5 Things to Know if You’re Transferring to UF

The logistics of transferring to another school is hard enough, let alone having to get familiar with a whole new campus and student culture. When I transferred to UF from a small Florida college, with a couple of semesters at Santa Fe in between, I felt totally alone. I didn’t know anyone who went to UF or how to get anywhere on campus other than the Reitz Union, my college’s building, and the rooms I was taking classes in. Needless to say, I was totally lost.

There was a bit of a learning curve and some serious impostor syndrome my first semester, and I’m still learning new things all the time, but these are the five things I wish I knew when I took my first steps onto the UF campus.

1.  Everyone your age will already know each other and have established social circles.

When I first came to UF, I thought making friends would be easy. Amongst roughly 52,000 students, surely, I could find someone to hang out with. I thought it would be way easier to find like-minded people within my college and major, but I was wrong. Meeting people and making friendships stick was difficult, especially because I transferred in the spring. I’ll admit that I’m pretty selective when it comes to making friends, but I still expected to make at least one or two.

The following Fall semester, I decided to join clubs, hoping to find some people I could get along with. I was able to find clubs that I had an interest in as well as clubs that led to professional and networking opportunities.

My best advice for making friends would be to really get involved with things you’re interested in, whether that’s a hobby or a professional organization in your college. UF has 860 clubs and student organizations so you’re sure to find somewhere you fit in.

2. You can eat at the general dining halls without a meal plan, and it’s all-you-can-eat!

In addition to the numerous chain restaurants on campus, there are also buffet-style dining halls that are typically geared towards students who live on campus. It probably should’ve been obvious to me that the dining halls were open to everyone and not just people with meal plans, but I only just learned about it in my third semester here. Maybe I didn’t pay enough attention at Preview, but I came from a small school where almost all students had a meal plan and the dining hall definitely didn’t have “unlimited seconds,” as the Gator Dining webpage puts it.

Gator Corner Dining is located across the street from the Stephen C. O’Connell Center next to North Hall. The prices change based on which mealtime you go for and the menu changes daily.

3. Talk to your academic advisor. A LOT.

This is good advice for any student, but it’s especially important for transfers. When you go through Preview, you might meet briefly with your major’s advisors and then go to another room to register for the four classes they just told you to take for your first semester. Once you’ve settled into your classes and the drop/add week rush has passed, make an appointment with your major’s specific advisor and plan out the rest of your classes, all the way until your final semester. You’ll save yourself a lot of trouble later on, especially when you get to register early as an upperclassman. If you can’t find a time to meet with the advisor for your major, you can drop in and meet with whoever is available, but they may not be as familiar with the required classes and what order you should take them in as your advisor would be.

It’s also important to talk to your advisor because of a thing called catalog years. Basically, the requirements for every major can change every year, but you’ll only be held to the requirements of the year you enrolled in your major. That means that someone with the same major as you may have different class requirements because they’re in a different catalog year, so you can’t choose your classes based solely on the advice of friends or classmates.

If you’re looking into a minor, you should discuss the possibility of it with your advisor, and then go talk to the advisor for the minor you want. They can help you really map out whether a minor is going to be doable for you with the class load you already have for your major.

4. There’s tons of free or inexpensive things to do with your Gator 1 card.

Your student id card, usually referred to as your Gator 1 card, allows you to do so many cool things either for free or for a very low price. You can use the entire RTS bus system for free, just show the driver your Gator 1 when you board. The two museums on campus, the Harn Museum of Art and the Florida Natural History Museum, are also completely free, including the rotating exhibitions and the butterfly garden.

If you want to spend more time outside, check out RecSports and the Center for Outdoor Recreation and Education (CORE). RecSports has a lot of fun outdoor recreational activities, from intramural sports to exploring Lake Wauburg, where you can sail, swim and even rock climb. CORE, located near Southwest Recreation Center, rents out camping and outdoor recreation equipment to students for low prices. They also offer all kinds of outdoor excursions and activities through TRiP, a program where trained student guides take groups of students on trips into nature.

5. Last but not least, there’s a Facebook group for UF memes.

With nearly 30,000 members, Swampy UF memes for top ten public teens is the official meme group for UF. There you’ll find relatable memes about UF student life, STEM majors, Greek life drama and, of course, Dennis. Eventually, you’ll find that reading memes about how you’re going to fail all of your classes is a great way to procrastinate on all of your classes. Plus, when you see that 30,000 other people feel the same way, you’ll start to feel like you just might belong here after all.

The most important thing to remember is that everything is going to be fine. Give it time. You will find your place here, whether it’s in a club, a professional organization, a sports team or something else. Some days will seem rough and you’ll feel like you don’t belong here, but eventually you’ll get comfortable here and your dreadful impostor syndrome will fade away.

Above all, embrace and pursue the great opportunities around you. Don’t talk yourself out of doing things just because you haven’t been here as long. You get less time here than everyone else, so you’d better make the most of it because, after all, #ItsGreatUF.

This article is part of a series welcoming incoming students to UF. Have a question you want us to answer or explore? Email us at [email protected], and follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook for even more incoming student advice!