Great Education at an Affordable Rate
I was fortunate to be in the top 10% of my high school class, which put UT Austin on my radar when I was looking at universities. I knew that, as a Texas resident, I could receive a great education at UT Austin at a far more affordable rate. Also, my brother had attended the university and so I knew that, despite having around 50,000 students, I would be able to find a smaller community within my college and department.
Consider an Honors Program
I am in Liberal Arts Honors, English Honors, and Government Honors, and all have enhanced my undergraduate experience. Especially at a large university like UT Austin, the honors programs really allowed me to meet other students in a smaller setting and develop friendships inside and out of class. Furthermore, honors classes have usually been smaller and more rigorous, so I have been able to develop better relationships with my professors and prepare myself for graduate school.
I would definitely encourage prospective students to consider honors programs because honors programs teach a multitude of skills necessary for life after college—one can gain experience thinking critically, writing lengthy analytical papers, and working alongside colleagues on projects. Furthermore, I think honors programs are a great way to get to know people who have similar interests.
Find the place that is most conducive to your study habits early!
How to be a successful student
Visit and get to know your professors early in the semester, and work with them whenever you don’t understand something or when you are interested in learning more about their field. It pays dividends later.
Balancing studing, friends, work and family
Get a calendar (either electronic or physical), and plan your week beforehand to make sure you have enough time for all your activities.
Living on campus
I highly recommend living on campus at least for freshman year. The dorms allowed me a quiet space to study when I needed to, but there were also social activities designed to build friendships amongst the residents and also relieve the occasional stress of college life. I also recommend living off campus later in college because it provides us with experience for when we embark on our careers—having to fend for ourselves, pay for rent and utilities, getting meals together—“adult” activities.
Enhance the College Experience through Research
My freshman year I enrolled in the College of Liberal Arts Research Apprenticeship program. I was paired with a university professor in the English department. I gained valuable experience researching for him, using internet databases and the university library system to gather information on a topic he was researching.
I have been fortunate enough to research with other professors during my time at UT Austin, and the one-on-one time with them and friendships developed for more than three years has really been beneficial to my college experience. I have also developed many important friendships in my major and college with my fellow students. From getting coffee with them late at night before an essay was due, to using them as sounding boards for a research idea, they have been very supportive of my academic and personal interests, and we have developed very strong bonds. We have all helped each other mature and have enhanced the college experience.
Be a Global Citizen
I studied at the University of Haifa in Israel the spring semester of my junior year. I took courses alongside Israelis, and my command of Hebrew really improved during my time abroad. I learned how other students approach many of the same fields I am studying at UT Austin and was able to have many fascinating discussions comparing the cultures of the United States and Israel. I think studying abroad is a great experience for anyone hoping to work abroad or just hoping to be involved as a global citizen in the 21st century.
From the very start, a student at UT Austin has to learn how to differentiate themselves from everyone else, both because of the level of competition and the sheer size of the university. The experience of differentiating oneself and figuring out one’s way as a citizen of UT Austin, of Austin, and of the world, really prepares students for going out and changing the world once they graduate.
More about Zach
- Joanne Marye Thaman Endowed Presidential Scholarship in English
- National Merit Corporate Scholarship
- Chevron International REACH Scholarship
- Dan C. Danciger Scholarship
- Malcolm Gluckman Leadership Grant
My favorite experience at the university was using the archives at the LBJ Library for one of my classes. I had to gather historical documents from President Johnson’s time in the White House and develop a research paper on American foreign policy during the 1960s. I highly recommend using the library system at UT Austin; from spending time at the PCL, the Harry Ransom Center, and the LBJ Library, I have both learned to use libraries effectively and have learned to enjoy the research process.