There are some sweet perks associated with being an MPA student at McCombs. First off is the free access to Capital Metro all UT students receive. I ride a Metro Rapid bus to get to campus everyday which would otherwise cost $1.50 per trip, or $49.50 for a 31 day pass. Thanks to UT, I can swipe my ID card when I hop on and ride for $0.00. The Rapid buses are fast, clean, WiFi equipped, and have “next bus” tracking capabilities that help me gauge whether or not I need to power walk from McCombs. The bus comes by approximately every 10-15 minutes during peak periods. Of course the cost of this service is partially built into tuition, but minimizing my out of pocket incremental costs is always appreciated.
Next are the McCombs-specific resources: laptop rentals from Media Services on the third floor of GSB, the Reliant Productivity Center on the fourth floor of GSB, and the free weekday New York Times papers on the first floor of GSB. The laptop rentals are great for when I need some computing power but don’t feel like lugging my laptop from home and don’t want to be tied to a computer lab. Rentals are free as long as the equipment is returned by 5 PM. Reliant is a great, quiet place to study right in McCombs with ample natural light, tons of cubicles, and a few group study rooms that can be reserved online. There is also a printer in the back of Reliant which can be pretty handy, especially since students can print straight from their laptops via easy-to-install software and drivers. Finally, there are the free copies of the NYTimes right by the entrance to McCombs. It’s great to be able to peruse the news in print during the week. I especially enjoy the Tuesday paper for the Science Times and the Wednesday paper for the Dining section (Melissa Clark’s “A Good Appetite” column is a particular highlight). And KenKen is fun any day.
Lastly there are the MPA specific benefits: nameplates and name tags, the MPA lounge, and the MPA mailroom. Every MPA gets a nameplate and name tag and they personally make me feel pretty legit. I never had anything close to this when I was a Fine Arts major in undergrad! We use the nameplates every day in class and the name tags were mostly used earlier in the semester for initial recruiting events. It might sound nerdy to you but I love my nameplate. Then there’s the MPA lounge. It’s an exclusive studying and socializing space (more of the latter in my opinion; I can’t get work done in there) that only MPAs have access to. Just touch your ID card to the sensor and open sesame, the door swings opens automatically for you into a room with couches, comfy chairs, and big tables. Sadly we don’t have windows (upside is you won’t get depressed when the sun goes down the night before an exam because you’re oblivious!) but we have recently acquired a coffee machine which my coffee drinking friends appreciate. We also have a big whiteboard calendar so MPAs can keep up with MPAC events, birthdays, and other goings on. There’s a whiteboard on wheels which is useful for working out homework problems or posting general announcements. Finally, there’s the MPA mail room. Every MPA has their own mailbox, which is used to return homework and exams. And who doesn’t love getting “mail?”