University of Florida
BackgroundInterview Date:January 2019
Gender Identity: Male
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2020
High School Experience: Public school outside of Fort Lauderdale, FL with a graduating class of about 500 students. There was a culture of going to college.
First Generation College Student: Yes
Minor: Computer Science
Extracurricular Activities: Black Student Union and the National Society of Black Engineers.
Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience?
I’d say they had an influence, but not necessarily a big impact. It helped me meet the type of people who I wanted to be friends with. It also introduced me to other opportunities outside of the classroom.
Can you describe your weekly coursework for Economics?
We have about three exams for each class. Right now, I’m taking Intermediate Microeconomics and International Macroeconomics and both have three exams and don’t have much homework. It’s just a lot of studying and reading on your own [to prepare for the exams].
Is there anything you feel the Economics department does especially well or poorly?
The classes are pretty boring because the professors I’ve had have not been very engaging. There’s nothing for me to really be excited about for class.
How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
It’s more collaborative than competitive because most people will work with you to get a great grade in the class.
How accessible have your professors been?
They’ve been accessible. They have more office hours than other professors in other departments that I’ve been in. They’re there most of the time and can rely on them for help.
Why did you pick your major?
I’m happy with the choice because it’s something that I want to sit down and read about more. It’s been something I’ve been interested in for a while.
How was transitioning academically as a first-generation college student? Were there any systems in place that helped you adjust?
I showed up, did the Summer B Program, and met as many people as possible. Summer B puts you in a large group of people, so that helped me adjust. I definitely used the tutors, tutoring centers and Lynda.com, [which is a UF online tutoring resource] a lot. I think I found Study Edge to be the most helpful.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Reid Hall with one other roommate.
Sophomore: Beaty Towers in an apartment-style room with four suite-mates and one roommate.
Junior: Off-campus apartment with three other people.
What was your favorite living situation?
I like living off campus because I have a room to myself and it’s cheaper than living on-campus.
How was transitioning from the Fort Lauderdale area to Gainesville, Florida?
It was interesting. I was from a place that was more populated with kind of a city pace and then I came to Gainesville, which is a lot slower. There’s not really much to do except hanging out with friends. It was interesting, but it wasn’t anything terrible for me. [Gainesville has a population of about 129,000 with a poverty rate of about 35%.]
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
On campus is very safe. They have police all over the place all the time. You have transportation services, but you can even walk on campus anytime.
Pros and Cons of being in Gainesville, FL?
1) It’s a good place to be if you want to focus on your work.
2) It’s a good place for a college student to start learning to be independent because it’s a college town.
1) The weather, it can be cold at night and when it’s hot you’re just sweating.
2) You don’t have that many things around you. There aren’t many stores and sometimes the stores don’t have all the resources you need.
What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you like to participate in?
I occasionally will go to a club downtown or an off-campus party. That’s really it, I don’t do much on top of that. Other than that, I’ll just hang out with friends.
What’s an alternative to going to a party or a club that you like for a night out?
The alternative is hanging out with my friends playing video games.
What is the impact of Greek life on nightlife?
Greek life throws a lot of parties and they also have fundraisers for charities. I’ll occasionally go to their parties.
How happy were you with the nightlife? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I think a lot of people complain because they wish there were more parties here because it’s not like the scene in Orlando or Miami where there’s something going on every day. I don’t mind the frequency of the parties, but I just wish they were more fun to me.
How did you meet your closest friends?
Through organizations, like the Black Student Union and the National Society of Black Engineers.
How did being a first-generation college student affect your social transition?
You have a lot of pressure on you because you want to be successful here. You don’t want to come here and waste time.
How would you describe the overall social scene?
It’s okay. It’s a lot better than I expected. At first, it might feel intimidating because there are so many people, but over time you get used to it. A lot of people here are friendly.
