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Full BF but UF, FSU not good fits

elcs76elcs76 29 replies6 threads Junior Member
This is my first ever post on CC, so please hang with me - I am not looking for any hard and fast answers, only opinions of parents who know that UF and FSU are the best economical choices and are very good schools, but whose child doesn't want to stay in Florida now or even later. My D is not an athlete nor is she an extrovert, but does have a small group of good friends. (old soul) She's one of those kids who isn't in the cool crowd but isn't a nerd, either, and is ranked right in the middle of her IB class. She has not had a good experience socailly in high school because she doesn't like all of the FAKE, the hyper competitve IB program, or just the high school crowd in general. The only reason she is open to Greek life is becasue we've convinced her it will make the experience easier for meeting people, even though she isn't interested in partying or drinking. (can a girl be in a sorority at UF or FSU and NOT drink?!)

We drove through UF and FSU and while the campuses are beautiful, the 40K undergrads seems very overwhelming and Gainesville and Tally are just meh to her. Also, the kids we know that choose those schools are very different from her and she wants to go to college and just start over. Who would consider giving up free tuition so that your child might have a much more enriching college experience in a place that they liked? NOW - We are defintily applying to UF and FSU, and depending on how the money shakes out for the other schools she is applying to, she knows that more than likely she will have to deal with it and move on. She has a 31 ACT and a 3.6UW/4.4W GPA with about 300 volunteer hours and a couple of leadership positions. Her top choices are Tulane, U Richmond, Elon, Baylor, Rollins and possibly U Arkansas/U South Carolins Honors Colleges, which would make those two large state schools a bit smaller.

Better yet - If money was not an issue and your kid was like mine, would you gladly spend $30-40K/ year on a private/small to medium sized school that was a great fit, or would you stick with the highly ranked state uni solely based on it's high rank?


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Replies to: Full BF but UF, FSU not good fits

  • rickle1rickle1 2788 replies23 threads Senior Member
    Although their were many differences to your situation, my S was in a very similar situation. Bottom line, he just didn't like UF for a variety of reasons and desired a much more "intimate" college experience outside of FL (where he will likely remain). Not only did we have BF but he was also a Presidential Scholarship winner, Honor Program admitted, etc. Essentially, UF would have been free...yet he just wasn't excited about it and we were in a position to fund an alternative.

    Although we've lived in FL for 25 yrs, we have a different opinion of the U system than most people we know. Not saying there's something wrong with it but when you've lived in other places and see alternatives it gives you perspective.

    For us, some of it comes down to what (and where) the kid wants to do. If you envision living in the northeast, or DC, or San Fran doing Corporate Fin or tech or X, we felt it would make more sense to put yourself in that market (for networking, campus recruiting, seeing if you like being "up north", etc.)

    Some of it, actually a lot of it, comes down to the type of experience your kid is looking for. S wanted a small, intimate setting with small classes featuring a high level of scholar / teacher rapport. Lots of discussion based classes. He also wanted across the board stellar academics, a close knit campus environment, and an opportunity to spread his wings and push himself on lots of levels (one being literally not knowing anyone and meeting people form all over the world).

    Hard to explain this but he could have found that vibe (although not the small discussion based classes as a freshmen) at UF, but his entire school is that vibe. Take a small school where everyone is an honor student, bring really interesting people to campus, have an undergrad / residential college focus, and a high achieving yet collaborative ethos and you see some pretty amazing things unfold. It's a completely different environment than a large (massive) state school. Yes it's expensive, but we decided it was a great investment in his future. So far so good.
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  • elcs76elcs76 29 replies6 threads Junior Member
    Thank you for the thorough reply. We, too, have lived in FL for almost 20 years and have a different opinion of the U system and generally just aren't huge fans, but do recognize that what we have is pretty good even if it isn't what we would choose. With a 31 ACT, her college counselor has put UF as a Wildcard - 4 students from her IB program did not get in this year, so maybe I won't even have to worry about it! :) She is definitely not UF Honors caliber, though she is very smart and knows what it will take to keep up her good grades, especially if she wants to go to PA school down the road.

