In St. Augustine the opportunities for higher education are numerous and varied, ranging from liberal arts colleges to specialized technical training.
First Coast Technical College
First Coast Technical College has a long tradition of focusing on vocational-technical training, dating back to 1967 when the first director was named for the school designed to serve St. Johns, Clay and Putnam counties at what was then St. Augustine Technical Center. The focus was on the practical, on training that fit in with business needs and that would mean graduates would be able to find jobs. The first course was in practical nursing and Flagler Hospital was the first site.
In 1999, the name changed to First Coast Technical Institute as the school became Florida’s first secondary charter school, and in 2007 the institution became First Coast Technical College.
College offerings range from a school of culinary arts to medical offerings, from pest control operations to digital design, cosmetology to automotive services technology.
“What makes FCTC special is the fact that our students can achieve a career in a year with no debt. We train students quickly for in-demand careers and they are able to start their new professions without the debt that so many of their cohorts may incur at other schools,” said Jill Miller, FCTC spokeswoman.
No one will argue that Flagler College, a four-year private liberal arts college in downtown St. Augustine, has the most unique and eye-catching campus. Much of the college is located in what was the Hotel Ponce de Leon, the flagship hotel of Standard Oil magnate and Florida developer Henry M. Flagler.
Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, the college grants bachelor of arts, bachelor of fine arts and bachelor of science in public administration degrees. External programs are offered through the college’s upper division in Tallahassee.
Majors range from accounting to theater arts. Intercollegiate sports for men and women are available as well as a number of extracurricular activities and clubs.
“Our campus is a vibrant place with more than 2,500 students representing 47 states and more than 20 foreign countries,” said Flagler President William T. Abare Jr. “Not only do students come to Flagler to earn a degree, but they also come to have an ‘educational experience,’ one that is enriched by the size of our college, the quality of our programs and services, the commitment of our talented and dedicated faculty and staff, and the ideal location in St. Augustine — the Nation’s Oldest City.”
St. Johns River State College
The St. Augustine campus of St. Johns River State College is one of three campuses making up the institution that began in 1958 as part of the state’s junior college system.
SJR State offers associate in arts (transfer) degrees and more than 30 associate in science degrees and certificates in addition to bachelor’s degrees in early childhood education, organization management and nursing. It is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
SJR State has articulation agreements with local universities including the University of North Florida/SJR Gateway Program and the Blue-Gold Connection with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University to provide seamless transitions into select bachelor degree programs.
“What makes SJR State a unique experience is that its mission is solely community focused. By centering on accessibility and affordability, we are positioned to answer a very wide range of needs from a very wide range of students, as well as from the local workforce,” said Susan Kessler, college spokeswoman. “Whether it’s by fine tuning a few business skills with a class or two or through one of our new bachelors degree programs, SJR State is preparing local students for local jobs.”
The University of St. Augustine for Health Services
The University of St. Augustine for Health Services, in the words of its mission statement, develops “professional health care practitioners through innovative, individualized and quality classroom, clinical and distance education.”
The graduate institution emphasizes health science education using an online learning component along with classroom instruction. In addition to their St. Augustine location, USA has campuses in San Marcos, Calif., and Austin, Texas. Stanley Paris, who is the school’s founder, began the Institute of Graduate Health Sciences in Georgia. In 1991, the Institute moved to St. Augustine, gained a new name and continued expanding offerings in the field of rehabilitation. USA has entry level, transitional and post-profession students involved in the health sciences fields of physical therapy, occupational therapy, orthopedic assistant and health sciences education.