Friday, April 26, 2013

Advice to Freshmen: Get to Know Your Profs

By Alexandra Noll

One of the biggest mistakes I see my fellow freshmen making is not getting to know their professors. Most professors want to get to know their students, but they won’t seek you out. They post their office hours and expect students to come to them.

Last semester, I made an effort to go to each of my professors’ office hours and talk to them about the course. Not only did I gain a better understanding of what I was supposed to be learning, I connected with
each one.Now they know my name, and are interested in my continued progress at UT Dallas.

I took Criminology 1307 with Dr. Denise Boots, a class I highly recommend, and because I had the
courage to go and talk to her, I’ve been working with her on a research project this semester.

Most of the professors are friendly, and very willing to help you out. They want you to succeed, and will answer questions or offer suggestions. I would recommend going to each of your professors’ office hours at least once during the semester, and introducing yourself after class during the first week. Do this and you’ll be sure to succeed during your freshman year!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Boomer Sooner to WHOOSH

By Poonum Desai, Guest Blogger

Choosing a college is never easy. It’s the first real chapter in life where you’re pretty much alone. That really hit me when four days before the end of April of my senior year, my dad just popped the question, “So, have you decided what college you’re going to?” It was like he had asked me “So have you figured out your life yet?”

I actually really wanted my parents to make the decision for me. I didn’t know what to look for in a school. I just knew I wanted to go somewhere with a good study abroad program, a good business school, and football.  Yes, you read right, football. I’m a born and raised Texan, I gotta have my seasonal dose of college football.  

The night before May 1, I was sitting at the kitchen table looking at my two options: OU and UT Dallas, and I decided to choose OU. Many people have asked me, “Was getting away from home a reason you went there?” I’m not saying it was a giant contributing factor, but if you have the option of getting away from your parents who still think midnight is the time when 22-year-olds go to sleep so you need to be asleep by 11 at the latest, yea, living on my own for a bit would not be the most horrid thing ever.

But as the headline suggests, I’m now a Comet. Why? First of all, I was worried about paying out-of-state tuition. I started out thinking, hey, in the end it will all pay off when I get a job at a firm I really want to work for. The reality that having a job right out of college is not a guarantee hit me mid-semester. That was a big reason I returned home.

The second reason was the social atmosphere. Let’s talk about the concept of “partying” for a second. I love to have fun. But how many shots or beer you can chug or how much of whatever substance you can smoke before you regurgitate your intestines should not determine who you are.  At OU, I felt that my thoughts on partying did not necessarily match those of a lot of the other students, which is fine; it was just an indicator to me that I needed to relocate to a school that places academics on a higher pedestal.

When I was at OU, I started to think, “How happy can I be here for four years?” The thought of staying there that long made me cringe a little, and that’s when I had the epiphany: I needed to transfer to UT Dallas.

Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of awesome things at OU. The professors were some of the coolest people I have ever met. The campus was gorgeous and even though it wasn’t their best football season, the games were still pretty awesome. 

But I felt UTD fit my personality perfectly. I love my fellow peers. As a campus, I feel we are a bit more reserved, but if I talk to you, you will talk to me back and then BAM, I just made a new friend on the elevator. The professors are so passionate about helping students that I’ve considered ditching my dream to be a talk show host to come back and teach at the university. The campus is close enough to my house so I can easily make trips home, but far enough for my mom to not come check on me. The business school (which I’m in along with EPPS) never fails to stun me. It’s almost as if there is nothing in this world that UTD students haven’t accomplished. And I’m a part of that school. 

I seriously am so excited to enter the work world now because I know I’m going to enter it as prepared as possible. And although there is no football, our intermural sports are really impressive. I really love it here. I am a proud Comet who can’t wait to blow the socks off the world. Transferring to UT Dallas was best step out of the many I have and will take to achieve everything I set my mind to.  Go Comets, WHOOSH. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Rewards of Student Mentoring

By Vinni Anadham

At UT Dallas we have wonderful student leadership programs that do work within and outside the university to help our community grow. One of them is the UTD-HBI Mentoring program with AVID students at Williams High School where UT Dallas students work with the 9th and 10th graders. This program is funded by the US Department of Justice through a nonprofit organization, the Home Builders Institute in Washington, DC. 

On our campus the EPPS School leads the program, however all current UT Dallas students are eligible to join. The program’s goal is for current college students to motivate high school students to attend college and answer any questions that they might have about college life. The student coaches, including myself, spend a couple hours with them on a Friday afternoon, once every month while enjoying a slice of pizza or two! Every meeting, there is always a new surprise waiting for us, whether it’s a game, project, or trip!!  