    We really loved the U Tampa campus and she would go in as a sophomore (done in 3 years, easily), be in the Honors College, and would likely do very well there. (with PA school being the goal, it's not a bad idea) But, we will still be on the hook for about $20K/year and I'm just not sure that is worth it. I'd much rather pay $30K for a place like Tulane or U Richmond than 20 at a place like U Tampa because the academics are just better. Though I am sure the academics are fine at Tampa, I am worried that if she hated it and needed to transfer that it would be a disaster in terms of credits transferring.

    I guess you are right in that if she gets heavily involved at UF or FSU that she could find the vibe she is looking for, but the chances for that, knowing my D, are relatively slim. Where did your son end up choosing, if you don't mind me asking?

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  • rickle1rickle1 2788 replies23 threads Senior Member
    Completely get your situation and agree with the URichmond vs. UTampa scenario. We looked at Richmond closely and it is an amazing place. There is no comparison between the two. S chose Wake Forest. It's perfect for him. Intimate like Richmond but with HUGE school spirit, sports (ACC basketball is like SEC football). Most people are surprised to learn it's only 4800 undergrad students and it operates like a premier LAC (the academics are impeccable) but has resources like a major university. Quality throughout!
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  • Gator88NEGator88NE 6547 replies211 threads Senior Member
    edited July 2018
    Better yet - If money was not an issue and your kid was like mine, would you gladly spend $30-40K/ year on a private/small to medium sized school that was a great fit, or would you stick with the highly ranked state uni solely based on it's high rank?

    Every family and student is different, what works for one, may not work for another. Both of my kids are engineering students, and UF is a great match. A small LAC would not have worked. It wasn't UF's rankings that mattered, as much as it's engineering program. Their safety was UCF, but they also got accepted to schools like Georgia Tech and the University of Alabama.

    You really need to base your search on your D's interest (and your budget).
    Her top choices are Tulane, U Richmond, Elon, Baylor, Rollins and possibly U Arkansas/U South Carolins Honors Colleges,

    All good choices. If she's interested in Rollings, you may want to look into Eckerd College in St. Pete. Also, if you attend a Florida Private school, don't forget about the Florida Resident Access Grants (which in a way replace BF).

    Stetson College (DeLand Florida) may also be a good fit. A "STEM" student may find Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (Daytona) is a good choice.

    UCF and USF both have very good honor college programs, but they are also getting competitive. If you're looking at Arkansas and USC, you should take a look at these two schools. In addition to BF, they also offer merit based scholarships. For example, at USF, your D would also qualify for $4K a year merit scholarships (plus the honor college scholarship, which stacks).
    http://www.usf.edu/admissions/freshmen/admissions-scholarships/

    Both schools are good "safeties". Both schools also have active forums on CC.

    New College of Florida is a public liberal arts honors college located in Sarasota, Florida, It's small (less than 900 undergraduates) and very quirky (it's not for everyone). Any Florida resident looking at LACs, should take a look at NCF. For some, it's a great way to attend a LAC, and still get BF to cover tuition (plus, like UCF/USF, they would give your D a merit scholarships).

    Good Luck!
    edited July 2018
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  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone 25466 replies21 threads Senior Member
    When you say you'll pay $30-40k for an OOS school, is that because you're planning on merit aid at those schools?

    For a Florida private school, she'd get the BF @ about $212/credit (not sure if it is the same at every school, but it is about that), plus the EASE (used to be FRAG) which is $3500 for this next year. Basically, you can get about $10k off with EASE/BF at the top level. Then many of the schools give merit.

    It has not been my experience with my kids that they are in classes with thousands of kids. This summer my daughter is taking classes at a big urban school, 25k+ students. Her lower level math class had a limit of 35 kids, and after the drop/add date there are only about 20 kids left. The other two classes, online, had a limit of 24 so the professors have time to 'talk' to them individually, and there are a lot of group chats online. At her regular school, with 10k students, most of her classes are between 15 and 25. Her first year she did have a few big (120) lectures, but those all had discussion sections one day per week. She knows all her teachers, TAs, many kids in her classes.

    She was in a sorority and didn't drink (she does now that she's 22). There is no drinking IN any sorority house, but yes, many do go out to party. Unfortunately, I don't think the sororities at either FSU or UF make the community any smaller. Most of the houses have 300+ members and pledge classes of 100+. Not too much different than a dorm, except that 4 classes of students are grouped together and most of the dorms at those schools are freshmen.

