Welcome to FSW

April Ring; Sonji Nicholas; and David Evans

A Message to Students from President Allbritten

Photo of FSW President Jeff AllbrittenWhat an exciting time to be a part of Florida SouthWestern State College as we celebrate our impact and presence of more than 60 years in the region! Throughout this time, FSW has awarded over  71,398 degrees and certificates, changing lives and elevating opportunities for all of Southwest Florida.

As our students have discovered throughout the years, there’s much more than meets the eye at Florida SouthWestern State College. Now that you’re a part of the FSW family, it’s time to learn how you can elevate your opportunities at FSW!

Did you know FSW students can engage in undergraduate research? Our students participate in water research, track box turtles, create art, write and publish books, and research and archive local history, just to name a few, all guided and supported by our world-class faculty along the way.

Want to elevate your learning even more? Our course offerings will prepare you to further your education, participate in internships, and start your dream career, elevating your opportunities far beyond the classroom. You can also become a part of the FSW Honors Scholar Program to connect you with like-minded students who want to dig deeper into their courses and areas of interest.

At FSW, seeing the world isn’t just a dream anymore. Now you can elevate your opportunities to expand your world view through the FSW Center for International Education! Some of our students study abroad in Italy at the Lorenzo de’ Medici Institute while many others have traveled abroad to experience learning in countries including Ireland, France and the Galapagos Islands. Students interested in study abroad can find many scholarships and financial aid resources available at FSW to help make the experience affordable.

Student clubs, student government, on-campus events and activities, intramural sports, and a state-of-the-art fitness center will keep you socially and physically active. Through FSW’s Office of Student Engagement, you will always find ways to elevate your campus engagement.

Are you a creative type? We have many ways for you to enjoy art and history with exhibitions in our Rauschenberg Gallery, Rush Gallery, and Museum of Medical History, as well as music and theater performances in our Black Box Theatre and the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall. Or elevate your own creativity by participating in FSW’s music, art, and theater programs.

If athletics is your thing, then come out and cheer on your Bucs! The FSW Athletic department has had unparalleled success across the NJCAA ranks in its short time there. This includes Conference Championship wins and placements in the Top 25 NJCAA Rankings. Upon graduating from FSW, Bucs student-athletes have transferred to NCAA Division I schools all over the country including Florida State, Syracuse, LSU, Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Maryland, Georgia, and Kansas.

If you haven’t already figured it out, FSW is not a fallback school. Whether your goal is to enter the workforce or to continue on to a university, you have made both a strong academic and economic decision by choosing FSW!

So, how will you elevate your opportunities at FSW? The choice is yours!

Go Bucs!

Dr. Jeff Allbritten, President

History of Florida SouthWestern State College

In 1961, the Florida Legislature established Edison Junior College (EJC).  The following year, Edison Junior College opened in temporary quarters at the Andrew Gwynne Institute, with a second center at Dunbar High School.  Dr. Charles E. Rollins was inaugurated as the first President and Dr. David G. Robinson as the first Academic Dean.  In 1963, basketball became the College’s first athletic team, with Tom Garcia serving as Coach.  In that same year, transfer student Donald Lee McDaniel became the College’s first graduate.

In 1965, the permanent Edison Campus in Ft. Myers was established, ushering in a period of growth in infrastructure and programming.  Over the next decade, this expansion was marked by Centers opening in Charlotte and Collier Counties, and a name change to Edison Community College that better reflected the College’s comprehensive mission.  Development continued into the 1980s, with milestones including establishment of ECC/USF Learning Resources Center, and opening of the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall.

Sites for permanent campuses in Charlotte and Collier Counties were estabished in 1990 and 1991, respectively.  Edison University Center opened on Lee County Campus through collaborative partnerships with colleges and universities to provide enhanced access to upper division studies for Edison graduates.  Following a name change in 2004, Edison College received accreditation as a baccalaureate degree granting institution.  The Bachelor of Applied Science in Public Safety Management was the College’s first baccalaureate program.

