University of Texas at Austin
BackgroundInterview Date:December 2018
Gender Identity: Male
Graduation Year: 2020
Sexual Orientation: Straight
High School Experience: Charter school in Irving, Texas with a graduating class of about 120 students. There was a culture of going to college.
First Generation College Student: No
Major: Exercise Science – In the College of Education. Is on the pre-med track.
Extracurricular Activities: Intramural sports, I’m in the Kinesiology Club, Texas Business Health Association, and am working a part-time job in the medical field.
Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience? In what ways?
My part-time job because it’s in the medical field. I’m pre-med, so being around this industry has helped me confirm this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.
Can you describe your weekly coursework for Exercise Science?
The Exercise Science curriculum has a lot of labs. We have two lectures a week, then either a lab or discussion on the third day. The graded assignments range from 3 exams to lab reports. The problem sets are just suggested homework.
Is there anything that you feel the Exercise Science department does especially well or poorly?
They connect you to a lot of people and update you weekly regarding job opportunities available. They hold lots of career fairs and networking opportunities. The curriculum could be taught in a more interesting way because there are multiple ways to approach exercise science. They are not as hands-on in the labs, so I feel the scientific theory we are learning is not being applied in a practical environment as much as it should be.
How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
It’s a good mix of both. It’s competitive in the sense that your classmates will push you to be better. It’s collaborative because your TA’s are there to help you out no matter what. Depending on the teacher, they are pretty open to helping you out. The students working collaboratively and pushing each other to be better makes for a nice healthy mix. It’s not a cutthroat environment by any means. We want everyone to do well and earn their piece of the pie.
How accessible have your professors been?
Pretty accessible. I haven’t had a problem accessing them whenever I needed to.
Why did you choose Exercise Science? And are you happy with your choice?
I’m content. I picked it because I wanted to do something health related. Nothing that was Biology or Chemistry, but something more applicable to the human body. Exercise Science was a major I came across that I enjoyed. If I had to do it again, I would major in Athletic Training because I’m a more hands-on type of guy. I would have been able to apply to medical school with this major, but I would’ve had a larger course load. I would also have less time to study for the MCAT.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Dobie apartment in a single
Sophomore: Off-campus with 2 roommates
Junior: Off-campus with 2 roommates
How was transitioning from Irving to Austin, Texas?
Nothing was really different. Irving is only a 20-minute drive from Dallas so I was always close to a city.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on campus?
It’s pretty good. You get an occasional email when something happens, either on West campus or the Greek life area because of parties. The only thing that has come up in my time has been a stabbing my freshman year. This occurred on campus, and they shut the school down the next day. The university also provides services to walk you back [to your residence.]
Pros and cons of being located in Austin, Texas?
1) The food is great and there is a wide variety. There are lots of fusion options.
2) It’s a free-spirited community, in the sense that there is a mixture of people in the diverse community. There is a lot of culture, and there is a melting pot of personalities in the city.
3) I wasn’t a nature person coming in, but once you get here you appreciate what you’re a part of, and what Austin has to offer.
1) I’m from Dallas, so it’s a drive away from my family. I can get there, but it just takes a while.
What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you participate in?
There is a fair amount of Greek life around the campus, but it depends on the weekend. Usually 6th Street is the spot to go to if you’re 21. If you don’t want to party at all, there are a lot of restaurant options to go to. My top three are going out to eat, going to 6th Street, or during the day on the weekend, I’ll go hike around Greenbelt or another nature area. There is a Hispanic bar that Is 18+, along with other ones in the area.
What nights of the week do you regularly do things?
Friday and Saturday.
What’s an alternative to going to a party or a bar that you like for a night out?
Sometimes I go to the outlet mall. There are regular things you might find in a town like nice restaurants and a movie theatre. You could do something in nature, or go to the pool and enjoy the sun.
What is the impact of Greek life on nightlife?
Not too much. It depends on how you expose yourself. If you let it come into your life and affect you, I can see it being a negative. I’m not in it, and it doesn’t affect me because I don’t surround myself with it.
How happy are you with the nightlife at Texas? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I’m very happy. It provides me a lot of options. One of the reasons I came to Texas was to do something outside of my school work or the gym, and I’m happy with the options I have.
