Austin Life- Going DOWN

<p>We just got back from Austin. We were there with S for Texas Relays. I have always loved Austin. This trip, however, was a nightmare. Traffic was unbearable- and it wasn't just because of Texas Relays. The city has outgrown it's road system and there is no "fix" in sight. Parking is impossible and the campus officials were not particularly helpful. I travel a lot, and I have done better in the large northeast cities than we did this weekend in Austin. It was very disappointing. The campus is large and sprawling. There are cars everywhere. Everything is BIG (this is Texas, after all). The buildings, the stadiums, the stores- all BIG. I thought of Austin as one of my dream cities (I live elsewhere in Texas), but you can have it! The outlying areas are gorgeous, Town Lake is the place to be for running or walking, the Whole Foods store is the most amazing place ever, but the population growth has ruined Austin. I talked to someone who visited the Plan II program this week. She was not as impressed as she had hoped to be. She said that she sat in on a class where there were some really stupid questions asked. She felt that after the first couple of years, the advantages of Plan II are not as great.
So- this redefines "Big State U" for me and I am convinced, despite the price, that UT is NOT the place for S. I am not saying that it would not be the right place for some kids, but after visiting a few Ivys and LACs, I know where I want my kid and my money to go.</p>

<p>DOH! this makes my decision not to attend Notre Dame even more bitter. DAMN MONEY!</p>

<p>I took my daughter up to Austin two weeks ago, and noticed that the traffic was horrible on a Sunday afternoon! Yep, Austin is close to being ruined - the heart of Texas is in danger of losing its soul.</p>

<p>Is it that bad that people would not go to UT?</p>

<p>I think UT is still a highly-regarded university and Austin is still a fun place. If you didn't know how much better things used to be before all the growth and traffic, you would probably still enjoy the experience. It is still an excellent deal tuition-wise, especially in-state. I would not rule it out, but Austin is clearly not the quirky college-town that it used to be.</p>

<p>So long as you can still swim the icy waters of Barton Springs, Austin will retain its soul. Austin still has all the things that make it Austin and worth going to, but it does have serious growth issues (not UT-related).</p>

<p>I agree that the traffic is horrible in Austin. It's one of the main issues my daughter has with UT.</p>

<p>However, if you live on campus or very near it then your experience will probably not suffer much from the traffic. </p>

<p>Also, I've been told that Austin is a town that is bicycle-friendly.</p>

<p>Has the traffic levels reached the levels of NYC or San Francisco? I've been there and it was somewhat tolerable ... if you can stand driving around an hour and a half looking for a parking spot while you are already in front of the restaurant. Would bringing a car just for the sole purpose of driving home matter much for parking?</p>

<p>In a way, I found the traffic problem worse than NY, SF etc. This is because Texans are in love with their vehicles, and there is little public transportation options. Austin is bicycle friendly (think Lance Armstrong) but there is still a car v. bike thing going on the roads. I just felt that the gridlock of cars everywhere- on the expressway and off- ruined what used to be a neat college town. I know my son would want to have a car there.......</p>

<p>Yeah San Fran and NYC have great public transportation. Maybe that's why I didn't kill myself when I was there. Damn this is making me rethink UT Austin aside from the scholarship stuff.</p>

<p>"She felt that after the first couple of years, the advantages of Plan II are not as great."</p>

<p>MomOfWildChild, could you please elaborate more on this? I'm getting concerned because I'm seriously considering plan II . . . thanks</p>

<p>We know dozens of kids, many with 1400 plus SAT scores, who love UT and Austin. 93% of the students return for their soph year. This rivals that of many private univesities or LAC's. So take mom's opinion with a grain of salt. Rather trust the 5600 out of 6,000 fresman who return every year.</p>

<p>Central Austin has a lot of traffic during certain periods of the week. Certainly no worse than many other big cities, which Austin now is. Putting all the focus on traffic in the central city would eliminate Columbia, Harvard, Northwestern, Chicago and other schools many consider to be fine places. </p>

<p>Mom of wildchild ooh s and aahhs frequently over Rice U. I live about 1 mile from Rice and can assure you that Houston has traffic, too, and our mass transit is not significantly better than Austin's, with the exception of one line that does run by Rice U.</p>

<p>Many students don't own cars or don't drive their cars at UT on a daily basis. They live walking or biking distance to class so the traffic is not a concern. When one lives in any city you learn how to get around and even park in a way that the casual day visitor has a hard time initially figuring out. </p>

