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Student Q&A: Why did you choose UF?

Paloma Pinto is a first-year student who is part of the University of Florida’s online PaCE program, which stands for Pathway to Campus Enrollment and enables students to transition to on-campus courses within their first two years. She was born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and currently studies journalism at UF from her home in Miami, Florida.

We asked her about her experience at UF, her perfect day of classes and her advice for students deciding where to go to college. 

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Paloma Pinto, a first-year journalism student at UF, is part of the PaCE program. She studies journalism from her home in Miami. Photo courtesy of Paloma Pinto

Q: Could you describe the program you’re in and what your schedule is like this semester?

A: PaCE is a specific admission into UF in which students spend 60 credits – about two years or less depending on incoming credit – doing UF Online. Because of the amazing flexibility of the UF Online program, students can stay home or choose to live off campus in Gainesville.

I currently live at home in Miami and do my classes online. This semester, I have five classes. Out of my five classes, only one requires Zoom conferences. Therefore, I have a pretty flexible schedule with deadlines every week, and it is up to me to keep track of due dates.

Why did you decide to attend UF? And what has been your favorite part?

I never had an official “dream school.” But the first time I stepped onto the UF campus, I knew I was home. There is no university like UF. The university’s culture is one that welcomes students from all around the world, prioritizes students and their needs and provides an amazing education while also being extremely fun. It was also an easy decision because UF has the top journalism program in the entire state of Florida.

My favorite part has definitely been being selected as a 2021 Preview Staffer, meaning that I help lead UF’s official orientation program and serve as a role model for incoming students. I am so excited and thankful for this opportunity to welcome all incoming freshmen and help with anything they might need!

Could you describe what a perfect day in classes might look like for you?

Because my classes are online, almost every day is an ideal day of classes for me. I usually wake up around 9 a.m., work on about five to 10 assignments, take a break and repeat.

If I am feeling bad one day of the week, I can do fewer assignments and just make it up the next day. As long as I am on track with my deadlines, I am good.

I really appreciate the flexibility of the UF Online program; there’s nothing like it. While being a full-time college student, I am also able to have a part-time job and an internship. I never thought I would be able to do this, so I am beyond thankful for this opportunity.

Do you have any advice for high school students deciding on colleges or programs right now? 

Before making a decision, if possible, visit your top colleges’ campuses. We can research and watch numerous videos online, but there is nothing like walking around a university’s campus and truly feeling like you belong there. UF has the power to do this to anyone. If you are able to do so, I truly recommend visiting UF and getting a feel for what it is like.

I would also advise high school students not to be scared ­of or disappointed with being admitted into an online program. Lots of students – myself included – don’t feel excited at first about being admitted into online programs such as PaCE since it may not seem or feel like the true college experience.

But your experience is what you make of it. I feel just as much a UF student as someone who takes physical classes. There is no other program I wish I was a part of now, and PaCE has given me all that I need to become a successful student.

Editor’s note: Photo provided by Pinto via email

Learn more about PaCE.

Learn more about the College of Journalism and Communications.