As juniors begin narrowing down their college lists and seniors anticipate National Decision Day on May 1, college visits are all the buzz. With the University of Texas at Dallas on my radar, I wanted to visit campus to get a better feel for the college.
That began with Scholars Day, a full-day event scheduled with a variety of informational sessions for incoming students and plenty of opportunities to meet current students. From presentations about career tracks and honors colleges to a reception with scholarship recipients, there was something for everyone.
We started off with a 30-minute campus tour, and the first thing that struck me was the sheer size of the campus. Unlike high school, there were so many places to explore, places to build lifelong friendships. The beautiful landscaping, from blooming trees to gushing water fountains, also made the place feel more like home, a welcome change from my indoor high school campus.
Walking through the various buildings, I noticed bulletin boards showcasing some of the many organizations on campus. So many of them piqued my interest, some I had never even imagined, including a unicycle club and Women in Science Alliance.
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Our tour guide also informed us of the campus’s many “green” features, among them a solar-powered parking garage, a student-organized community garden, and electric car-charging stations. Even food waste from the dining hall is collected at the campus’s composting site.
After the exhausting yet beneficial tour, there was an informational session for pre-med students a few buildings away. Finding my way around campus was a challenge, but, fortunately, there were many staff members around to help guide me. Once I made it to the lecture hall, I met other high school seniors with similar career aspirations as mine, a few familiar faces to start off the new semester. During the session a few program directors talked about the College’s BA/MD program, which allows students to obtain a medical degree in seven years with provisional admission to the UT Southwestern Medical Center, one of the nation’s top medical schools. This was one of the many opportunities that opened up for me on my campus visit, opportunities I had not expected.
When it was time for lunch, just seeing the sheer number of options available at the Student Union Food Court compared to my modestly sized high school cafeteria was a little overwhelming—from Panda Express to their own pizza bar, you name it and they had it. After settling on the pasta, I had to head back to the other side of campus to attend a scholarship meeting. That’s when I encountered the Comet Cab, the University’s very own form of transportation, saving me from another 15-minute walk. This is a free shuttle service from residence halls and parking lots to campus buildings.
As the event came to a close, I realized I did have to sacrifice my day off, but with the next four years of my life on the line, I have to say it was time well spent. While visiting campus on a weekday when classes are in session provides an inside look at what things are like in action, attending an event such as Scholar’s Day specifically designed for incoming students had its own advantages, from the special informational sessions to access to staff members on campus. Hearing about the facilities available for students—be it academic, recreational, or dietary—from a brochure was one thing, but actually visiting the campus gave me a feel for how it would be like to be a student there, even if classes weren’t in session.