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Michael Stoff, Director 305 East 23rd St, CLA 2.102, (G3600) Austin, TX 78712-1250 • 512-471-1442

Advice to Future Generations from the Senior Class of 2009

EXPLORE

  • Keep an open mind!! I was really upset with my classes at orientation freshmen year, and ended up absolutely loving them. Plan II forced me to explore areas I was uncomfortable with freshmen year, and I could not be more grateful that the program gave me the confidence to think critically about topics I previously found intimidating.
  • Don't worry about trying to get out of classes through APs and CLEP. Forget your grades, enjoy the ride, study abroad, and if you have to take more than one 17-18 hour semester, then add another year (one or two is good for you but more than that is draining). Most importantly, as a former high school teacher recently told me: "make sure you find time to read, think, and contemplate, lest you become a drone in a world of equally soulless drones!"
  • Explore broadly. Your major (if you have one on entry) is not your destiny. Listen and learn from your peers. Do explore all the exciting things going on at UT, but don't overwhelm yourself with student activities or social possibilities, particularly in your first semester.
  • Think broadly about what direction you want to take your college career. Try to take as many different courses as you can in your first two years before you specialize in one subject.
  • Explore yourself, that is what college is for. Go abroad, it will help you to truly discover who you are and what you are passionate about. Don't just take classes, become obsessed that is the best way to truly get the most out of college. Oh, and do not go home every weekend, especially freshman year, rather, get to know the amazing people around you!
  • Explore as much as you can as early as you can but make a choice about your academic and career goals by the end of your sophomore year.
  • Do some form of undergraduate research, it will open so many doors.
  • Don't focus on any one subject in your Plan II TC or SS courses. Explore any class that sounds interesting whether it pertains to your area of study or not. You will be pleasantly surprised!
  • Have your mind open and take classes outside of your major, because you may find your true passion in life.
  • Do what YOU want to do, not what people tell you to do, but be smart about it. Don't just take random classes, but figure out what interests you and go for it. Work hard, but remember to take advantage of what the university and Austin have to offer, and have fun! And don't stress out! Nothing is nearly as hard or intimidating as it seems!
  • Take time to explore what UT has to offer - requirements are important, but you only get this one chance to learn whatever you want.
  • Keep your options open, you may think you know what you want to study now, but you may take a course you love and change your mind later. And, if you're not sure exactly what you want to do with your life, Plan II is a great place to find yourself.
  • Take classes that interest you and not ones that are "guaranteed As."
  • Remember what you learn, even if it's not always academic things. Explore, but remember to be true to yourself and don't ignore your own instincts. Trust that you will make some sense of your education, because in the end, you will. Be creative with your education because you never know what you will learn. Keep an open mind and don't worry too much about grades. When you're out of school, no one will ask what you "got" in a class. There's something beyond grades to be learned.

GET INVOLVED

  • Join a social organization that in no way relates to your planned profession. It's an incredibly fun, enriching experience that serves as a constant reminder of the need to work in order to live--not the other way around.
  • Get involved in both the Plan II communities and other communities throughout the University.
  • Don't let studying overwhelm your life. There are so many other opportunities and wonderful groups/projects to get involved with.
  • Have a well-rounded college experience; don't devote too much time to academics, clubs/organizations/social events are important too!
  • Get involved! I wish I had been more involved in groups.
  • Take a look at ALL student organizations, choose a few, and really invest yourself in them.
  • Get to know fellow students, staff, and professors well. They'll teach you a lot and you'll enjoy the program and your classes more when you are learning with friends.
  • Get and stay involved in an organization through Plan II. One of the best things about Plan II is that you end up with people in your social circle that are in your classes so you can help each other, that never happened much in my classes for my other major.
  • Take advantage of every opportunity on campus: join organizations, take classes that you are interested in, go to football games, and go see amazing world renowned speakers. There are so many benefits being in a small program at a huge university and it is important to take advantage of all of them because you will never have the chance again!!
  • Don't be afraid or ashamed to ask for help. Keep an open mind. Get to know your class and your peers.
  • Get involved in activities that will cultivate a sense of community for you and further your personal development. Set the intention of learning how manage your time well in your FRESHMAN year. It will pay off for the rest of your college career. Try to keep in mind always how your education relates to who you are and what you want to be in the grander scheme of things. Try to get less caught up in the college bubble world. Give back to things. That is what will matter to you in end the end.

