A Gator’s Perspective: An International Student’s Experience in UF Online

A Gator's Perspective.

As the fully-online pathway to a University of Florida degree, UF Online welcomes students from around the world to earn a nationally-ranked education right from their home. With 25 fully online degree pathways, students worldwide can join the Gator Nation without compromising quality due to their location. UF Online is proud to have Gators in over 16 countries pursuing their bachelor’s degrees.

In this edition of “A Gator’s Perspective,” Mariano Aguilar, a recent graduate of UF Online’s Microbiology & Cell Science program, shares what his experience was like being a UF student while living internationally in Lima, Peru. Take it away, Mariano!


Written By: Mariano Aguilar, B.S. Microbiology & Cell Science, Alum

Mariano 1

My experience as an international UF Online student has been one of the best of my life. I had already studied biology at the University of South Florida in Tampa, but I moved back to Peru to take care of my loved ones. To support my family, I became an entrepreneur and founded GMAT Dudes, a Test Prep academy in Lima. Then, I got married and started a new life in Peru.

With so many responsibilities in my new home, it would be very difficult to go back to the U.S. to finish my biology degree. I looked for the best online options in several rankings publications, such as U.S. News & World Report and QS World University Rankings. After months of research, I found very few online programs focused on Biological Sciences, and only University of Florida offered a top-ranked Bachelor of Science in Microbiology and Cell Science.

When I checked the academic plan, professors, career tracks, and network opportunities, I realized that UF Online offered the most comprehensive curriculum at the best cost.

Mariano 2 I also knew that UF was the best university in Florida and one of the top research universities in the world. Its program is also one of the most rigorous, so I wanted to take on the challenge. The program would also help me save a lot of money and time, since I didn’t have to travel all the way to Florida and spend a lot on living expenses. Housing and food are much cheaper in Lima.

UF Online is a great option for international students. Getting a degree from a prestigious university in the U.S. can open many doors in your own country and abroad. The cherry on top for me was that the program offered me the flexibility to manage my schedule while taking care of my company and my family. As the CEO and main GMAT Verbal instructor of my company, I had to work an average of 50 hours per week, and my schedule fluctuated. The online program was a great fit because I could watch the video lessons, study, and do homework and projects whenever I had breaks or time off. I must admit I could not afford a social life, and for almost two years I spent little time with my family. It was a huge sacrifice, but that motivated me to move forward and finish faster. My classes were demanding and time consuming, but I was learning from top researchers with a lot of experience.

Mariano 1

As a general piece of advice to anyone looking into UF Online, I definitely recommend setting up your short, mid, and long-term goals. Ask where you see yourself in the next five years. Where would you like to work, in what position, doing what? After you know what you want, ask yourself what set of skills and knowledge you must develop to accomplish your goals. With that in mind, look for a degree that would give you those tools. UF Online offers many degrees that can work for you. Just be organized, schedule your daily chores, and follow your plan. Whatever you do, do not procrastinate! When times get tough, just remember what your goals are and find the motivation to keep moving. As one of my teachers said, you must always “look for reasons to succeed, not for excuses to fail.”

All in all, studying at UF has been one of the best investments of my life, and I have acquired the knowledge, tools, and network to succeed in the field of Microbiology and Cell Science.

If you would like to learn more about applying as an international student, please visit the international students page or register for one of our upcoming virtual information sessions.


The University of Florida, ranked No. 6 in the list of top 10 best public universities by U.S. News & World Report, launched UF Online in January 2014. UF Online was ranked No. 3 in the 2021 rankings for the best online bachelor’s programs in the country by U.S. News & World Report. Students can select from 25 major pathways across a variety of disciplines as well as nine minors and work with a dedicated academic advisor to design their own academic pathway. Degree programs are continually being added. Visit UF Online’s degrees page to learn more.