Archives for Student Life

New to UT: III. How Do I Get Football Tickets?

I once heard that the athletic budget at UT was larger than the GDP of a small country. If there is anything bigger than MPA on campus, it is the football team. I remember Vince Young edging into the end zone like it was yesterday, and I still get chills every time I see the replay too. Needless to say at this point, the football team was a big part of why I attended Texas, and if there is any benefit to being a student here, it’s that you get to see a team in the upper echelon of college football royalty play for only a marginal cost.

First though, some thoughts for the week:

Memorial Day

Memorial Day, originally “Decoration Day,” was first celebrated in 1868 to commemorate the Battle of Gettysburg, although the date was intentionally chosen to not coincide with the date of the battle. As time progressed, however, Memorial Day’s scope increased to honor the fallen of all American wars. Congress made the holiday official in 1968 under the Uniform Holidays Bill, which also established Washington’s Birthday and Veterans’ Day as official holidays. As someone who treasures freedom, I could not let this holiday pass without giving a space in my column to those who have died for me to have it, for it takes true courage to put your life on the line for this ideal. (Imagine the lifestyle in which the rights that we consider “unalienable” can be taken away for merely disagreeing with those in authority.) Thus, I leave this paragraph to honor those who gave their lives for my freedom generations later and to support those who answer the call to protect the threat of that freedom when needed. 

The Fifty Best Burgers in Texas

The Stodg, found at The Porch in Dallas, is cooked over hickory wood. It's hard to fathom that this behemoth is only No.6!

In my very first blog post, I mentioned how I have been trying to complete the AFI Top 100 movies. Well, another one of my lists is based on an article published in Texas Monthly nearly two years ago. This article ranks the fifty best burgers in the state. (Seeing as how most public accounting firms have a mandatory retiring age, I figure I’ll have time to open a restaurant once my auditing days are done.) Perhaps not my healthiest endeavor, it is interesting to see how these different establishments set up their businesses and to see the many different ways there are to just cook a burger. Personally, I find that I am partial to those cooked over a wood flame, but that can be compensated for if the quality of the meat is top notch. Thus, I realize that not all of my readers may like the aforementioned classic films, so hopefully curiosity to try a solid burger would be more relatable…and palatable.

Do you really go around trying different kinds of burgers?

Yes, even if it is just for business purposes. As a business student, I like comparing strategies of different companies to see what works, what doesn’t, and why. For example, what qualities distinguish Wal-Mart and Whole Foods even though both fundamentally sell groceries? Similarly, it is interesting to see a chain like Jack-in-the-Box with an incredibly diverse menu that extends to tacos and egg rolls succeed at the same time that the local Mighty Fine thrives on having a menu that nearly consists of only its burgers. Thus, for me it’s not only to taste awesome food, but it’s to see what simplicity can do for metrics such as throughput, quality, training costs, economies of scale, etc. 

But you really want to hear about how to get football tickets… 

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New to UT: II. Do I Need a Car?

This matter is obviously one of preference. It is a question I receive often though, especially from incoming freshmen, so I decided to address it here. There are some pros and cons to having a car as a UT Austin student that I will cover, and even though I believe that it is not necessary to have a car, at least my reasoning will be transparent enough.

First, some highlights from the past week…

Congratulations for Graduating!

Congratulations to all the UT students who graduated this past weekend. I’d like to give a special shoutout to my roommate of four years, who probably deserves a medal for tolerating me for eight semesters. Congratulations on graduation and on your full-time offer!

The Rapture…

…either didn’t happen, or we all got left behind. I hope for the former. In case you didn’t hear, Harold Camping, an 89-year-old retired civil engineer in California, predicted Judgment Day would occur on Saturday, May 21; the prediction did not manifest. Nevertheless, the most famous end-of-days prediction in U.S. history occurred in 1844 when William Miller predicted the second coming would occur on October 22, 1844. Many followers gathered in anticipation (some even quit their jobs) of this prediction and waited all day only to discover that nothing happened; as such, this event was known as “The Great Disappointment. 

Bee Week

May 29-June 4 is Bee Week in Washington DC, and it is probably one of my favorite events of the year after the NCAA Basketball Tournament.

In what I would now describe as a hyper-recruiting-event-like party, contestants and their coaches and families (usually the same people) stay in the Grand Hyatt for a week. While there, contestants engage in meet-and-greets, game nights, several tours throughout the nation’s capital, a barbecue, and a final banquet. Wednesday and Thursday are set aside for competition, however, as students (none past the 8th grade are allowed) try to spell their way to a $30,000 cash grand prize (and about an extra $10,000 in other prizes). To gauge the types of words these spellers face, Scripps Howard offers this sample test

And back to the main topic…

Do I Need a Car?

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New to UT: I. Where Do I Live?

After taking some time to destroy my finals (and vice-versa), I sit back at my computer, relaxed and ready to make some noise on the web (and the Millennium Lab) again. Summer shines its face upon Austin again, whether you’re driving along Mopac watching the green leaves of the trees waving at you as a smooth summer breeze floats by or watching the sun smile upon the lake as you stroll along the Congress Avenue Bridge.  As such, my next several entries will be shorter so that I can go outside.