I joined in October of last semester and attended my first event in November when we all went over to Williams High School for a Scavenger Hunt. All of the mentors were divided up with our own set of 5-6 students to find random items around the school. It was my first time there, and I had expected it would take time for the students to get to know me. But the minute I met my group, we clicked and were laughing at jokes as if we’ve known each other for years. I was amazed to see how welcoming the high school students were to a complete stranger.

Obviously being a student mentor requires a lot of responsibility, because despite professors, teachers, and other adults present there, you are in charge of your group and they don’t always want to do what’s asked of them. So it’s necessary for you to make sure they are all there, and staying on task. Younger students will more likely listen to older students rather than the adults. They look up to older students as role models, so even though it’s fun to chat with them, we have to remember to set good examples for them so that the world is a much happier place for everyone.

Since I’ve joined we have done a variety of things such as learning how to knit,  organizing a mini demo of college life on campus, and even a Christmas celebration. Currently we’re getting ready for our big end of the year event, and along with that we will donate some "get well" items to children who are hospitalized with cancer and long term illnesses.

I enjoy being with the students not only because they remind me of the fun high school years, but also because they are so much fun to hang out with.  Unfortunately we only get to meet them once a month, but I have to say that I’m always looking forward to our Fridays together!! 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

In Defense of the Dining Hall

By Blake Eaton

I hear a lot of talk about the Dining Hall at UT Dallas. By itself, that’s not surprising. Eating is a pretty big part of anybody’s life—especially a college student’s—and plenty of students eat their meals at the Dining Hall. More surprising to me is the amount of criticism levied at the Dining Hall. I know I’m in the minority, but I think the food offered there is pretty good. No. I think it’s great!

There are plenty of reasons why I defend the Dining Hall, but I’ll start with a small point of criticism. While the food at the Dining Hall is almost always high quality, there are plenty of times when it isn’t there. If you aren’t there at the right time, then there will be nothing but salad and a few pieces of fruit available. As such, you need to build your schedule around the Dining Hall’s. That’s inconvenient, but not terrible.

Aside from that question of availability, I have very little bad to say about the Dining Hall. On a typical day, there’s something for everyone. Pizza is a standby, as is the salad bar and fruit. The main food options are handily split between vegetarian and non-vegetarian sections, and they change nearly every day. This can be unfortunate on the days when none of the selections look appetizing, but it’s a godsend most of the time. In college, one of the primary concerns is that food will get repetitive, and unless you restrict yourself to the basics, that won’t happen at UT Dallas’ Dining Hall.

I admit, any judgment of taste is by definition subjective, so I don’t have any concrete facts to support this, but I think the food at the Dining Hall is generally quite good. In fact, the worst I can say is that sometimes it’s only decent. I’ve heard the food described as “hit-or-miss” by some, but even they admit that a “miss” doesn’t mean the food is horrible. On most days, it’s just decent. There’s nothing special, but it isn’t unpleasant to eat. On good days, though, the food is nothing short of delicious. On those days, everything goes well and all is right in the world.

You could probably get all kinds of reviews of the Dining Hall, and a lot of people would find more to complain about than to praise. I, for one, am a fan of the Dining Hall’s food.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Come One, Come All to Mock Trial

By Alexandra Noll

Mock Trial at UT Dallas is a growing program, and I highly encourage anyone who is even thinking they might be interested in practicing law to come check us out.  We meet Wednesdays in Green Center 1.208B (CV Classroom) from 7 to 10 p.m.  In the fall, we had three teams, and we attended practice tournaments to gain experience and test arguments.  This year, we went to St. Louis, Colorado Springs, Houston, and Ada, Ohio. 

In the spring, we condensed to two teams, A & B, and UT Dallas actually hosted the Regional Competition.  The A Team, which I was fortunate enough to place on, took 6th place and advanced to Superregionals in Memphis Tennessee. 

I chose to participate because I am interested in practicing law, and mock trial seemed to be a great way to practice public speaking and learn legal concepts. However, I would recommend mock trial to anyone.  We have theater majors, accounting majors, business majors, EPPS majors, ATEC majors, and we welcome anyone who is interested to come and participate. Even if you're not sure if law is the path you want to take, mock trial is a useful and fun activity to determine your level of interest.

We work roughly five hours a week, split between individual team meetings and meetings with all three teams.  Currently, we're working on criminal cases, which will be the case type next year.  Please come check us out!