How did you meet your closest friends?
Through classes, and a program called FIG (First-Year Interest group), where you are paired with others who have similar interests. You go through freshman year with 15 people in the class and go do different things weekly with one another.
How would you describe the overall social scene at UT?
Coming to UT, I definitely felt how large of a school it was. The first week or two hits you in the face and is a shock, but from there you can make it as big or as small as you want. I keep my circle small with five or six close friends that I hang out with on a daily basis. I think I vibe better in a smaller group, which gives me an opportunity to focus on the responsibilities I have at UT. [UT has 40,804 undergraduate students.]
To what extent do people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
Pretty frequently on the weekends, in class, and on campus. One of the best ways you’ll see it is when there is a protest of some sort. During last fall semester with issues of Kavanaugh, there were people of different genders and ethnicities that came together for a common goal, which is good to see.
Do you feel more so like you’re a resident of Austin than a student at University of Texas?
I definitely feel part of Austin. I have a car which lets you access things outside of your university, making you feel part of the city as a whole. Before having my car, I felt more like a student. When I go out to the suburbs, get groceries, or am in my workplace, I get different recommendations of what to do and things to see.
Do people generally seem happy with their college choice by senior year? Do people love your school?
I think so. I think it’s hard not to because four years are built here. It’s the four years of your life you’ll never get back. I have a few friends who graduated and already miss the environment of Austin. It’s not just the school, but it’s what comes with the school.
How strong is the Vietnamese community on campus?
It’s pretty strong. There are a bunch of clubs, but I’m not a part of any. I know a couple of people that have tight bonds with the members of those groups.
Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
Definitely. That’s how I came across my current job. I contacted the medical school which led me to meet my current boss. The career fair helped me land my first internship my freshman year. The College of Education provides a lot of outlets for you to network and meet with businesses that help build your social capital.
What have you used the career office for? How helpful have they been?
I haven’t used it that much. The only person I’ve gone to is my academic counselor who has helped set me on the right path in terms of who to talk to.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
Since you’re from Texas, what is something you knew about Texas that made you want to attend?
It’s a good mixture of both education and opportunities outside the classroom. What attracted me most to UT is knowing I’d be able to enjoy myself while studying. I like to balance out my life.
What is something a prospective pre-med student may want to know that we haven’t touched on yet?
I did IB in high school and had an English and History class that didn’t transfer, so I wish I knew to focus on my AP classes more. As a pre-med student, you should be aware of what classes get accepted and what classes don’t. It’s not just the classroom aspect, but it’s about networking with the medical school. There are doctors and people that want to help out with the community, which I don’t think a lot of places have.
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
Come to an ACL weekend. It’s a music festival where you’ll see UT students, grown adults, and families. The whole city comes out to Zilker Park, which is basically the Central Park of Austin. It’s a great music festival with lots of variety including indie rock, rap, and country. It has something for everybody.
Reasons to attend University of Texas:
1) If you’re from Texas you know Austin was centrally located, so no matter what part of Texas you are from you’ll be close enough to home, but far enough that you won’t have to see your parents on a daily basis. This gives you independence, but you can go home on the weekends if you need to.
2) For a public university, it’s one of the best ones out there. You’re going to get the most out of your academic endeavors if you come to UT. They will push you and help you become the best student. [University of Texas was ranked as the #12 U.S. public college in 2018.]
3) The environment of Austin. There is no other environment in Texas and very few like it around the United States. It’s openly diverse with lots of variability in terms of what goes on during the weekend.
Reasons to not attend University of Texas:
1) Being a state school, some of the academic advisors or teachers don’t have a lot of freedom. It was hard for them to allow me to shadow and explore different options because it’s a state-run program. If you want more freedom in your choices or studies, you probably want to go somewhere else.
2) The classroom sizes are pretty big. [33% of classes have 40 or more students in them, and 28% of classes have between 10-19 students.]
3) The city can feel very big. You feel like there are lots of things in the community that you can’t touch in your four years, so if you are someone who wants to know what you’ll get out of the four years or every day, then Austin isn’t the place for you. It’s consistently changing and is a constant flow of different personalities. It’s similar to New York but doesn’t stay up all night like New York does.