Everyone has their dream college, although usually people throw out big name universities such as Harvard or Yale. For me, however, my dream college is the University of Florida. I could not imagine a better place to go to school, from it being close to home, having a beautiful campus, to being one of the top schools for my major.
Fortunately, as I said, the University of Florida is relatively close to home - three hours away to be exact. This drive is almost nothing compared to that of those who want to attend college out of state. Since my dream school is so close, I am able to pop up to visit every once in a while.
Last week, my dad and I went to Gainesville to go to a University of Florida Open House. I got my permit a few months ago, so my dad decided to let me drive - the entire way there. This was by far the furthest I had ever driven, and my first time driving on I-4, 75, and the Turnpike. I managed to get us to our hotel unscathed, and the next morning we headed out early to the open house.
When we arrived, we signed in, and I immediately made a beeline to take a picture with my favorite college mascot: Albert the Gator. We perused some of the tables, and I talked with representatives at the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences booth. We walked around campus, and my dad pointed out different spots from his time as a student at UF.
We had lunch with a friend of my dad, who is now a professor at UF, before continuing on with the rest of our day. We went to a couple of breakout sessions, but the highlight of the day was a session on the admissions process. As someone who has done an extensive amount of research on colleges, I can say the admissions process is something usually kept under wraps. Colleges release the general things they are looking for, the average range of GPAs and standardized test scores of the freshman class, and hand a student an application.
Colleges usually say they are looking for a well-rounded student taking high level classes, but don't say what differentiates candidates from one another. Today's high school experience is focused largely preparing students to be accepted into college. Therefore, students who devote all of their time and effort into academics and extracurriculars will probably start to seem very similar when it is all written on paper.
The admissions workshop touched on exactly how grades are configured into the acceptance process, what the selection committee is looking for in essays, and how to brag on yourself in a positive light. The admissions officer who was speaking made an excellent point; she explained that UF does not accept letters of recommendation, meaning the applicant is the only person who gets to portray themselves. Therefore, students should not be afraid to brag on themselves, because that is the only presentation the selection committee sees.
Overall, the experience was nothing but a positive one. I have always known that I wanted to attend UF, but visiting the school again only further reinforced this.
The University of Florida is one of the most competitive public universities for admissions, especially after the 2006 back-to-back National Championships and the Tim Tebow craze. UF has become part of pop culture, drawing people to apply from all over the county. With its immense popularity, it has become extremely difficult to get in. I can only hope that one day all of my hard work will pay off and I will finally get to be the Gator I've always dreamed of.