Should I Go to University of Florida?

Andrew earned his bachelor’s degree in entomology and nematology from the University of Florida. He specializes in science tutoring, biology tutoring, math tutoring, and numerous other subjects. If you’re interested in attending the University of Florida, read on for his review:

Describe the campus setting and transportation options.

Andrew: The University of Florida is located in the center of Gainesville, and has a more rural feel as you move away from town. The bus is the only option for public transportation. It is very good on campus, and runs well enough near campus; in truth, it is much easier to get around town with a car or bicycle. On campus, however, it is easier to get around on foot or bicycle due to the volume of student traffic.

As with any city, Gainesville has good areas and bad areas. That being said, the main campus and midtown are generally very safe, well lit, and enjoy a reasonable police presence, even at night.  

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

Andrew: The faculty and staff are world class, and second to none in terms of supportiveness for their students, availability, and teaching ability.

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

Andrew: Dorm life was good while I lived there, although room quality varied substantially from one building to the next. For instance, some dorms had central AC that was always ice cold, others had window mounted units, and some had no AC whatsoever. All of the dorms are on campus and very close to most classrooms. Additionally, dining options are plentiful on and near campus, especially near midtown.

Every dorm in which I lived would arrange social activities for the students, especially first-years, including massive water balloon fights, a volleyball and wrestling mudpit, and even eating contests.

Which majors/programs are best represented and supported?

Andrew: I began as a Biology major before switching to Entomology & Nematology. I found that I had a great passion for studying insects, which are very diverse in the state of Florida. Most majors are quite well supported; I never had any difficulty scheduling time to meet with advisors or teachers any time I needed. UF provides great resources available for students who need help studying. One of my friends was a Mechanical Engineering major and used these frequently. He had nothing but good things to say about the campus tutoring sessions.

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?

Andrew: When I entered college, I was painfully shy, and yet I seemed to have no difficulties in meeting great people during my first year as a student. The friends I made during freshman year are still very good friends even to this day. Most students are not involved in Greek life; however, with the very large number of students attending UF, there is a sizable Greek population.

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

Andrew: With a reputation as being “the Harvard of the South,” the University of Florida attracts top companies for recruitment of its graduates. I have seen and attended numerous recruitment fairs at UF. Additionally, most students in my major were made aware of job openings through departmental email or other avenues. I can attest firsthand to how these resources helped me to secure highly desirable positions in my field.

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

Andrew: Study areas can sometimes be quite crowded due to the number of students at the university, especially during exams. Generally, though, the libraries and study areas are more than adequate in terms of space. Furthermore, the libraries are located close to the main area of campus, and are easy to access.

Describe the surrounding town.

Andrew: There is something for everyone in Gainesville. Because UF is located in central Florida, the surrounding towns are quite rural. There are numerous small natural preserves and parks near UF, most with great hiking trails and places to go camping, fishing, and hunting. One of my personal favorite places to go was Lake Wauburg, where there is a small beach. At the lake there are sailboats, kayaks, and paddle boats that can be taken out with a student ID. There is also a disk golf course, a climbing wall, and beach volleyball courts.

There is a busy (but modestly sized) midtown and slightly larger downtown, with plenty of variety in terms of nightlife, music, and dining. Both of these areas are relatively close to campus, and are regularly frequented by students. Pool parties hosted by local radio stations are very common in the larger apartment complexes during the warmer months. For those who enjoy sports, the home games for the Florida Gators can be a great time; alumni, students, and fans come from miles around to tailgate and see the games!

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

Andrew: The size of the student body is over 50,000 students. This is a very large number of people concentrated in a campus that is two miles square, with most classes concentrated in a cluster of buildings probably one square mile in area. Many of the general, lower-level courses had 200-300 students; in fact, I did take one class that had 500 students in a massive auditorium. Once I got through these, my upper-division classes were typically much smaller, especially in my entomology courses. I personally preferred these smaller classes, but I never felt that the professors of the larger classes were inaccessible or impersonal toward their students.

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

Andrew: The class I enjoyed the most was a course on insect classification. I still chuckle to think of how drastically this one class changed the course of my life. I was just out of my sophomore year and had just added entomology as a minor, thinking that it would help to beef up an application to medical school. Part of the course involved building a sizeable insect collection. Many students hated this part of the class because it was very time consuming and involved handling live insects; I ate it up.

One day, as I was returning from a collecting trip, I found myself musing; thinking: I wish I could do this for the rest of my life. The next day I changed my major to entomology and never looked back. Now, some seven years later, I am pursuing a PhD studying the evolutionary biology and biomechanics of insects, and loving every minute of it. I would never have had this opportunity were it not for the great selection of courses that are available to undergraduates at the University of Florida.


Check out Andrew’s tutoring profile.

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