University of Texas at Austin
BackgroundInterview Date:March 2019
Gender Identity: Female
Graduation Year: 2022
Sexual Orientation: Straight
High School Experience: Public school in Carrollton, Texas with a graduating class of about 850 students. There was a culture of going to college.
First Generation College Student: No
Extracurricular Activities: I’m in a literacy club called SEAL where we read to children at elementary schools. I’m in MSA, which is an aspiring Muslim Student Association where I meet people with the same religion as me. I’m also in a Business Healthcare Association.
Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience? In what ways?
It was my first semester doing SEAL, and yesterday was my first time with the kids. I already love it. I didn’t know what to expect, but knowing their conditions made me grateful to be at a big university.
Is there anything that you feel UT does especially well or poorly academically?
UT gives people a lot of resources. The library is 24 hours, and a lot of people study in the student activity center. There’s a tutoring center in the building I live in, so older students will tutor people who are struggling. One of the flaws that UT might have is some of the professors have hard introductory courses. I don’t think this should be the case while I’m trying to complete a course not for my major.
What has been your favorite class at UT?
My favorite class so far was called Disability in the Media. I’m planning to go into advertising and marketing, so it was a different perspective seeing disabled and underrepresented people in Austin. You see how the environment affects people with disabilities, not the other way around.
What has been your least favorite class at UT?
My least favorite class is Calculus.
How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
It’s competitive. I’m already seeing people try to finesse their way into the system. There are highs and lows of having such big classes. It helps because you just go to lectures and you’re done. I’ve had smaller classes where everyone is more collaborative. For major-specific classes, I do prefer a smaller size because everyone gets to know each other and we do more group stuff compared to a bigger classroom. [33% of classes have 40 or more students in them, and 28% of classes have between 10-19 students.]
How accessible have your professors been?
Most of them have good office hours. They usually have TAs as well, so you can reach them if you can’t reach a certain professor. The TAs are usually more helpful than the professor, and they give you advice on how to study for exams. If you have questions about the homework, the TAs are good people to go to.
How helpful have you found the TAs to be?
They’re mostly helpful. They are students themselves, so they know what we’re struggling with. Usually their office hours are flexible. If you ever need to meet with them you can set up an appointment. They’ll give you more in-depth information that the professor didn’t cover.
How was transitioning academically to UT? Are there systems in place that help you transition?
UT has a system where everyone in a specific introductory class has meetings once a week. Because it was a big class, you have to find people you know in the class. I think UT does an amazing job making the campus feel smaller by making you get to know people in these classes. The meetings are run by students, and an advisor comes. We wouldn’t always do academic stuff. Sometimes they’d tell us good spots to study.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Jester West with one roommate.
How was transitioning from Carrollton to Austin, Texas?
It’s not as bad compared to some of my friends who are from out-of-town. Carrollton is big, so I’m used to going to school with so many people. Coming here was the same style, but it’s more so in the city where you can walk everywhere.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on campus?
We get weekly texts on safety stuff. The other week someone had robbed the Target on our street. The police department does a good job of informing people. Late at night we have a shared program where you can call for a ride if you feel unsafe. From 11 PM until 3 AM your Lyft is free, so you don’t have to walk at night.
Pros and cons of being located in Austin, Texas?
1) Because Austin is a big city, there are lots of opportunities for internships. Major companies come to us because they know UT as a prestigious university. [Austin has a population of about 950,000.]
2) There are lots of things to do in Austin. It’s close by, so if you want to go hiking or see the city parks you can.
3) There’s a bus station, and it’s usually free for UT students.
1) The party life. A lot of people go to 6th Street on Fridays. It’s good to go, but it can be a distraction from your schoolwork and maintaining that balance.
What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you participate in?
I’ll go out with friends to frat parties, we’ll go for dinner, or we’ll chill inside. There are a lot of good food places in Austin. There are lots of activities in the dorm I live in, like movie nights. There is also an underground roller rink and bowling alley which is fun to do on the weekends.
What are your favorite events or activities?
A lot of organizations have food nights. One of the frat parties hosted pancake night. We’ve gone bowling, to movie nights, and a lot of Indian Associations will host dance competitions. Lately, I’m haven’t been a big partier. I went overboard the first semester, so this semester I’m trying to find things that don’t pertain to partying as much because my grades fell off.
