In the week before Fall classes begin, incoming graduate students participate in both University and Department orientations. The three day University of Florida orientation welcomes and introduces students to the University and provides some general training for teaching assistants (TAs).
The Math Department then holds its own orientation to assist students as they transition into our department. It includes mathematics specific TA training, an introduction to our computer network including help setting up your new website, and a question and answer session with senior graduate students. You won’t want to miss the graduate student-run Graduate Mathematics Association (GMA) welcome dinner for incoming students.
During this week of orientation, incoming students also meet with the graduate coordinator and faculty to plan their course schedule for the first year.
During the week of orientation, each incoming student is paired with both a faculty mentor and a graduate student mentor. Your mentors are an invaluable source of information and guidance during the transition into the department and begin your first year.
Your faculty mentor is always available to offer advise on courses and help navigating exams. He or she will help you stay on course for your First year or two until you have settled on a research advisor. Your graduate student mentor is there to help you with everything else, from academics to Department and University paperwork to finding the best music, shops and restaurants in Gainesville. Just ask.
Your first year courses
The major focus for most first year students is preparing for and passing a trio of qualifying exams by the middle of the second year and identifying possible research advisors. As preparation for the exams, first year graduate student typicially en- roll in the year-long (Fall and Spring semesters) sequences in Analysis (MAA5228-9) and Algebra (MAS5311-12).
The department also hosts a variety of seminars, which allow stu- dents to acquaint themselves with department faculty and provide a window into the different research groups. New students are strongly encouraged to attend seminars on a regular basis, especially while still searching for an advisor. Several seminars are specifically directed at graduate students, such as the GMA and SIAM colloquia.
Francis Adams on his experience
When I came to UF, I knew that I wanted to study Mathematical Logic and Set Theory. So when I needed to choose my courses for my first year, I was really interested in the special topics course in Descriptive Set Theory. After speaking with the graduate coordinator during orientation, we decided that I should try it out. We also decided I should attend the first year topology course just in case DST seemed to difficult. After a week, I stuck with DST; it was difficult material, but it was just too cool to pass up.
I couldn’t have made a better choice. I loved the course for the entire year. I also attended the Logic Seminar in the department; the knowledge gained in Set Theory was invaluable in being able to understand the seminar talks (or at least not be completely lost). I liked the course and the professor so much that in my second year I asked him to be my advisor. Now I am starting to do research in Descriptive Set Theory with him. So, branching out from the more standard first year courses made a big, positive, impact on the direction of my graduate studies.