This is it. My time at The University of Texas at Austin has come to an end. I must say, clicking “end meeting” at the end of my final undergraduate class was probably the most anti-climactic moment of my life.
As I write this article, graduation is in three days so naturally I’ve been looking back at the past four years. Getting to this point has definitely not been a walk in the park. It was more like a chaotic walk down Speedway in which I was run over by multiple bikes, tripped over several bricks, and fought for my life against an albino squirrel. But I’ve made it. My interactive degree audit says 100%. It’s over and I learned quite a lot. So as my parting gift to you, here are the biggest lessons I’ve learned at UT.
It’s okay if you got a 40 on your first chemistry exam
I went into that exam ready. I knew the material. I was confident. I was relaxed. Then we got the scores back, and I did horribly. I got a 40 on what was supposed to be the easiest exam of the semester. Did I cry in my dorm? Yes, but looking back, I wish I could say to myself: “stop being so dramatic, you’re not even going to be a pre-med major.”
Yes, it sucked to fail but you just have to keep going. You have to see what you did wrong. What studying methods didn’t work? Which ones did? Talk to your professor, and take your time. I kept calm, continued to work hard and then got an 80 on exam two. You’re going to take a lot of exams and have a lot of assignments, don’t let that one bad grade derail you. As long as in the end you understand that topic to the best of your abilities, that’s all that matters.
As one of my favorite underrated Disney movies says: “keep moving forward.”
Invest in pass/fail
This might’ve just been me, but I wasn’t very knowledgeable about the pass/fail option pre-pandemic. This is why I let a D+ in biology completely tank my GPA when I could’ve just pss/failed the class. I highly suggest talking to your academic advisors about how pass/fail works and what it does to your GPA. Especially since classes are going back to in-person next semester, the unicorn COVID pass/fails will not be making a return.
Always remember. Pass/fail is not an excuse to completely stop trying in your class. You should still try your best, no matter what your best looks like.
Do not take three major intensive courses at the same time
Now you can obviously do this if you so desire, but just know it’ll be awful. Fall semester 2019, I took Reporting: Words, Reporting: Images and Media Law all at the same time, and I’ve never been more exhausted in my life. It’s hard.
The key to surviving taking multiple intense courses at a time is time management and having a friend who will understand your pain (shoutout to Alyssa Crosby.) But the other key is to not do it. I know it may seem like it’s best to get them out the way, but there really is no rush. You’ll end up over-worked and highly stressed when you could be decently worked and moderately stressed. College isn’t a sprint race; it’s a slow jog with the occasional fast-walking.
Talk to yourself
This one is for my fellow journalism majors. As I’ve been studying journalism, the thing I’ve heard the most is; journalists struggle with finding their conversational voice. My tip for this; talk to yourself. I talk to myself like I’m a YouTube vlogger, documenting every single moment of my day. Do my roommates probably think I’m weird? Yes, but it really helps.
Conversational tone is all about writing as if you’re having a conversation with your readers. That’s a little hard to do since as you’re writing, the only reader listening to you is your Google Docs page. This just means you have to be your own reader. Talk to yourself as you write and it’ll come out naturally. If you don’t talk to yourself (weirdo), how do you talk to your friends? This is the key, then through in some jokes and a little sarcasm (with AP style of course), and you’re good to go!
Here is where I throw in random tips because I couldn’t think of a good one to end the list.
Group projects are the worst thing on this planet, and there’s nothing you can do about them. Best thing to do is close your eyes, breathe and pray for the end. Are you really going to use that $200 textbook? Wait until you have an answer before you buy it because most of the time you can survive off lecture notes. If you’re taking a foreign language class, reverso is your best friend, trust me. Lastly, one you’ve heard many times before, join a club – they’re fun. If you’re in need of suggestions, BurntX is a great place to start.
And now I bid adieu to UT Austin, it truly has been real. Next stop – graduate school, please keep me in your thoughts.
Featured designs courtesy of Kara Fields