Advice for New Students
Each spring, graduating students are asked to offer advice to incoming students based upon their experiences while on the Forty Acres. What follows is advice from the Class of 2008 graduates of The University of Texas at Austin.
Take as many pictures as you can. Get to know your professors and instructors. They are people who love what they do.
Dedicate your first semester to fun and making life-long friendships (calculate in a little wiggle-room into your GPA). After that, be prepared to work hard and dedicate yourself to what you see yourself doing for your career. Don't be afraid to try something different or stand outside of the lines.
Never underestimate the value of perfect attendance. Having a professor recognize you in class, even if not by name, will be returned back to you at the end of the year. When you need help on a final paper or on how to review for the final, that recognition will let the professor know that you have done everything you could in their class.
Go outside of your comfort zone and really experience what this university has to offer. Go to the Capitol and participate in a rally that speaks to your passion. Listen to speakers who have different views than you do. Don't be afraid to try something new and to change your mind. College is the most amazing experience. It is the ultimate indulgence for those who thirst for more knowledge or want to quell their curiosity. Enjoy 6th Street and all the unique bars and restaurants Austin has to offer. This city is amazing. It became my home within hours of my college experience.
Get involved in at least one organization and dedicate yourself to it. You will make friends, memories, and gain valuable experience that you can take with you when you leave college. I am prepared to leave, but I hate to go.
Take required classes outside of your major series until your second or third semester. This way you don't waste your time if you decide to change majors later on.
Take time to give back to the university. Whether it be through an organization or club, or through volunteering at a UT event. When the time comes, share your story with incoming freshmen and their families. Always remember the first time you stepped on the campus and thought "How can people not get lost here?" Remember that, and laugh when you realize that it's really not that hard. Take that memory when you approach future Longhorns when you are helping them bridge the gap between the past and their future. Be an ambassador to your university, your college and your clubs. Stand proud as a Longhorn.
Step outside of your comfort zone. I believe that is the single most important thing a new student can do. Even if it is a small step, the people you will encounter from this leap of faith will change you in a very positive way. You can do this by joining a student organization that sounds intriguing, by going to campus-wide and departmental events and meeting fellow students, and by exploring the amazing city of Austin. Leaving the familiar and traveling into the unknown just a little bit will enhance your college experience exponentially.
Don't stress out. If you embrace the college experience instead of "spazzing out" about your post-college plans, you'll find you get more out of your time here. College is a time to get serious about your career plans but also a time of exploration and personal growth. And, trust me, the time flies - so enjoy it!
Put every ounce of energy you have into your education, and not just your classes. Make the friends, try things you never dreamed you could do (belly dancing, anyone?), and soak in every bit of knowledge possible. Never be afraid to say "I want to do that" to something exciting or "I want to work with you" to someone you admire. Wherever you may be, be everything you are.
Get involved! The university is only big if you let it be big, but if you begin exploring ways to get involved, you will be amazed at how small the university community becomes. One of the best ways to get involved is to begin as a freshman in your college council, because older undergraduates who are involved have the ability to open your eyes to many, many things. Go to more sporting events than just football. There are so many talented athletes at UT, you really feel a sense of pride watching them compete. On that note, join a spirit group. There are spirit groups for almost every sport. Take advantage of being in the amazing location of Austin. There are so many ways to get internships in the summers, both part or full time, paid or unpaid. You can begin building your resume early, and who knows, you may get addicted to a certain field as I did (state politics) and it will lead you to an amazing graduate program like I found in the UT School of Law.
Get involved, get involved, get involved! Grades are extremely important but it is too often that students come to college and get so caught up in their GPA that they forget the experience is one of the most important parts of your education. Don't reach your senior year having never been to a Gone to Texas or a Hex Rally or Gregory Gym. Texas is a wonderful institution because not only is it academically one of the top public universities in the country, but it also is consistently nationally ranked in several varsity sports and organizations. How many other schools can offer top-ranked football, tennis and speech team? There is so much more to offer than just academia and it truly changes your college experience!
Never give up on what you want to do. When the experience becomes difficult, dig in and figure out what difficulty you are facing, then find ways to alleviate the problem, but never give up. The learning that takes place from going through and facing that difficulty is invaluable.
Be a sponge and absorb everything that the school has to offer! My experiences at UT have been really incredible and I know I will always cherish these moments. Also, having the chance to develop and maintain a supportive network of colleagues that share similar goals and desires is very encouraging, especially following graduation.
Go see a play, hear a lecture, or meet someone you never thought you would see. Keep abreast of what is happening. Make the most of your college experience. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Always ask for help in whatever you may need and don't forget to thank people for thier help.
Get to know this university. It has more to offer than you would ever think plausible. With over 1,000 organizations, you are sure to find one that fits your interests and personality. If not, start one. Get to know your roommates, friends of friends and people down the hall. Each is different and knows something that you probably don't. Sit next to new people in class. Go to office hours for homework help and to chat it up with a professor. Do service. Go to sports events. Show your pride. Stay healthy - eat right, go to the gym, sleep. Use UT's website to find what you need (doctor services, peer advisers, cheap massages, classes you want to take, mental health counseling, stress relief, homework help, study sessions, etc.). Join a FIG. Listen to your Orientation Adviser at orientation. They know a lot. Be a part of unique days on campus - Explore UT, Forty Acres Fest, Splash Bash. Study Abroad. Ask for help when you need it. Take those free shirts, and enjoy free food! Work hard, play hard. Define what it means to be a Longhorn.
When I left Ecuador my grandfather told me to dream big, follow my heart and never stop. I followed his advice, paid my way through college and choose a career path that is incredibly fulfilling, exciting and challenging. I would tell new Longhorns the same thing, especially as they are picking their major.
Meet lots of people and try to balance your life well to make sure you don't ignore any side of your development.
Relax, you have just enough freedom, yet a great support system here to fall back on. Don't let little things stress you out. Your life won't be over if you make a C on a test. Learn to keep things in perspective. The main goal is to get to where I am now, and that's graduation!
Don't sweat the small stuff. Your first B will not end your career. Make an effort to make new friends and to get involved in campus. Go to events, sporting and otherwise. Explore Austin. Wear burnt orange. Oh, and hook 'em.
Experience Austin! This city has so much to offer and is diverse enough where everybody can find something that interests them. The toughest thing for me in getting a job is definitely the fact that I have to leave Austin. Hopefully, my career will bring me back in the future.
Take advantage of the wealth of resources at your fingertips. The University of Texas is a renowned institution attracting a number of distinguished speakers and traveling events. Don't stick to your departmental bubble! Get on the list servs for UT events and read the On Campus Calendar frequently. I found out about some of the most interesting and memorable events happening at UT this way. Browse through the course schedule and register for a random class based on your side interests. As students, our number one obligation is to learn - how lucky!
Don't just go through the motions, think about what you're learning and ask questions. You'll get so much more out of this experience!
Find your support system. Your support system will help you through any moments of self doubt you may have. They will help you consider you options and help you make a plan. They will remind you that you can succeed. Always give yourself the option to quit, but never give up.
Think about why you're here. I don't mean: Study hard and focus on school, cause that's why you're here. I mean, Consider who you are and who you want to be, not what you want to do as a career. College is not supposed to be a career training program. It is supposed to foster your growth as a human being, a being of intellect. College shouldn't be the next step in your pre-determined life path, it should be an oasis along the way. Don't pass it up, stop and take a drink. Eat a coconut. A coconut of knowledge.
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