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The University of Texas at Austin

Sid Upadhyay

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Focusing Your Ambition

Great mentors were incredibly helpful as I transitioned to college. I had a slight inkling of what I wanted to do, but I still had a lot to figure out. During my first week, Brent, my advisor in the Business Honors Program, helped me realize the essence of my goals, and introduced me to a few students and professors who he thought could answer my questions.

He emphasized that there are nearly infinite permutations for reaching my goals, but that by talking to others I could learn really quickly where my goals could take me. The time this can save you is incredibly valuable because knowing what you don’t want to do is just as valuable as knowing what you want to do. For example, as a freshman, I was adamant on pursuing graduate work in economics. However, through my mentors, I figured out that my actual interests were in tech startups and the math behind economics. The lesson I learned is that a good mentor can help you beyond just your near-term goals, and can provide you with a more thorough perspective on what matters to you.

The Value of a Mentor

From my experience, great mentors are one of the most underemphasized aspects of college. If you think about it, you are on a campus with some of the smartest people in the country—all with varying interests. There are bound to be people who think like you and have learned a great deal already. Reaching out and finding these great mentors will improve the trajectory of your life more than anything else.

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  • On studying: Figure out what works for you early on. What worked for you in high school may not translate as well to college. Try working with different people, and if you find a study group that works well, stick with them for more classes if you can! I ended up taking six or seven math classes with some of the same friends because we had similar interests and pushed each other.
  • On making friends: Be active and explore campus. Try to avoid staying cloistered in your dorm, and always consider the opportunity cost of not attending events or organizations meetings. Even if you don’t know anyone initially, you will meet amazing, like-minded people. You will easily make some of your best friends here.
  • On how to be a successful student: Be confident and trust in your own abilities. Stay focused and aim to be productive each day. You can do this by setting managable goals and focusing on only a few things at once. Most importantly, try to never fall into ruts of unproductivity as those are really dangerous.
  • On maintaining balance: Take the time to put your relationships with others first. You’ll meet some of the most amazing people in college, and they will truly define your experiences. They will be a lasting part of your life.


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Updated Thu, 2012-08-02 15:09 | Top

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