Welcome, Comets. You may have stumbled onto our campus under the impression that college is solely about getting a higher education. But you’re more than a student. Here at UTD, we strive to create a community that enables you to grow into the well-rounded, highly-successful, not-one-bit-mentally-ill adult you can surely become. Simply follow these tips and your endeavors will be successful. 

1. Commit to 12 — no, 19 credit hours per semester. 

There comes a time in each semester where you will click and squint and otherwise harass your screen into working — enrollment appointments. This jolly season includes several hours of staring at course numbers and times, looking to avoid the unwelcome MWF or 8:00 AM details — or, worse, both at the same time. To avoid this unfortunate scenario, you must simply hope that your enrollment appointment is one that allows access to all of the time slots at which classes are available — which is, of course, entirely out of your control. 

If you do find that a required class is only available at a dreaded hour, steel yourself for the upcoming semester and click “enroll” anyway. Why add more hours to your sleep schedule when you could add them to your academic one? 

Remember — 12 hours is the bare minimum, and you’re better than that. You are an adult at a prestigious university after all. The actual workload does not measure workload, credit hours do. Get to work. 

2. Volunteer for more hours than you have available. 

This one’s not just for you, JSOM students. You’re not special. 

Whether you’ve unwittingly committed to 100 hours of volunteering through your school or are simply looking to expand your philanthropic horizons, you are (enthusiastically) encouraged to volunteer throughout your college career. You, as a generous member of the community, have an obligation to give at least as much as you take. If you’d like to be branded as a good person, give even more. 

Some of you may already have practice balancing coursework with your wholehearted intentions to give back. You might have this experience through high school organizations that require volunteering and an unceasing sense of superiority over your peers who have lower GPAs (read: NHS), or maybe you’ve volunteered purely out of the goodness of your heart. If not, the time to learn this skill was yesterday. Reach out and offer your services of time and labor the more, the merrier. 

Note: when you do obtain your volunteering hours, make sure to report them. Philanthropy only counts when you make it known.

Nobody likes a student selfish enough to only focus on their studies. Go out there, get those hours, and use a verification contact who actually checks their email. And do it for the good of the community too, I guess. 

3. Find an internship — or two, or three. 

Whether one is required for your major or not, an internship is required to be a worthwhile college student. How else could you gain work experience, which is needed to gain work experience? 

Acquiring an internship is far from a one-step process. Before a company takes you on, you must prepare yourself to be the ideal candidate. This means joining clubs, completing certifications, and networking- anything to make you the better option when compared to the equally-qualified peers you surround yourself with. 

Some companies may even pity you and compensate you monetarily for your efforts. If you are unable to find one that pays you well, that’s on you, isn’t it? Lack of qualifications, procrastination to apply, not enough proof that you’re a good person (see #2) — whatever the external reasons may be, the fault for not getting the best internship falls to you. You can do better — if you’d like a career at the end of all this, anyway. 

4. Join extracurriculars, plural. 

Nothing shows you’re a well-rounded student like joining multiple organizations. UTD prides itself on having a variety of clubs for you to be part of, whether they be academic in nature or more along the lines of a Tabletop RPG Club. Yes, that’s real — and yes, you should join it. 

One look through the “Student Organizations” section of the UTD app will show you an alphabetical list of clubs the campus has to offer — everything from dance to doctors, feminism to film, and every Greek life organization you could possibly think of. In other words, you have no excuse to not be part of these organizations. Scroll through and find groups on campus that look best on your resume — and, hopefully, are interesting to you as well. 

Forget helping your friends with homework or walking your neighbor’s dog — we’re talking about real extracurriculars here. Get your name on as many club member lists as you can, and bonus points for getting an officer position — how else does one prove their leadership qualities? Official memberships or it didn’t happen.

5. Maintain a high GPA. 

There may be a four-point scale, but those lower numbers are there as a reminder of what not to see when you log into Orion. Aim for high grades in each class, even the ones that make you think you’d rather pull your own hair out than study for an extra second. Keep that textbook open — something from the next page is definitely on the exam. 

Having a high GPA does more than prove you’re a student who meets expectations. It also allows you to become and remain an honors student, opens up internship and job opportunities, and acts as the foot in the door when anyone in the academic world determines if you’re worth their time or not. 

For those of you with scholarships dependent on your GPA, the stakes are even higher but not as high as your GPA should be. Study hard, then harder still. Collect those A’s as though you are putting together the world’s most uniform alphabet soup. C’s may get degrees, but three’s don’t waive tuition fees.