Growing up, people always told me that high school will be the best four years of my life. Since attending the University of Florida, I could not disagree more. Since starting my academic tenure at UF in 2008, I have gained more as a student and individual than I had ever imagined possible. Academically speaking, I have had the opportunity to interact and learn from professors deemed experts in their fields. They have taught me new approaches to learning, and I have learned the importance of research. The Gainesville community and the partnership of UF and Shands Hospital has opened my experiences to the field of occupational therapy, my major and chosen career. As an individual, I have met countless numbers of new and interesting people. Living on campus for two years, my appreciation for diversity has sky-rocketed. The university has something for everyone to get involved in, and I have truly found my niche on campus. UF was even able to give me the opportunity to take my experiences abroad in a summer study abroad session. The pride and tradition of the Gator Nation is outstanding. My loyalty to this university is unmatched. GO GATORS!
Attending college is a process fraught with making mistakes, learning from those mistakes, and soul-searching. Upon entering the University of Florida, I realized that I can now start planning my own future and figuring out how to enjoy life. I have been consistently encouraged to take many different types of classes in order to figure out what truly piques my interest. It is difficult to claim uniqueness within a school that is so eclectic be it culturally, academically, and socially. I do believe, however, that being truly unique stems from one’s ability to mold two seemingly different ideas to create an entirely new perspective on life. This is why I am now pursuing a double-major in Political Science and Anthropology with a minor in Russian studies, which are subjects not often tackled side-by-side. Aside from my future interests, I have also been stimulated to continue honing my skills as an actor, singer, pianist, and writer in order to build self-confidence and creativity. I have also been able to make life-long friends who will consistently push me to accept any challenge, but who will always be there for me when I need them.
I am a first generation college graduate of my family. I can say that education was the greatest focus when it came time to applying to college. My parents and I both had the understanding that the basic purpose for attending college was to receive a degree and then find work. Now having graduated with my bachelor?s degree, I have the benefit of hindsight. I can look back and see that yes, I did receive an excellent education from the college of my choice but I also gained so much more than that. College is about life experience. It is a time for a student to become independent and to really explore and find their passions in life. I would tell any parent or student who is seeking the right college to not only consider the academic standards of the school but also to consider the variety of student life offered on and off campus. Consider volunteer opportunities found in the community, study abroad, research, interest groups and clubs, recreation, etc. The "right" college offers well-rounded experiences and opportunities rather than simply a narrow focus. In the end, any experience is what you make of it. Take advantage!
Rewind to senior year of high school. I still remember staring at the dozen applications strewn across the kitchen table. Represented on those sheets of paper were small liberal arts schools, large private colleges, and public universities. Overwhelmed, I asked myself a simple question: What do I want out of college? After much deliberation, I chose the University of Florida for it's respected academics, affordability, profusion of school spirit, warm weather, and diverse student body. It was the best choice I have ever made. Within my first six months at UF I have made friends from every background who have shared with me their cultures, stories, and interests. I volunteered at the on-campus art museum, which led me to my first internship. Florida Alternative Breaks, a student-led service organization, opened my eyes during a trip exploring the lives and rights of migrant farm workers. I have earned an officer's position in the Student Investment Club. Every interest I have been able to pursue, and now I truly feel as though I am making a difference on campus. UF has become home to me, and there is nowhere else I would rather be.
Decide early and quickly which career path you definitely want to go down. Too many students drift around intoxicated by the plethora of vaguely interesting course titles. Remain focused or else you will end up locked in to a major with too many credits to switch to another one. READ what is assigned, most courses outside of science classes are easily passed by simply doing the assigned readings on time. This is because most students do not read and so the professors are forced to teach the material as if no one has encountered it before. Get a job with tips and get it fast: pizza delivery, waiting, and bartending are the ideal jobs for achieving financal freedom in minimal time and they happen to be in very high demand in college towns. Skip out on binge drinking: party whe you want but avoid heavy drinking since it is the number one cause of all student problems e.g. pregnancy, rape, failing grades, fights, death, car wrecks, injuries, losing security deposits, robbery, arrests, destroyed relationships, etc. If you are going to be designated driver get paid. FOCUS ON LEARNING NOT ON GRADES too many 4.0s with no brains.
