It is no surprise that a growing number of undergraduate students are choosing to pursue their education online. The flexibility of completing coursework from anywhere makes an online pathway to a bachelor’s degree appealing. This is especially true for students who have busy schedules or simply rather not be tied down to an in-person schedule.
As a professional musician, Dariel Liakhovetski turned to UF Online to continue working towards his dream of becoming a dentist, all while continuing to perform his music with his brother on their electric cellos. With UF Online, Dariel is able to continue both his education and his music career with no compromise to his ambitions.
In the first of this series called “A Gator’s Perspective,” UF Online turns the keyboard over to UF students that are earning or have earned their degree via UF Online. Listening to student voices, we learn as they share their experience on what it’s like as a UF Gator with complete freedom of movement. In this edition, Dariel shares insight into his decision to apply and attend UF Online. Take it away, Dariel!
Why I Chose UF Online
Written By: Dariel Liakhovetski, B.S. Microbiology & Cell Science, Senior
I was finishing up my sophomore year at Florida Atlantic University majoring in Biology when the thought of transferring into a program that would better suit my needs and goals first came to mind. I wanted to find a program that would go beyond the basic biological sciences and dive deeper into molecular biology, cell function, and the human genome, while also allowing me to simultaneously balance a professional music career. My oftentimes unpredictable travel schedule brought about many challenges to my academic planning.
After researching many programs around the country, I couldn’t believe it when I landed on the University of Florida’s B.S. in Microbiology and Cell Science curriculum offered via UF Online. It sounded too good to be true, but now, as a senior in the program on the path to graduating with honors, and with a world of open doors and opportunities before me, I can say that it’s not too good to be true—it is true.
While doing my research, I realized that many of the online bachelor’s programs offered a subpar or “lite” version of their on-campus curriculum to their online students. This was something that would not align with my goals, as I was searching for a program that would provide me with a solid foundation in molecular/cell biology leading into Dental School and also enable me to have a meaningful impact on medicine as a whole.
I was not going to compromise on the quality of education I was getting. I wanted to find a curriculum that would incorporate every bit as much rigor in the online format and capture the essence of an immersive and rigorous in-person curriculum, preparing me for graduate medical studies.
The UF Online Microbiology and Cell Science program offered me the flexibility to travel the world with my brother and fully pursue our music career, all while getting taught by the world-class UF faculty and allowing me to conduct research at a Tier-1 University. One factor that became apparent to me in my search for an excellent curriculum was that UF has been a leader in developing exceptional, well-rounded, and engaging online programs for students. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, many universities are currently working on-the-spot to develop online programs that can compete with their on-campus counterparts. This is an area where UF stands light-years ahead of other institutions and has a major advantage.
COVID-19 is making many schools and students rethink which opportunities are viable and how the same ambitious goals students and institutions had can be realized in an era of virtual learning. One of the most difficult and concerning areas for many students, particularly those majoring in the sciences, is the question of how they will be able to pursue research in an online format and how this obstacle may affect their future. Although the experience of working alongside a team of talented researchers in a laboratory setting is irreplaceable, COVID-19 is shedding some light on a new branch of “distance” pathways that will open new doors and diversify how students will be conducting research.
I am thrilled by the opportunity to begin working alongside Dr. Keith March, a Clinician/Researcher and Director of the UF Center for Regenerative Medicine, to look into the potentials of regenerative medicine therapies such as stem cells. Even though the pandemic is forcing us to rethink the logistics of how this research is being conducted, our shared goals and ambitions remain the same. My goal is to help bring these cutting-edge therapies from the laboratory into all areas of medical clinical practice. And as a UF Online student, I’m completely able to contribute to UF’s research into these therapies.
A question I had when searching for an exceptional online curriculum was whether the online coursework met the same rigorous standard of its in-person counterpart. This is a question on many students’ minds and is something that there is an endless amount of misinformation about on the internet. For UF Online programs, the answer is a resounding yes!
Equal in rigor, quality, and taught by the very same faculty at UF that teach on campus, UF Online focuses intentionally on ensuring that the online pathway is most certainly not a lesser than academic environment. While there are several programs at other institutions that compromise on the quality and rigor of education when delivering the curriculum online, including relying on separate, non-University faculty, UF Online certainly does not.
I was pleased to discover during my search that the UF Online Microbiology and Cell Science curriculum is identical to the on-campus curriculum. Each student is given the same amount of personal attention, connection to the talented student body, close communication with advisors and instructors, and opportunities to collaborate with the world-class faculty as the on-campus students.
Most importantly, there is no question in my mind that I am a part of the Gator family. That is why the diploma students receive upon graduating from the program is a University of Florida diploma. Zero compromises are made in bringing the online curriculum to students. That is what sets UF Online apart from other programs and is ultimately why I know it was the right choice for me. Now and always, we have to do our homework and research to find the best academic programs and pathways for each of us. I’m fortunate to have found a great home at UF Online. Go Gators!
To hear more about Dariel and how he balances his passions for music and microbiology, read his story here.---
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. 4 in the 2020 rankings for the best online bachelor’s programs in the country by U.S. News & World Report. Students can select from over 20 majors 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.