    If you have the money to go OOS, that gives you more options. If you don't, there are plenty of options in Florida. Rollins is a really cute school, but it is expensive. Tampa is nice. Personally, my kids wouldn't have given up 'free' to pay $30k per year to go OOS. They weren't offered 'free' in Florida because the old BF wasn't as generous. My second daughter went to FIT and it was a lot less expensive than any of the publics would have been for her (she had merit and athletic aid), but now with BF covering tuition, I think she would have gone public.

    One of the frequent posters on CC is going to Flagler, and the EASE and BF made that very (very) affordable. I'm sure your daughter would get a really nice scholarship. Also Florida Southern gives some nice merit awards.
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  • rickle1rickle1 2788 replies23 threads Senior Member
    I've heard good things about Rollins and Flagler .
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  • justpayingjustpaying 11 replies0 threads New Member
    I’m glad you braved your first post! Welcome!! I’m a FL native. Yes, we do exist!! Lol IMO, size matters. Tour other size schools. Maybe tour FAU or USF. Both have different feels and options for a smaller campus. The area around campus can make a difference too.
    When I looked at schools for my myself, I wanted to fit into a college (Baylor), not get swallowed up by one. I loved every second! I kept that same feeling going into my D’s college search. My D sounds a lot like your D. She had a small group of friends, wasn’t really about HS, and an introvert. For us, money was a concern, but we didn’t take $$$ schools off the table. (You just never know!)
    For my D, Eckerd won out. By a long shot! Their mentoring program is amazing! My D was awarded lots of aid, of every kind, making the cost very very doable. The “cost” of attending the college where my D will be happy, confident, and feels at home is so worth it! Happy hunting! Y’all will find a place. (See, this FL girl spent some time in TX!)
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  • elcs76elcs76 29 replies6 threads Junior Member
    Thank you so much for all the replies! I totally get that everyone's situation is unique and there is a vast array of options that could work for any kid. Mine is saying she wants Public Health with a goal of PA school, so just based on that, UF is great. However, given her personality and just how competitive UF is (and specifically the PH Degree for which one has to apply their junior year and is also very competitve), I think it's another reason why it's a bad fit. A kid can't help the personality they were born with, you know?! ;)

    Re: Rollins and Flagler - I forgot that Rollins doesn't have a PH degree and neither does Flagler, which I've heard are both beautiful, and she wasn't interested in Stetson because of the location. We did the 3 hour tour in the middle of the day of USF and sweet Jesus, that place is huge. We immediately took it off the list because it just didn't feel right and UCF is just as big so we are just not looking at it based on that to help narrow down the list.

    U Tampa would give her that medium size, in a bigger city, with all of those credits for both courses and BF, EASE, and her ACT and make it affordable, but not even close to free. It is also adding a PA school this coming year and all around it just seems to makes sense, but am worried about spending much money for average academics. (But you know, my husband says if she gets a degree and then gets into PA school, it doesn't matter where any of it comes from!). We aren't huge fans of Tampa and it's further than Tulane, but it is gong to have to be a top contender if she just can't bring herself to do UF or FSU. I know it will all work out, and she will be fine. She just really loves Tulane and it's much closer to home with an accredited Public Health program, so if she can get her ACT up to a 33, apply for and win one of the full tuition awards, then that would be her choice. We know that is very unlikely but it can't hurt to try. I'll be very interested to see what she thinks about SC Columbia (where it seems she will qualify for the in state tuition rate) and U Richmond.

    @twoinanddone thank you for the info about greek life. I almost wonder if she could get into an Honors College, if that wouldn't be better for her than trying to force Greek life at a big state school. We do have some money to go to OOS, so we will just have to weigh all options once we see where she is accepted and what type of merit she ends up with. I always expect the worst and hope for the best. With merit, expecting the worst is only prudent, especially when you have an above average Caucasian female with no hook and isn't first generation. We assumed getting an IB diploma would open up more doors, but I believe now that you can go to a regular high school, push yourself to take all top classes, have something you are passionate about for 4 years and do just as well.


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  • rickle1rickle1 2788 replies23 threads Senior Member
    ^ Keep us posted and best of luck. Everyone just wants what's best for their kid and I certainly sense that in your posts.Things have certainly changed from our day when we (at least in my case) had no real choices and just went to state U.