Because I was dual enrolled since my sophomore year of high school I have been taking courses at my local community college. This taught me very quickly how to be responsible and discipline when it came to my education. I worked to arrange my courses to fit my schedule- between high school, college, home, study time, and time off. I found myself working with and speaking to many adults there to help me, so this definitely helped better my communication skills. I had one very serious and well-thought-out conference with my high school principal and dean with a few of my fellow dual-enrolled students. We solved an problem that would affect all dual-enrolled students in my class. Having a civilized and understanding conversation aimed towards resolving an issue brought out my maturity and open-mindedness. For me, college wasn't just about learning from the courses but about learning from the experience too. I really felt like I grew up once I earned my AA Degree at my high school graduation, but that was just the first step. Now, at a university, I hope to learn more through academics, people, situations, and opinions offered to me.
Words cannot even express what the University of Florida has done to my life. I have been presented with so many opportunities thus far, with having only recently completed my first semester. I'm actually embarrassed to say that the University of Flordia was not my first choice when deciding where to spend my undergraduate years. I had no intention to be a Florida Gator. I now owe UF an apology. The University of Florida has given me an opportunity to define myself as an individual. In my first semster, I have been educated by renowed professors, been in the midst of history taking place, known as Gator football, been acquainted with diverse students all around the world that allow me to gain an understanding of my surroundings, and presented with events such as Career Showcase that not only allow me to distinguish myself from my peers, but to develop a resume that will impress future employers. Never would I have thought that I would wear a suit so early in my college career. Despite this economic recession, I am very hopeful for the possibilites regarding my career. To this, I owe the University of Florida a big thanks.
I think that one of the main barriers to finding the best college is a lack of communication. Pamphlets, information packets, and even campus tours are not nearly enough information to base such an important decision off of. Send e-mails to professors in the fields you are interested in. Arrange meetings with professors while you are on campus for tours. Don't be afraid. If it is a good college, the faculty will be committed to demonstrating the quality of education at the school. Find out how the programs at that school will help you accomplish your goals. Are you planning to enter the work force immediately after you earn your bachelor's, or would it make more sense for you to pursue a graduate degree first? How will the school prepare you for those choices and pursuing those options? To make the most of your college career, go beyond course work. If you are interested in business, start looking at internships as soon as possible. If you are interested in research or medicine, join a lab as an undergraduate assistant or shadow a doctor. Participate in student groups and clubs that interest you. Explore the city.
The most important aspect of choosing a college is making sure it is tailored to your specific needs and desires. Consider what it is you want in a college, and proceed from there. Important areas to consider include what field you are considering entering, and whether a given college is strong in that field. However, while academics is certaintly an important factor, in order to do well it is often necessary to be happy at your college. Look into the types of extracurricular activities and student life to determine if you would fit in and truly enjoy your experience. Speak with students who already attend a college you're looking into. Finally, location is important for many people. To maximize your college experience, simply pursue your interests. You have the freedom to take classes that interest you, and the opportunity to meet new friends and try new things. All you have to do is keep an open mind and put forth the effort to get involved in whatever capacity you decide. But it does require effort: you won't make the most of your experience by sitting around and waiting for things to happen. Ultimately, it's up to you.
Contrary to popular belief, college is not about making the A grade or learning how to handle your liquor. It is a time set aside for the discovery and embrace of oneself. It is learning how to never forget where you came from while staying true to your childhood aspirations. College is never compromising your heart or settling for the easy way out. It is the decisions that you will make in college that will shape who you become in the future. It is truly an exhilarating experience to discover how one handles themselves without the crutches of ?legal guardians.? You must take advantage of this opportunity to step out of your comfort zone and hold back all fears. College is the age in which one must learn how to operate successfully; discover how to manage time wisely, finding the equilibrium between social life and school work. Most importantly you must learn how to coop with failure, by no means allow them to derail you but let them motivate you to push harder. Overall, chanting at the football games, maturing in the classroom and studying your brains out to achieve what seemed like an impossible dream is what defines college.