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University of Florida

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What are the academics like at your school?

I love all my professors. They're all very knowledgeable, they are very helpful for the most part. Not to say you won't find professors who don't care. I think all schools have such professors, but I just haven't met one yet. As a business major, my favorite class would have to be Entrepreneurship. It's a required course for business majors, but it's just such a fascinating class. You get into the mind of business owners, and you discover why they decide to open their own business in the first place, how they find opportunities, etc. My professor in that class is an actual entrepreneur, so he knows first hand about how to open a business, how to find investors to lend money to you, all that jazz. It's not every day you get to learn about a subject from someone whose been down that road before. UF students being as smart as they are love to have intelligent discussions. I've had many talks about the financial crisis with fellow classmates, and we've discussed the possibilities of other bubbles that might be bursting pretty soon. It's a different environment than you would see in other schools. It was not at all like this at my previous school. The business school is one of the bigger schools on campus in terms of how many students sign up for business as a major. It's a very popular major, but it's not easy at all. Actually, all my classes are pretty difficult, but to the point of them being challenging. It's not so difficult that you can't get an A, you can, but it does take more work than you think it would. Courses are 4 credits each most of the time, instead of the average 3 credits, so expect to study a bit more per credit hour. The two most difficult classes in the business school are FIN3403 and Business Law. Most people rely on study aids for these classes just because they're so difficult. But again...it's nothing you can't overcome with a little studying and determination. I definitely think UF has a different approach to academics than most other schools. So far, I've taken courses where I've been exposed to real-world material. I took ISM3004, and I love the hands-on approach we take in the class. My professor had us use the information we learned in the class to create blogs, presentations, charts, reports...all the different things we would need to know how to create and use in the real world. I learned how to create a business plan in Entrepreneurship. These are things that not every other school would teach their students!

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University of Florida is definitely an academic-focused school. Everyone is driven to make something of themselves.Being such a large university, in your general education classes in your first few semesters, classes are pretty crowded. Classes like chemistry or calculus, that are required for many majors, have hundreds of students. However, most large classes have a one-hour discussion course once a week which is only 20 students from the larger group. Professors know your name if you make it known to them. In larger classes, and even in smaller classes, participation is key. The professors will not work to get to know you like in high school. You must participate in discussions in class or go to office hours for extra help to introduce yourself. As far as academic requirements go, I feel that some of the general education credit requirements, like the required 6 credits of "Diversity", are a bit unnecessary. Many of these classes are not very appealing to a wider audience and waste space in the semester, blocking time when you could be getting ahead on your major requirements or just taking a fun, interesting class. The new A- grading system is the worst!!! The addition of the minuses on the gpa scale makes it harder to get a 4.0 and UF classes are hard enough to begin with. Being an academic university, there are many, many pre-med students. This means that classes required by all of them, like general chemistry, turn in to "weed-out" classes that make the class harder so only the best and brightest survive and discouraging those that can't keep up to drop pre-med. Most classes have 2-3 midterm exams, plus a final. In many classes, these are your only grades. In others, you have additional papers, homework assignments, or online homework or quizzes to boost grades. Time spent on academics correlates with the time in the semester. Early in the semester, before midterm exams begin, is generally relaxed and easy. As the semester progresses, so does the workload. By the time finals roll around, you're basically living thanks to coffee gods.

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Professors CAN know your name. In the large classes, if you talk to them and email them, they will recognize you quickly. The same goes for the smaller classes, but usually the professor makes a distinct effort to learn names in these classes. My favorite class was comparative psychology, as I mentioned earlier. My least favorite class was Chemistry 1. It was just out of my range of knowledge, didn't come naturally, and I ended up with a poor teacher. Most students study daily, and for multiple hours. It isn't like a jail cell, but it isn't just a party all day. Class participation is very common, but never forced. Usually about half of the class participates regularly, and the other half tends to be more shy and just pays attention. Students most definitely have intellectual conversations outside of class! Students are somewhat competitive. We all want to be the best, but we don't let it ruin friendships. Our competitive streak does run from academics, to sports, to clubs, etc. As a member of the Honors College, I have taken about four honors courses as a requirement. Two of those were very unique from the rest of the courses I have taken. These classes come and go often though, depending on teacher availability and such. My major is Psychology, and my minors are Education and Zoology. I've only interacted with the Psychology department, and everyone is very helpful. I do spend time with professors outside of class. I email them, talk to them, head to office hours, discuss research, etc. I feel like the academic requirements are average, like every other university. The education is geared towards BOTH getting a job in the future AND learning for the sake of learning. I love that about this university.

