• Best Kept Secrets

A University of Florida Student Shares Her Advice


When you think of Florida, certain things probably come to mind oranges, the ocean and sunny skies for miles. Well, it’s also got a lot going for it in terms of academics twelve state universities, twenty eight community colleges and various private institutions leave scholars to be with an abundance of options. The University of Florida remains a leading choice. Located in Gainesville, the school has quite a large undergraduate headcount with 32,781 being reported in 2015. The Gators aren’t just admirable thinkers, either. Their sports teams compete in both Division I and the Southeastern Conference (seriously, don’t even think about underestimating the athletic pride in these parts).

A thriving Greek community has also led to a rather infamous party scene, which has earned the school kudos in the past from the likes of The Princeton Review and others. Needless to say, this is a university at the top of the list for many young Floridians and students all over the US.

Emilie Bonilla is among those who chose to attend the University of Florida. She’s a proud member of the Class of 2018, and she’s currently working toward her bachelor’s degree in political science. While students at the school come from more than 130 countries and all 50 states, Emilie actually grew up in Florida. Her parents had already set up a prepaid college plan for her, so attending a nearby school with excellent ratings boxes the University of Florida checks was an obvious choice. Emilie graciously offered to share her insights about the university, including things she wishes she had known beforehand and helpful tips.

Sticker Shock

One of the hardest transitions Emilie had to make dealt with her bank account. “I soon learned that eating out all the time wasn’t going to work, and neither would frivolous clothing purchases.” This isn’t any easy task at the University of Florida. Shopping malls, restaurants and a bustling nightlife with bars aplenty all try to tempt that ever trusty debit card. Thankfully, Emilie said that after a year she figured out how to “balance work and play.” Don’t forget that there are plenty of fun, free things to do at the University of Florida. Museums like the Florida Museum of Natural History are a great place to start!

Peace and Quiet

Something that struck Emilie during her first visit to the university’s campus was how scenic it was. Shady, palm-laden areas around the grounds provide shady refuge for studying or lounging. So where does the noise come in then? Where you’d least expect it the library. Emilie said that despite the multiple library facilities, it’s hard to find a quiet spot in them. This forced her to explore more, and find places better suited to really hitting the books. From other schools we’ve covered, it’s clear that libraries are being used more and more often for socializing instead of studying.

Stop That Bus!

A major concern for new students is how they’re going to get around on campus. The University of Florida is serviced by RTS busses (you can explore a map of their stops here). Emilie said “every freshmen definitely got lost on the first day using the busses.” Her worst bus fiasco was ending up at the mall when trying to get to Reitz Union the school’s student union that houses dining, offices, an outdoor amphitheater, a movie theatre and so on.

Help Studying

Emilie told us that many of the students she’s encountered at the University of Florida use Smokin’ Notes an extension of Study Edge. This notes company at the University of Florida helps you succeed in class by selling in depth exam reviews. “These are lifesavers,” she said. “I never want to take a class without them again!” If you ask us, there’s no such thing as being too prepared. Look into this university supported service if you’re tired of cramming for tests with those disorganized notes.

The Professors

If you’ve read any pieces from our Best and Worst Professors series, then you know that academic facility can be pretty hit or miss at schools. Emilie’s parting words of advice are to take advantage of sites like ours to ensure you’re getting the best professors for your money not to mention that hard earned GPA score. “Don’t be caught registering for classes without (these tools),” she said. We hear you loud and clear, Emilie!

If you’re interested in the University of Florida, check out this article on what to avoid by a former student.

Ryan James is a ’13 alumnus of Ohio University’s College of Arts & Sciences with a bachelor’s degree in writing and media. He currently works as a copywriter for a Fortune 500 e-commerce corporation based in Columbus, OH. Emilie Bonilla, a student from the University of Florida’s Class of 2018, generously offered to share some of the details of her experience to educate potential future students of the University of Florida.


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