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The best classes at ut: According to ut students

There are a LOT of classes at UT: History of Religion, Architecture and Society, Introduction to Geology, etc. So, how are Longhorns supposed to pick what to take this fall? How about recommendations from fellow students about the best classes they have ever taken at UT?

Without further ado, here are the best classes at UT Austin according to current UT students.

Disclaimer: Some submissions have been edited for length or clarity.

1. Life in the Universe (UGS303) – Ken Wisian

“Firstly, I enjoyed the main subject of the course itself. It is about the search for extraterrestrial life in the Universe and what is being done to progress this search. I was particularly fascinated by this topic. Secondly, I enjoyed how this course navigated this subject. The course dove into many different areas of study: astronomy, biology, physics, chemistry, a little bit of rocket science, and even philosophy. I enjoyed how the professor encouraged discussion. He encouraged students to interrupt and pitch in. This made the class fun and engaging.”

– Computer Science Major, 1st Year

Note: This class can only be taken by 1st year students.

2. Strategic Learning for the 21st Century (EDP 304) – Taught by various doctorate students

“The class was centered around how people learn information and implementing new note-taking techniques. Learning these techniques has really enhanced my studying. It changed my mindset on “memorizing” information. I would recommend this class. It teaches you how to better study in the college setting. “

– Health Promotion and Behavioral Science, 2nd Year

3. Race/Cultural Intelligence in the Age of Trump (UGS303) – Leonard Moore

“I learned that communication is the only way we can truly learn about people’s identities. In the course, we learned about the struggles that Latinx people, white working-class individuals and Asian Americans endure. It was nice to gain cultural awareness in an educational setting. The teaching style is very relaxed and Dr. Moore was very approachable. There is so much room for growth and errors in this class.”

– Political Communications Studies, 2nd Year

Notes: This class is only available to 1st year students and changes when the current U.S. president does.

4. Professional/Career Development (LAH104H) – Tatem Oldham

“I wish everyone had the opportunity to take this class with Professor Oldham. It’s a development course that makes internships a lot more approachable.”

– Sustainability Studies and Geography, 2nd Year

Note: This course is restricted to students in the Liberal Arts Honors Program in the College of Liberal Arts.

5. Intro to LGBTQ Studies (WGS303) – Ashley Coleman Taylor

“As a queer person, I found this class really rewarding to learn about the history of those that came before me, a history that is often overlooked and left out of mainstream narratives. I loved the intersectional approach Dr. Coleman Taylor took the course and how the material challenged me to reevaluate my perception of self as well as my own biases. I highly recommend taking any class offered by Dr. Coleman Taylor and the Center for Women’s & Gender Studies.”

– Human Development and Family Sciences, 2nd Year

6. Jewish Humor (UGS303) – Yitskhok Gottesman

“I enjoyed learning about Jewish culture and seeing how that culture translates in the comedy style of Jewish Americans from the 1950s to today. I enjoyed that the professor put in the effort to create a safe space for talking about modern comedy and addressing cultural differences in the context of comedy. I learned comedy is universal and is a way we can embrace our culture or connect with others no matter our cultural background.”

– Biology, 3rd Year

Note: This class can only be taken by 1st year students.

7. Reel Horror: The Holocaust in Film (UGS302) – Pascale Bos

“This class was super enlightening. We analyzed films made about the Holocaust, especially the American films made, and learned how censored they were. Hollywood films would often breeze over the brutality of the Holocaust and to make it seem less bad. The course was super interesting and it was eye-opening to learn about all the history.”

– Ratio-Television-Film (RTF), 2nd Year

Note: This class can only be taken by 1st year students.

8. Media Law (J350F) – Amy Sanders

“Media Law is an 8am class with dense reading materials so people think I’m crazy for loving it so much. However, I felt like I learned the most from this class and felt most engaged with professor Sanders. To be honest, law is really interesting! I loved using laws and cases that I had learned to structure an argument in this class. “

– Journalism and Chinese, 3rd Year

Note: You must have upper-division standing to take this course.

9. General Microbiology (BIO326R) – Peter King

“I really enjoyed this class because of my professor and the content. I especially liked it because of the circumstances we are in now. It’s really cool getting to have a better understanding of the “whys” of the ways certain things happen rather than just memorizing definitions. I enjoyed how Professor King’s lectures were almost like stories. It makes them more engaging.”

-Biology, 2nd Year

Note: In order to take this course, you must have credit with a grade of at least C- or registration for Biology 325 or 325H, and Chemistry 302 or 302H with a grade of at least C-.

10. Psychology of Advertising (ADV319) – Lee Ann Kahlor

“This class was super interesting and approachable even with no prior knowledge of psychology or advertising. I learned something in every lecture. There were no “buffer” or “filler” classes. Professor Kahlor is a great teacher. She’s funny, engaging, and cares deeply about her students and the subject.”

