Bridge program to UF vs. summer entrance to UCF vs. summer entrance to USF. All are top 5 in the state (Florida) for public universities in Engineering

I am entering Electrical Engineering studies, down to three probable choices, but leaning towards UCF or the bridge program to UF. As a 9th grader, I was struck by both the engineering projects and overall campus feel of Orlando’s UCF and felt it was my #1 choice. I was not impressed by UF and strongly disliked both the dorms and campus. Unfortunately, I did not see much of the Engineering department. USF didn’t strike me much either although I greatly enjoyed the Engineering Expo as a child for several years. Since then, I have done much research on each of these Universities and found them to be very promising, applied to them, and have been invited to all of the above. Due to the pandemic, there are no live tours. Now that I am older I think that I’d view the Universities in a different light (if I had the chance to tour in person).

CHOICES:

The State College of Florida has partnered with UF to allow students who would have been admitted to UF (had there been more room for engineering underclassmen in their courses and campus) to attend their college. After 1 semester, provided critical tracking pre-engineering courses are passed, students become 100% UF gators and gain full access to UF resources and amenities. They continue to take the critical tracking courses for 1-2 semesters at the state college as UF students, then are promoted to the UF campus full time into the college of engineering (no transfer or applying to engineering as with other universities). The only caveat is that if you choose to change majors it MUST be within the list of Engineering (CSE, DAS, CPE, EE, AE, or ME) and if a student does not meet the critical tracking requirements or changes major altogether, you lose all priveledges to become a UF student and are pretty much back to square one. I also don’t own a car (and buses don’t come out to my area) which would make it challenging to get to school regularly, but I can make it work if push comes to shove. UF is #1 in the state and high ranking overall in the nation which makes me think this may be good in the long run. The name alone stands strong and the average starting salary for UF grads is significantly higher than graduating from another in-state uni.

Both UCF and USF have admitted me as an official university student majoring in EE but under the condition, I begin summer B of 2021. Both of these schools have great reputations. USF ranks slightly higher (and I have a sibling studying Chemistry there) but UCF seems to have very strong internships and large entities funding their school with great internship and job connections.

Any insight would be greatly appreciated - I need to pay my deposit preferably before May 1, 2021, and possibly choose on-campus housing ASAP (for the UCF or USF).

If it were me, I would choose between UCF or USF. Being 100% locked into a certain major group could be devastating if you ever decided to switch or didn’t successfully complete the requirements, so that’s a major downside to UF Bridges. The other downside to Bridges is the fact that you wouldn’t get a very traditional college experience because you’ll have to switch colleges like a transfer student. UCF and USF both have great engineering programs with great job/internship placement, and you can change your field of study if you change your mind. Summer may not be preffered, but the negative of summer start is mostly the fact that you’ll lose a bit of your summer, which is outweighed by the head start you’ll get on your degree.

From your first paragraph, it seems you preffered UCF anyways, so you should choose it!! Sometimes your gut feeling matters much more than any ranking, and UCF is an awesome choice, so you wouldn’t have any reason to feel bad about that decision. You’ll still get a few weeks of Summer before you go anyway since Summer B starts about June 25-28. Also, a large school means a large alumni network, and UCF is the largest school in the US.

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Starting in the summer is very common at all the schools. I say pick UCF or USF (personally, I’d pick Tampa over Orlando).

Thank you for sharing your perspectives. I really appreciate it. It’s a big decision.

Will you be required to take specific courses during the summer, or is it just to get the Florida public university summer requirement out of the way?

As far as I know, I do not have any specific courses. I plan to take Calculus III, Physics I, and electives or Calc III, Chemistry I and electives. Whatever I need to meet the minimum credits in order to receive my Bright Futures.

May I ask why you’d chose USF over UCF?

Be aware that summer courses cover material faster than regular semester courses.

Physics is generally more important for prerequisite sequencing for EE majors than chemistry is.

I’d pick USF over UCF because I like Tampa more than Orlando. I really don’t like Orlando at all and like to be near the water.

Now I will say my kids have a lot of friends who went to UCF and all have really liked it. I don’t get it because, well, Orlando but they all really liked UCF.

Thank you so much for pointing that out. I’ll start with the Physics course first. Maybe I’ll redo Calc II. I currently have a 97% and feel confident in my math area but I hear that the University courses are much more difficult.

You can try to find old final exams for MAC 2311 and 2312 (calculus 1 and 2 in Florida public universities) and try them to check your knowledge.

UF far outshines UCF or USF in national rankings. Your job prospects will be MUCH better at UF.

Great idea!

Agreed. That is why I placed it in my top three choices but the restrictions concern me. If I change majors or don’t make the prerequisites to their standards, I’m out of UF entirely and will need to begin college applications from scratch.

Forgive my ignorance, but what is the State College? Is it a community college? I know both UF and FSU have partnerships with their local community colleges where you get your AA and have an almost guaranteed acceptance. I didn’t realize that UF also had an acceptance from the beginning where you do just one year. In any case, I would say UF has the best reputation, in general, both within the state and for job prospects out of the state. It’s definitely the desired school for a lot of kids. I am also hearing stories of their program being incredibly rigorous and the kids being incredibly stressed out. I think you might want think about what kind of student life you want. Also, if it’s that rigorous and you end up overwhelmed and can’t switch majors it would be bad.

Thanks for your input! State College of Florida is our local community college (three campuses where I can take classes from Venice, Lakewood Ranch, & Bradenton). If I pass my first semester, I am promoted to an official UF student “gator” but I cannot promote to full time status on the UF camps until one or two more semesters. I will take your input into consideration.