A Student Perspective on The University of Texas at Austin

Michael earned his bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from The University of Texas at Austin in 2016. He specializes in chemistry tutoring, math tutoring, science tutoring, and more. Continue reading for his review of The University of Texas at Austin:

Describe the campus setting and transportation options.

Michael: UT Austin is located right next to downtown Austin, Texas. The city is decently large and can be tough to navigate, but it is very safe and there are several buses the city and the university offer. Students can use either a bus to go directly to campus, or to West Campus and North Campus where the majority of returning students choose to live. A lot of students use bikes to get around campus, but I recommend a car if one wants to see the rest of Austin.  

How available are the professors, academic advisers, and teaching assistants?

Michael: I would say TAs are your best bet for getting one-on-one help at UT Austin. TAs I’ve had are extremely patient with their students and encourage open discussion. Most of the professors that teach introductory classes at UT are tenured, meaning their main priorities include research and teaching their designated courses. The one-hour a week they hold office hours are often flooded with 30 plus students asking the same questions over and over again. Academic advisers are invaluable when registering for classes each semester, but are also responsible for hundreds of students. This is not their fault, it’s just one of the few costs of attending a huge university.

How would you describe the dorm life—rooms, dining options, location, socialization opportunities with other students?

Michael: Dorm life is perfect for your first year of college. Rooms can be subpar, but you are within minutes walking distance of your classes. Hanging out with people on my floor really helped me to release stress about upcoming exams. We went bowling in the Union underground, got meals together, and of course had our 2 am conversations about random stuff. The food could be better, but no one has time to make their own meals while trying to juggle school and living your own for the first time in your life.

Which majors/programs are best represented and supported?

Michael: There is not really one major or program that continuously makes headlines for UT, but I would have to say that engineering and the sciences receive the most attention. I was a biochemistry major because I am one of those nerds that loves to eat, breathe, and live chemistry. The chemistry of the body systems has continued to fascinate me with every course I have taken. I’m very excited about the biochemistry that I will hopefully learn in medicine one day.

How easy or difficult was it for you to meet people and make friends as a freshman? Does Greek life play a significant role in the campus social life?

Michael: Meeting new people as a freshman can be intimidating, but joining an organization or club can make your first year college one to remember. I joined a fraternity and a pre-health organization my first year and have two sets of friend groups that have helped me to explore the university. About 1 in 5 students participate in Greek life, but it is by no means the only way to make friends. A good place to start is to make friends in your classes and go from there.

How helpful is the Career Center and other student support services?

Michael: The Career Center is very helpful during your third and fourth years of college. I’ve used the Undergraduate Writing Center all six semesters of my college experience. Career fairs, mock interviews, and essay reviews are just a few of the services the Career Center offers at UT Austin. My only advice is to book appointments well in advance.

How are the various study areas such as libraries, the student union, and dorm lounges? Are they over-crowded, easily available, spacious?

Michael: Except for finals, the libraries, student unions, and academic centers are open until 10 or 11 pm at night and are very spacious. You can always find a place to study on campus, whether by yourself or in study groups. Every building on campus has free Wifi and multiple plugs, which is crucial because your laptop is your most precious resource as a college student.

Describe the surrounding town.

Michael: Austin is a college town for a reason. It hosts several music festivals including Austin City Limits and South by Southwest. It has football games in the fall and baseball games in the spring. It has some of the best food in the south, including arguably the best barbecue in the country. It has ideal weather year-round. Downtown streets are crowded with students Thursday through Saturday nights.

How big or small is the student body? Were you generally pleased or displeased with the typical class sizes?

Michael: UT Austin’s undergraduate student body amasses to a total of 50,000 people. That’s a lot, but over time you get used to it. Class size can be as big as 500 people freshmen year, but slim down to about 50-100 students by your third and fourth years at the university.

Describe one memorable experience with a professor and/or class. Perhaps one you loved the most or one you regret the most.

Michael: One semester, I took a class called “Chemical and Synthetic Biology.” My professor was a genius and eccentric, to say the least. After the first lecture, half of the class dropped because they read and trashed the syllabus after they saw there were eight exams for his course. I said, “play ball!” I stuck it out and it turned out to be an awesome class. I even failed three exams and pulled out an A in the course. The take-home message is this: you have to work hard for your grades in college. Taking this class exemplifies that intelligence coupled with ambition breeds success. Yet, intelligence without ambition won’t get you that far.


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The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.