From a CALS Student: Tips for Success When Transferring to College

By Emily Benoit, Agricultural Education and Communication Major

During October 21-25, join the UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences in celebrating National Transfer Week. 

CALS Ambassador Emily Benoit portraitTransferring to a big university can be scary. You aren’t starting as a freshman like many of your peers. You’re a junior starting all over again at a new school in a new town.

As a transfer student myself, and a distance education student at the UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences in Plant City location, I’ve had somewhat of a different college experience. Here are a few tips for success that I’ve gathered along the way from my classmates, advisors, and personal experience.

Go to Orientation 

This is a great way to meet other students who are transferring to UF. Orientation provides an opportunity to meet some of the UF/IFAS faculty members while also giving you a chance to hear from other students and their experiences.

Above all, you can meet other students in your major who could potentially become your friends outside of classes. After all, you already have one thing in common. I met some of my closest friends at orientation and didn’t even realize it at the time. Now, we’re all helping each other get through school. Once we all become teachers, we’ll all have a wonderful support system and network.

Get Involved

Find a club or group that interests you and become a part of it. For me, I joined our Gator Collegiate FFA Alumni and applied to become a CALS Ambassador.

In Plant City, our student organization options are fewer than the 1,000+ clubs in Gainesville, but I still took advantage of what was available. This has helped me make friends at our smaller UF/IFAS CALS Plant City location as well as at the Gainesville location.

Thanks to these two organizations, I have the opportunity to recruit students to CALS, serve the community, and help judge local FFA competitions.

Rely on Your Advisors

Not only do your advisors help you with scheduling and scholarships, they also know your interests and will try their hardest to help you find opportunities to get involved.

The more they get to know you, the more opportunities they will share with you. My advisors are always sending me information about scholarships. Had it not been for them, I never would have applied to become a CALS Ambassador.

 “I wouldn’t trade my college experience for anything.” — Emily Benoit

Being a transfer and distance education student, I was a little nervous to start school. Luckily, our classes are small in CALS, and it didn’t take long to make friends. Being a CALS Ambassador has also helped me make some friends at the main campus in Gainesville. I was really nervous to meet other students who likely started as freshmen and probably already knew one other, but everyone has been really nice. I made friends quickly at CALS Ambassador training, and now I look forward to seeing my fellow ambassadors at events in Gainesville.

For some reason, I initially felt like being a transfer student meant that I missed out on something because I didn’t go to a big university for my first two years of college. I was often told I would miss a lot because I decided to go to a CALS location outside of the main Gainesville campus.

However, I wouldn’t trade my college experience for anything. I had the opportunity to work on my two-year degree at a small community college while I figured out what I wanted to major in, then I transferred across the street to UF/IFAS CALS at Plant City. I’ve been able to give back to the community I grew up in, and I’ve created a network in the area where I hope to teach someday.

With a focus on disseminating scientific knowledge, agricultural education and communication professionals empower communities to gain a balanced understanding of food systems, natural resources, and related sciences. Students supplement core technical agriculture courses with teaching, leadership, or media experiences. Learn more about the agricultural education and communication major at cals.ufl.edu or take our majors quiz today. 

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