The University of Texas Dallas
The University of Texas Dallas - Comments and Student Experiences|
Social life: yep, it's nearly zero. I made some great friends at UTD but it's mostly a gamer, numbers-nerd, very-academic focused culture. I probably fall into the numbers-nerd category.
Campus Aesthetics: Most of the buildings are newer and the JSOM building is very new. There is tons of construction going on and every semester the roads into and out of campus change direction in some way. It's not a huge deal after the first couple of days but it's a pain in the beginning. But, if you're more worried about what the buildings look like than what you're going to learn, this isn't the campus for you anyway.
Security / Police: The campus is very safe. Nerds don't generally commit violent crimes outside of the video game world. They're very thorough -- to a fault. You will get tickets. They're (mostly) unavoidable. Make sure that you pay them or settle them with the parking police folks or you will have trouble doing anything in the student services building (registering for classes, getting grades, etc.) It's important to note that there are four different "law enforcement" departments that you will have to content with from time to time: Richardson Police Department, UTD Police, Event Security, and the Parking kids. Richardson Police *WILL* give you a criminal ticket if you encounter them. The easy work around is simple: don't give them a reason to encounter you. The UTD police are, generally, pretty laid back. Unless you're being immature with alcohol, drugs, etc., they'll leave you alone. The Parking kids are exactly that. They're 18-25 year olds that have been hired by the university to ticket every infraction in sight. Don't be intimidated by them, they have no authority outside of their ticket machine. The last "department" is event security. Think: mall cop with a grudge. They're not very nice people and tend to think that they exert way more authority than they do. I encountered them several times and never was it a positive experience. One got physical with my friend while we were walking from the garage to the JSOM and immediately regretted the error in his ways. As with the parking kids, should they try to act in an inappropriate or unprofessional way, call the real police.
Homework / Exams: Exams are HARD. You will have to study for them most especially in math, accounting, or finance. The library is open 24/7 which is nice for those 3am study sessions. The study rooms at the JSOM are open 24/7 also. During finals week, you're equally likely to see a line of papa johns delivery drivers at the library as you are students waiting to get into the testing center. Many of the higher level business courses will have finals worth 50%+ of your final grade. Plan accordingly.
Students: There is a very large population of international students at UTD. By very large, I mean that, in some classes, you may be one of two or three Americans in the class. I loved it. I learned a lot about India, China, Europe, and the middle east straight from people that were from there. Though again, international students are MUCH MUCH MUCH more competitive than their American counterparts. If you're in a class that with grading on a curve, you may find yourself at the lower end if you don't study. There are nation-based cliques of every sort but if you're smart and can contribute, you'll get along with everyone.
You will have opportunities for international study -- take them.
If you are in a program with internships readily available (everyone in JSOM), take them. Do more than is required. The internships definitely help you understand the material in class much better. Do your partying in Uptown or the gayborhood. They're much more fun than the immediate area around UTD.
TL;DR the SCHOOL part is great, the college experience is no good (look below for more detail)
Scholastically, this school is great. The teachers are friendly and seem to genuinely want you to succeed, and they are very knowledgeable in their respective fields. This is especially true in the engineering and computer sciences departments, you can tell this school puts a lot of effort into keeping these two at the top of the food chain.
BUT. (This is a huge caveat) The social atmosphere here is kind of awful in my opinion, I have to be honest. If you are into nerdy things, are moderately socially awkward, and don't really go out of your way to meet new people you are just like about 80- 90% of the students at this school. And there's nothing wrong with that! I'm not shaming anybody, if that's you, that's you. You shouldn't feel bad about that. But if you're like me, who wants AT LEAST even mix of social activities and social people along with "nerdy," please listen to me, DO NOT come here. When the students and leaders at orientation come right out and say "This is kind of a nerd campus" TAKE THEM SERIOUSLY. They say it in a very lighthearted tone and atmosphere and it sounds like something someone would say to exaggerate for comedic purposes, but they are neither lying nor exaggerating. Nerdy types are the dominant portion of this school. (Again, nothing is wrong with that! But if you don't think you'd fit in this sort of atmosphere, trust your gut instincts and listen to them, because they're right.)
You might be like I was, reading reviews that say, "UT Dallas is what you make of it" and "You can find parties if you know the right people," and those things are probably true. However, making a good time of this school and finding parties and social outings here is EXPONENTIALLY MORE DIFFICULT than it will be if you attend other universities (I know this from talking to friends of mine at other colleges, and I've spoken to many, as I have reasonably wide social circle. They are all genuinely shocked when I tell them how I have to go about finding parties and traditional fun college things to do. Finding a party here is next to impossible, whereas finding parties at other schools is pretty easy. To put it into perspective I hear about more UNT and TWU functions than I do UTD functions and I go to UTD, that should tell you something. And when people visit at night or on the weekends they can't help but say "Wow, it looks so DEAD here")
What I'm trying to say is, if you're someone who wants to focus totally and completely on your studies, this is a great school, and I'd encourage anyone like that to come here! But if you don't want to look at your snapchats late at night gawking at the fun things your friends are doing at other colleges, wondering why it can't be you? PLEASE attend another school. (General advice,) do a self inventory and know yourself before you pick a school! I was drawn to this school because of a fat chunk of financial aid, and I never even knew that I'd be the type of dude who would want to be out with friends and partying! But now I know I need a true college experience, this experience is very watered down, and to be completely honest, pretty depressing. But I had to experience this to know myself better, so I don't regret it. (Okay, I do a little.) I know now that I will be looking to transfer to another university ASAP.
The reason I didn't want to give a positive or negative review is because this school can be either great or horrible depending on the type of person you are. It just so happens that it wasn't so good for me.
Last set of general tips
If you're African American like myself, join the Black Student Alliance! I promise you, that is the only way you're going to be part of a black community at this school or meet other black students.
And also, if you ever feel depressed at this school and need to get away (if you're like me, you will) hop on the dart and go to the city! It's nice to just get up and forget everything for today, the campus bus that goes to and from the dart station has saved me from many days of ennui and melancholiaPlease contact me if you have any questions (HS students with legitimate questions about anything campus life or anything I've said only please)
On the flip side, the occasional visit to administration departments for anything is a hassle and severely lacking. They really don't know what to do half the time. At one point I was trying to find someone to help me and I got thrown to different departments for 2 weeks (another student ended up sending me to the right department). Even when I got to the right department they don't seem happy to try and help.
Making appointments with people is a pain, they send you to a 3rd party site to book meetings. And sometimes they just don't receive them. You really can't pop in just to ask a quick question, they almost seem like they don't want to help students.
On top of that their website is miss-informed such as the diploma page. They say 3-4 weeks, but it's actually 7-8 weeks. And some of the other pages are just down all the time.
If you don't plan on seeing the administration departments after entering the school, you will be fine....
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