Setting up a Schedule as a PaCE Student at UF

Around the University of Florida campus, you may notice students spending all day in various libraries on what seems like an endless amount of online school work. These students haven’t procrastinated—they’re actually members of the Pathway to Campus Enrollment program. According to UF’s website, PaCE provides incoming first-year students with the ability to begin their undergraduate degree online. The students can then transition to campus once completing a minimum of 15 credit hours and two semesters through the program. Students can be placed into the program if their area of study falls under the 60 majors PaCE includes. Regardless if a student opts to enter this pool on their college application, they still may be chosen due to the limited space available on campus. If a student chooses to attend UF through PaCE, they must work only online until “transitioning” to campus. They have the choice of staying at home or living off-campus in the Gainesville area. The opt-in fee package provides students with the opportunity to have a typical college experience without living in a dorm by allowing access to sporting events, transportation and more.

One of the challenges students in PaCE face is the lack of structure that comes with attending in-person classes. Instead of having designated class work time, it’s fully up to students to decide when they complete their school work. In order to ensure a successful school year as a Florida Gator, it’s essential for PaCE students to take these steps to create an efficient and purposeful schedule.

Buy a planner

The first step towards setting a schedule as a PaCE student is by purchasing a planner from a local retailer. Planners are a great alternative to large calendars because they are portable and can be stored in a backpack. Target sells colorful versions to get students motivated about planning out their days. For example, Target offers floral patterns varying at around $10. In addition, the bookstore in the Reitz Union sells planners that highlight UF school spirit. The day I moved into my dorm room, one of the first things I did was pick out a Lilly Pulitzer planner at Palmetto Moon in Celebration Pointe. It has helped keep me organized throughout the semester because I’m able to write down when my extracurricular activities take place and times of the day I’m completing school work. An additional tip I can offer is to highlight when you complete an assignment or activity during the day, this can relieve a bit of stress by physically seeing what you’ve accomplished.

Make time for fitness

A perk of being a PaCE student is having the flexibility to sleep in as late as you want. As an online learner, you can technically stay in bed and watch Netflix all day if you desire. Although, this could negatively affect one’s mental health and prevent them from being active. With the opt-in fee package, PaCE students can utilize both Student Recreation and Fitness Center as well as Southwest Recreation Center. Making fitness needs to be a priority for online students because you are sitting down doing school work rather than walking to classes. Small walks around campus add up and can be enough of a workout to brighten someone’s day. Without this time, PaCE students may not feel as happy or energized due to working on a laptop in the library or in their living space. A personal goal I try to achieve every week is going to the gym a minimum of four times, and I always go as soon as I wake up to start the day on a positive note. My first semester this wasn’t as much of a priority to me, and I found myself having a harder time sleeping and feeling down more often. These troubles on top of transitioning to a college lifestyle do not help an incoming first-year student. In the same light, gym buddies can add motivation to work out. Don’t be afraid to try fitness classes as well!

Balance studying and socializing

Depending on the personality of a student, they make use of the freedom PaCE provides to focus more on their social life or at school. PaCE allows people to work ahead because students can see their assignments due at a future date. Some may take advantage of this opportunity to go out on the town more frequently and work their schoolwork around their social life. On the other hand, students may work ahead of schedule and forget to take a break and enjoy the benefits of college and UF, in general, has to offer. PaCE students don’t get to form connections with classmates in a normal classroom setting unless a professor welcomes PaCE students to the lectures. Finding the balance between studying and having fun is essential to form bonds and build relationships while in PaCE. Although PaCE typically takes students one to two years to complete, friendships made at the beginning of your college career can impact your perception of UF as a first-year student or second-year student.

Some may view PaCE learning as a challenge but creating a schedule can keep you organized while maintaining stress levels. Finding ways to resemble on-campus learning can help PaCE students feel more involved as if they are in a “traditional” setting.