the U.S. The report, which was created by a quartet of college professors, compared more than 400 U.S. cities based on 28 key indicators measuring everything from job growth and earning potential to cost of living and attractions per capita. Surprised? We’re not. After all, Tars have taken advantage of The City Beautiful’s unique combination of epic opportunity and amazing adventure for years. To celebrate our hometown’s most recent accolade, we’ve assembled 11 of the many reasons Orlando is the perfect place for college students to call home.

1. Incredible internships

Alexis Satterwhite ’16 parlayed an internship at the Florida Hospital Innovation Lab into one of the coolest careers in health care directly after graduation.

Orlando ranks in the top 10 in the country for internships per capita, and Rollins has an entire office dedicated to helping our students secure the best career-builders. As a result, Tars have a serious leg up when it comes to landing their ideal internship. This semester, your future classmates are gaining real-world experience everywhere from Advent Health and Orlando City Soccer Club to the office of U.S. Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy—all without setting foot outside Orlando. Expect all that experience to pay off. Just ask grads like Alexis Satterwhite ’16, a Rollins psychology major who turned an internship at the Florida Hospital Innovation Lab into a career leading hospital employees through human-centered design thinking.

2. Career capital

Grace Soto ’17 is a software engineer at Lockheed Martin, one of the more than 150 international companies that do business in Orlando.

Just a few weeks after she walked across the commencement stage at Rollins, Grace Soto ’17 began her dream job as a software engineer at Lockheed Martin, one of the world’s top aerospace companies. That’s just one example of the epic opportunity awaiting Rollins grads right in our backyard. Orlando was recently named the No. 1 city in the U.S. for job growth (Department of Labor, 2015 and 2016), and the local job market shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, Forbes recently ranked Orlando the No. 6 best big city in the U.S. for jobs and the No. 2 city in the nation for future job growth. More than 150 international companies representing 20 countries do business in The City Beautiful. Opportunities? Yeah, they abound.

3. Community connections

Students in Zhaochang Peng’s Global Economy course developed promotional strategies for local direct-trade coffee shop, Downtown Credo.

Orlando is home to some of the world’s most innovative organizations. Clean the World collects and recycles the soap left behind in hotel rooms and redistributes it to impoverished people around the globe, helping prevent millions of hygiene-related deaths each year. Fleet Farming transforms residential lawns into urban micro-farms then delivers the resulting produce to local farmers markets and restaurants by bicycle, helping to power sustainability and social change in one fell swoop. Downtown Credo sources its coffee beans directly from farmers in Guatemala and Nicaragua, then asks Orlando java junkies to name their own price and uses the proceeds to fund local community projects. Those are just three of many amazing organizations that Rollins students have partnered with over the past year. From community engagement courses to immersive alternative breaks, Tars have myriad opportunities to apply what they’re learning in the classroom to create real change in the real world.

4. Cool classrooms

Rollins political science students study urban development during site visits to the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Celebration.

Rollins is known for the intimacy and engagement of its discussion-based classes, but don’t expect to be tethered to a round table all the time. Marine biology students study at SeaWorld, English majors explore Zora Neale Hurston’s hometown of Eatonville, and art majors curate exhibitions at the College’s very own Cornell Fine Arts Museum. Political science students study urban development at the Magic Kingdom, music students gain professional performance experience at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, and film studies minors critique cult classics and original flicks at the Enzian Theater. At Rollins, all of Orlando is your classroom.

5. Park Avenue

First-year students produce blog content for Barnie’s Coffee & Tea, one of the many Park Avenue shops that are located a few steps from campus.

Most nights and every weekend, folks from all over Central Florida flock to Park Avenue, Winter Park’s charming promenade of world-class shopping and deluxe dining. For Rollins students, the commute is far shorter. After all, Park Avenue intersects with campus, so everything from hip boutiques and chic cafes to a bustling farmers market and award-winning restaurants are always just a few steps away.

6. We’re a foodie destination

The handcrafted Italian cuisine at Park Avenue’s Prato is a favorite among students.

From celebrity chef restaurants near the attractions to James Beard Award nominees like James and Julie Petrakis of The Ravenous Pig and Kathleen Blake of The Rusty Spoon, Orlando offers dozens of ways to indulge your inner gourmand. In fact, foodie features in national publications like The New York Times and Forbes exemplify how the nation is taking notice of Orlando’s dynamic and delectable food scene.

7. Downtown is close and kinetic

Clockwise from top left: The Wall at Orlando City’s new downtown stadium boasts the most exciting seats in Major League Soccer; performers from the Broadway hit Wicked at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts; Tommy Tar goes for sunset swan boat ride on Lake Eola.

Located a 15-minute SunRail ride from campus, downtown Orlando is abuzz with entertainment options. Catch a Broadway show at the new Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, which was named one of the World’s Coolest Tourist Attractions by Travel + Leisure. Watch Orlando City take on Major League Soccer’s top teams in our brand-new soccer stadium. Or board a swan boat on Lake Eola and take in the downtown skyline from the water.

8. It’s always sunny in Orlando

Florida is called The Sunshine State for a reason. Heck, even our “winter,” which lasts precisely two weeks, is packed with vitamin D. So grab your sunnies, friend. You’ll need them with a whopping of 236 days of sunshine every year.

9. Entrepreneurial spirit

Adam Schwartz ’10 ’12MBA, founder and CEO of two Orlando-based startups, was recently named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list.

The Orlando Tech Meet-Up, the South’s largest gathering of tech entrepreneurs, is just one example of Orlando’s flourishing innovation culture. Tars are in the thick of it. International business professor Allen Kupetz is the founder of Kpartnerz Foundation, a Florida nonprofit focused on supporting student’s startup ventures, and the co-founder of venVelo, a Winter Park-based venture capital fund dedicated to innovative companies in Florida. Dayle Moore ’10 is operations manager of co-working space Canvs, tech accelerator Starter Studio, and tech-focused venture capitalists FireSpring Fund. Meanwhile, Adam Schwartz ’10 ’12MBA, the founder and CEO of multimillion-dollar startup FRESHeTECH, was recently named to Entrepreneur magazine’s Entrepreneur360 list and Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list.

10. Proximity to the beach

No Floridian accepts being more than a hop, skip, and a jump from the beach. Nor should you. At Rollins, you’re an hour’s drive from Cocoa Beach and New Smyrna Beach on the east coast and a two-hour jaunt from Clearwater Beach and St. Pete Beach on the west coast.

11. Entertainment Capital of the World

Clockwise from left: Tommy Tar sizes up the Orlando Eye, the world’s sixth tallest Ferris wheel; inside the Magic Kingdom at Disney World; the Incredible Hulk coaster at Universal’s Islands of Adventure.

Orlando is known the world over for its one-of-a-kind collection of first-class theme parks and attractions. Indulge your imagination at Disney World’s four parks, immerse yourself in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at two Universal parks, cool off at water parks all around town, and get a bird’s-eye view of it all from the world’s sixth tallest Ferris wheel. With dozens and dozens of attractions to choose from, life in Orlando is never boring.