To what extent do you feel people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
They don’t really mix too much because people will form into cliques. When people do mix together it’s not a big issue because people are accepting of others and if somebody wasn’t they wouldn’t outrightly show it. There will be one big group of African-American students, groups of East Asian students, but another Black student will most likely want to hang out with another Black student instead of another White student.
How would you describe the student body?
You’re always going to find something that you relate to so you’ll never going to feel out of place.
How would you describe the Black community? How strong is it?
There aren’t many of them, they make up about 6% of the campus. There’s not many of us, but we’re strong because we’re close to each other. I probably know about a third of them, which is a good enough amount. [About 53% of students are White, 6% are Black, 18% are Latino, and 7.5% are Asian.]
How do you like the size of Florida in terms of undergraduate enrollment? [University of Florida has about 36,400 undergraduate students.]
It’s decent because it’s big and I like to explore. It makes it so there are always new things to explore and check out.
Do you think people are happy with their choice of Florida by senior year? Do you think people leave loving Florida?
No, not really. Because it’s a [public university and students can get in-state tuition], a lot of people wish they could go other places than being here because a lot of people come here for financial reasons or because they didn’t get into their first choice. Many people are here because it was the next-best option for them, but nobody hates the school.
What have you used the career office for? How helpful have they been?
They really helped me prepare myself to be a qualified candidate for a job by telling me what organizations I should be involved in and what skills I should develop to help me get closer to my goals. They helped me clean up my resume and figure out what I want to do in the future. They’re very useful.
Have you learned any computer programs or computer languages that have been or will be especially helpful professionally?
I have taken Computer Science classes but I probably can’t say that it will help me professionally because alumni have come back and spoke to me about the Computer Science department and say they don’t prepare you for a software engineering job. You learn about coding, but don’t learn enough coding that is valuable enough to get hired. I’ve learned C++, Java, and HTML. They haven’t taught me much Python, which is annoying because that should be the main thing to focus on. I learned Excel a little bit in my Economics electives. [Editor’s Note: No relevant news article could be found to support this information, but there is an archived Reddit forum discussing this topic.]
Have you used financial aid? If so, accommodating was the office to your needs? Were they responsive to your questions?
I have used financial aid. They do their best to respond as fast as possible, but they’re just overloaded with other people trying to get help with their financial aid as well. They’ll always respond to you in a timely manner and if they don’t respond to you in a week it’s because they’re actually that busy. You’re more likely to get a better answer from them when you go in there than when you email them.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about Florida before entering as a freshman?
I guess I wish I had a better idea of the demographics before I came here. I wish I had a good idea of how few Black students there were here, but it’s not a big deal for me. I’m still comfortable and am going to speak with other people, I think I’d just feel more comfortable in [an environment with more Black students.]
What is something that a prospective Black student may want to know that we haven’t touched on?
A lot of people say that the university doesn’t care about the African-American community here, but I also don’t think African-American community does a lot to make their issues known. Also, if you’re just focusing on making friends in the Black community, it’s easy to get stuck in it. People will just focus on the Black population when there is a huge population of students here from a bunch of different backgrounds. Because the Black community is small, there is drama and gossip travels fast. [In September of 2018 the University of Florida received an F ranking for racial representation by a University of Southern California Race and Equity study.]
Reasons to attend University of Florida:
1) The university provides some more resources and opportunities than other schools because it’s a land-grant university. If you need something, you’ll be able to find it here.
2) The financial aid office is good and, if you need to find money, it’s possible.
3) There are good networking opportunities. You have to search for opportunities here, but you can find them and they’ll really help you.
4) There is so much going on here that you will be able to be happy.
Reasons to not attend University of Florida:
1) People will say that the University of Florida was built on racist intentions, so that might throw off some Black students. [See Tampa Bay Times article, “At UF, black students feel a reckoning on race is long overdue.” Additionally, in September of 2018 the University of Florida received an F ranking for racial representation by a University of Southern California Race and Equity study.]
2) It’s a very big school, so if you’re intimidated by the size.