The twenty-first century brought unprecedented growth to the College.  In 2008, the name changed to Edison State College reflecting the institution’s advanced status as a baccalaureate degree granting state college.  In the following year, online courses were introduced to course offerings.  Dr. Jeff Allbritten was selected as the College’s fourth president and the Hendry/Glades Center opened in 2012.  The final name change to Florida SouthWestern State College (FSW) occurred in 2014.  FSW currently serves thousands of full and part time students year-round, who primarily reside in Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry, and Lee Counties of Southwest Florida.  Today’s Bucs are invited to elevate their opportunities through the various Bachelors; Associates of Arts; Associates of Science; and Certificate programs offered at Florida SouthWestern State College.

Key Features of the Student Experience at FSW

The Cornerstone Experience

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 27.6 percent of students across the U.S. who enrolled in an associate-degree granting institution in 2005 had earned an associate’s degree or certificate by 2008. [1] These were the sort of statistics that inspired FSW’s faculty and staff to develop a first-year experience course that came to be known as the Cornerstone Experience in the year 2008. Dr. Thomas Rath, Co-Chair of the QEP Committee that developed the course, explains that “students are found to be at most risk of not being successful within their first year at college.” [2] The course was first piloted in Spring 2012, with plans to implement for all First Time in College students enrolling in the 2015-2016 school year. The committee conducted a thorough literature review to identify ways to increase college graduation rates. Research-based strategies for increasing student success in college include the following[3] :

  • Building connections with peers and faculty
  • Increasing campus involvement
  • Building critical thinking skills
  • Empowering students through personalized goal-setting
  • Familiarizing students with academic support systems
  • Increasing reading, writing, studying, and note-taking skills

All of which the Cornerstone Experience does!

Student completion rates at Florida SouthWestern State College have increased since Cornerstone Experience has been implemented, as the table below illustrates.


Guided Pathways

Academic & Career Pathways

Florida Southwestern State College is dedicated to providing you the tools and assistance you need to graduate! Our 10 Academic & Career Pathways will help you choose the degree that is right for you and take the guesswork out of planning your courses.

What is an Academic & Career Pathway?

An Academic and Career Pathway is a set of degree and certificate programs in a career area. The degrees within a pathway share similar interests, skills, and transfer or employment opportunities. Pathways are like road maps; they help you navigate your education so you can arrive at your destination: a career.

How Do I Use Academic & Career Pathways?

  • Think about your skills and interests. What topics and activities do you like?
  • Explore the pathway that matches your interests by clicking the icon below.
  • Choose a degree or certificate program and career goal in your pathway.
  • Follow your Program Map to finish your degree or certificate.
  • Start your career or transfer into a bachelor’s degree program at FSW or a university!

A list of the pathway options for students to choose from including business, computing, health sciences and more.


After Cornerstone was developed as a result of our previous Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), in 2019 a new QEP Committee convened to identify another opportunity to improve student outcomes at FSW. Data demonstrated the need for improvement in the following areas:

  • “Clarity” in student writing
  • Information literacy
  • Critical thinking about sources of information
  • Student engagement in common intellectual experiences
  • Transfer of knowledge/skills from one course to the next

To address these needs, the QEP Committee developed a new course that would be required for all A.A. degree-seeking students at FSW, Creative Capstone (IDS 2891). The acronym CREATIVE represents FSW’s General Education Outcomes. The following outcomes are emphasized in CREATIVE Capstone: “Communicate clearly in a variety of modes and media,” “Research and examine academic and non-academic information, resources, and evidence,” and “Investigate and engage in the transdisciplinary applications of research, learning, and knowledge.” A.A. students should enroll in this transdisciplinary course in their last or second to last semester at FSW. Throughout the course, students will learn about research methods, complete an independent research or creative project, and participate in co-curricular learning activities.

Students can browse upcoming CREATIVE Capstone Course offerings through the QEP webpage.

  1. National Center for Education Statistics, Digest of Education Statistics (2021): https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d21/tables/dt21_326.20.asp
  2. Rath, Thomas. "Spotlight: Cornerstone Experience Course." Cornerstone Experience Newsletter, Volume 1, Issue 1 (2010): https://www.fsw.edu/fye/updates
  3. O'Banion, Terry. Access, Success, and Completion: A Primer for Community College Faculty, Administrators, Staff, and Trustees (2013)


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Cornerstone Experience Copyright © 2023 by April Ring; Sonji Nicholas; and David Evans is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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