<p>Saying Plan II is an advanatage for the first couple of years is saying all that needs to be said. The upper division classes in most majors are small enough that there is little problem with size or attention.</p>

<p>texdad has a good point. remember that you're mostly going there for the education.</p>

<p>I've read that the surface parking is about 80 dollars per year at UT and a guaranteed spot in a parking garage is about 600 a year. Since my d will be taking a car but probably won't use it much, I'm thinking of saving that extra 500+ dollars and just buying a surface permit. She won't have a guaranteed spot but once she finds a spot she can leave the car there and hopefully she'll think twice about driving around for fear of not getting a spot when she returns. </p>

<p>Any thoughts?</p>

<p>Texdad, I was offering an objective opinion. S is going to be applying to UT, he went to boarding school in Austin for a year and a half, and as Texas parents, we have spent a lot of time in Austin for athletic events etc. I have lots of friends who have considered UT, are attending, or will be applying. Anyone who lives in Austin will tell you that the city has changed dramatically and is facing a crisis with respect to traffic and road construction. Yes, Houston traffic is also bad, but it doesn't run right through the middle of the Rice campus AND there is good public transportation available to the Rice students. To me, UT did not have a campus feel. I like schools that have a campus feel.<br>
I have visited a lot of campuses and have spent time in most cities in the US through work and personal travel. Austin was one of my absolute favorites. Now I wouldn't want my son to go to school there. That's my opinion. Is UT still a great university? Absolutely. Is Plan II as good as an Ivy or a top LAC? Not in my opinion, but weighing the financial factor, someone else could reach a different decision.
Plan II provides a great education. For students who have been accepted to other top schools, it is a personal decision. Some people really want to be part of a large university experience. When I went to college I made that choice and did attend Big State U (not my own state). However, mine had a campus feel. It also had worse weather than Austin.</p>

<p>I lived in Houston for 12 years and frequently went to Rice and the Texas Medical Center on business. I can tell you with absolutely no hesitation that Houston's traffic is way, way worse that Austin's. The traffic around Rice isn't so bad during certain times of the day but it's getting there or going away that you'll spend all your time. There are plenty of reasons why I wouldn't want my Son to go to Rice but mostly because he can't stand the place. Also, their engineering programs don't hold a candle to UT's. The humidity is something you'll never really get used to unless you were born and raised in the area.</p>

<p>Hmm there's a lot of conflicting points of view here on this topic. I wonder who's right?</p>

<p>My sister who has lived in Austin since 2000 told me this:</p>

<p>texas relays is like hell weekend, its is never like that, i hate tx relays they take up all the parking everywhere, that is a huge event you cannot judge austin traffic around UT during that time</p>

<p>there is also alot of construction on the freeways in the south side of town they are expanding it, there has also been talk of building a tollway, which most austin ppl are opposed to</p>

<p>austin is busier during the school yr and normal in the summer, it doesnt make sense for a city to expand for like 1/2 the yr</p>

<p>plus these students are not even paying taxes in austin or anything they're here then leave</p>

<p>dcfca: "plus these students are not even paying taxes in austin or anything they're here then leave"</p>

<p>What? Which students are you talking about--the texas relays students or UT's students?</p>

<p>Maxlee05, as far as who is right, go to UT and Austin and make your own decision. </p>

<p>As I recall, such books as Fiske and Princeton Review certainly rate the overall atmosphere at UT at least as high as at Rice.</p>

<p>Keep in mind Momofwildchild professes to prefer LAC's or small schools and sends her son to a boarding highschool. With this profile it would be surprising if she looks favorably on a large university like UT. </p>

<p>While Rice has a more self contained campus, the central part of UT's campus is hardly the street corner campus she implies. Students are certainly free to live walking distance to campus, so just like at Rice, the surrounding traffic on the surrounding streets and freeways is really only an issue if you make it so.</p>

<p>It might surprise her, but many students prefer UT to Rice and not just solely because of financial problems as she assumes.</p>

<p>As she says ,it is a personal choice. Perhaps after the small boarding school environment , her son, if given a choice, might be ready for a large university. </p>

<p>In short, I think momofwildchild is stacking the deck in favor of her decision that she doesn't want her son to go to UT, something we all tend to do.</p>