5 Things I Wish I Knew When I Was Accepted Into UF

Gaining admission to the University of Florida can be an exciting and overwhelming time. Getting accepted into a top seven public university is a major accomplishment. However, incoming first-year students might find themselves puzzled over where to start in their acceptance process. From housing to involvement and academics, it can leave any baby Gator confused. Here are five things I wish I knew when planning my first year at UF.

  1. 1. Select your housing

    Once incoming students receive that glorious “welcome” email, it soon becomes a race to find housing for the next school year at the University of Florida. It can be a challenge to figure out what dorm is the most convenient when you are unaware of your class schedule and may not have any inside scoop on the most desired living space. The first question you should ask yourself is if you are interested in on-campus or off-campus housing. The perks of on-campus housing are that most dorms are close to classes and it is cheaper than living in an apartment. Although, dorms offer fewer amenities and privacy than off-campus dorms or apartment complexes. If a student is admitted to the Pathway to Campus Enrollment (PaCE) program, they are only eligible to live off-campus. The major draw that traditional dorm rooms provide is that only students that live in dorms can receive parking passes for lots and garages at UF. If a student chooses to live in the Gainesville area but not on UF property, they can take the public buses or purchase a Park & Ride decal which allows them to park in limited areas on the outskirts of campus.

  2. 2. To rush or not to rush

    One of the main concerns of any new college student is finding a way to meet others and form relationships. As an incoming first-year student, it was always a thought in the back of my head. At the beginning of summer, I made the decision to go through Panhellenic Council recruitment and it was the best choice I could have made. It kept my mind busy as I was adjusting to living away from home and the process allowed me to meet others in my chapter and other sororities. According to the Office of Sorority and Fraternity Affairs, students can look into joining the Interfraternity Council, the Multicultural Greek Council, the National Panhellenic Council and the Panhellenic Council. No matter who you identify with, the University of Florida offers multiple communities for students to get involved with. In addition to the sisterhood and brotherhood offered by these organizations, some also provide meal plans for members. This is a great way to get cooked meals and have time to better get to know those around you. Being a member of Phi Mu has been a crucial reason as to why I am glad to be at UF. The number of genuine women that I am surrounded by allowed me to acclimate to college life quicker and feel at home in Gainesville. If you’re questioning whether to rush a fraternity or sorority, I say go for it!

  3. 3. Take finances seriously

    Before deciding if UF is the right fit for you, be sure to assess your financial situation. It is quite common for students to receive scholarships to other universities but not at UF. Although basing your decision off of your finances is extremely important, it is also crucial to think about where you want to receive your degree from. If having that diploma with UF on it is your dream, remember that when making your college decision. One of the things that really helped me budget my money was saving graduation money before coming to campus. Whatever was left after purchasing my necessities lasted for a couple of months and made me feel at ease. Creating a budget is needed because it’s easy to spend money in Gainesville when Archer is lined with shops and restaurants. Also, be prepared for your budget to change as you realize what you will actually spend as the year progresses.

  4. 4. Learn the campus

    The main thing that I was worried about when moving to Gainesville was the challenge of learning my way around such a large college campus. Between getting my acceptance letter and actually starting school, I had driven up to UF a few times to refresh myself about the area. In all honesty, this didn’t do much because I had a somewhat comedic experience in my first couple of days here. I had moved in during the period between the Summer B and Fall semesters, and I wasn’t aware that nothing was open on campus. I was desperately hungry, and I wanted to get out of my dorm, so I electronically mapped myself to a Chick-fil-A on campus and hoped it was a quick walk. After getting lost a numerous amount of times and walking for an hour, I ended up at The Hub and realized that none of the restaurants on the UF campus were open because school wasn’t in session. After that day I made it my mission to learn the campus well. Since then I can successfully navigate and much of that is due to riding the buses and walking the campus frequently. If you live in Florida, make sure to drive up and walk through campus before school starts. This will give you a sneak peek during a calmer setting such as in the summer.

  5. 5. Gearing up for academics

    There are many different ways students can get accepted into UF because of the many educational experiences the university has to offer. Whether you get accepted into fall, summer, the Innovation Academy or PaCE, be proud to officially be a Gator. When you open the acceptance email, some students may feel that they didn’t get accepted on the terms they had hoped for. Regardless of how you go into the school, you are still a UF student. After coming to campus as a PaCE student, I soon realized that no one cares what program you are in or how you are learning course material. In addition, students are required to go to a summer orientation called “Preview” before beginning as a UF student. The biggest advice I can give is to research your critical tracking courses and required classes before picking your class schedule at Preview. I was not well prepared, and I ended up signing up for classes for the wrong major in my college. Although I was able to change them later on, the situation could have been prevented. Be sure to consider selecting an easier class schedule for your fall semester because it can be hard to adjust to a new lifestyle and balance a difficult course load.

It can be a hectic time deciding which college to commit to when you’re just trying to finish up senior year. Sit down and take the time to ask difficult questions. Becoming a student at the University of Florida was the best decision I ever made, and I highly encourage UF ‘24 to come join the Gator Nation.