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Old 11-23-2012, 09:16 PM   #1
DisneyTexan
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Side topic - University of Central Florida

I'm not sure if this topic is OK here, but if its not, I'm sure someone will let me know.

My daughter is considering accepting a virtually "full ride" merit scholarship from UCF. She will be a science major in the Honors College, and is interested in a semester overseas and a semester with the Disney College Program. She has been to Orlando several times, but we have not visited the school. We would definitely visit before making the final decision to attend. She is looking at several schools with great scholarship offers.

She is an out of state student from Texas, and she loves Disney World. I've read that only 5% of the students are from out of state, which makes me wonder if she would feel out of place when trying to arrange her trips home by plane.

Would anyone care to share any positive or negative thoughts about the school? I've done a lot of research on the College Confidential message boards already, but I'm still looking for information on how much of a connection there is between the school and Disney World. Do kids visit on the weekends? I know its about a one hour drive between the school and WDW, and she wouldn't have a car. I did see that the Honors College was going to Downtown Disney one night. Are there other clubs and group activities that visit once in a while?

Any insight you can provide about the school would be great!
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Old 11-24-2012, 09:57 AM   #2
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My son decided to attend UCF and we are from Illinois. No one else he knew chose UCF and I had similar concerns you did. He is now in his Senior year and he has loved it. He immediately made friends, almost all from FL, the first few weeks he was there. Everyone is new and he was welcomed into many groups of people. Football, Homecoming events, etc all help get students connected. He also became involved in clubs/activities/intramerals and that helped also. There's many different things for students to become involved in as it is one of the largest schools in the nation.

My son had a car and the spent weekends going to Cocoa Beach, Universal, City Walk, Downtown Disney and the Disney Parks. Discounted season passes helps student take advantage of these. He went to Disney often as he had a group of friends that liked to do that. Since he had a car, he took advantage of concerts in Orlando and Tampa, went to Siesta Key one weekend, etc. There's many things to do but I'm not sure how that works if she doesn't have a car. I'm guessing she will know people who do. My son was almost always the driver as he just prefer to do that.

As far as the convenience of getting home, we've had no problem. There are so man flights from Chicago/O'Hare to Orlando (vise versa too) that it's been very easy. Not sure how Texas is but we actually found many reasonable flights, even at holidays, when we booked early.

There are many students from UCF that also work at Disney and do the Disney College Program. Since there are approx. 70,000 students at UCF, I''m not sure it's a large percentage but there are students who do. As for travel time - it can be an hour as traffic can be interesting. He's gotten there in 35 minutes and it's taken him an hour sometimes. He has learned back ways to get there. Tolls can be a killer though. SunPass helps.

Hope this has been helpful. Good luck. Sounds like she has many opportunities in front of her.
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Old 11-24-2012, 10:39 AM   #3
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Thank you hsteacher, that helps. While reviewing the school information I'm trying not to get too caught up in the location. The school needs to "stand on its own," as that is where she would spend the vast majority of her time. The location wouldn't matter if she didn't like the school at all. I feel like the opportunities and "fit" for her are very good at UCF.

The downside of the school is that it is the only one we are looking at that would require a plane trip for every trip home. The others are either within driving distance or a very short flight.

She is accepted at UCF, but still needs to finish the Honors application. Regardless, we will probably visit Orlando for spring break in March 2013.

Does anyone else have information about UCF?
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Old 11-24-2012, 03:20 PM   #4
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I currently attend UCF, and I'll be there for another year. Graduating Fall 2013!! Woo hoo!!

I love the school. I stayed on campus my freshman year, and I felt much more connected with the school that way. I would attend 'Late Knight' events and a few of the homecoming activities. Now that I live off campus, I don't hear as much about those activities unless I'm passing through student union.

Anyway, I never did the Disney college program. Instead, I took up a part time role in attractions. I didn't feel like taking off a semester or more from school when I could do both at the same time. Most of the students who attend the college program come from a distance and need to stay in the housing that Disney provides.

If you WERE to choose a part time job over a college program semester, I would give a travel time of 1 hour and 30 minutes to get to your work location and clock in safely. As a guest, it takes one hour to get to the park using I-4, or 417. Then 30 minutes for navigating your way to the location.
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Old 11-24-2012, 06:15 PM   #5
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Thanks for the information Sydney! A regular job at Disney or Sea World would be another option for my daughter. Being without a car might be an issue though, and I'm trying to avoid the expense and hassle of dealing with a car so far from home. If she decides on the Disney Program it might be a good idea to get Disney housing.

