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General Questions from an OOS student... please help?!?

Hello everyone!

So I've recently been accepted to UTD, and have just applied to its honors program. So far, it's looking like UTD will be where I end up going (there's a lot of pressure from my parent’s end as well), mainly because of scholarships. I would be getting the full tuition + $8000 from the NMF scholarship.

From what I've read, it seems like a pretty good school, but being a student from Illinois and never having heard of UTD until I became a national merit semifinalist, I do have some questions. It would be great if any current/past UTD students or parents could answer these :)

1) I've heard UTD is very math, science, and engineering focused... does this extend to medicine as well? How have your experiences been with the pre-med program?

2) Many of the old posts here say UTD has an ugly campus, but it has gone through a "beautification" process? Does anyone have any updates on this? How does the campus look like now?

3) I realize I would be in the minority as an out of state student... would you say it would be hard to fit in? Do people already come in as friends?

4) I know that UTD is technically a commuter campus, and many kids probably go home, especially on the weekends. From what you've seen, approximately what % of students go home on the weekends? I don't exactly want to spend my weekends alone at college...

5) I’m going to major in neuroscience. Does anyone have anything they can share about this major? classes, difficulty etc..?

6) Any comments on the CV Honors Program?

I realize that this is a lot, but any answers on any of the above would be a great help. Thank you so much!

Replies to: General Questions from an OOS student... please help?!?

  • bigreddawgiebigreddawgie Registered User Posts: 2,161 Senior Member
    I graduated 2.5 years ago, so my answers might be a little outdated since UTD is improving at such a fast pace.

    1. Yes its engineering/cs/business/science oriented. good school for a premed. lots of my friends, including myself are in med school and doing fine. the premed required classes will prepare you well.

    2. It used to ugly when I was a freshman. Now its not with all the new buildings and ongoing construction.

    3. There are more and more out of state people at utd. why would it be hard to fit in? its not like all the dallas people huddle together and reject all the out of state people..

    4. it used to be a commuter campus, not anymore. the dorms didnt exist when i was a freshman so i cant comment on it. you wont be alone if you make friends.

    5. i was neuro major. back then, it was easy, not difficult to get an A if you can memorize (which you will need to do for med school). lots of research opportunities if you want to get involved.

    6. i didnt graduate from CV. took a few of the classes. wasnt for me. not worth it for a premed IMO unless you are interested in some of the classes they offer.

    i love utd and had a great time there.
  • 4everEpical4everEpical Registered User Posts: 96 Junior Member
    edited October 2014
    @bigreddawgie thanks for replying! It's great to hear that UTD is good for pre-med and that it's not "ugly" anymore lol.

    I guess I was worried about fitting in, because I know that at some of my instate universities like UIC, there definitely is kind of a thing where IL/Chicago people "huddle together" unfortunately.

    Why do you say that CV is not worth it for Pre-med though? To be honest, none of the classes seem very interesting/enlightening, but I was thinking it would be a bit more impressive for med school... Is that not the case? Or is the honors program just bad? Keeping in mind that I know not to expect the quality I would get at a shmancy liberal arts college of course.
  • bigreddawgiebigreddawgie Registered User Posts: 2,161 Senior Member
    edited October 2014
    Dont worry about fitting in. That's not an issue at all.

    Because med schools dont care if you are in an honors college or not. And its not like CV is famous or anything. It's not a bad program by any means. In fact, it's well run and in my opinion a great program. The profs that teach the courses are some of the best professors at utd. There are a lot of intangibles that the honors program offers, like special lectures, networking opportunities, advising. Just dont do it if you think it'll help you get into med school. Personal anecdote, none of the 3 utd students at my med school (which happens to be in your state) graduated from CV.
  • 4everEpical4everEpical Registered User Posts: 96 Junior Member
    edited October 2014
    Okay then, I guess maybe I'll try it and see how it goes. It's not like it's binding or anything so I can just drop out if I don't like it :)
  • JuvenisJuvenis Registered User Posts: 853 Member
    edited November 2014
    Former UTD student here. Transferred from there this semester, but that's another story.

    1. True, true, and true. What UTD has that my current school doesn't are special 8-person weekly sessions (PLTL) for Calculus, Gen Chem, O. Chem, and Bio that not only review the material but also provide worksheets and upperclassmen to help you understand the material much more in-depth with difficult examples and applications of the material. In my experience, it was VERY effective in preparing for exams and understanding the material, and since everyone is an undergraduate like you, it's a very laid-back environment. If you don't pay attention to lectures or read the textbook, these sessions are another way of learning the material. These help you get through the tough pre-med classes.

