Maverick Speakers Series

One of the coolest experiences I have had at the University of Texas at Arlington happened about a month ago. A national celebrity and politician stopped by UTA as part of UTA’s Maverick Speaker Series. Some of the speakers in this series include James Franco (I know, right!), Neil deGrasse Tyson (Yup!!), Bill Nye (the freakin Science guy), and Seth Meyers (REALLY!?!?!?).

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But on this date former Congressman Dr. Ron Paul was on campus speaking. Ron Paul is the father of Senator Rand Paul, a popular libertarian/republican politician, writer, and former presidential candidate.

Now I am not the biggest fan of Dr. Ron Paul (I agree with some of the things he says and disagree with other things…like any other politician.) However, the political nerd in me had to go see him. I mean he was a presidential candidate and represented Texas in the US House of Representatives for more than 20 years. There was no way I was going to miss this event.

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I stayed late on campus (my last class was at three and the talk didn’t start until seven). My excitement for the event grew exponentially when I saw him walking around campus. I mean I was close enough to touch a former presidential candidate!!! I didn’t of course… that would be weird. When it came time for the event I got there a little early and sat near the back and engaged in conversation with an older lady who sat next to me. Then it started. State representative Tony Tinderholt gave the introduction and Dr. Ron Paul stepped out.

Dr. Ron Paul is an older man, in his eighties, skinny, but sharp as a tack. His thoughts are original and not something you will hear from other Washington politicians (I mean you will not hear many politicians argue for the gold standard or isolationism). Again I do not agree with everything he says, but I do respect a man who has stood by his beliefs for so many years.

It was a good talk and after I can understand why he has been so popular for so many years (this was my first time hearing him speak). At the end of the night there was an opportunity to get his autograph, but I was too slow in reacting and the line got too long. You can click here for a quick recap of Dr. Paul’s talk.

Nevertheless, it was one of the coolest things I have done since I transferred here. The last speaker event for the academic year happens tonight. The featured speaker is Jane Goodall. Yes, that lady you have learned about since the eighth grade will be here tonight! Unfortunately, the event is sold out. But make sure to get the list of speakers when the semester starts in the Fall! I am sure you will find a speaker that will not only be interesting to you, but will be an amazing experience.

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If you were lucky enough to snag tickets to the Jane Goodall talk, I’d love to learn about your experience. Leave a comment & join the conversation.

Pros and Cons of Online Classes

So, you’re considering online classes… but you’re still unsure about it. I became a strictly online student this semester, but I’ve been taking online classes for about 2 years now. I will share with you some of the pros and cons of taking online classes.

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Photo courtesy of UTA.edu

Let’s start with the pros.

  1. Flexible schedule. You can do school whenever you want, wherever you want! Some professors require online meetings, or will set time frames for when work is due, but you can generally create your own schedule.
  1. Work at your own pace… sometimes. Some professors give you all of the work up front and allow you to finish ahead of time. Some professors only release assignments a few weeks before they are due. It depends on who you have as a professor, but I really appreciate the ones that allow working ahead!
  1. If you enjoy reading, you’ll love online classes. Most are very reading intensive since the lecture component is cut out of online class. I enjoy this, but it isn’t for everyone.
  1. It’s easier to work. If you have a part time job, you will no longer have to worry about planning your hours around class time. You can now plan school around work, which is really great! It may even allow you to work a few extra hours.
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Photo courtesy of UTA.edu

Sounds great, right? Here are some cons.

  1. You may forget to do classwork. A friend of mine was taking online classes and totally forgot about one of his classes, causing him to fail it. The key to preventing this is making a to do list. The fact that you aren’t in a face-to-face class everyday makes it easy to forget what you actually need to do for class. I keep a journal that is strictly for class to-dos.
  1. The Internet sometimes sucks. ALL classes require an Internet connection. As I’m sure you know, the Internet is more unpredictable than the Texas weather. I’ve been in the middle of a test before and had the Internet cut out. I had to retake the test, which wasn’t fun.
  1. It’s harder to meet potential coworkers and colleagues. Many of the people I met in my in-person classes are people I know I will see in the field throughout my career. Although professors try to replicate this through online discussion boards, web meetings, and email, it’s impossible to completely simulate the face-to-face meetings. This only means that networking is going to be harder, which doesn’t hurt every career, but may be crucial to some.
  1. You may actually have more work. One of my classes requires weekly discussion board postings. These really add to my workload. But some of my classes only require 3 tests for the entire semester. Again, it depends on what kind of professor you have. It’s kind of luck and chance taking an online course.

The best way to decide if online classes are for you is to make a list of the pros and cons you think that you would encounter. I started by only taking one online class per semester. That way, if I decided it wasn’t for me, I didn’t have to take another online class the next semester.

Good luck!

 

Points of Transition: Ya’Ke Smith

This semester the Maverick Transfer Connection has had the privilege of hosting a series of talks we call Points of Transition.  The theme of the series centers around change, transition and the transfer student experience.

This week Assistant Professor and Filmmaker Ya’Ke Smith provided an inspiring and motivational talk in which he discussed his personal college and film-making experiences. The Shorthorn released a short article with information about the talk and Ya’Ke Smith. Read it here and join the conversation on Twitter @UTATransfer and #UTATransfer.

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