If she goes to UCF, she'll have lots of great options for research, theme parks, and overseas travel. Maybe too many options! We'll see.
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Old 11-24-2012, 08:05 PM   #6
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My daughter went to UCF and we are from Illinois - she was in the Rosen College of Hospitality though and they have their own campus - based on the cars in the lot I have to think more than 5% of those students are from out of state.

She liked her campus but was not a fan of the big campus - she didn't like big schools though so we laugh about how she ended up there. She only had to go to the Main campus for an occasional test or to see a specific person.

She had friends who worked at Disney and went to the Main Campus. I think it's like any other BIG enviroment...you are going to have groups of people are into Disney and others who aren't, all sorts of people to mingle with.

I have no idea what parking is like at the Main Campus for students with cars but at Rosen it was pretty much a necessity. There was a bus stop out front but I can't imagine trying to get to work at Disney or over on International Drive from the Main Campus without your own transportation - that would be one long trip and with the hours that CMs work I would be worried about late night transportation back to campus too - I am not sure if the Orlando Lynx service runs 24 hours or not.

As far as the Main Campus standing on it's own - its huge and the surrounding area has everything one would need as a student for necessities and entertainment.

Oh and she had to fly home too - we used a town car service for her to get to the airport (the Main Campus might have a shuttle that leaves from there though - I don't know). We are in Central Illinois and I got to know the schedule for flights pretty well and it was never a problem --- sometimes we got awesome deals, sometimes ok and sometimes more than I would have liked to pay.

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Old 11-24-2012, 09:25 PM   #7
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Thank you Liz! Yes, the school is huge! But my daughter currently attends a large high school, and the Honors College would help carve down the number of students so that she feels more like she is with a few thousand, at least some of the time.

I checked the bus schedule about a month ago, and it takes two hours from UCF to Disney World! There is no way to visit WDW or work there with just bus transportation unless you are really desperate.

So far everything about the school sounds good. The only way to know for sure will be to visit sometime soon. Thanks everyone!
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Old 11-25-2012, 11:02 PM   #8
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I'm also a UCF student working part-time at Disney. What SydneyJoLynn said is true. The drive to Disney without traffic would be 40 mins approx., but I usually leave 1.5 hours before a shift just in case there's traffic.. and yes, I4 can get really crazy. One time, I made it to my shift about 3 mins before I had to clock in and that was with the 1.5 hours that I planned ahead of time.

I too also thought about the college program but decided against it because I couldn't afford a semester off from school. You need a min. of 3 days of availability if you want to do part-time at Disney and if you're planning to do the college program, you need full availability, so your daughter can only take online classes if she wanted to do both Disney and go to school.

UCF is a great school. About 2.5 years ago when I visited colleges (FSU, UF, UCF, UNF), I just knew UCF was the one and I have never regretted the decision. I have never felt like a number at this school, regardless of the amount of students attending. I won't get into the specifics, as I'm sure you've read enough about the school, but personally, I have had a great experience so far. (I'm also a member on collegeconfidential - you've probably seen my posts at one point or another, haha)

Good luck to your daughter on her endeavors!
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Old 11-26-2012, 11:08 PM   #9
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Thank you Vii! I'm very impressed with the school; now I need to work on my daughter in order to get the school moved up on her list. I appreciate the information about work schedules and options.
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Old 11-27-2012, 02:02 AM   #10
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I'm currently a student at UCF and would have to say it is a great school. It's the 2nd or 3rd largest university in the nation and is expanding at a rapid rate so the small school atmosphere isn't here if thats what she's looking for. It feels more like a city of its own sometimes. As far as Disney...everyone I know regardless of their major works at one of the parks even though UCF is a bit of a hike from Disney. There is also a theme park club on the Rosen Campus where she could meet other kids who are passionate about the parks and there's a free shuttle for students to get to and from the Rosen Campus. In regards to a car I HIGHLY recommend one. Orlando is such a spread out city and public transportation is pretty much non-existent. I know a lot of freshman who don't bring a vehicle down and are miserable because they are stuck on campus. My girlfriend is a pre-med major and she seems very satisfied with the science department. A large number of students were failing the science classes so now UCF offers free small group tutoring sessions and test prep sessions throughout the week for science students and my girlfriend speaks highly of them.

