High School Advice: Summer Program at University of Texas, Austin

August 19, 2015

Photo by Kumar Appaiah via Flickr

College often seems to be a vague, looming entity on the horizon of our high school years, but many kids have little idea what attending college is actually like. Even though college thoughts may be on your mind or the topic of discussion at the dinner table pretty often, big questions from, “What does living on campus entail?” to, “How much work is there?” may long go unanswered. As Jeremy, a rising senior from New York, found out through his experience at the University of Texas at Austin last summer, spending time at a pre-college program can be extremely beneficial to helping shed light on some of these topics and getting a first hand look into what the college-life is all about.

Admittedly, it was a little strange at first to be living surrounded by only kids my age and not having anyone to tell me to get ready for school, brush my teeth, or do my homework—but everyone quickly adjusted to and made the most out of their newfound freedom. If someone was concerned or confused about anything from doing laundry to eating in the dorms, another student or a faculty member was always happy to assist. I went to Austin with a friend from home, which made meeting new people easy; anyone one of us met we would introduce to the other. And there were tons of new people to meet. Although I am shy by nature, making new friends was as easy as 1, 2, 3: One: say, “Hi, I’m (name)!” Two: say “Can you believe how hot it is!?” (There is no step three.) What is amazing about the college setup is that you meet new people from all over the country and the world, living right across the hall from you. In spite of them being from different places, you can always find something in common to talk about: sports, food, classes, guys or girls. Everyone had a positive, welcoming attitude no matter their age, personality, or nationality (unless their team was losing during the World Cup).

During my three weeks at Austin, I studied two programs, one in Sports Management and one in Philosophy, which I found to be really interesting and informative. In terms of workload, they were not overwhelming at all, in part, because I was interested in the courses and therefore I was motivated to do the assignments. The classes, taught by UT professors, were unlike high school classes in that they emphasized group discussion, long term projects, and application of material, and shied away from tests, memorizing information (such as vocabulary words), and busy work. In terms of assignments, just like in high school, it was definitely manageable as long as you paced yourself. Some kids found out the hard way that the work should be done smoothly, like running a marathon, not like a frantic sprint to the finish line!

Image by Earl McGehee via Flickr

One of the best things about the program was the free time. From 3-12 p.m. on weekdays and all weekends you could do whatever your heart desired. This gave people the free time to go swimming, watch movies in the theater, play sports in the rec center, or just hang out in the dorms or on campus. No matter what you were in the mood to do, there were always fun things happening with people who always wanted you to join in. A great thing about the UT campus was the campus life. Austin’s campus is part of the city of Austin, so there were tons of great places just a few blocks from the dorms to eat, including specialty food trucks that Austin is known for, tons of stores to shop in, for clothes, Longhorns gear, cowboy boots, and unique sights and people that could only serve to, as the city’s slogan says, “Keep Austin weird!”

I had an amazing time at UT and got an awesome snapshot of the college life firsthand, from eating in dorms, to getting work done, to relaxing with newfound friends. I highly recommend anyone who wants to learn a lot about college to find a pre-college program that suits you!

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UT Austin ‘18

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