This next series, as promised, will address some questions I sometimes hear from incoming students. Because a mixed audience may be reading this (1st years, 3rd years, and 5th years), I will try to avoid over-generalizing and be more specific on my thoughts on each of my outlooks.

First, though, a couple of tidbits from the past couple of weeks:

Dallas Mavericks

I admit: I was a doubter of the Mavs and have been for the past five years or so, especially after that debacle against Miami in the finals. After praising the Lakers since the off-season—the 1980 off-season—Mavs fans have my full attention. Please don’t ask me to root against Kevin Durant though…

Kutcher to Replace Sheen

Warner Brothers announced that Ashton Kutcher will replace the estranged Charlie Sheen on the CBS sitcom “Two and a Half Men.” Kutcher is best known for his parts in “That 70s Show” and “Punk’d.” Kutcher will have to undergo a blood test before he is officially signed on as part of a new policy initiated by the Warner Brothers legal counsel to check for abnormally high levels of tiger blood. (#kidding)

Vocabulary Boost?

Merriam Webster published a list of words to add pizzazz to your everyday vocab. These words are supposed to add an extra kick of sophistication and spice to your conversation skills.

Anyway, on to topic…

Where do I live?

I get this question from incoming Longhorns pretty frequently. Honestly, it’s a matter of taste. Some people like quiet, some people like proximity, some people like partying, some people like price. Here are my thoughts on the subject…

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Spring in Austin

Bat statue in AustinI have to say, I am loving the beautiful weather nowadays. Austin takes on a different life during the spring – the foliage turns unbelievable green, and the gorgeous weather makes hanging out at a lake the most languid experience, ever. Yesterday, my husband and I decided to try canoeing – which is just $10 dollars for an hour at Lady Bird Lake. So we went with our one year old son, donned lifejackets and got into the canoe. Considering that we hadn’t done anything adventurous since our son was born, we were pretty excited. But our son made it clear he was not. So we gave up 10 minutes into it, and went home, feeling pretty lame.

Today was a completely different experience. We thought we would go to Zilker Park, to enjoy Barton Springs. The temperature was 90 degrees, and the water was beautiful, not to mention cheap, at $3 per adult. And our son loved it! He was splashing around in the water, and laughing at all the dogs. It was so much fun!

Speaking of dogs, Austin is super dog friendly–much more any other place, as far as I know. So much so that my son’s second word learned was “Bow-Wow”! You see proud owners taking their dogs for walks all the time.

Another fun thing we do is go on the Barton Creek Greenbelt Trail. It is good exercise, and you can jump into water bodies bodies found along the way. The landscape is untouched, except for the trail, so you get to experience nature as well. Really great for mountain biking enthusiasts, too.

Gosh, I just realized I have four more months in Austin. I am really going to miss the restaurants, terrain and lakes :(.

One thing  I am not going to miss is the bats….because bats just freak me out, and Austin has a significant bat population. I don’t mean you would run into them every day or anything….far from it.

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If I could do it again…

It is now the middle of April and final exams are in sight. In a mere 30 days I will be one summer session away from finishing my degree.  With the end now clearly on the horizon, I am well placed to properly weigh all of the decisions I made this year and identify where I went wrong and what I would do again. Some developments were unforseen. Some things I should have taken more seriously.  My list is below.

1)  Course load: I went out of my way to torture myself this year by maxing out with 15 credits (five classes) in both the fall and spring semesters. Sure, I was not the only person to do this, and I certainly have heard horror stories about classmates who have loaded up with even more, but, the point is, I could have easily gotten through the program taking only four classes in the fall and spring and then doubling up on my classes this summer. It simply wasn’t necessary for me to take so many classes at one time.

My advice for the incoming class: If you don’t absolutely have to do it, don’t take more than 12 credits in the fall and spring. Your GPA will thank you for it.

2) Plan your schedule well: I was pretty laissez-faire in terms of how I went about scheduling my classes.  My philosophy was: “I have to take everything anyway, who cares what order I take my classes in?” Wrong. If you plan on recruiting in the fall, it is important to fill your fall semester with lighter classes. (If you think you will not recruit in the fall, trust me, you will.  You just don’t know it yet.)  Make sure you sit down with MPA Academic Advisors Kathy Saqer and Jason Tasset and get your fall semester planned correctly. Otherwise, be prepared to perform at 8 a.m. interviews on only two hours of sleep.

3) Location: It is absolutely impossible for me to study at home.  Impossible. It is just too easy to distract myself in the kitchen or with the computer…I really need the library to function. It follows that I would have been better off living even closer to UT and its 13 libraries.  I say “even closer” because I live pretty close to campus now, just 2 1/2 miles away. But, I live just far enough away that I cannot drop by the library after dinner. Despite the cost, it would have been worth it for me to live within a mile of campus.

My advice for the incoming class: If you have trouble focusing at home, live as close to school as your budget will allow.  It will make a big difference in your productivity.

4) Preparation: My finance class was a real trial.  If I knew in advance that I would have so much trouble with it, I certainly would have prepared for it–perhaps taken some kind of online review–before classes began.

My advice for the incoming class: If you have to take a beginning finance class here, it is in your best interest to get a handle on the basics before you arrive at UT–IRR, discounted cash flows, WACC–know it before you arrive.