If you have never attended the University of Florida, you might have misconceptions about what life is like as a Florida Gator. Here are a few things you might believe:
1. The Gator Nation is all about sports, particularly football and basketball.
UF athletics is a huge deal for a school that has won a national title in at least one of its 14 major sports since 2008. Doing the Gator chomp, singing “We are the Boys,” a classic school song at the end of the third quarter, and dressing in orange and blue are things students and fans love most about being at games. But while some students thrive on the enthusiasm at UF sporting events, other students can be found at the local farmers markets or restaurants, downtown, state parks, libraries, and UF facilities that remain open on game days. Whatever your interests, there will be something for you to do here at UF even on game days.
2. You will be just a face in a class with no interaction with your professors.
Overwhelming class sizes and low teacher involvement may be what you imagine finding at a large public university. While some classes may be larger than others, UF has a variety of different class structures. Currently, the student-to-faculty ratio is at 20:1. UF is hiring about 200 more faculty through the “Faculty 500 Initiative” in order to bring down the ratio to 16:1. All professors have office hours so students may meet with the professor and ask questions. It is highly recommended that students attend office hours and meet their professors in order to get a more personalized experience at UF.
3. You won’t be able to find resources to help you.
The University of Florida has an abundance of resources geared toward helping students in different aspects of life.
- Educational resources such as the Broward Teaching Center, General Chemistry Learning Center, Math Department tutoring, Office of Academic Support tutoring, and the Writing Studio help students succeed in their individual classes. The UF Libraries also have research assistance in more than 100 subjects.
- The Care Area has resources to help students who may have food or counseling needs. Their U Matter We Care program provides counseling 24/7. GatorWell has a Wellness Coaching program to help students with time and stress management, eating and sleeping habits, and study skills.
- The Department of Student Activities and Involvement provides resources and information about the more than 1,000 different organizations on campus. A big campus does mean you will find a club or organization for almost any interest.
- The Career Connections Center helps students learn about career options, develop professional resumes and connections, build experience through internships, and find success in career planning.
4. You have to join UF Greek life to have friends.
About 15 percent of students at UF are involved in Greek Life. Many students have found networking and service opportunities by joining a sorority or fraternity. But, if you find interest in other things, know that there are endless opportunities to find a social community around those interests.
5. You need a car to come to UF’s big campus.
It is true that UF does have a large campus, but that does not mean that a car is a necessity. The flat and shaded terrain make it easy for walking, and students also rely on bikes, scooters and buses. The Gainesville Regional Transit System provides buses that will take students all over campus and the city of Gainesville for free with their Gator1 ID. SNAP can also be utilized by students who need a ride home late at night.
6. Gainesville is just the University of Florida.
For those who believe that UF is all that you’ll find in the city of Gainesville, you are mistaken. With farmers’ markets, snazzy restaurants and live performances, downtown is a lively place to spend an evening. Archer Road and Oaks Mall also have plenty of dining and shopping options. Numerous outdoor escapes such as Payne’s Prairie, the Gainesville-Hawthorne trail and Sweetwater Preserve are great spots to get some fresh air. Travel a little further to one of the springs surrounding Gainesville such as Ichetucknee state park or go snorkeling at Devil’s Den. North Central Florida is an outdoor-enthusiast’s paradise.