Attending a university with over 31,000 students inspires many to seek more individualized opportunities. Some may find their place in athletics, Greek life or recreational clubs, but others discover a customized experience within their major.

Unlike the College of Engineering, the largest LSU undergraduate program with 4,491 students enrolled as of fall 2018, or the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, which boasts the second-largest sum of 3,698, the College of the Coast & Environment offers the “rarest” major on campus, with a mere 201 enrolled students. These figures are about 300 students less than the second smallest college, the College of Music and Dramatic Arts.

Although the College of the Coast and Environment can’t enjoy the quantity of prestigious alumni as some of the larger colleges, its 5-to-1 student-faculty ratio provides a concentrated, specialized educational experience for all students. Comparatively, the average student-faculty ratio at the University is 22-to-1.

Coastal and environmental science junior Margaurite Bennett said the size of the college is one of her favorite things about her University experience so far.

“I love the fact that we are such a tight knit community,” Bennett said. “It makes it so much easier to form relationships with professors and have opportunities for research projects in the future.”

Coastal and environmental science graduate student Hanna Bauer took part in one of those research opportunities this summer, traveling to the Florida Keys and Pensacola to collect live lionfish for laboratory experiments. The study examined negative impacts of lionfish on coral reefs. Bauer describes lionfish as “the most successful marine invader of all time.”

“It was fun to scuba dive and use a net and pole to catch the fish, although since lionfish have venomous spines it does take some finesse,” Bauer said.

Originally from Oregon, Bauer said the college’s Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences program appealed to her because of its interdisciplinary nature, focusing on economic conservation as well as economic development.

“I miss Oregon, but it’s been fun exploring the South,” Bauer said. “I like how helpful we are at LSU, and the community in this environment.”

Statistics from The Institute of Education Sciences conclude class size reduction is one of only four evidence-based reforms proven to increase student achievement. Larger class sizes can be detrimental to attendance and student focus, but are less costly to universities. While the University’s average class size is only 44, the majority of students endure classes with as many as 500 students packed into auditoriums during their time here.

Coastal and environmental science junior Simone Sale agreed the relationships between students and professors remains one of the college’s major selling points.

“The advisers in the College of the Coast and Environment made me feel so welcome when I first went to choose my major,” Sale said. “One of them even gave me a hug and showed me pictures of her family because I was nervous.”

Sale originally chose her major because of the tactile learning aspect.

“It was inspiring to see other students in that major do hands-on, practical work that really makes an impact in our community,” Sale said. “I absolutely adore CCE because of the relationships and opportunities it has given me.”

Bennett, who is originally from Virginia, made the choice to come to Louisiana and study an unconventional field because of childhood visits to the Florida Keys.

“While I was there, I fell in love with how natural and clean it was,” Bennett said. “So, when I was choosing my major, I wanted it to be something that could help protect that.”

Students with a coastal and environmental science degree can choose to concentrate in either environmental sciences or oceanography and coastal sciences, but either concentration can provide future career opportunities such as writers, lawyers, environmental corresponders, ecologists and more.

“Coastal and environmental science is such a diverse field and will be very important in the coming years,” Bauer said. “The ocean and coasts are so important for so many people’s livelihood and recreation. Gaining a deeper understanding of these systems is so important to preserving them.”

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