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Tuesday, February 07, 2023

Options continue to expand for students transitioning to UF

There’s always the traditional route: getting accepted into UF and spending four years in Gainesville as an undergraduate student.

But this isn’t always an option for those denied admission, financially struggling or working full-time.

Nowadays, students are looking to more non-traditional routes to earn a UF degree.

The number of transfer students increased in past years. The latest records show that 548 transfer students from Sante Fe College were accepted in Fall 2017 as opposed to 431 in Fall 2016, according to public records.

Jeffrey Goldman, a 20-year-old UF business administration junior, transferred to campus after just a year and a half at Santa Fe, he said.

Goldman said his route was the perfect way to transition into UF.

“All the teachers at Santa Fe are well aware that you’re there to go to UF,” Goldman said. “It sets you up for what you’re going to get yourself into at UF later on.”

However, another increasingly popular path to transitioning to UF residentially is through UF Online.

The program will celebrate its fifth birthday this year, said Evangeline Cummings, the director of UF Online. The program currently has more than 3,000 students and has graduated more than 1,700 students. PaCE, a division of UF Online that allows students to transition to classes on campus after completing 60 credits, accepted its first class in 2015.

“There are so many different pathways for students nowadays,” Cummings said. “UF Online in particular gives people a great option to complete their studies with us and have more flexibility.”

Cummings said more than 100 students transfer from residential studies to UF Online every term.

Tiffany Silva is one student who utilized the PaCE program to her advantage.

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The 20-year-old UF English and international studies junior was one of only two students from her high school to get accepted into the PaCE program.

Silva initially wanted to take a gap year before attending a university, so PaCE was a blessing in disguise, she said.

“As long as you meet the requirements, you already go to UF, in a sense,” Silva said. “It’s much easier to transition to campus when you’re already a UF student.”

Because PaCE guarantees its students to be able to take classes residentially at the upper division, this has potentially taken away a few spots that students who normally transfer from community colleges, Cummings said.

Although the admission standards are the same for traditional and PaCE, there is more capacity for students in the PaCE-specific majors, such as business administration or history, and the application process is rolling, she said.

“The university overall is expanding opportunities for transfer students to ensure there’s room for everyone,” Cummings said.

In 2013, the state provided $15 million up front and $5 million annually for five years to offer UF Online at a lower tuition and fees cost, Cummings said. This year, the state has approved the next UF Online five-year plan to receive the same subsidy for the next five years as well.

In 2018, UF Online enrollments grew by 28 percent. In the 2019-2024 business model, enrollments are predicted to increase from 27,122 to 41,905 by 2024.

The Innovation Academy is another path to on-campus classes at UF, allowing students to attend in the Spring and Summer to encourage students to pursue job experience or travel in the Fall, said Jeff Citty, the Innovation Academy Director.

The program accepts transfer students in the Spring, he said.

Students already enrolled at UF may not enter the program, Citty said. Students may only apply as a freshman, or as a transfer with their AA degree from a Florida college.

Citty said an average of two or three students transfer into the program every Spring but sometimes as many as five or six.

“We are a signature program at UF, in that we deliver a unique experience to students,” Citty said.

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