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9 May 2006

Top Five Reasons to Choose UT

The purpose of this entry is not an exposition informing you how to keep sane during the last month of school (just stay away from sharp objects or tall buildings), or the last ditch effort to getting into the dream college of your choice (not getting into that Ivy League school doesn’t mean you’re inadequate). This entry will attempt to persuade, and at times it may seem like shameless promotion for The University of Texas at Austin. What starts here changes the world. This entry is a compilation of subjective feelings and objective truths, a list of top five reasons why I have fallen in love with Austin and the university, why orange blood runs through my veins and why my firstborn son might even be named Bevo.

5. Texas Sports

I could make this explanation short and sweet and use words like VINCE YOUNG, ROSE BOWL or BASEBALL NATIONAL CHAMPIONS as concise reasons why Longhorn Sports is one of the top five reasons to go to UT, but despite the success and accolades accumulated by our sports teams, without the fans and the spirit of Texas pride that permeates the school and surrounding Austin community, it would mean nothing. The spirit of Texas football or sports in general is in the orange and white paint painted on the faces and bodies of excited fans. It is in the tailgates before the football games, with fans enduring the grueling Texas heat with smiles on their faces waiting in anticipation for the upcoming game. It is in the random chants of “Texas Fight” or outbreaks of the school song “The Eyes of Texas.” It is in the roar of approval after the post-touchdown firing of Smokey the Cannon. School spirit is hard to hide at UT and in many ways defines your experience as a Longhorn.

4. Austin, Texas

What better college town is there than the “Live Music Capital of the World.” I’ll admit I didn’t come to UT expecting to fall in love with the city of Austin as much as I have. In fact, it was pretty much love at first sight. With the university embedded in the heart of the Austin, you can’t help but feel connected to the city. Home to the annual ACL (Austin City Limits) and SXSW (South by Southwest) festivals, Austin offers a plethora of choices for music and film junkies. And despite the random bouts of torrential rain or freak thunder storms, the weather on most occasions is amazingly serene. Coming to Austin, you are filled with a sense of the bohemian life style, and in many ways Austin has its own distinct personality, a personality that thrives on the youth, individuality and artistic expression of its citizens.

3. Campus Life

Ranked the fifth-largest single campus university by enrollment, the UT campus is a massive sprawl of about 350 acres, reaffirming the old adage that everything is bigger in Texas. (Sometimes just walking across campus is an adventure.) This campus has, in many ways, become my second home. Home to more than 900 student organizations, the campus offers a place for every student. Many times I have been awestruck by the diversity of students on campus. Whether it’s a pep rally for an upcoming football game or students rallying for you to “drop your blues” during No Pants Day, there is never a dull moment on campus.

2. Academics

UT is often referred to as the “Public Ivy.” In 2004, the Times Higher Education Supplement ranked the university 15th out of the top 200 universities globally and U.S. News and World Report consistently ranks Texas the best public university of its kind. Furthermore, the McCombs School of Business ranks second overall among public universities and fifth among the nation and is the only school to have every undergraduate business program ranked in the top 10. With the shameless self-promotion aside, I can honestly say that UT lives up to the statistics. There is not a day where I’m not academically challenged, forced to think outside and beyond the box of conformity, to shape and form my own ideas. The campus offers an environment of intellectual freedom, giving students the opportunity to cultivate intellectualism and individualism in our rich marketplace of ideas.

1. People

I don’t think my experience at UT would be as meaningful if it weren’t for the people whom I’ve met and the close friendships I’ve made. Every moment of my time at UT has been shaped by the people who surround me. At times I find myself filled with a sense of incredulousness of the caliber of the people who surround me. This campus attracts so many bright minds that you can’t help but feel excited by the prospect of being part of such a talented pool of students. The memories that will stay with me are the memories I have of my friends. I’ll always remember after a long day and on the verge of starvation following Daniel and Diego (or “D-and-D” as they insist on calling themselves) after the clarion call of “Let’s go to Pho!” followed by the obligatory comment, “Pho that!” (Pho, by the way, is a small restaurant famous among UT students for its Vietnamese cuisine.) I’ll never forget rolling around on the floor dying of laughter with Ruby and Pam, laughing about absolutely nothing, on the verge of going crazy after a long day studying for finals, or Amanda screaming in my ear while watching the movie “The Amityville Horror.” Small moments like these with my friends will always define my first year at UT.

In closing, I’d like to comment that I’ve enjoyed being a part of this project and would like to thank the team behind the Student Journals for the opportunity. I also appreciate all the e-mails of encouragement, and I encourage readers to e-mail me at emmanuel.winston@gmail.com if you have any questions about UT or just comments in general. To any incoming UT freshman, I look forward to seeing you on campus next year.

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