The tutors behind Varsity Tutors are not just here to teach – they’re sharing their college experiences as well. Jennifer received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Central Florida. She is currently a tutor in Orlando specializing in psychology, statistics, math, and several other subjects. See what she had to say about her experience at the University of Central Florida:
Describe the campus setting and transportation options.
Jennifer: The University of Central Florida, being one of the largest colleges in the country, offers many opportunities for students to get around the area easily. Not only does the university provide shuttles to campus from nearby apartment complexes (both school-affiliated and non-affiliated), it also provides a shuttle that simply transports students to different locations on campus, making it almost impossible to miss class due to transportation issues. Additionally, the school provides students who live on campus with a bus that goes to a local shopping center on Friday and Saturday nights for staple items that may not be available at the campus convenience stores. If those times don’t work for you, though, you also have the option of renting a car from on-campus Zipcar locations for a low hourly rate.
As far as the area is concerned, the University of Central Florida works to make students feel safe both on and around campus. While the University of Central Florida is located in Orlando, the campus is situated far enough from the urban areas to make it feel like a college town. The police station on campus works with Orange County to patrol surrounding neighborhoods and provide alerts of any suspicious activity on or near campus. If shuttle busses aren’t your style, you should feel plenty comfortable joining the large number of students who prefer biking or long-boarding around the area.
How available are the professors, academic advisers, and teaching assistants?
Jennifer: Due to the large student body, the University of Central Florida provides academic advisors at every turn. Freshmen on campus are paired with an advisor who works specifically with first year students; students are required to meet with their first year advisor in both semesters. Sophomore year, students have the opportunity to meet with second year advisors, as well as an advisor in their academic college. After this point, students have advising resources within their academic college, as well as in their specific major.
Professors and TAs (teaching assistants) are also available for guidance in regards to academic and career pursuits. They make themselves available during office hours at least one day a week, but often offer additional times for meetings by appointment. The availability of the professors may vary, but there are minimum office hour requirements that are enforced. That being said, I have had professors who have given out their cell phone numbers to students for quick inquiries, and I have never known a professor at the University of Central Florida to respond to an email outside of a 48-hour window. My experience has been wonderful in regards to the availability of assistance that the university provided in answering any questions I may have had throughout my undergraduate experience.
How would you describe the dorm life?
Jennifer: The University of Central Florida is a huge proponent of student involvement. As a freshman and sophomore I lived on campus and rarely had an opportunity to feel bored. RAs put together social events at least once a month for the floor or housing community, and the Campus Activity Board on campus works to host at least a few on-campus events every week throughout the entire semester.
Campus housing at the University of Central Florida is very diverse, ranging from dorm style housing with two people to a room and a bathroom shared by four, to apartment style four bedroom/two bath units with a full kitchen and living room. These dorms are located throughout campus, all fully furnished, and all conveniently situated near dining and recreational areas.
Which majors/programs are best represented and supported?
Jennifer: I studied psychology, which is the most popular major at the school, as well as earning a minor in education. I chose this for the purpose of continuing a career in Educational Theory and Research, a path that I decided upon in my third year in the psychology program. I feel that the university did a wonderful job in supporting my field of study, as it encompasses the largest number of students. Advisors were available specifically for psychology majors and had offices located in a classroom building specifically for psychology courses and research. The university employs many prominent and highly qualified doctors of psychology who work to provide connections within the field via research opportunities and conferences hosted on and off campus.
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?
Jennifer: Meeting friends as a freshman is made easier by the hundreds of Registered Student Organizations (RSOs), both social and academic. The Campus Activity Board also organizes a week-long chain of events during the first week of classes that are specifically geared toward freshmen. These events include pool parties, movie nights, comedy shows, and more. At any university, the absolute best way to meet friends is to take part in organizations that best interest you, because there you will find individuals with similar interests.
There are many opportunities to find social connection in Greek life at the University of Central Florida, however as someone who did not participate in Greek activities, I did not notice that it had any significant impact on the campus social life as a whole.
How helpful is the Career Center and other student support services?
Jennifer: A notable benefit of attending school in Orlando, or a city like it, is the fact that many large companies looking for entry-level recruits are located in your backyard. The University of Central Florida holds numerous career and internship fairs, oftentimes focusing on specific fields. In these instances, large name companies such as Lockheed Martin, Siemens, Disney, Rosen, etc. come directly to you offering invaluable work experience.
How are the various study areas such as libraries, the student union, and dorm lounges?
Jennifer: The main campus of the University of Central Florida has many study areas, one of which will be suitable to your needs. There are lounges located on multiple stories of the Student Union, near which you have access to free printing, free scantron sheets, and a food court-style array of cuisine. There are also lounges located in every classroom building, perfect for catching up on reading or meeting study groups between classes. The library is conveniently located at the center of campus and has a policy that dictates a quieter atmosphere on every increasing floor (making the top floor of the building almost silent). There are also two study lounges that are open 24/7 and are both located a few paces away from the two dining halls. Study lounges are also located on every floor of student housing.
Describe the surrounding town.
Jennifer: Going to college in a premiere vacation destination does more than just lower the gas prices. The University of Central Florida offers student discounts to all of the surrounding attractions such as Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, Wet n’ Wild, SeaWorld, and the Kennedy Space Center. Campus is also situated about 30 minutes west of Cocoa Beach, where many students spend holiday weekends. There are also many cultural events that are held in downtown Orlando or neighboring towns like Winter Park, such as street art festivals, parades, food and wine festivals, and more.
In my first few years at the University of Central Florida, I spent most of my time participating in campus events, which remain some of my best college experiences. After moving off campus, however, I started exploring the area to find that there is always something to do nearby. Additionally, it has become well worth the investment to obtain an annual pass to a nearby theme park, as it is an easy way to spend a day without having to spend much money.
How big or small is the student body? Were you generally pleased or displeased with the typical class sizes?
Jennifer: Class sizes at the University of Central Florida truly depend on your major. I will say that as a freshman, in taking general education courses you will find yourself in a lecture hall with 200 other students, which can be daunting. Understanding how to use resources, such as professors’ office hours and TA review sessions, helps to overcome the disadvantages of lecture classes. While I tended to enjoy my smaller classes more, the large class sizes did not keep me from earning a 4.0 in both semesters my freshman year.
Describe one memorable experience with a professor and/or class. Perhaps one you loved the most or one you regret the most.
Jennifer: Many college classes are built around the textbook assigned to that class, where the lectures build from the text. That being said, my favorite class at the University of Central Florida was one where there was no assigned textbook. It was a cognitive psychology class that sat about 40-50 students, and my professor would simply lecture and stimulate discussions on a given topic. She would assign reading materials that were often research articles that related to the topic we had discussed in class, but there was no textbook to refer to. Despite the fact that it was one of the very few classes I fell short of an “A” in, I came out of it having learned more than in any other class at the University of Central Florida.
Check out Jennifer’s tutoring profile.
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.