How happy are you with the nightlife at UT? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I’m pretty happy with the activities. There’s a wide range of activities for everyone. There’s a bunch of dancing, singing, and sports events going on. During football season the games are a lot of fun to go to.
How did you meet your closest friends?
In Calculus, because we were all struggling. Orientation was big for making friends as well. Also, my roommates. I didn’t know them beforehand, but we met on Facebook and now we’re all close.
How would you describe the overall social scene at UT?
I think there’s a wide variety of people here, and everyone embraces diversity. There’s an organization for everyone, so you’ll always find your people whether it’s Greek life or an organization like the Indian or Filipino Association. I think UT does a good job because all the clubs advertise on our main street called Speedway. You’ll find something, and it’s good to try new things, especially if you don’t know what you like.
To what extent do people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
They mix well, and I’ve seen diverse friend groups. I haven’t personally seen any discrimination or exclusion based on sexual orientation or race. If you go to the library, you’ll see everyone talking to each other. I think everyone is welcoming to different races, especially in clubs. One time I went to an orientation meeting for a Spirit Group, and even though it was a girl’s Spirit group, they accept you as long as you identified as a girl. [The student body is 41% White, 21% Hispanic, 19% Asian, and 4% Black.]
How accepted do you feel as a Muslim student in Austin, and on campus?
I feel really accepted. I don’t think people discriminate or care about my race. They care more about the person I am than where I came from. MSA was good for me to meet other Muslim students. In my classrooms, I’ve felt more included because I knew people, so I felt more accepted for my race and religion.
How would you describe the South Asian or Middle Eastern community on campus? How strong is it?
There’s a lot of South Asian clubs on campus. There are different sororities and clubs, so if you like dancing, singing, or even acapella, there’s a group for that. It’s cool because they usually aren’t as representative, so being a Muslim student I can see how UT tries to include everyone. There is the Muslim Student Association (MSA), and sometimes I’ll go to the meetings to meet new people. Overall there’s a big representation here.
How do you like the size of the University of Texas? How has it influenced your experience? [UT has 40,804 undergraduate students.]
There are a lot of students here, and being from a bigger high school, it’s not as different for me. I didn’t know everyone in my graduating class in high school. I think it’s cool to see new people all the time. When you go to parties or clubs, you never meet the same people, so it’s cool to see different perspectives and opinions on campus. I think you need to meet so many people to understand what you like in a person.
What have you used the career office for? How helpful have they been?
I know a lot of students come into UT singed up as undeclared. It’s kind of a short cut to get into UT in a way because it’s easier to get admitted when you don’t know what you want. I kind of wanted to do business, so when I saw my career counselor she helped me figure out my options. If you’re undeclared, there are lots of career path options to give you more than one route. There are options for everyone.
Have you learned any computer programs or computer languages that will be helpful professionally?
I’m in an Advertising Statistics class right now where a lot of our assignments are on SPSS.
Have you used financial aid? If so, accommodating was the office to your needs?
I have a Texas For Tomorrow Fund. When I was submitting my form, it was easy for the financial aid office to receive it. They responded to my email and it was easy to apply it to my tuition.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about UT before you entered as a freshman?
How hard UT is, even the introductory courses. Everyone thinks it’s so fun, and it is, but on the other hand, it is school, and I’m here to learn. I would take advantage of the AP classes in high school, or community college classes during the summer. I wish I took more of them.
What is something a prospective South Asian or Muslim student may want to know that we haven’t touched on yet?
People are welcomed here. Even if you don’t think there are Muslims here, you might not be finding the right people to hang out with. There are multiple clubs for different diversities, and it’s important to find the people you mesh with. Especially during the first two weeks of school, you should go out and try new things. Go to the organization fair, different meetings, and get to know people.
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
Walking around campus. Go to North campus and visit the Turtle Pond. The Architecture, Communications an Engineering buildings are pretty. Lots of people don’t take it in as often as they should.
Reasons to attend University of Texas:
1) To experience a big school in a city. [UT has 40,804 undergraduate students.]
2) The diversity and the school spirit. Everyone always wears orange and feels incorporated into the big school spirit.
Reasons to not attend University of Texas:
1) If you don’t like having big classrooms. [33% of classes have 40 or more students in them, and 28% of classes have between 10-19 students.]
2) It can get a little expensive, especially with tuition, room and board, parking, and other clubs. [The total cost of attendance for a Texas resident is about $28,000, while the non-resident cost is about $55,000.]