DirectConnect to UCF SMART Start

At UCF, we recognize that major readiness for transfer students is essential for a successful transition and an efficient journey to degree completion. Being major ready will allow you to graduate on time, reduce the overall cost of your education, and can jumpstart your entry into the workforce, accelerate your career and boost your earning potential.

These academic, financial, and career-related advantages are enhanced with the introduction of the SMART Start (Securing Major Readiness for Transfer) program. SMART Start is exclusively available to you as a Valencia College student who is on track to earn your A.A. Degree. With a focus on major and transfer readiness, the pathway allows you to be admitted to UCF early — while still taking courses at Valencia — and enroll at both institutions simultaneously.

At the conclusion of the one-credit semester-long SMART Start program, you can expect to have completed all components of major readiness to include knowledge of UCF degree requirements, student success and well-being resources, extra- and co-curricular involvement opportunities, and tools to support your transition and academic progress at UCF.

UCF Knightro holding a sign that says Unleashing Potential

SMART Start
stands for “Securing Major Readiness for Transfer”

How It Works:

  • You are invited to apply to SMART Start based upon your interest in the DirectConnect to UCF pathway and the progress you’ve made toward earning you’re A.A. degree.
  • If you choose to apply and are admitted to the SMART Start program, you will be enrolled in a one-credit major and transfer readiness course in the Spring 2024 semester. You will maintain your enrollment at Valencia College to complete your degree while also completing the online course at UCF.
  • UCF Success Coaches are available to guide you through the admission process, throughout the duration of the course and beyond.
  • Upon successful completion of the UCF SMART Start course, you may continue your enrollment at UCF and take additional courses beyond the one-credit SMART Start class.
  • The cost of the SMART Start course will be waived, and a $500 financial award will be issued to you after satisfactory completion of SMART Start toward a future semester of enrollment.

How To Apply:

  • You should submit a complete application for admission to UCF for the spring 2024 term no later than November 27, 2023.
  • A complete application includes the $30 application fee, transcripts from all postsecondary schools attended, and all other supporting documents required (e.g., high school transcripts, test scores, etc.).
  • Since the application deadline for the spring 2024 term has passed, you must enter the code provided to you in your invitation letter after you select the 2024 Spring term from the drop-down menu within the application.
  • If you are admitted to SMART Start, you will be required to attend an online information session via Zoom on Wednesday, December 6, 2023 at 6 p.m.
  • If you enroll in SMART Start, you will be required to attend a UCF new student orientation session during the spring 2024 semester.


SMART Start FAQs

No. The only UCF course you will take during the spring semester is the SMART Start course. You are required to maintain enrollment and complete courses toward your A.A. degree at Valencia at the same time as you are enrolled in SMART Start. You will be expected to earn your A.A. degree from Valencia in accordance with your future term schedule.
Upon satisfactory completion of SMART Start, you may enroll in additional courses at UCF.

Yes. All new UCF students are required to complete orientation. UCF’s orientation program is different from the SMART Start program, and you will be unable to register for future terms until orientation is completed. You will receive further communication regarding orientation during the spring term.

The one-credit SMART Start course will be taught online. It builds on major and transfer readiness, which is the foundation for a successful transition to UCF. Major and transfer readiness is achieved through academic and career coaching, skills assessments, completion of pre-requisites, and the development of academic journeys for your intended major. The course will also provide resources to support your transition from Valencia to UCF and help acclimate you to a new academic environment and community.

The cost of the one-credit course ($212.28) fee will be waived if you participate in SMART Start. You will be required to pay the standard $30 application fee to apply to UCF. You will also be required to pay a standard fee of $35 for your UCF Orientation session during your first semester and $25 plus tax for the online e-book for the course that will be required.

Students participating in the SMART Start Program should not update school information with the Florida Department of Education. The Florida Department of Education should be updated to include UCF once the student plans to only attend UCF.

Students participating in the SMART Start Program should not update the FAFSA to include UCF, as students will receive their financial aid from Valencia College during their time in the program. The FAFSA should be updated to include UCF’s School Code, once the student plans to only attend UCF.

  • A student is considered “major ready” when they have identified and selected an educational pathway that aligns with their personal interests, career goals, and aptitude, and is following their educational plan.
  • The “major ready” student knows the academic and program admission requirements for their intended major and has completed the Common Program Pre-requisites (CPP) for that major.
  • Upon transfer, the student is prepared to begin courses in the major at the junior level along with native FTIC students.
  • A student is “transfer ready: when they have completed all components of major readiness to include knowledge of requirements regarding math pathways, foreign language, certifications, and testing requirements.
  • The “transfer ready” student has identified internships, study abroad, research, and other high-impact practices that enhance both their major readiness and transfer success – the specific resources and tools to support their ongoing educational success.

You will need a computer, reliable internet, webcam, and microphone.

The online information session is on December 6, 2023, at 6pm. It is required for all admitted SMART Start students. The session will provide important details about the program. If you do not attend, you will not be permitted to participate in SMART Start and your application for admission to UCF for Spring 2024 will be canceled.

You will be notified of your admission decision by December 6th if you apply and submit all required materials by the November 27th application completion deadline.

The $500 incentive will be awarded after satisfactory completion of the one-credit SMART Start course at UCF. It can be used to cover future costs at UCF, such as tuition, fees, or books. The incentive will be made available after your A.A. degree is awarded from Valencia.

Please contact a UCF Success Coach at UCFConnect@ucf.edu or 407-823-4547 with any additional questions about the SMART Start Program.

As a Valencia College student who has expressed interest in the DirectConnect to UCF pathway, we know that you are making progress toward your A.A. degree and preparing to transfer to UCF. The SMART Start program can help make the transition to UCF smoother and set you up for success in your chosen degree before you actually begin taking major-related courses.

As a SMART Start student, you will not be eligible for financial aid at UCF until after the requirements of the program have been satisfied. If you are receiving financial aid at Valencia College, you should continue to follow the policies and procedures of Valencia College’s Financial Aid Services.


If you have additional questions or require further clarification about the SMART Start program, please feel free to contact Angie Smith, SMART Start Program Director, at UCFConnect@ucf.edu.