As far as kids coming from out of state. Majority of the Rosen students I know come from all over the country to attend the hospitality school and get a foot in the door at the theme parks. At main campus most of my friends are from Florida, but not the Orlando area. With that said, I highly doubt she'll feel like the lone out of stater.

If you have any other questions feel free to ask! I'm born and raised in Orlando so I know the area pretty well.
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Old 11-27-2012, 03:35 AM   #11
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It's not only science classes that offers tutoring, a lot of other classes do as well. There's a tutoring center students can go to then there's also tutoring that's offered in class, mostly from the PA's. There's literally a bunch of resources for students to utilize if they're in need of help. We also have the career center that helps students build resumes, look for internships/jobs, do practice interviews, and whatnot.

I agree though, I honestly wouldn't know what to do without a car around here. You can get around using the buses, but you can only go so far outside of UCF without a lot of planning. The buses don't run 24/7 either so it can be a huge pain. If your daughter doesn't have a car and wants to work at Disney, I honestly don't think it will work out. Some people work at MK till 4-5am. I have a shift at 5am today and that's not even at MK, it's in Downtown Disney. When they say FULL availability for 3 days, they actually mean it.
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Old 11-27-2012, 09:32 PM   #12
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The work schedule sounds brutal! I think if she were to do anything with Disney it would have to be through the College Program, and she would have to move to the Disney apartments for a semester. She would be starting college with a substantial number of AP credits, so giving up a semester shouldn't hurt too much. Giving up another semester for overseas study though might be pushing the limit.

Cousin, thank you for the information about tutoring and the science classes. I've gently tried a couple times to get my daughter to go pre-med, but no luck! She is headed towards graduate school, then a career in research.

Can someone tell me how the 11-1/2 month housing contracts work? It sounds like you would be committing to attend school fall, spring, and summer, correct? And I'm guessing you have to be enrolled in school to stay in the dorm; otherwise everyone would just be there for a fun summer! At least one round of summer school and/or summer research is fine; I'm not sure she would need or want it every summer. I know there are campus apartments that have just a nine month contract.

I missed the Orlando airfare sale yesterday, darn! I'm going to have to either pay up for spring break plane tickets or hold out and hope for the best.
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Old 11-28-2012, 01:28 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by DisneyTexan View Post
The work schedule sounds brutal! I think if she were to do anything with Disney it would have to be through the College Program, and she would have to move to the Disney apartments for a semester. She would be starting college with a substantial number of AP credits, so giving up a semester shouldn't hurt too much. Giving up another semester for overseas study though might be pushing the limit.

Cousin, thank you for the information about tutoring and the science classes. I've gently tried a couple times to get my daughter to go pre-med, but no luck! She is headed towards graduate school, then a career in research.

Can someone tell me how the 11-1/2 month housing contracts work? It sounds like you would be committing to attend school fall, spring, and summer, correct? And I'm guessing you have to be enrolled in school to stay in the dorm; otherwise everyone would just be there for a fun summer! At least one round of summer school and/or summer research is fine; I'm not sure she would need or want it every summer. I know there are campus apartments that have just a nine month contract.

I missed the Orlando airfare sale yesterday, darn! I'm going to have to either pay up for spring break plane tickets or hold out and hope for the best.
The year round housing is just how they do it (at least at UCF Rosen) - when my daughter went it was a requirement you attended summer school one summer (I think it still is)...so one summer you are definitely using it. You don't have to be in summer school. My daughter did not take summer classes the next summer and she was still required to keep her room...it does really make it easier as you aren't moving in and out. She stayed in FL and worked at Disney so it was handy but her roommates were Floridians who went home for the summer and their rooms sat empty. The alternative is to get an off campus apt with a shorter contract.

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Old 11-28-2012, 02:28 PM   #14
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If she has at least 6 or 9 (can't remember exactly) AP credits upon graduation, then she doesn't need to take summer classes. Most off-campus housing also have leases that are year round. The best thing to do is to sign an off-campus lease and find someone to take over the lease after spring semester if she doesn't plan on staying for the summer and wants to go home.

Last edited by Vii; 11-28-2012 at 02:37 PM.
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Old 11-28-2012, 09:33 PM   #15
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Thank you for the housing information. The extra expense for housing that might not be needed is definitely something to consider. However, I think her full ride scholarship has enough funding so that it wouldn't be too much of a problem.
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