    None of the classes have a bell curve. If a class implements any type of curve, it's an upward curve. For Gen. Chem, they curve EVERY exam up if the average is below a 70 (and the exams are standardized). For O. Chem, I heard that a 75 for some classes is an A, the rest are like 85=A. Point is, none of the pre-med classes I know are intended to "weed out." If people fail or don't do well on a course, that's almost entirely their fault. Overall, not only are the pre-med classes relatively easy (compared to my current school, where weeding out DOES happen), but they also help you understand the material thoroughly. The PLTL packets seem like a great way to review for the MCAT.

    Biology, however, is a bit tough to decipher. There's NO lab component for the first semester. The second semester, however, has an OPTIONAL (in the sense that it's not a corequisite, but it's needed for med. school apps) lab component worth 2 credit hours, and I heard it does not pertain to lecture (unlike the other pre-med labs). The course description of Intro. Bio alone tells me that they tend to focus on topics relevant to the MCAT, placing emphasis on cell bio and anatomy/physiology.

    2. This was one of the many reasons why I left. Yes, it wasn't pleasant to look at. The school is CURRENTLY undergoing a beautification project. As of right now, there's a huge construction site in the center of campus, and it looks like nothing but piles of dirt and tractors. I heard it's supposed to be completed in 3-4 years.

    Yes, the school does have some INCREDIBLE buildings (e.g. JSOM, ATEC, Student Services), but the rest are drab, at best. Every building that houses the arts and humanities department (except for ATEC) look either run down or like a prison. Most of the buildings they won't show you in school tours are pretty much concrete slabs.

    3. Yes, the vast majority of students are from the Dallas/FW area or in-state, but that means NOTHING. In fact, two of my closest friends from UTD are from Pennsylvania and Georgia. In my experience, everyone was new to each other, and if there were any high school friends, then I didn't notice. I had a couple of high school friends with me, but I rarely hung out with them.

    4. The vast majority go home on the weekends. On the downside, the campus feels VERY empty on the weekends, and there's not much to do. So yes, it can feel lonely and desolate during the weekends.

    On the upside, however, this helps foster a great sense of community in the residence halls. When there's nothing else to do, you turn to those who live in the same building you do. In just a couple months I knew almost each and every one of the students in my hall, and I'd find at least one person to spend time with. The apartments on campus may have more autonomy, but the res halls take care of you (some apartments lose power or heat during the winter, but the halls sure didn't). Not to mention, the res halls have programs and social events to help bring people together.

    5. I used to be a biochem major, and neuro's courseload seemed easier. No Calc 3, no Linear Algebra, no P. Chem. Also, there are MUCH more research opportunities for neuro majors than biochem. In a research fair hosted during the spring, I distinctly remember there were at least 2 full rows dedicated to BBS (the school that hosts neuro) majors, but only 2 POSTERS for NSM (bio/math/chemistry/biochem).

    6. CV wasn't a big deal. You do have 24/7 access to an exclusive lounge and you don't have to pay for printing (unlike the library; you do have to provide the paper, though). The lounge includes many computers, a library filled with textbooks, academic journals, and magazines, and a tv room filled with game consoles, games, and movies. Personally, I spent little to no time in the lounge, but that's because most of my friends weren't CV.

    The only other "perks" to being in CV were that you've got first pick for classes (among the seniors, so you don't have to wait as long as the vast majority of freshmen and you were guaranteed any class you wanted, except for CV classes) and CV had classes exclusively for CV students. The downside to those CV classes were that very few of them would fulfill degree requirements or core classes -- they were pretty much useless, and you HAVE to take one CV class per semester. The vast majority of CV classes are obscure subjects such as fossil analysis or (in my case) Anime, where we learned about Miyazaki's films and graphic novels. The upside to those classes were that they were VERY small and usually very discussion-oriented and engaging. I took the CV Intro. Psych. course with only 25 people (compared to 100+ on the regular sections) and it was my most enjoyable class that particular semester (though it was probably due to the professor more than the class itself). But the CV classes I took involved a lot of discussion and engagement. Were they easy? No; you had to work. But I did learn quite a lot.
  • 4everEpical4everEpical Registered User Posts: 96 Junior Member
    @Juvenis That was an extremely detailed answer! Thank you so much for taking the time to answer this question :)
    PLTL sounds amazing and very helpful, as well as the lack of a bell curve. Overall, UTD seems to be pretty decent for a school offering me (nearly) a full ride, so hopefully I can get past the ugly campus. I'll visit soon, maybe in Feb, so I can see it for myself before making the final decision. Thanks again for the help!
  • awintxawintx Registered User Posts: 123 Junior Member
    My daughter started out as a neuroscience major at UTD and switched over to speech pathology her first semester. She has enjoyed the CV program. She was in the Miyazaki class that Juvenis mentioned above and loved it. She tried to get into the CV intro to psych course mentioned above, but that one filled up before she could register for it.