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The degree programs are pretty flexible. For english, you just have to take 10 upper division classes. For psychology, you have to take a few out of different categories, but it's still open to exploring within the subject matter. In that sense, it's great for people who can deal with a lack of structure. However, you have to be a self-starter. There's no one to hold your hand or make sure you're on track. And academic advising is a joke. The CLAS advising department can't give substantive advice because they can't get to know students on an individual level. You'll get better advice out of a department professor you have a decent relationship with, or websites that give candid advice about the usefulness of different classes. But that's all geared toward upperclassmen. When you first come in, overwhelmed with information and unfamiliar with the catalog, there's really no guidance or suggestions. (And I was in the honors program, that purports to have more tailored advising.) For example, they push students that did well on the math section of the SAT into CHM 2045, rather than 2040 or 2041, without regard to chemistry ability. They need better guidelines (like a placement exam for science, not math) before they push students into classes they aren't prepared for.

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Professor interaction is so difficult as an underclassmen. Usually you'll be in huge lecture classes, and although your encouraged to go to a professors office hours, realistically he/she probably won't have much time to get to know you well enough to write you a recommendation letter. My favorite classes so far have been the easy gen ed requirements such as theatre appreciation, wildlife issues, and age of dinosaurs. Most of my core classes are difficult and these classes are stress free, and an easy a! One of my favorite parts of class, is discussion. I love the intellectual conversation that goes on. Usually there are alot of controversial things going on on-campus, such as speakers, displays, debates, and you can always find students engaging in arguments/discussions. Students are very competitive, considering its a large campus and everyone wants there "voice" heard. The department of Journalism and Communications, has one of the BEST faculty on campus. (No exaggeration) The professors are cool, and down to earth and the advisors are extremely helpful unlike in other majors.

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The undergraduate classes here at the University of Florida tend to have hundreds of students in them, thus making it difficult to build a relationship with professors from just attending lecture. If you make an effort to go to their office hours though, professors tend to take notice and be much more helpful. My favorite classes are those that have to do with my field of study, speech, language and hearing classes, probably because that is what I enjoy learning about. I know other students who prefer their math courses though because that's what they're interested in. The amount of time students spend studying really depends on how well they want to perform in a particular class and the difficulty of the course they are taking. Some courses are much easier than others to get better grades in. I would say that the students here are highly competitive. Many majors require that you apply to the program at the end of your sophomore year. Pre-Med, Pre-Pharm, Pre-Dentistry and the nursing program only take a limited amount of applicants.

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Academics in my school are extremely important, the importance can probably best be measured by how many students are in the libraries at any given time. I am a political science major, one of the most popular majors at the school, but my concentration is in international relations. The classes are fairly small and the professors quickly learn the names of the students who participate most. I can, from personal experience, say that the students frequently have intellectual conversations. Politics, race, religion, economics, history, sociology, the environment, current events and even astronomy are topics that have been brought up in daily conversation among friends. My favorite class has been international institutions because I feel as though I have learned the most from that course but it hasn't been the most interesting. That would go to Cuba and Puerto Rico, a course on the history of both islands. I have met with my professor for that course multiple times and have had the pleasure of conversing with her on our family histories.

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Academics are the reason the University of Florida is so well known within this state. With qualified professors, most of whom are involved in cutting edge research, you can be sure that a good education can be had. Your major usually determines your class size. Common freshmen courses and general education classes may be done auditorium size in which the professor may never know your name. However, every professor holds office hours and are prepared and willing to help with whatever problems may arise while taking their course. In terms of attendance, smaller classes usually count attendance as part of your participation grade. In larger classes professors may get a little more creative and use texting or remote systems that record when your in class. In this case, attendance leads to extra points. Students are expected to study at least three hours per credit hour. But no worries. If you choose a major you love, and courses you find interesting, every class will seem fun no matter the amount of hours needed to study.

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There are many different types of student experiences. There are big lecture classes, like any large university and there are intimate classes of 15-20 people that promote discussion. My favorite classes are definitely the Spanish courses at school. They are all really intimate and you get to know your professors on a one on one basis. The most unique class I have ever taken was Theatre appreciation. It was really fun and exciting to go to. Students can be competitive depending upon the college or major you are in, but I wouldn't say it is cut-throat at all. My major is advertising in the College of Journalism and communications. I like my college because people are always readily available to help you out whenever needed. Outside of class, it is acceptable to go to your professors office hours. I have never had more interaction than office hours though. I think the education really prepares you for the real world, and each college has a different approach to it.

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lower division classes are huge and the professors never know anyone's name. When i took statistics 2, the TA wouldn't answer questions and told us to email her after class. however, in my upper division classes, things are a lot more personal. class size shrunk from 200 to 30 and participation was encouraged. i have had countless conversations outside of class that were intellectually associated to things we discussed in class. i love that! as a sociology major, i feel i am groomed to engage in intellectual conversations about a range of topics but usually centering around capitalism or consumerism. my professors make it easy to see parallels between my major and what is happening in the world today. though i love my major, the most unique class i took was tai chi. it was the best two credits i've ever earned! getting into UF seems harder than actually graduating. something like 17% of applicants actually get in...that is crazy.

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