What is it Like to Attend University of Florida?

The tutors behind Varsity Tutors are not just here to teach – they’re sharing their college experiences as well. Emily is a New York City tutor specializing in Algebra tutoring, Statistics tutoring, Essay Editing tutoring, and more. She graduated from University of Florida in 2012 with Bachelor’s degrees in Marketing and Psychology. See what she had to say about her alma mater:

VT: Describe the campus setting and transportation options. How urban or safe is the campus? Are there buses or do you need a car/bike?

Emily: Gainesville is a college town with the campus in a central location and transportation options that make it very easy to get around campus and around Gainesville. Campus is very safe with a strong presence from the university police department and services such as SNAP, which provides free rides anywhere on campus at night. The areas of Gainesville where students live and hang out are also safe. The RTS bus system has city and campus bus routes that make it easy to get from class to class or travel around the city. When I was an undergraduate, I did not have a car and I was able to get where I needed to go by bus, bike, or sharing rides with my friends. Campus is very bike-friendly with lots of bike racks and bike lanes. When you first arrive on campus, it may seem very big but you will soon discover that most of the major buildings are within walking distance.

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

Emily: Professors, academic advisers, and teaching assistants are all very available and willing to help students. All professors are required to hold weekly office hours. Large classes will have several teaching assistants that are easily available to answer questions about course material. Some academic advisers require appointments, or there may be long wait times, especially at the beginning of the semester and during registration. When you visit an academic advisor it is best to come prepared with a list of specific questions so that you are able to get the most out of your session.

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

Emily: There are many different types of dorms are UF. It can be hard to get into the dorm that you want your freshman year but don’t worry if you don’t get into your first choice. There are several types of dorms: traditional style, suite style, and apartment style. Many freshmen end up in traditional style dorms and these tend to be the most social dorms because of all the common areas. There are two dining halls on campus and most of the dorms are a quick walk to one of the dining halls. There are also several dining options such as the Reitz Union and the Hub. All of the dorms are close to bus routes so it is very easy to get to class by bus or by walking. There are many socialization opportunities with other students and it is easy to get involved. At the beginning of every semester, there is a student involvement fair where all of the student organizations help students get involved. Greek life is pretty popular; about 25% of the students are in a fraternity or sorority. Rush is at the beginning of every semester so it is easy to rush and see whether or not joining a Greek organization is right for you.

VT: Which majors/programs are best represented and supported? What did you study and why? Did the university do a good job supporting your particular area of study?

Emily: There are over 100 majors and minors at UF and the advisors and professors provide a lot of guidance in finding the right major for you. I dual majored in Marketing and Psychology. The College of Business and The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences were great with supporting my majors and providing opportunities for students. The College of Business always had information about internships and job opportunities and was very invested in the success of the graduates. The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences provided many research opportunities for students as well as information about graduate programs. With so many students on campus, each college is very well developed to support the students and help them succeed.

VT: 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?

Emily: Coming to a school with 35,000 undergraduates can be overwhelming for some students, but the school makes it easy to meet people and make friends. Many freshmen live in the dorms and each floor has a resident assistant that puts on programs and helps create a community in the dorms. Strong friendships are easy to make in the dorms because there are so many opportunities to meet other people. Greek life is definitely noticeable but you do not have to be in a fraternity or sorority to meet people. Additionally, each fraternity and sorority is different so even if one does not sound appealing, there may be a different one that you really like. 

VT: How helpful is the Career Center and other student support services? Do many reputable companies recruit on campus? 

Emily: The Career Resource Center is consistently ranked as one of the best in the nation. The CRC will provide help as early as your freshman year with finding internships, applying to graduate school, and getting jobs. There is a career showcase during the fall and spring semesters that brings out many reputable companies. UF has a very strong reputation so employers are always on campus recruiting students.

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

Emily: There are many areas to study on campus. The main library is Library West, which can be crowded and is sometimes known as the social library. There are many libraries on campus that have plenty of space to study individually or in groups. The Reitz Union has many meeting rooms and places to study. In almost every building, there are quiet places to hang out between classes in order to get work done. Groups of dorms are called areas and every area has study rooms and libraries. These areas have equipment such a projectors and white boards that make it easy to study in groups.

VT: Describe the surrounding town. What kinds of outside establishments / things to do are there that make it fun, boring, or somewhere in between? To what extent do students go to the downtown area of the city versus staying near campus? 

Emily: One of the best things about Gainesville is the community of Gators. Gainesville revolves around Gator sports teams but if sports are not your thing, there is still a lot to do. Downtown Gainesville has a number of restaurants, a weekly Farmers Market, and a theater that puts on many great plays throughout the year. There are also lots of outdoor activities such as going hiking in Paynes Prairie or taking a trip to Lake Wauberg. Most students live off campus after their freshman year and the areas surrounding student apartments provide lots of relief from campus life. 

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

Emily: There are 35,000 undergraduates at UF. While this huge number may seem daunting, there are many ways to make the university seem smaller. All students must fulfill general education requirements and these classes tend to be pretty big; sometimes there are 600 people in one class. As you get to taking classes for your major, the classes become smaller. Do not let the large classes deter you from UF. Professors will go out of their way to get to know students and there are teaching assistants that help you understand the course material.

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

Emily: One of the great things about UF is that you are surrounded by smart students and you learn as much from other students as you do from your professors. One of the toughest classes that I took was Marketing Management. The professor was very well known, and for many of the students in the class, this was the major class we needed before looking for jobs. Every week, we had to do presentations and critique each other. While this was challenging, it was also a great learning experience because we got to use our peers’ knowledge to improve our skills. This was probably one of the most useful classes that I took because the professor knew what skills we would need for our future jobs and he pushed us every class to become better.

Check out Emily’s tutoring profile. 

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