    In BBS, you are not going to make it on the Dean's list unless you have a 4.0. My daughter has never received a grade lower than A- and has never received more than one A- in any semester and has not yet made it on the Dean's List.

  • 4everEpical4everEpical Registered User Posts: 96 Junior Member
    An update if anyone's interested... I officially accepted my offer of admission to UTD yesterday (I got the AES honors scholarship, and will most likely get the National Merit scholarship). I ended up applying to CV honors, the McDermott Scholars Program, and the Clark Summer Research program!
    Thanks everyone for their answers - they were very helpful in making the final decision to attend.
  • 2sunny2sunny Registered User Posts: 385 Member
    I know this thread is old, but how do you like UTD?
  • 4everEpical4everEpical Registered User Posts: 96 Junior Member
    @2sunny I just happened to log in to CC for the first time in over a year and saw your question!
    To be honest, there's a lot of upsides and downsides to UTD. Please keep in mind that everything I’ve written is just based off of my experiences!

    The Good:
    I found it pretty easy to make friends, and was able to fit in pretty well once I found my group of friends. I definitely recommend staying in an LLC if you are living in the dorms - this is where I made the majority of my friends. I will say that it is a little difficult to make friends after that first couple of months, so make the most of your first semester.
    The dorms and apartments are also very nice (I love having a private bedroom), but spots tend to fill up very quickly. If you are OOS or a national merit scholar/mcdermott scholar you have priority for housing.

    Research opportunities are very easy to come by - especially in neuroscience labs. I have worked in multiple, and its not too hard to work your way up if you are responsible and show interest. There’s also a lot of really cool student organizations to get involved in, and again, it’s not too difficult to get leadership positions (or to start your own organization).

    The campus is no where near as ugly as it apparently was a few years ago, or even last year. Some of the newer buildings are actually very modern and look amazing, and even the older ones are not too bad. There’s a lot of trees/greenery in the center of campus, and the plinth and fountain area is pretty nice to look at.

    Richardson isn’t too bad if you have a car - it’s close to a lot of really nice restaurants and malls, and Dallas is a 25 minute drive away.

    The Bad:

    I can only speak to the science/neuroscience classes at UTD, but classes are much more difficult than the corresponding classes may be in other public universities. This might partially be due to the high caliber of students at UTD, as well as research-oriented professors. This isn’t to say that the grading is unfair - you will definitely learn more and be more qualified as you enter grad school or join the work force, but you will have to work for your grade.

    UTD has extremely low school-spirit - not something i initially thought would effect me, but it can get kind of depressing when all everyone does is make fun of the school or the mascot. There’s no football team and sports are not a big scene, which only makes this worse. UTD also doesn’t hold many school wide events that you’d expect in other larger universities, except for Welcome Week (first 2 weeks of school).

    Class sizes are very large until you get into more upper-level or honors classes, and professors can be kind of hard to get in touch with.

    UTD is making an effort to have more parking spaces, but as of now, it is torture to find parking.
  • 2sunny2sunny Registered User Posts: 385 Member
    @4everEpical Thank you so much! VERY helpful !
  • 2sunny2sunny Registered User Posts: 385 Member
    @4everEpical son got $$$ to go there, wants comp science. i think pros would be good co-ops and jobs, but cons would be lack of school spirit---- he is a NM Finalist, so that helps w/ dorms-- we are in Midwest, so also looking at offer of $$$ from KY
  • 4everEpical4everEpical Registered User Posts: 96 Junior Member
    @2sunny UTD is a great school to go to for computer science! There's a lot of opportunities for internships and co-ops since the North Dallas area is kind of a tech hub, and UTD has partnerships with companies like Texas Instruments. If he's interested, there's also a lot of great research labs in UTD that explore things like artificial intelligence and cyber security.
  • 2sunny2sunny Registered User Posts: 385 Member
    @4everEpical Sent in APP for UTD ! New dorms is bonus. No car, but access to DART
  • mundanewarriormundanewarrior Registered User Posts: 283 Junior Member
    edited March 2017
    @2sunny What's DART? I'm guessing some form of public transport.

    Nvm, googled it. Dallas Area Rapid Transport. Sounds nice.
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