Making the Choice
My decision to come to UT Austin was the result of a confluence of many different factors. A big reason for me was family tradition. All three of my elder siblings had come to UT Austin, as well as many cousins and family friends. Academically, a major deciding factor for me was the reputation of the Department of Computer Science at UT Austin. I had been accepted into Turing Scholars, and with it, won an unimaginable opportunity to access the amazing faculty and resources of the CS department, as well as the legions of companies that come recruiting here because of that reputation. Cost and familiarity were other major issues. Being in-state, tuition for UT Austin was an incredible value, and, as I have stated before, I have long been acquainted with the city of Austin and I have grown to love it over the last 14 years of my life.
An Unexpected Experience
It's the most random events that have had the largest impact on me. Desperately scrambling around to find a dormmate for my freshman year, I ended up rooming with a random friend of a friend of a friend, and now we're best friends. Randomly deciding to take an intro microeconomics course during my freshman year because all the other classes I wanted were full and I needed 12 hours made me realize how interesting economics is and led me to declaring economics as my second major.
There is just so much going on at UT Austin, so many people and ideas and energy, that you have to eventually accept the chaos and let it guide you to new and interesting experiences. That's not to say you don't have any control. You can choose how much you let the university and all its chaos affect you.
Being at UT Austin has introduced me to the most amazing people; it's hard to imagine where else I could have encountered these people. Those I've interacted with here have been the most intelligent, wild, interesting, creative, thought-provoking ... more adjectives than I care to enumerate. I met a guy who was one of the engineers for the camera on the iPhone 4S, another group of guys who wanted to completely revolutionize the health IT industry and people who genuinely care about solving the world's problems, like poverty, energy and education.
That doesn't even include the faculty, which is composed of some of the most brilliant minds in the world, working on the most interesting problems. I've taken a course with Dr. Jason Baldridge, who is a leader in computational linguistics and spends a lot of his time analyzing tweets for things like geolocation and sentiment. I've gotten to have chats with Dr. Robert Metcalfe, the man who invented ethernet, built a billion-dollar business out of it, and is now leading a class on entrepreneurship. A big part of who I am today is made up of all the people I have met since I came to UT Austin.
More about Gaurav
Clubs & Organizations
- On making friends: Don't be shy! Go out and join every club/organization that looks interesting. Everyone's new and looking for friends, and you'll find some of the most interesting people at these meetings that you might never have found otherwise. I know it's scary to go to an org meeting where you don't know anyone, but a fear like that will stop you from meeting new and interesting people. I made the mistake of only joining orgs that I had a good number of friends in, and this pretty much limited me to about two or three orgs. Now, I'm completely happy with the friends I made in those orgs, and being in a few allowed me to concentrate on becoming a big part of each of those orgs, but I still regret not exploring more organizations that sounded interesting.
- On studying: Do it. It's hard, and you probably don't think it's fun, but college isn't like high school where you could wait until the night before, briefly look at your notes and ace the test. You learn a LOT more here, the material is much denser, and you're expected to teach yourself a lot of the subject matter as well. Not only does studying help your grades, it helps you appreciate the material so much more. You realize how amazing this knowledge that you're gaining is and how incredible it is that you're able to understand it. When I was a kid, I always thought of professors, scientists and learned people in general were on this higher level, where they would just know the most incredible things that I thought I'd never be able to comprehend. And now, here I am, learning from these people. The idea that I can actually be on par with these giants just makes my head spin.
- On what (not) to wear: It's college, wear whatever you want. There aren't any school dress codes anymore (as far as I know). Feel free to express yourself! I think of myself as a classy guy, so I like to wear nice jeans and collared shirts most days.
- Study location: The SAC, Union, Jester, Norman Hackerman Building and the fourth floor of ENS (for engineers) are all great buildings with fantastic study lounges with plenty of open seats. The SAC, Union and Jester are particularly nice because they have food places nearby the (very fancy) study lounges.
- Place to eat: Trudy's, Kerbey Lane, Torchy's Tacos and Clay Pit are all amazing restaurants with a selection of food to die for, but they are at the northern/southern edges of campus, so it's a good walk to get there.
- Professor: This one is tough. There are way too many amazing professors here. I feel like I'd be doing a disservice by enumerating the ones that spring to mind at this point, as I am sure there would be many that I will forget to list.
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