PLAN II

  • Take as many Plan II classes as you can. Come in with an open mind. Don't overbook yourself so you can soak in the knowledge Plan II can offer you.
  • Take advantage of the courses Plan II has to offer beyond degree requirements. If that means taking an extra SS or TC 357, then do it. This is a unique time in your life to study things of genuine interest to you, and Plan II offers you things you'll never be able to experience again. It is true that the curriculum Plan II presents shapes you as a person and your view of the world. It goes beyond getting good grades. Also, don't feel obligated to get a second major, Plan II will open plenty of doors for you.
  • Do NOT take physics and your thesis at the same time. You will not have time to concentrate on BOTH.
  • Don't take your TC 357 courses in your senior year.
  • Plan II is not challenging in the sense that it's hard to maintain a good GPA. The program offers an amazing array of resources, and it's ultimately what you make of it.
  • Study groups make the hard Plan II classes fun, i.e. physics and logic. And, get to know your professors, especially the seminar ones, they really like to help you.
  • Take your Junior seminars as a junior.
  • Form study groups with people in your classes, especially for the harder classes like Logic or Physics. And also you can almost always find a Plan II student in your other (non-Plan II) classes. It makes studying a lot easier if you have a group to work with! Also, spend time in the PII office. It's great for printing and the cookie jar, but it's also a fun social environment when people are there between classes and during lunch. It makes the program feel more home-y.
  • Don't be scared of the rumors you'll hear about Plan II logic or physics. There's a lot of help available to you; you just need to be willing to ask.
  • Plan II has some great classes to offer. Take the fun ones. You'll learn more than you can possibly imagine. Also, never pass up an opportunity to apply for one of the travel grants, research grants, awards, scholarships, etc. Apply for them all.
  • Spend as much time in the Plan II office as you can! You can learn a lot from your peers about what classes to take and avoid. Also when I was a freshman I met a lot of upperclassmen in the Plan II office who gave me an idea about what I need to do in college to prepare for graduate school/law school/ med school. Plus the cookie jar and free printing are excellent resources for the poor college student!
  • Plan II does a great job of introducing students to different opportunities to explore diverse interests -- take advantage of them!
  • Explore all areas of the Plan II curriculum, and take a TC 357 that seems interesting. I enjoyed TCs that were topics of which I had no prior knowledge.
  • Use the time in Plan II to find what is valuable in each academic discipline you are exposed to through your Plan II coursework. Then, focus your electives on the subject you love most and wish to incorporate into your future. Make it a point to keep informed for the rest of your life about all the subjects to which the Plan II curriculum exposes you. Be proud of the value of a liberal arts education.
  • The Plan II classes seem unconventional at first. Take advantage of that. By the time you graduate, your Plan II classes that were out of the ordinary will be the most memorable ones.
  • Plan II is the only major that lets you go after whatever interests you, from the variety of junior TC courses to the research-anything thesis. Cherish that freedom and really use it to go explore yourself and the world. Graduation comes too soon and then the real world hits.
  • I would tell them to take advantage of the freedom a Plan II schedule gives them. I majored in Plan II and Accounting, so virtually all of the classes I took went toward fulfilling those two degrees. It turns out that I am going to finish my Plan II degree but not my Accounting degree before I go to law school. In retrospect, I wish I had used my elective hours on a broader range of subjects than just business courses. So I would tell incoming freshmen to study whatever piques their interest instead of feeling like they have to commit to a 2nd major in addition to Plan II. I would particularly advise this if they plan to go to grad school instead of getting a job after college.
  • You may want to rethink your major choices, Plan II and business curriculums do not go very well together and it will take at least five years to graduate. Does not give many opportunities for outside electives.
  • Your Plan II education, as well as any other major you take on, will only be as hard as you make it. That said, you can slack off and get by pretty easily, but you will gain nothing. Take challenges and work extra hard, not for anybody else but for yourself.

