The academics are pretty hard-core. The core classes, the sciences and math classes, are tough. But on the flip side, there is so much help out there. Every class has review sessions, from fellow students, TAs, teaching help through UF itself or an off campus company that specializes in helping you pass your test. Not to mention that every professor has office hours or is available to make an appointment to see you. There's no excuse not to find help if you need it. Students in a class can also email other students in the class, so I can send a mass email saying "I need help with problem #2 on the homework" or "Study session Thursday at 5" and get help from fellow classmates. The courses are so diverse, I've taken Vegetable Gardening, Oceanography, Astronomy, Wildlife, Soils, American History and many other electives just to see what I might like. And many of the electives are a blast, because it's something you are interested in.
Most curriculums at the University of Florida are challenging. Being in the Engineering College, i can attest to that fact. However, this is a great preperation for life after college and my future career. Most introductory classes are held in big auditoriums which makes it more difficult to get to know your professor but by visiting their office hours regularly they will learn your name and be able to get to know you. One of the things I enjoyed was being able to enroll in the honors section of some courses (such as Calculus) to be able to learn in a smaller class setting. I have also enjoyed the hands-on classes in my department. Those have helped me get a better idea of what I want to do as a career in the future. Another great benefit of attending UF is that our Career Resource Center (where you go to get help finding internships and jobs) was ranked #1 in the country!
Many professors know my name. You do sometimes have to make an effort to make your presence known though. For example, I'm in a class with probably 300 students, but because I have gone to my teacher's office hours, she remembers me and my name. On the other hand, I took a GenEd English class which totaled 7 people. When you get into specialized classes, the size of the depreciates quickly, with the maximum students being around 30. I've found that the professors here take a great interest in your overall well being, and I have formed great relationships with many of them. I absolutely loved my Spanish teacher, Sra Braylan, and ended up studying abroad in her native country, Argentina, taking classes with her and other professors at the University of Belgrano. It was an incredible experience I wish I could do again!
There's a lot of diversity on the UF campus as far as academics. Class size varies, for example, some of the more Gen Ed type classes will have large classes of hundreds of people, language classes are kept small at about twenty or less, more specialized classes are more in the 30-50 range. Some of my personal favorite classes have included, Gender and Sexuality, Modern Japan, Japanese Culture, The Ancient World on Film, Myths of the Greeks and Romans, Food and Culture, to name a few. My major is Anthropology and I have two minors in Classics and Asian Studies. I have a lot of freedom in my course choices so I get to take many interesting classes. This school's academic requirements are definitely high, however this produces a good academic atmosphere in which most people are serious about their schooling.
Only a couple of my professors know my name. My favorite class right now is Ori2000 Interpretation of Literature. I get to act in it and portray characters that help me become a better speaker. My least favorite is Microeconomics Eco2023. It is wayyy to big and I don't understand how it can help me in journalism. Class participation is common among smaller classes. My major, photojournalism, is really challenging. I do however try to get my professors mentor me outside of class so I can get better at it. I feel that UF education is geared for learning and less for getting a job. The requirements for my major sometimes have nothing to do with journalism and I am sometimes afraid I won't graduate on time.
Many professors will learn their students names. MY favorite classes have either been with professors Stafford, Moraski or Conley (in that ranking). Stafford will push his students to new heights, while Moraski will be very understanding toward his students. Conley is just a really great professor in a way that cannot be explained without experiencing his teaching style. As for intellectual conversations beyond the classroom, that is a topic that is subjective depending on who you talk to. Speaking with students who are in more political organizations (Students for a Democratic Society, College Dems/ Reps) will yield a greater amount of "intellectual" conversations.
As a business student, I've taken many huge classes with TAs or teachers who don't really care. In many classes, I would prefer to just sit back and hear what my teacher has to say, rather than be involved in a classroom discussion. In many of the business classes (ECO2023) I've felt that we were not adequately prepared for the tests, nor given materials (we were not assigned a textbook) to help us prepare. I passed that class thanks to Tutoring Zone, for $25 per test. As a serious student, I dont think I should have to rely on Tutoring Zone to pass my classes. I study a lot, and every time I go to the library, I realize that I am not the only one!
Professors sometimes surprise me when they actually know my name. My favorite class this semester was 19th Century European History I also liked my intermediate Spanish classes. My least favorite classes were calculus and chemistry that I took spring semester last year, of course I dropped both of them. UF students most definitely have intellectual conversations outside of class, many times I talk about politics, history, and other social topics of intellectual interest. Students here are also definitely very competitive as they strive hard to build their resumes and make applications to grad, law, and medical schools stand out from the rest.
I have taken several classes at UF that have had several hundred students enrolled. However, many of the large lecture classes have smaller breakout groups, which allows the student to establish a more personal relationship with the instructor or a TA. I study frequently, but I feel that what I put into my work is equivalent to what I get out. Since I arrived here, the classes have gotten much more impressive and competitive. Admission to UF is much more difficult than even 10 years ago, and I expect the improvement to continue. The structure of the academic requirements is very efficient for such a large college system.
Classes are large here but many have some kind of lab or discussion session that let you interact with a smaller number of classmates and a Teacher's Assisstant. It is the responsibility of each person to manage their own academics. There's no one hovering over your shoulder to make sure you're studying and writing your papers but help can be provided if you are struggling. There's a huge variety of classes to take. If you want to learn about it, there's probably a class you take on it. The requirements are easy enough to get and introduce you to a wide variety of topics which is useful for determining major.