– Journalism, 2nd Year

“covid learning” could revolutionize school for students with anxiety at UT

Heart beating, palms sweating, stomach churning, intensifying fear: These are all symptoms of social anxiety. Socially anxious students may be avoiding these symptoms this semester with the aid of the current era of remote learning. 

“It feels like my body is frozen…(like) a bucket of water drops on you. I want to speak but I can’t.”

Claudia Juárez, UT Austin Sophomore

In the age of COVID-19, pre-recorded classes are used to keep students safe from the pandemic, but these classes could also benefit students with social anxiety. Pre-recorded classes can reduce or eliminate the triggers of social anxiety present in in-person classes. There is currently an online petition created by members of the UT student government to continue the offering of distanced learning for students with disabilities such as social anxiety even after COVID-19 has eased.

“I was having anxiety attacks my first day (of class) every time I went somewhere new,” said Mackenzie Ulam, president of the UT chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Approximately 12% of Americans will experience debilitating social anxiety defined by significant impairment in regular functioning during the course of their lives, the National Social Anxiety Center reports. 

The emergence of an anxiety disorder can occur at any age but often will surface during a person’s teens or 20s, the UT Student Affairs Division wrote on its website. This age range means students often experience the emergence of social anxiety during college, potentially impacting their learning experience.  

“(In class) I don’t… want to ask certain questions,” Juárez said. “‘Cause it’s like I go to UT, am I really going to ask this? Everyone’s going to think I’m dumb. Even the professor might think I’m dumb and call me out on it.”

The fear of being perceived as dumb is a common trait in those with social anxiety. This fear can be triggered by numerous scenarios. Triggers of social anxiety include: introducing yourself, “small talk” with classmates, asserting your needs with those in authority such as professors and answering or asking questions in a formal setting, reports the UT Student Affairs Division. 

“You’re having to deal with having to do two things at once: trying to learn the content and trying to work through…anxiety,” said Althea Woodruff, UT’s project coordinator for well-being in learning environments. “You’re basically having to do double or more of the work emotionally and academically.” 

Last semester, UT student government officials introduced a petition in coordination with disability justice advocates to ensure access to online material such as recorded lectures to aid students with social anxiety and other disabilities even after the pandemic eases.

Vinit Shah, UT’s student government chief of staff, said recorded lectures aid students because they cannot just ignore their anxiety. 

“There is no way to challenge yourself out of anxiety,” Shah said. “It’s like learning to swim. When professors say… ‘just get over it,’ it’s really insulting…it’s like expecting a baby to be an Olympic swimmer right off the bat.”

Students with social anxiety may already be eligible for certain accommodations through UT’s services for students with disabilities department. However, accommodations are decided on a case-by-case basis rather than having pre-created accommodation plans available. 

Students must go through a five-part plan to qualify for accommodations. This plan includes providing documentation of their disabilities in an approved format by the department, scheduling and attending an intake appointment with the department, completing multiple forms and signing multiple documents, reports the department on their website

Woodruff said that having recorded lectures available is the type of accessible accommodation that gives students much-needed flexibility. 

“It lets the students know that you actually care about them and you’re being empathetic to their situation,” Woodruff said. “You want to try to be as accommodating as you can to as many students as you can.”

Featured Image by Kara Fields

5 Starbucks to drink to get you through your 8:00 AMS: As told by a Starbucks barista

  1. Starbucks Doubleshot on Ice

What it is: LOTS of espresso over ice, mixed with classic syrup , and topped with 2% milk.

Why we love it: The Doubleshot is a great way to get your caffeine fix while also staying cool in the Texas heat. It is an awesome mix of strong and sweet, just like us Longhorns.

How to make it your own: The Doubleshot is one of the most easy to customize drinks on the Starbucks menu! You can substitute any syrup on the menu (caramel, vanilla, hazelnut, sugar-free cinnamon dolce, etc.) for the classic syrup or ask for no syrup at all. You can also swap out the 2% for a variety of kinds of milk (almond, whole, heavy cream, etc.).

Barista tip: Try adding vanilla bean powder for a bit of added sweetness and texture!

2. Chai Tea Latte

What it is: Black tea infused with an element of spice, a hint of water, and 2% milk.

Why we love it: The Chai tea latte is the perfect way for tea lovers to get a kick of caffeine. It is also a great combination of spicy and sweet.

How to make it your own: Chai tea lattes can come hot or iced. Plus, you can switch the standard 2% milk for any milk (coconut, soy, breve, and so on). If you are in the mood for a richer drink, you can request no water and all milk for the hot version of the chai tea latte (the iced version automatically comes with no water added).

