Category Archives: Education

The UT Bridging Disciplines Programs

Looking to get the most out of your college degree? Then look no further than The University of Texas’ Bridging Disciplines Programs.

If you have a diverse set of interests, aren’t quite sure what you want to do with your degree and are looking for some guidance, or simply want a more well-rounded, versatile education experience, then the BDPs might be for you.

Need career guidance? The BDP advisors are ready to help you! (Photo by quinn.anya via Flickr Creative Commons)

Started in 2002 by the Provost’s Office, the Bridging Disciplines Programs are now a part of the School of Undergraduate Studies, which provides a diverse set of programs and resources that traverse boundaries between colleges and disciplines and enhance the quality of undergraduate education.

“The BDPs are a great way to get to learn in depth about a subject that interests you from more than one disciplinary perspective,” said Alex Briceno, a member of the Environmental BDP. “My BDP has really enhanced my experience at the university by helping me meet new people and be exposed to new ideas that I could not have found by just taking the courses required for my degree.”

The BDPs consist of eleven different interdisciplinary concentrations, ranging from Children and Society to Digital Arts and Media. Each of the concentrations represent areas of innovative faculty research, teaching and collaboration at UT, and each program is led by a cross-college panel of faculty members whose research relates to the program topic.

In these programs, students study an issue from a variety of perspectives, teaching them to become more flexible, versatile thinkers, and preparing them for a professional world that values collaboration and innovation.

BDPs combine courses that fulfill core requirements, electives, and courses for your major with real world experience to connect your BDP topic with your major and career goals. With planning, the BDP should NOT add time to your UT career. Rather, the BDP helps you choose the courses you already have to take in an integrated way, giving you the opportunity to develop a secondary area of specialization.

As a BDP student, you gain access to valuable career advising. BDP advisors are here to help you find courses, research opportunities, and internship experiences that complement your major, while also supporting you in developing knowledge and experience you would not otherwise find within your degree plan.

After completing the required 19 credit hours of coursework, research, and internship experiences, students earn a certificate demonstrating a secondary area of specialization that complements their major.

“It truly allows you to customize your time at UT so you can make the most of your resources and leave UT feeling like you have experienced everything you wanted to academically,” said Morgan Rucker, who was part of the International Studies BDP. “I can’t say, ‘I wish my major had let me learn more about ________area,’ because the BDPs gave me an opportunity to do it.”


Registering For Classes In 1-2-3 (-4-5-6…) Easy Steps!

So it is starting to get close to everybody’s favorite time of the year, you know, registration!

While the actual dates for signing up for classes are April 19-30, now is the time when you should be preparing for those days.

For freshmen that may have registered for the first time during orientation, this whole process is probably new to you. For upperclassmen, let it serve as a little refresher.

First things first, check your Registration Information Sheet, otherwise known more simply as your RIS. Your RIS lists your access periods and access times, information for advising and any registration bars you may have.

The next thing you should do is consult a course schedule. For this registration period, you may need to look at two separate course schedules—those for both the summer and fall semesters. Currently, only the summer 2010 course schedule is available, while the fall 2010 schedule will be available at least two weeks prior to the beginning of registration.

Then make sure that you have cleared all of your bars. These may be financial or non-financial bars, but either way, they will keep you from registering. Many academic departments also have an advising bar and require their students to be advised before registering. However, even if it is not required, talking with an advisor in your department before registration comes highly recommended.

Another useful tool, especially for very organized students, is the interactive degree-audit system. IDA allows you to keep an eye on the big picture and check your progress towards that degree. Utilizing this tool is very effective in making sure that you graduate on time. One benefit of the IDA is that it will help you keep track of your classes using the calendar, and will inform you of your prerequisites and requirements.

Now you are ready to register. Make a list of the courses you want to take, and get ready to punch in the unique numbers as quick as you can!

In the event that a course is full, your only option may be to join a waitlist for it. Keep in mind also that their will be an add/drop period at the beginning of the semester that you are now registering for, so there is still hope that you can get into that course.

A few more tips from my personal experiences:

  • Freshmen, don’t plan ahead too early. Get a rough idea—very rough—of what you want to take, and pray that you can form some sort of a decent schedule with whichever courses remain open.
  • MyEdu, formerly Pick-A-Prof, is your best friend. Pay the small fee and join, you won’t regret it at all.
  • Those Course-Instructor Surveys that you hate filling out? They do matter, and can be useful as well. Check the CIS results for more information about courses and instructors.
  • For the sake of a little bit more time, don’t concern yourself with the options given before you register classes, such as to buy a Cactus Yearbook or LASP. You can go back and purchase these after you get your classes in.

Oh, one more thing to remember–don’t forget to pay your tuition by the deadline. The university sends out too many emails for you to forget, so don’t ignore them, and consequently lose all the courses you registered for.

Registration is hard enough the first time, do you really want to have to do it all again?

For any more questions, check out the Registrar’s website.  

Best of luck!

Applying for University Scholarships

So I just completed my Continuing Scholarship application for the upcoming 2010-2011 school year. The deadline for the scholarship is midnight on April 1, but in order to be considered for the Texas Exes scholarships I had to get it in by March 1–which is TOMORROW!

These 28 days in February really threw me off, but I am now back on track.

In talking to my friends about the scholarship I learned that a lot of them were not even applying for it because they either didn’t know where to go to find the application online or didn’t know about it at all.

Well if you are in the same boat as them, then I am here to help you out.

This year, many students are going to be looking at financial aid to help lessen the blow that the economy has had on jobs and income. Many will also need more than government aid to get through the year, and scholarships are one great place to start looking for those extra funds.

First things first, complete your FAFSA , which is your application for federal government need-based financial awards, such as grants and loans. To be considered for the full range of scholarships offered through the Office of Student Financial Services, students must complete the FAFSA, which is available beginning January 1. The priority deadline for Fall attendees is March 31.

Many scholarships are based on merit, but in the case of need-based scholarships the FAFSA is often referenced. Get this beast out of the way early because it is tedious and a lot of work.

The second step is to look around for scholarships and start applying. The main site for campus-wide scholarships at UT is Texas Scholarships but be sure to check each individual school for their departmental scholarships. There are also scholarships outside of UT, so just be creative and look around.

Keep in mind, however, that all of these may have different deadlines, so make sure you are aware of when the application is due. Nothing is worse than writing a great personal essay, only to find out that it was due yesterday

Another big key to remember is that some scholarships may require letters of recommendation. If they do, be sure to ask early! I have always heard that two weeks in advance is a pretty good standard, so be sure that you don’t offend your favorite professor or faculty member by asking them the day before. Check out this site from Cornell that has some great tips on asking for letters of recommendation.

Overall, as you can see, the main thing about applying for scholarships is to just stay on top of things. I have found it helpful to keep all of my old essays and have an updated resume on hand so that you have something to reference when filling out each application.

If you decide to apply, good luck! And don’t put it off!