The Explorer

The Explorer – UT-Austin

Disclaimer: A perk of SCOUT-ing for you is the opportunity to visit college campuses. With each tour, I go armed with the basic information you can find online or in any number of college-related guides. As such, there is no reason for me recite average test scores, admission rates, student-to-faculty ratios, or even lists of majors / minors. You can find all that through your own research. My goal is to give you a little nugget (or two) that you might find interesting … interesting enough to give the college a more in-depth look.   


University of Texas – Austin – aerial view

The University of Texas in Austin is the flagship university of the UT system. UT Austin is one of the world’s leading universities, recognized for research, higher education, business, the arts and more. It is well-represented in rankings by US News & World Report that identify leadership in academic achievement, affordability and student satisfaction. There’s a lot to like on this campus. Here are a few of my favorites:

Blanton Museum of Art

Blanton Museum of Art – Campus museums are always high on my list of attractive college qualities. The Blanton Museum serves as the primary art collection for the city of Austin. It has the largest and most comprehensive collection of art in Central Texas. With more than 19,000 works in the collection, the Blanton showcases art from across the ages, from ancient Greek pottery to abstract expressionism. Although the museum is currently closed because of COVID-19, it typically features a year-round schedule of traveling exhibitions.

LBJ Presidential Library

LBJ Presidential Library – Another one of my campus favorites is a presidential library. And the LBJ one is truly an asset for the UT Austin campus. From The Legacy Gallery that is dedicated to the impact President Johnson had on America to the files, photos, recordings, and films related to The Vietnam Conflict, the library is a tremendous source of information. Other library sections include November 22, 1963, Social Justice Gallery, the Presidential Limousine (that LBJ used when visiting Austin), a reproduction of the Oval Office, and The White House Years. Enhancing the LBJ legacy on the UT Austin campus is the adjacent Johnson School of Public Affairs. (Note: All National Archives research rooms nationwide, including those at Presidential Libraries, will be closed to the public until further notice because of COVID-19 protocols.)

Bridging Disciplines Programs (BDPs) – I mentioned in my weekly newsletter that UT expects students to focus on the major to which they applied and were accepted. The BDPs allow undergraduates to develop a secondary area of specialization that complements their major. To earn a BDP certificate, students must complete 19 credit hours combining interdisciplinary coursework with hands-on research, internship, or creative experiences. It’s a way to enhance your major, set yourself apart from peers, and enjoy unique opportunities. UT Austin currently offers certificates in 16 different interdisciplinary concentrations, and I think they ALL sound interesting! Consider these options:

  • Children & Society
  • Conflict Resolution & Peace Studies
  • Design Strategies
  • Digital Arts & Media
  • Environment & Sustainability
  • Ethics & Leadership in Business
  • Ethics & Leadership in Health Care
  • Ethics & Leadership in Law, Politics & Government
  • Human Rights & Social Justice
  • Innovation, Creativity & Entrepreneurship
  • Museum Studies
  • Patients, Practitioners & Cultures of Care
  • Public Policy
  • Smart Cities
  • Social Entrepreneurship & Non-Profits
  • Social Inequality, Health & Policy
Student Newspaper

Writing OpportunitiesThe Daily Texan is the student newspaper. It is one of the largest college newspapers in the United States, and is among the oldest student newspapers in the South. It is entirely student-run and independent from the university, although its operations are overseen by Texas Student Media, an entity with faculty, student, and newspaper industry representatives. The paper has won more national, regional and state awards than any other college newspaper in America.  There is also an official humor publication called Texas Travesty. It is the country’s largest student-produced satirical newspaper, and it produces six issues each year. And finally, once you’ve secured your undergrad degree and are searching for an MFA program, the Michener Center for Writers has piqued my interest. You should definitely check out this exclusive writing program!

First-Year Interest Groups (FIG) – I love this idea! FIG is a group of 18 to 25 first-year students who take two to four classes together during their first fall semester at UT. Each group attends a weekly seminar led by a peer mentor and a staff advisor. The idea is to give students an opportunity to develop a sense of community as they attend classes, study, and participate in various activities and events together.

Freshmen Summer Reading

Reading Round-up – This is another great opportunity for freshmen to connect with each other. It’s a summer reading program where university professors invite freshmen to select one of their books for summer reading. The professors then lead small group discussions on campus the day before fall classes start. Recent book selections have included everything from The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks to Letters to a Young Contrarian by Christopher Hitchens, The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr, Atomic Habits by James Clear, and Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens.

Turtle Pond

Turtle Ponds – I hope I always save the best for last! No trip to the UT Austin campus is complete without a trip to the turtle ponds. The ponds are home to a few dozen turtles of multiple species cared for by The College of Natural Science. The ponds and the adjacent garden are a fun way to end your visit. If you want to feed the turtles, be sure to bring green leafy vegetables and fruit, or pellets marketed as turtle food. And don’t forget to follow the turtles on Instagram @TurtlesofUT.

The Oklahoman in me loves The University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University. However, sometimes an out-of-state opportunity just can’t be ignored. That’s how I feel about UT Austin. Football rivalries aside, UT’s freshman experiences alone make this university extremely attractive. If you would like to discuss how you might best tackle the admissions process at UT Austin, please let me know. I can be reached at 405-906-7044 or I’m always available to help you find and fund your ideal college experience!

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