KNOW YOUR PROFS

  • Talk to your professors more. Many of the best professors in the university teach Plan II courses and to really get the most from their knowledge and expertise, you have to talk to them outside of class. Having a good a relationship with a few professors may also come in useful if need references in the future for jobs or graduate programs. It also helps when you have to find a thesis supervisor.
  • Research your professors and pick your classes based on professor not curriculum.
  • Get to know all of your professors. They are a valuable resource and you'll most likely be needing their advice or services later on.
  • Look for mentors and cultivate relationships with your professors. Go to office hours from the start, and keep those relationships going even when their class is over.
  • GO TO OFFICE HOURS! YOU WILL ONE DAY NEED A LETTER OF RECOMMENDATION!

THE UNIVERSITY

  • UT can seem large and overwhelming at first, but it is essential to be proactive about taking advantage of the resources available at this University.
  • Take advantage of the University's resources for research, especially archives like the HRC and the LBJ library and faculty who are doing their own research.
  • Get out and experience all sides of campus. Become involved outside of Plan II and pursue passions that may not be anything related to your major, because college is the best opportunity to experiment.

STUDY ABROAD

  • Study abroad, study abroad, study abroad. I heard this from everyone, but for whatever reason, I never got my act together and planned my semester abroad. I can honestly say that this is my biggest regret of college.
  • I wish I would have made the time to study abroad in college, so I suggest you plan on a time to do it, choose a place where you want to go, and then do it.

THESIS

  • Do something you love for your thesis!
  • Start your thesis early. Think of it as 3 20 page papers, and have one written by the time you come back from Christmas break. DO NOT WAIT UNTIL AFTER SPRING BREAK!!
  • Start thinking about/working on your thesis long before your senior year.
  • Meet people, make study groups for Logic and Physics especially, and get them out of the way ASAP. Also, actually start writing your thesis in the fall of your senior year.

FOLLOW YOUR BLISS

  • Take advantage of everything Plan II has to offer. See the advisers often. Study abroad. Start your thesis early. But most of all, do what you love.
  • Don't think you know what you want to do for the rest of your life, try something new. It might turn out that's what you really wanted to do.
  • Find what you're passionate about and interested in college and pursue it, instead of doing things for a resume or for achieving some other end. Join a club you never thought you'd join, and get to know the people around you. There's so much to learn from your classmates. Talk to your faculty, and remember that they're there to help and, on a whole, love getting to know and to mentor students. Finally, find time to enjoy yourself in college--work hard, play hard.
  • Follow your intuition. Don't feel pressured to live up to anyone's expectations but your own. Then you'll be who you want to be and where you want to be by the time you have to graduate. There is nothing more important than being comfortable with yourself when you're shoved out into the "real world".
  • This is a big school, and it's easy to get lost in the mix. However, once you find your niche, it makes things much better and easier to deal with. Whether or not that niche is Plan II does not matter -- just find a group of people or an activity that is outside your schoolwork that makes you happy. Make time for it.
  • Enjoy the education you receive in the moment. Put aside the thoughts about what comes next, and what you can do to get there. Take the opportunity to enjoy learning in its purest form. It's likely the last time that one will get to experience it
  • Do not worry about grades. Especially on the thesis, find something you love and work as hard as you can at it. If you work as hard as you can and you do not get good grades, do not despair. You have nothing to be ashamed of. Also, experience college life away from the university. Community involvement has taught me more and grown me more than my time spent on campus.

HAVE FUN

  • I would tell each incoming freshman to work hard, but also to relax and enjoy the entire college experience. I feel that so many Plan II students are extreme overachievers, so dedicated to attaining perfection in academics that they often forget that there are other important aspects of college life.
  • Study hard, but don't forget to have fun while doing it. If you're not having fun, you might not be majoring in the right field for you, so take time to take a step back and evaluate your engagement with your studies. It's okay to change your mind in your first few semesters.
  • Have fun and don't be afraid to reach out and ask questions. I definitely wish I had.
  • Don't stress out. We all got into Plan II because we are high-achieving, but we're also quirky and fun. Take time to breathe and celebrate this period in your life, and don't become a slave to any of your classes unless it's a topic you're really passionate about.
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