A Day in the Life at the University of Florida

Mae earned her bachelor’s degree in Forest Resources and Conservation from the University of Florida. She specializes in science tutoring, study skills tutoring, and a number of other subjects. Below, she shares her experience at the University of Florida:

Describe the campus setting and transportation options. 

Mae: The University of Florida (or UF) is located at the heart of Gainesville, FL. It is home to 50,000+ students. The campus is as safe as a college campus can be. There are emergency phones located across campus, as well as emergency transportation if you find yourself out after dark and don’t feel safe walking home. The bus system in Gainesville is adequate, and is free to UF students, faculty, and staff. There are plenty of bike lanes and racks if that is your preference. Just make sure to purchase a good lock. Parking is expensive, and spaces are hard to find unless you arrive on campus before 8:00 a.m. My advice is to only use this as an emergency option.

How available are the professors, academic advisors, and teaching assistants?

Mae: The availability of professors, advisors, and teaching assistants varies by major and college. Some colleges (like the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, or the College of Business) have a centralized advising office. This means that groups of advisors work with all the students in all majors in the college. Many of the departments within these colleges assign a faculty member to advise students in their majors. Other colleges (like the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences) assign advisors to each department, which means each advisor only advises students within a couple majors. This allows the advisor to become much more specialized in their knowledge about the majors, courses, career options, and internships.

My undergraduate degree was in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. I could not have been happier with my advisor and faculty. I never had a problem getting the assistance I needed.

How would you describe the dorm life – rooms, dining options, location, socialization opportunities with other students?

Mae: I never lived in the dorms, so I cannot comment on them. I do know they offered plenty of programs throughout the year for students. There are plenty of dining options across campus. Some are recognizable fast food restaurants, and some are unique to UF.

Which majors/programs are best represented and supported? 

Mae: UF is such a large institution that almost any major you could want is available. UF is the largest land grant institution in the state of Florida, which means they offer a large number of environmental and agricultural majors.

My bachelor’s degree is in forest management. I chose that major because I love the outdoors and wanted a job that allowed me to work outside. The school and college that house my major are amazing. There were a ton of scholarship options at the school and college level, faculty teach a vast majority of the upper-division courses, there is an advisor in each department, and some of the faculty hire undergraduate students as research assistants (which looks really awesome on a resume). I cannot say enough good things about my experience in my major.

How easy or difficult was it for you to meet people and make friends as a freshman? Does Greek life play a significant role in the campus social life?

Mae: I did not attend UF as a freshman, but I was an academic advisor there for eight years. I do know that there is a huge Greek community. There is also a one-credit freshman course that gives students an opportunity to get to know each other in small groups.

How helpful is the Career Center and other student support services? 

Mae: Career centers vary by the college. UF holds career and internship fairs every year. My college held a career fair every year as well. The faculty and staff within my school worked to maintain relationships with potential employers. The school regularly hosted companies to conduct interviews for varying positions.

How are the various study areas, such as libraries, the student union, and dorm lounges? Are they over-crowded, easily available, spacious?

Mae: UF is located in the center of Gainesville, and there is not much room for expansion on the main campus. With 50,000+ students, you can imagine it gets a little crowded. That said, there are multiple, large libraries and “campus life” buildings. Around lunch time, all of the cafeterias are very busy, and at the end of the semester, it can be hard to find an open table at a library.

Describe the surrounding town.

Mae: I loved living in Gainesville. There are plenty of restaurants within walking distance of campus, and there is plenty to do on campus.

Gainesville is located in the center of the state, and is about two hours from all the major cities except Miami.

I loved the outdoor life. Alachua County is home to the largest concentration of large natural springs in the world, perfect for canoeing and swimming. There are beautiful state parks, and you are only about seven hours from the mountains of northern Georgia.

How big or small is the student body? Were you generally pleased or displeased with the typical class sizes?

Mae: As I mentioned before, UF is home to 50,000+ students. Lower-division undergraduate courses can be huge (a couple hundred students), but there are smaller courses available. As an upper-division student, the classes are generally smaller. I was extremely pleased with my class size, but my major was one of the smaller ones on campus.

If you like small, intimate courses, choose your major carefully. Academic advisors can help with this.

Describe one memorable experience with a professor and/or class. Perhaps one you loved the most or one you regret the most.

Mae: I really loved the vast majority of my upper-division courses. The only one I didn’t like focused entirely on computers, and I really don’t enjoy computers (but that wasn’t the professor’s fault).

My favorite classes were the labs. We spent hours outdoors trekking through the forests and swamps. I will always be grateful for professors who took the time to give us hands-on experience instead of just explaining everything in the classroom.


Check out Mae’s tutoring profile.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.