Thursday, March 21, 2013

What to Expect When You Get to College

By Trey Gamble, Guest Blogger

College is a large step in one’s life. It is the departure from the norm, from one’s family and from one’s home. I speak not only to those who live on college campuses, but even to students who commute. Regardless of your living arrangements, college is a migration away from the nest we have called home for our entire lives. The huge step is fueled not by necessity nor by happenstance; whether you are at college for a job or to learn, you are here by choice – by option. And that alone constitutes the biggest aspect of college life for me thus far: responsibility.
                I came to college living with a single mother for the past few years. I have had my fair share of responsibility to keep the house going; I would often do simple chores such as laundry or cleaning just to help out as much as I could. Obviously this pales in comparison to living alone, and I realized that much quicker than I would have expected upon moving to the residence halls at the University of Texas at Dallas. Of course I was lucky to board with two of my closest friends from high school, who are in the same boat as I am when it comes to learning how to live by oneself. It is definitely a challenge getting used to waking yourself up on time, keeping up with assignments and laundry, and even some of the more expected things (eating? honestly I forget to eat sometimes, no joke!).
                Not being reminded of your responsibilities means you have to remind yourself, and this means you have to stand on your own two feet when moving through the circus hoops that are the college experience. Occasionally I find myself overwhelmed: forms and essays circle above my head like vultures, waiting for their chance to strike at my free time. But after a complete semester at UT Dallas, I feel as though my experience here has changed me for the better. I realized that the myths about college responsibility – ignoring social life, eradicating fun, complete focus on academics – are just absurd. The UT Dallas community is full of students who are learning about personal action and responsibility just like me, and the comforting notion that I can hold out a hand for help is only possible with a group of people going through such a similar experience.
                The notion of unity also applies to students who share an academic major. I arrived at UT Dallas as an Economic Political and Policy Sciences major, specifically in the study of International Political Economy. I had the slightest idea of what I wanted to do with my life other than a desire to help people, and this alone made me doubt any progress I made in becoming an independent college student with a mind full of responsibility. How was I supposed to call myself independent and responsible when I did not even know why I was at college or what I wanted to study?
                I know many incoming freshman struggle with this problem of self-doubt, wondering if the major or courses they are taking can help them in their lives or if they are truly enjoying themselves and their studies. We have to realize that as people taking such a grand leap forward in our lives, it is okay to question whether or not something “fits” within your life. This can apply to how one lives alone, dietary habits, classes and academic majors, friends, and more. Responsibility and independence are not being able to walk into college or any part of one’s life knowing exactly how their plan is going to unfold.
                Responsibility and independence are being able to tell yourself to explore possibilities within life, teaching yourself new skills (be them living alone, or even remembering to eat!), and being content with where you are and where you might be heading.

Ways to De-Stress after Spring Break

By Saron Zekiros

My second semester of college is going well even though I just realized how stressful the next couple of weeks are going to be. So this entry is dedicated to hopefully de-stressing your busy schedules by inviting you to several exciting events that are coming up in the next few weeks.

First of all, I hope you’ll attend the Spring-A-Palooza events this week. It’s a UTD tradition, and the SUAAB is organizing it (so you'll know it will be fun). Since tradition is usually not what people associate with this school (given its age, of course) we should probably all attend when we have free time this week. Hope to see you at the events! J

Alright now to the other good stuff.....As you all know I am pursuing an International Political Economy degree, and I am the Vice Events Coordinator of IPE Student Association. We have exciting events coming up for IPESA that are informative and social and can appeal to more than just IPE students.  We have Humanitarian Day coming up Tuesday April 9 between 11:00-3:00 pm so mark your calendars! It’s an event open to all students who are wishing to learn about some global issues and how UTD students are helping and how you can help too!

We also have the Career Panel: Life After EPPS planned for Thursday, April 18 between 5:30-7:30 at the TI Auditorium in the ECS building. This is an alumni networking event brought to you by ODE, the Economics Honor Society, and IPESA. The alumni will come speak to us about their current positions in their different fields, how they got there, what advice they can give us, and best of all there is a reception afterwards (yes free food). The attire is business casual and students will have the chance to network with the alumni so save the date on your calendars!

This might interest some of you…..

For those interested in pre-law there are two free trips coming up to SMU and Baylor law schools brought to you by the Pre-Law Society so if your interested head over to FO 2.710 and sign up before the spots get filled up!

