More than 150 students from Valencia College were introduced to the University of Central Florida in style during a daylong event focused on preparing them to join the UCF family.

The event provided an opportunity for the hopeful future Knights to experience UCF, meet with academic advisers and learn about the different fields of study available to them. The event was hosted by UCF’s Transfer and Transition Services and Student Development and Enrollment Services in partnership with Valencia College.

“We decided to put together this program as a way to get students excited about coming to the university, getting involved, discovering what they can do to enhance their degree at UCF, learn about housing, and really get a look at the university experience they can look forward to,” said Sharisse Kenney, coordinator for transfer advising at Valencia College East Campus.

The visit was an initiative of the DirectConnect to UCF program, which offers graduates of state college  partner institutions guaranteed admission to UCF and comprehensive advising from state college and UCF advisers to help make the transition a smooth one.

The day’s agenda included presentations and workshops to help students decide what academic track fits their career aspirations and a behind-the-scenes look at some of UCF’s facilities.

The students were welcomed to campus by Mr. and Miss UCF and quickly jumped into a career exploration presentation. The students took brief tests to narrow their interests and provide guidance on what major to consider, and then students met with different colleges and advisers who could answer questions about majors and programs that might be a good fit.

“As they are going through the process of exploring careers and majors of interest, we are making a really intentional connection between the two institutions and helping the students make the connection and develop a pathway for success,” said Leonard Bass, dean of learning support at Valencia College East Campus.

Students also received some information about being active at UCF outside of the classroom. Leaders from the Student Government Association and the Office of Student Involvement shared information about the opportunities UCF has for students to be involved on campus.

“We found that many of our students, despite living just down the street from UCF, have never been on campus,” said Bass. “For more than half the students here today, this is their first time being on campus. So they are really excited to learn more about the university.”

After the presentations and tours, the students capped off their day with a surprise visit by members of UCF’s Tostitos Fiesta Bowl-winning football team.

“I’m just happy to be at this event because it opened my eyes to a lot of things about UCF that I didn’t know before. I’ve learned about housing, how the transfer process works and the lifestyle here at UCF,” said Valencia College student Stephanie Albizu. “I’m really excited to join the UCF family and create memories that will last forever.”

Since DirectConnect to UCF began in 2006, more than 31,000 students have been admitted to UCF through the partnership with Eastern Florida State College, Lake Sumter State College, Seminole State College and Valencia College.

Thirty-six percent of new undergraduates in 2012-13 were DirectConnect to UCF students, and the program is one of the least expensive ways in the country to earn a bachelor’s degree.

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