Alumni Interview: Ella Underwood

Sadie Underwood, Sr. High Staff Writer

As seniors struggle to get last-minute college applications in and juniors begin looking for schools of interest, many questions and fears arise. Being able to ask a sibling, friend, or relative about advice and their experiences can help with this overwhelming feeling. 

My sister, Ella, came back from her first semester at the University of Tampa. Being a high school senior made me extremely curious as to what lies ahead of me this year. In an interview, I asked her some of the most frequently asked questions she gets, in addition to some of mine.

How would you describe your overall college experience in the first semester?

“I adjusted easily and I’ve made some great new friendships. Many of my high school credits transferred to my current college, making the transition easier by giving me a reduced schedule.”

How does it compare to high school?

“I have a lot more freedom and time to complete my assignments. Nobody is there to push you on a daily basis, you are forced to be responsible for your own actions, grades, and ability to learn.”

How has COVID impacted your college experience?

“We do have to wear masks to class, but the rest is fairly normal. If colleges go virtual, you are forced to find an apartment, go home, or find another place to live since the dorms are no longer available. This is a major fear for college students when we return.”


How do COVID regulations compare in Florida to New York? Would you say New York is more strict?

“New York is definitely more strict. People regularly break the rules in Florida, and there’s little accountability held against their actions.”


Was traveling during the holidays and COVID a struggle for you?

“Yes, I was very nervous that my flight would be canceled and I would be stranded at the airport.”


What have you enjoyed most about being back?

“Seeing my high school friends and family, driving a car, home-cooked meals, the gym, pets, sleeping in, and even seeing my roommate since she lives in the area.”


What have you spent most of your time doing here?

“Going to the gym and hanging out with my friends.”


Are you excited to go back? What are you most excited about? 

“Yes, warm weather, the beach, seeing my college friends, and starting my new classes.”


Is there anything you’re nervous about?

“That the second-semester classes will be tougher, and COVID might force us to go virtual.”


What advice would you give future freshmen?

“Going to a college in a destination that you love makes the experience that much more enjoyable. Enjoy home-cooked meals while they last, college food is not the best. Work a full-time summer job to make money because living on your own is not cheap and you’re going to want to buy food from the store. It’s not as scary as it seems and is a lot more relaxed than high school. It’s super easy to make new friends, especially with your roommates.”