As per Chris’s suggestion, I would like to say a little bit about the University of Central Florida and its Catholic ministry. I’ve only been here a couple of months, but it’s pretty awesome. I am not an outgoing person, but the members of the Catholic group here accepted me immediately. There is something to do every day, from Rosary to Bible studies to tabling and of course Mass three times a week. There is also a retreat every semester. I just got back from my first one and it was awesome. The community is active and friendly and there are some ridiculously amazing people here (including a couple TC’s who shall remain nameless). People actually seek you out to make friends with you if you show up to an event, for reasons that I cannot fathom.
The school itself seems a bit intimidating because it is so big, but I’ve found that just means there are more options for finding where you fit in. UCF is also generous with the scholarships and offers a lot of services for students, most of them completely free. Almost every program you can think of is offered here (alas, not Theology, but there is Religious Studies, which is supposed to be pretty good). There is all the secular bull you’d expect to see at a public U: free condoms everywhere, a Communist organization, rampant “tolerance” in the worst sense of the word, but since the area is relatively conservative it’s not really that bad. I haven’t been bothered by parties in my dorm, for example. You aren’t supposed to smoke on campus, which for a prospect could be good or bad. Parking is terrible, but Disney World is close by so I guess it’s a trade off.
When I was applying to colleges, UCF was my last choice (I also applied and was accepted by Ave Maria and Stuebie). I got relatively good deals from all three schools, but because UCF’s was far and away the best offer, and they had a music program (at the time I was going to major in Jazz) I chose that school. I ended up changing from Jazz to History and Philosophy, the kinds of things I would have expected to do at a Catholic school. I am taking upper level courses, and so far I have been pleased by the quality and relative lack of anti-Catholicism in those programs. I was very afraid that I would be disconnected from other Catholics, but I have found that I can’t seem to get away from them here at UCF. Part of me still wishes I could have Scott Hahn as a prof, or have Gregorian Chant as a core class, but on the whole I don’t regret coming here one bit.
If you are a high school senior TC, I would encourage you to look into UCF.