University of Florida is a very unique school. The transition from high school to college is a difficult one, so here are some things to know as an incoming freshman to UF:
1. Small town
If you live in a big city such as Miami, New York, or even Orlando, get ready for Gainesville. Although Gainesville technically has everything you need, it is a very different atmosphere from a big city and it takes a lot of getting used to. Due to the fact that Gainesville is a small town, there are only so many places to party, which is why everyone always ends up in midtown, more specifically Fat Daddy’s.
2. Work hard, play hard
UF is most definitely a party school, but we’re also a top 10 public school in the state and ranked #42 in the nation. With that being said, we take school seriously here and we get things done. We can go out everyday of the week if we please, because there is always something happening, but we get up the next morning and go to class. That’s how we chomp every other school.
3. “Easy” classes
Many classes that are supposed to be easy, aren’t. Warning: do not take AST1002 (astronomy) as a gen ed science or STA2023 (statistics) unless you need to!! Always check ratemyprofessor.com and/or post in your class facebook page and see what other students have to say about the class, trust me it helps. At UF, most classes are weed out classes, so stay on top of your game.
4. Put yourself out there
52,286 students on one campus means nothing if you don’t try and put yourself out there! Join an organization or a team, form study groups with classmates, get a job, or get involved with greek life. Whatever it is that you are interested in, try it out and meet new people! It is a great outlet from school and other stress. Take advantage of all the free time and opportunities that you are being offered. The worst thing that you can do is isolate yourself, especially while getting accustomed to a completely new lifestyle.
5. The Swamp
They don’t call it the swamp for no reason. There are swamps around campus with actual gators in them. Gainesville, aka rainesville, located in the sunshine state, is a wet, muggy town, so ALWAYS carry an umbrella. This is a picture of a gator interrupting a picnic at Lake Alice on campus.
From my experience and others that have shared with me, there are few advisors that actually know what they’re talking about. If you do your research, you won’t need to go to an advisor. I usually walk out of advising more confused than when I went in. You can teach yourself how to read your degree audit and figure out what classes you need to graduate, how to find classes for your major or minor, how to read the course catalog, etc., without the help of an advisor. I have heard a couple of stories where advisors have told students that they have fulfilled every requirement, and students trustingly did look into it on their own, and when it came time to graduate, they were not allowed to due to missing credits.
7. Meal plan
The meal plan is NOT what it seems to be when you go to preview (orientation). When parents are there, they will serve you steak and fancy food, but on a regular day, they will not. A lot of students have the meal plan and actually utilize it but I personally do not think it is worth the money at all. If you budget yourself and are disciplined enough, not having a meal plan and just grocery shopping every week is more worth your money. I definitely recommend asking around and trying the dining hall food a few times before you commit to an expensive meal plan. Also, if you join greek life, they typically have a meal plan of their own. Freshman 15 IS real and the dining hall does not help you stay away from that.
8. Football season tickets
If you don’t actually enjoy watching football, don’t waste your money on season tickets. I guarantee you won’t make it to half of the games after the tailgate, and if you do, you’ll most likely leave after 10 minutes. My personal recommendation is to buy tickets to one or two games with your friends just for the experience.
If you live in a dorm, you have to pay for laundry. It is $1.50 to wash and $1.50 to dry each load, which does not sound like a lot of money, but it adds up. I will never understand why you have to pay for laundry if you’re already paying for your dorm, but it is what it is.
Prepare to spend an excessive amount of money on Starbucks. Even if you typically don’t go to Starbucks, it’s irresistible when you’re at the library for hours. TIP: get the Tapingo app; you can order food from most on campus restaurants ahead of time so you don’t have to wait the enormous lines at Starbucks, for example, you can just go pick it up once it’s ready. 🙂
11. Greek Life
Like any state school, greek life is a big thing at UF. Whether you decide to participate in that or not is your choice. You can definitely have fun and make friends either way, but if you are even remotely interested, I suggest trying it out because you never know if you’re gonna end up loving it.
Don’t be scared if you see a bald man in booty shorts yelling or dancing in turlington, that’s just Dennis.
13. Getting around campus
You will walk a lot, so be prepared for that. Everything is relatively close to each other, but the campus is still huge. If you don’t live immediately close to campus and you don’t like walking, I would suggest getting a bike or a scooter. If you do get a bike, get a good lock because people like to steal bike seats and tires. Cars are useful for grocery shopping, traveling, or going out to eat, however, that is not an efficient way to get around campus. Plus, there is barely any car parking on campus. UF also has the RTS bus system, which is confusing but reliable, and can take you to most places around campus and even off campus.
14. Tailgate season
Get ready for large crowds of sweaty bodies, cans of natty light everywhere, getting up at 8 am to tailgate for a 12 pm game, and lots of orange and blue; it’s game day, baby! If you didn’t like the combination of orange and blue before, you will now! Whether you’re in a sorority/fraternity or not, this is the time of the year where we all unite and show off our school spirit. #pilammf
15. Summer B
Starting school during summer B was probably the best decision I could have made. It gives you a huge advantage come fall because you’re already familiar with the campus. However, summer classes are extremely easy and do not compare to the rigorous classes you will be taking in fall AT ALL. Take Good Life and one or two easy gen ed classes during summer B, like human sexuality. This is your time to adjust, make friends, and go to a lot of frat parties. Summer B is honestly summer camp. TIP: don’t take first year florida; everyone that I know that has taken it regrets wasting the credit because they did not learn anything.
There is at least one resident assistant on every floor of every residence hall. Everyone automatically thinks “why did I come to college to have someone tell me what to do?” That is not at all what the job of an RA is. They are there to make sure you’re not going to burn down your dorm hall by accident, to help you get back into your room if you lock yourself out, and to make you feel at home. Just because you have an RA does not mean you have a curfew or that you’re not allowed to have friends over or anything like that. Your RA is a good resource if you ever have questions about school, housing or anything in general because they have been through it before.
I hope this was helpful, and as always, go gators! 🐊