Best of luck to all those studying for exams and writing papers this week! I hope attending these events will lighten your stressful workloads. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Transition to Second Semester Can be Tough

By Gavin Roy
Transitioning from high school to college certainly isn't easy, at least not for most students. You're no longer living with your parents, which is both refreshing and intimidating. You have more freedom than you did in high school, but the coursework is tougher. Comprehension is valued over rote memorization. There's the pressure to get a job, which you may not have felt in high school. And of course, there's the decision of what major to select. However, there's also a difficult transition between the first and second semesters of freshman year, at least from the perspective of this blogger.

The first semester of freshman year is a warm up period. Students are getting acclimated to college life, making new friends and exploring different activities. Coursework usually isn't too difficult. Second semester is where things get serious. The pressures of college begin rearing their heads, and it can feel quite intimidating. There's a sensation of "sink-or-swim," catch up or you'll get left behind. Some students may not have fully adjusted to college, but everything suddenly seems more intense than it did before.

One particular challenge I've felt in transitioning between the first and second semesters of freshman year is the decision of my major, which is currently International Political Economy. A certain course has challenged my decision to stick with that major, and that is Intermediate Micro-Economics. I won't give away any details, but to say I'm struggling in Intermediate Micro would be an understatement. It's troubling when you can't keep up with a course that you're taking in just the second semester of your college career, and certainly a blow to one's self-confidence. 

I also scheduled three morning classes, having overestimated how much of a morning person I am. As such, I spend a lot of time feeling completely dazed because of my erratic sleep schedule. Balancing work with school is another frustration. Jobs and internships are important, but they're hard to manage when you're a full-time student. In fact, the biggest reason why I scheduled three morning classes is so I would have time for work in the afternoon.

Though it's been a challenging semester, it's also been a great learning experience, so here's my advice to incoming freshman. First of all, don't let one class ruin your decision about your major. If you like what you're studying, then keep pursuing it. If only one course is holding you back, get as much help as possible. Also, be careful with the morning classes. Even if you do have a job or an internship, three morning classes is pretty extreme. Don't push yourself that far if you know that you're not the type who likes getting up early. Take the safe route and go for the afternoon classes. If you have a job or an internship, remember that school still comes first. Schedule your work around school, not the other way around.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

A Walk Down Memory Lane

By Vinni Anadham

Hi everyone!! Last Saturday UT Dallas had its semi-annual Scholar’s Day, where prospective UT Dallas students and parents visit the campus and go to various sessions to learn about our University!

I still remember a year ago when I was at Scholar’s Day, and made my final decision to come to UT Dallas after walking out of a classroom where I attended a lecture given by EPPS professor Dr. Champagne on the “3 American Constitutions”. I remember it to be a life-changing experience and an unforgettable day. 

So I decided to re-live some memories by roaming around campus last week, helping others find places, and talking to them about the various things they saw. A future chemistry student said she’s so excited to come to UT Dallas that she would like to move in tomorrow!

So if you ever get the chance, whether you’re a prospective or current student, then definitely attend a Scholar’s Day which usually happens on a Saturday in November and March and discover more about UT Dallas!!   

Friday, March 1, 2013

My Work on the Innocence Project

By Blake Eaton 

This is only my second semester at UT Dallas, and already I’ve had the pleasure of taking part in the Innocence Project Workshop. While my time in the class is far from over, I am already thrilled with how much I have learned.

The premise of the class is simple. Students review case materials that have been sent to the Innocence Project by people who claim to have been wrongly convicted in order to determine whether the cases have merit. They then present their findings to the rest of the class and create a brief memo to be sent to the Innocence Project with recommendations regarding the cases.

The concept alone is impressive, to say the least. The class, run by Dr. Champagne, is at the same time labor-intensive and low-stress. We review a new case in class every week, but the fact that we are split into four groups means that each group has almost a full month to read through their materials first.

Every moment of excitement in the legal arena is surrounded with tedium, though, and this is reflected in the case files that we read. After reading upwards of 1,000 pages, I typically have a solid understanding of events, but those pages don’t pass by in a blur, and even the shortest cases take dozens of hours to read through. It’s fortunate that I entered the class with a healthy interest in the law.

I’m not unique in that respect, and that is a huge part of why the course is so memorable. Everyone in the class is engaged, excited to be there, and prepared for class every Thursday. This is hardly unique from my experience at UT Dallas, but it makes the already interesting material that much better. Disagreements are frequent, and the debates we have about individuals’ guilt or innocence are consistently challenging.

It’s really exactly what I signed up for, and I couldn’t be happier.