UCF Wasn't My Dream School, but It Is Now

Ah yes, college application season: the stress, the uncertainty, the tears... the worst time of my life. Through all the fear, I knew I’d end up where I was meant to be. I am incredibly lucky to be able to attend any college, let alone UCF. Even though UCF was never my top choice university during high school, I can’t picture myself anywhere else but Orlando.

Being a Boston native, I was 102% convinced I would end up back in the cold weather when it came time to leave the nest my parents so graciously built for me and my brother. While I was dreaming of winters cuddled up in a cocoon of blankets with hot cocoa, my parents were crossing their fingers hoping I'd stay in-state and save them the money that could end up equalling the cost of the Versace mansion. As senior year of high school progressed, the stress just intensified. I thought staying in state for school would mean I’m “dumb” or “not good enough,” but now that I’m saying it aloud, that’s absolutely ridiculous and 100% false. I was so wrapped up in rankings and numbers, I never focused on the practicality and beauty of the school.

After I was oh-so-thankfully accepted to UCF, I toured the campus with my family (yes, my dogs came with us too). I had seen pictures online, but seeing the campus in real life was an eye-opening experience. As I saw my parents and pups walk along the palm tree covered sidewalks, I knew I could see myself doing the same one day.

With high school quickly coming to a close, every event I went to I would get interrogated with all the college talk; in the back of my mind, I knew UCF was the best, most viable option for me.

I know I’m talking about how great UCF is and all, but let’s get into the details that actually make UCF the GOAT, shall we?

1. UCF is the largest university in the country.

Yup, the University of Central Florida is home to over 68,000 students. It’s okay, it seemed overwhelming to me too at first glance, but once I actually moved into my freshman year dorm (Lake Claire is the best for on-campus housing) it didn't seem so inordinate after all. It’s nearly impossible to not meet your "people" within Knight Nation. Although everyone may not know everyone here, everyone knows someone.

2. This school is close to everything—yes, I mean EVERYTHING!

Disney and Universal are at your fingertips—literally. The theme parks are only 40 minutes away from the main campus, what more could you ask for? As if it couldn’t get any better, students get a discount on theme park tickets! Bored? Go to Disney. Trust me now and thank me later. If you’re not a theme park connoisseur, first of all, what are you doing in Orlando? Second, it’s okay, not everybody can take screaming children and hour-long lines all day.

There are plenty of other things to do in O-Town besides saying “Hiya!” to Mickey Mouse. About 15 minutes from campus, you’ll discover a plaza called Waterford Lakes. This shopping mall is my saving grace; you’ll find American Eagle, Target, TJ Maxx and even a movie theater! Whether you’re shopping, watching movies or sweating your butt off walking 18 miles in one day at Disney (gotta get those steps in one way or another), there's always something to do.

3. The school spirit is unreal.

After the incredible comeback of the UCF football team, the school spirit has been undeniably wild. In just the span of three years, the program was turned around as they went 13-0 in the 2017 season, after going 0-12 just two years prior. Spectrum Stadium nearly sells out every game in the fall with students and alumni jammed packed on to the benches to see their Knights charge on to victory. Not only are we now a football school, but for the first time ever in school history, we're participating in March Madness for men’s basketball. The basketball games are nearly as crazy as the football, with the student section packed to the brim nearly every game and students covered in black and gold head-to-toe.

Looking back now, I can’t imagine being anything other than a UCF Knight—especially not a USF Bull. As UCF is just a drive away from Disney, shopping plazas and even home, I am eternally grateful I am able to attend such a vast, spirited and prestigious school.

Go Knights, charge on.

Images: 1, 2, 3, 4