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Monday, March 04, 2024

Welcome to the University of Florida and The Gator Nation!

You should know right off the bat that you are exceptional in a number of ways, not the least of which is your academic track record.

Consider these statistics:

Nearly 28,000 people applied to UF this year.

The roughly 6,400 students who will make up this fall’s freshman class are expected to have an average GPA approaching 4.1 and an average SAT score of about 1900.

With numbers like those, you could have chosen any number of schools. I’m glad you chose UF, and I think you’ll be glad you did, too.

Make no mistake, UF is a big place, but don’t let that intimidate you. In fact, it’s an advantage because it means you have more choices. Think of it like the iPhone: There’s an app for that.

For starters, you’ve selected one of the most comprehensive universities in the country. With 100 undergraduate degree programs, 200 graduate degree programs and more than 30 combined degree programs, it’s fair to say that if you want to study it, there’s a good chance we offer it.

If the idea of international travel appeals to you, UF has an extensive and growing study-abroad program with ties to universities in Europe, Asia and Africa and international centers in Beijing and Paris.

Looking for a place to meet people? How about one of the 900-plus student organizations on campus? Yes, that number is correct — 900 — and they run the gamut from the Underwater Hockey Club to Gators Humans vs. Zombies. (Of course they’re real; I couldn’t possibly make those up.) For you Harry Potter fans, there’s even Quidditch.

But as anyone will tell you, the benefits of a college education go far beyond what you’ll learn in the classroom. The bonds and relationships you build now will last a lifetime, and there’s no better time to start creating them.

Graduation seems light years away to you now, but it will be here before you know it. (I’ve seen a few graduations so I know.) When you finally have that hard-earned degree in hand, you’ll be joining another very special group: UF alumni. Their ranks include governors and senators, athletes and astronauts, journalists and scientists – in other words, people who are making a real difference in the world.

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After all, that’s what Gators do.

Have a fantastic year, and Go Gators!

Bernie Machen is the president of UF.

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