New College professors are amazingly accessible and qualified. All hold doctorates or terminal degrees and have come to New College for the love of teaching. Mini-classes are held at the beginning of the semester to give students the opportunity to sample courses before committing to them. While there are no grades at New College, tests are still sometimes scored numerically, and a lot of feedback is given to assess strengths and weaknesses. Becoming an engaged student, thinker, and contributor is paramount to success in many disciplines at the College. The student-to-teacher ratio is touted as being as low as 10 to 1. The month of January is devoted to students completing Independent Study Projects (ISPs). These range from internships to seminars, and they tend to be broad in scope and designed by students with adviser input.
While New College promotional literature gives the impression that the curriculum is free-form, it often isn’t. There are no general education requirements, but students must fulfill liberal arts requirements along with the necessary courses in their areas of concentration. The workload is high, and the reading load is even greater. Outsiders assume that the lack of grades makes for a relaxed, easy lifestyle. This is untrue. While the evaluation system reduces competition among students, it does hold students accountable for everything they do. Self-discipline and sustained effort are required to excel. The result of initial poor performance will remain on the evaluation and will serve to inform the student, along with professor, as to areas of weakness. At New College of Florida, academics reign.