Barista tip: Try adding vanilla syrup (regular or sugar-free) to make your tea, and day, a little sweeter.

3. Caffè Vanilla Frappuccino®

What it is: Whole milk, vanilla bean powder, ice, and coffee blended together and topped with whipped cream.

Why we love it: Between the coffee and the sugar in this drink, it’s sure to give you an energy boost to help you make it through any study session. It’s also the perfect treat to congratulate yourself with for a job well done or just for going to all your classes that day.

How to make it your own: The whole milk in frappuccinos can easily be swapped out for a different type. You can also add java chips or hazelnut syrup to create a more complex and unique flavor.

Barista tip: Add an affogato shot (a shot of espresso poured over the whipped cream and Frappuccino) for some extra caffeine and a stronger taste.

4. Guava Passionfruit Drink

What it is: Coconut milk, a guava juice blend, and pineapple-ginger syrup shaken over ice. 

Why we love it: This is the perfect summer drink. It’s fruity, bright, sweet, and most importantly cold. Plus, the vibrant pink color of the Guava Passionfruit Drink makes it a great addition to anyones Instagram.   

How to make it your own: The coconut milk in this drink can be swapped for any other milk on the menu. If you’re not a guava fan, you can also ask to substitute a peach juice blend in place of the guava. Plus, depending on how much on a sweet tooth you have, the number of pumps of pineapple-ginger syrup is completely customizable. 

Barista tip: Try getting the Guava Passionfruit Drink blended with creme base for a delicious slushie-like version. 

5. Cold Brew with Dark Cocoa Almondmilk Foam 

What it is: Cold brew (brewed for 20 hours), ice, and a topping of almond milk blended with mocha syrup and cocoa powder. 

Why we love it: This is the drink you have been waiting for, dairy-intolerant folks! There is just almondmilk in this delicious drink. The strength of the cold brew mixed with the sweetness of the chocolate foam makes a yummy and low-calorie (only 40 calories in a grande) treat. 

How to make it your own: Even though “almondmilk” is in the name of the drink, you can still swap it out for any other milk. If you’re a chocolate-lover, you can ask for pumps of the mocha syrup in the cold brew as well as in the foam. 

Tips for Creating a Work Environment at Home

Classes at UT Austin are back in session, but unlike ever before they are commencing amidst a global pandemic. For many students, this means a semester full of uncertainty and adaptation especially when it comes to classes. Students are spending more time at home then ever before and the adjustment can be challenging. 

In the comfort of your own bed, you can attend lectures, talk with your professor and even take a test. It sounds like a dream come true, but in reality students are struggling to find a routine, become productive and manage their mental health. It is easy for your home to become a place of stress and responsibility instead of relaxation and nourishment. 

Regardless of if you are living in a small West Campus apartment, or a large family home, creating a work environment where you live is essential for success this semester. Here are some ways to create a space that promotes productivity, encourages rest and allows for growth and learning. 

  1. Finding your Space

Privacy is a luxury when it comes to staying home and it can be really hard to focus with families and roommates all around. When picking a place to work here is what to consider.

Assess the environment in which you like to learn. Do you like a lot of noise, some sounds, or no sound at all? If you like peace and quiet it might be best to pick a bedroom or a closet, but if you like a lot of sound and movement pick the living room or a kitchen island.

 It’s also important to note that having more than one study space is a great way to break the monotony of online school. Try separating certain tasks into certain settings. For example, when you attend class and want a quiet setting move to a small bedroom or maybe even a patio or backyard, but don’t be afraid to sit in the living room with other roommates while filling out your planner or copying notes from a powerpoint slide. 

  1. Setting up your Space

Truthfully, the way you decorate and organize your desk can be more important than its location. A cluttered desk often reflects in the quality of your study time and work. Similarly, the more organized and personalized your desk is the more likely you are to have a productive and motivated study session. 

The best way to avoid a cluttered desk is to not keep too many things on your desk. A storage organizer for your notebooks, pens, pencils and folders will help to contain the clutter. The more blank space you leave on your desk, the more room you have to spread out your study materials 

Secondly, it is important to make your desk a welcoming environment. Not only does a personalized space encourage you to study, it can also make studying more comfortable. Here are some ideas on how to personalize your desk:

  • Add pictures of your friends and family
  • Switch out your LED lamp for a warm-lit salt lamp or Christmas lights
  • Add a fuzzy blanket or pillow to your desk chair
  • Brighten your desk with a plant or greenery
  • Place a vision board above your desk
  • Add small knick-knacks or fidget toys to your desk
  • Add a candle or a small essential oil diffuser
  • Get a small weekly or monthly desk calendar