    Regarding Tampa, we've lived their for 25 yrs. Pluses and Minuses. I would tell you that recently (past 5 yrs), Tampa has come a long way in developing it's downtown via the Riverwalk. Adding festivals and gathering venues. It's certainly not a cosmopolitan setting (feels more like a big town - always has), but it's getting better. The nice thing re UTampa is it sits right on the Hillsborough River (very pretty campus- with some history), and is right where all the action is. Kids form UT can easily walk to any downtown happening. There's a major social string of restaurants on South Howard which is literally a 5 minute Uber. None of this existed several yrs ago and there was literally no reason to go downtown unless you had tix for the Performing Arts Center (which actually puts on great shows - we've been going for many yrs). I think the undergrad student body has grown from 4k to 8k since we've been here. I remember them having major housing issues and had to put kids in hotels for a semester. Now they have several beautiful new dorms, rec centers, etc. I don't know anything about the academics.

    I come form Boston and my wife is from San Francisco. Tampa is neither of those from a city standpoint, but it has some nice attributes that we've learned to like (love would be a strong word).
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  • elcs76elcs76 29 replies6 threads Junior Member
    @justpaying Thanks! My husband grew up in Lakeland, so he's a Florida native as well! I def think size does matter - Baylor had been on our list, and even though we do have some money saved for undergrad, I think out of her choices, Tulane might be one of the only ones IMO that would be worth shucking out a lot of money for just because it has a very well respected and accredited Public Health undergraduate degree, and because it's much closer to home. AND - it has a large airport and would be easier to travel in and out of for study abroad, visiting friends, etc.
    That's so great about your daughter - finding a place where they feel at home, comfortable, and confident is what I am hoping my girl ends up finding as well.

    We looked at USF, but it seemed way too big and somewhat impersonal. I know USF has come a long way, but we took it off the list because she just didn't get a great feeling about it while we were touring.

    @rickle1 I will def keep you guys posted as to where she ends up. Thanks for the kind words; just like most parents, I want nothing more than for her to have a place where she feels like she is a part of a community and where she can blossom. It's going to be an interesting 2018 for sure. She took the ACT for the last time yesterday, so are REALLY hoping she raised her score a point or two! I am thinking positive thoughts. :)

    You guys are from opposite ends of the country and ended up in Tampa?! Pretty neat. Tampa looks like any other Florida city to me, though we were only there for the two tours. I may have questions later on about the area. (Did a lot of your son's friends look at or end up there or is it considered a commuter school?) We walked along the river in Tampa and I did love the fact that the performing arts center is right there and she did, too.
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  • rickle1rickle1 2788 replies23 threads Senior Member
    Most of my son's friends went to FSU, USF, UF , UCF, and FGCU. The vast majority of folks we know around here don't look outside the state system. I think that's because they plan on being in FL long term (which is fairly new to FL as it used to be hard to find a native, but our kids are a massive wave of natives) AND they haven't been exposed to a lot of other things. Unfortunately, for a large state, FL doesn't have that many colleges which is why the state schools are so large (all of them are). Certainly not like the NE where there are sooo many choices of great schools; LACs, midsize universities, and state Us.

    Tampa does look like any other FL city. Kind of bland from our perspective but it has nice places and is easy to raise kids. USF used to be considered a commuter school (and a big one!) . It's trying to become a more traditional university. The president, Judy Genshaft, has done a great job building a brand, partnering with the community, etc. It's just hard without the history that other parts of the country enjoy.

    Long term, FL needs to completely rethink how it's going to attract major employers to place significant operations here. With the population size and decent state Us, we should be further along. That ultimately affects the type of students who want to come here. Put it this way. If I didn't live in FL, it wouldn't be on my radar for the kid's college choice. That being the case, it wasn't for my son and it likely won't be for my daughter in 2 yrs. It is very inexpensive for in state. That's great. But fortunately we saved a bunch so that's not really a big deal for us. S loves Wake Forest and so do we. Looking forward to seeing where my musical theater D ends up.

    Best of luck!
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  • CollegefortwinsCollegefortwins 236 replies27 threads Junior Member
    edited July 2018
    As you can see, you are certainly not alone, OP! Having lived around the country where school costs are much higher, we insisted that DS look at UF and FSU because of the nearly free price tag w/ BF...and he HATED them. (and like you, with a 32 ACT and a 3.8 UW, I STILL am not convinced that UF would be an acceptance). They're too big for him, and like others, I am not sold on the quality. (I think allowing more than 10% of kids from OOS would help, but I also understand why the state does not wish to do that.) He hated the FL schools even more after seeing small and medium-sized schools in the NE. He definitely does not plan to stay in FL after college graduation.

    After visiting the schools above and realizing he preferred smaller schools, we tried to sell UTampa., which comes in affordably if you qualify for BF, bc you'll also qualify for other automatic scholarships from them. This is our third child, and we have have toured a LOT of schools and I will tell you, that was by far the most unimpressive college I have ever visited. The vibe was almost anti-intellectual and the second mention of the Tanning Club, along with the stop at the pool rather than a stop to see the library, concerned me. Housing only guaranteed the first year. Sophomores may get housing, but there's not enough for all. So kids get apartments around the city and commute in. I will say, they had gorgeous facilities though!

    Now, in contrast to that, I practically DRAGGED DS to Eckerd yesterday, We had a fantastic visit there and were impressed with what they had to say. Rather than water and beaches being for tanning, it was all about how they access it for research and for service. Miraculously, Eckerd just became a really serious contender for DS after our visit and his conversation with an admissions counselor. So I have started pointing out to him all of the extra things he could get to do there if we are not paying for him to attend a school across the country...
    edited July 2018
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  • sdl0625sdl0625 1117 replies13 threads Senior Member
    We are in a different southern state, and my oldest did not want anything to do with our flagships or instate schools. Besides the size, there were other issues , including possible choice of minor. We did go out of state. Elon, BTW was our 2nd choice, but she got into her dream school, with merit, so we are making it work. I also never pictured my D as a sorority girl, yet she is thriving being in one. All around me I hear about how excited the kids were that are in either flagships or other state schools, and think about how much $ we could have saved, but the fact that my D is thriving and happy makes it worth it. Now we are coming up with child number 2, and once again, we may have to go to out of state. But in his case, there is a safety not to far away that is full tuition. But once again I think he will choose a private in the Northeast that is the perfect fit. I will just be working til who knows when. BUT it was well worth it.
    BTW we looked at Univ of Tampa at one point but eventually other schools that she got into ranked higher in her list.
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  • elcs76elcs76 29 replies6 threads Junior Member
    @collegefortwins I hear you! We vacillate between definitely applying to UF and FSU (which I stated above) and not even considering it, based on who she is and knowing it will likely be just an ok experience. It will work fine, most likely, but I'd rather her feel like she can be herself and spread her wings in a place where she feels some connection to. Really for her, she is a little freaked out by both very large and very small student bodies, which is part of the reason we looked at Tampa. I am a little worried about the academics there but knowing she could graduate in 3 years and then possibly attend the new PA program they are starting this year, we have to keep it on the list. Not to mention, it's the perfect size and has Public Health. I think she might like Eckerd but they don't have a Public Health degree, so we didn't tour it while we were down there. It looks beautiful though, and she definitely loves the water, which she won't get at Tulane. ;) But, Tulane offers more merit than a place like Wake Forest and since she absolutely loves New Orleans and it's so close to the rest of our family, and it has Public Health (accredited and well known/respected), it's such a great fit. Nonetheless, I am ready to get this thing moving and get applications in and see how it all shakes out. Thank you for your input!
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  • elcs76elcs76 29 replies6 threads Junior Member
    @sdl0625 Yep - I hear so much of the same about kids being SO excited about UF and FSU and we feel like such oddballs! ;). Granted, her two best friends are going to elite LAC colleges and have a few people we know who won't even consider them, but overall people say we would be ridiculous to consider anything else with full Bright Futures on the table. What was her dream school and what state do you live in, if you don't mind sharing? It is definitely making me feel better to know there are others in the same boat with kids who just aren't interested AT ALL in the state schools. It's real hard for us to get excited about Gainesville or Tallahassee. I hope we are in your shoes this time next year - her at her first choice, in a sorority (or a club/group she loves), happy, confident, and thriving! We do have some money saved, but it's still a concern because her only brother, 3 years younger, is autistic and we just have no way yet of knowing how things will go for him. He's very bright and some kids with Aspergers do well and others need lifetime support, so we have an atypicality there. Anyway, thanks so much for responding.
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  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone 25466 replies21 threads Senior Member
    My kids were both sure they wanted smaller schools, one thought in the 2000 range, the other in the 3-5k range. They also didn't think they wanted to stay in Florida. Well, one went to a 10k school so that she could get out of state. She now thinks that's a little small and there have been times she wished she went to a much bigger school.

    The other did stay in Florida (Florida Tech) with about 3500 on-campus students. After a few weeks, as a freshman, she visited some friends at FSU and decided she could have gone there and liked it and done well. There were times over the years when she was tired of how small Florida Tech was, that some classes only were offered once a year, that the schedule was very limited.

    When we were looking at schools, I didn't like the smaller ones at all as I knew *I* would have felt limited. Some student like 'small and cozy' but to me those would have been claustrophobic. My kids also changed a lot from the 16 year olds looking at colleges and thinking they were TOO big to the 18 year olds actually starting at the school to the 20 year olds thinking the schools were getting a little to small and limiting.

    Florida does have a few of the mid-sized public schools, like UNF and UWF, but those don't offer as many programs. I have never understood the appeal of UCF, but have never met anyone who went there who didn't love it. A friend of my daughter's was bright and shy in high school, and I thought she'd go to a small, private school but went to UCF and just thrived. She was cast in a major musical as a freshman, she had about 12 majors and met a ton of friends.

    Kids surprise you.
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  • sdl0625sdl0625 1117 replies13 threads Senior Member
    @elcs76 we are in GA. She got accepted to Elon, CofC, Indiana, American, and her dream, GW. She applied to GT in their international affairs school, but got waitlisted. It was not really a good fit anyway. and yes, my S19 kid is Aspie, so that is a concern for us. (he is looking at RIT),
    I just remember feeling out of place and having a FB meltdown about how everyone around me was all about getting into UGA /GT and here i was paying for a private (with some merit) out of state.

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  • elcs76elcs76 29 replies6 threads Junior Member
    @twoinanddone yeah, I totally get that and know that what she thinks she wants now may not be what she wants later, but I have to just go with our gut and hope it all works out! It's interesting you say that about UCF, because anytime it is mentioned, someone knows someone that went there and loved it. And you know, I can see also where if a person is a bit introverted, they may enjoy being just a number and also getting to express themselves without feeling judged by a much smaller and sometimes cliquish peer group. As long as they get involved in Greek life or intramurals or some club/group of interest, then I am sure it isn't hard to make it an enjoyable experience.
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  • elcs76elcs76 29 replies6 threads Junior Member
    @sdl0625 So you have a typical daughter and an aspie son - I may need to PM you! GW has a great Public Health program, so we may add it to our list. I would love to know more about her merit aid, stats, etc.
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  • gouf78gouf78 8043 replies25 threads Senior Member
    edited July 2018
    UF does seem big doesn't it?

    It's a mindset.

    I'm going to say the same thing my sister told me years ago when I was hesitant about the size of UF.
    ...."It's not as big as you are imagining it to be." "It's actually pretty small. Smaller than you think."

    You meet the SAME people every day on the way to class. Everyone is on a schedule. You see the SAME people at the SAME time every day even just changing classes. You'll recognize them even if you don't know their name.

    You see the SAME people in your classes--no different than high school. And if it's a large class? It's the SAME 10 people who surround you daily taking their seat next to you. You can learn 10 people can't you? How 'bout 5?"

    Your dorm floor only has a certain number of people on it. Go meet them. You don't meet 40K people--maybe 60 at most who are living in close proximity. 2 will do fine.
    Join a club or church organization or take a hobby class for fun. There are LOTS to choose from (yea UF!)

    Yeah, the campus is big! Isn't that great! Lot's of opportunities! BUT YOU don't go all over campus. You only go from building A to building B in a pretty small area. UF is pretty compartmentalized.
    Gen Ed classes here, Engineering there, the med center , journalism over there etc. Your world is pretty small once you get going in your major.


    edited July 2018
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