In a few days, I’ll be graduating from the University of Advancing Technology. This is somewhere I’ve met lifelong friends from all over the nation. This is somewhere I’ve learned about my passion. This is somewhere I called home for the better part of two years. This is where it all started.
When I was in high school, I was in a F.I.R.S.T. robotics club. F.I.R.S.T. stands for “For Inspiration and Recognition of Technology”. Every year, a game is announced with it’s own set of rules and restrictions on robots. For all four years, I was on the mechanical sub-team where students are able to learn about mechanical engineering and how fabrication of metal parts to work in the rigorous restrictions of the game that year. I thought that mechanical engineering was what I wanted to do after high school. It felt natural to go into the field. After a while, I realized that I didn’t enjoy the field and that I stayed because I enjoyed hanging out with my friends. That’s not to say that I didn’t learn anything during my time there. I learned a lot and I cherished my time there. I didn’t have a drive or passion for it.
My drive was in video games, but programming didn’t interest me, art might have, but design is where I flourish. Breaking down and constructing games from the ground up is incredible and being able to make something from scratch is fascinating to me. I had to tell my parents because they were the ones that were the driving point behind me going to college. I was scared to tell them because I had a predetermined mindset that they would be disappointed in me if I didn’t go into a field that was engineering-related. They told me that it was ultimately my decision. They only cared for what would make me happy. I was relieved and there’s a big possibility that I was just overthinking it. I was excited and I started looking until I found UAT and I haven’t looked back since.
In the beginning, I thought I was way in over my head. I was an introvert and I felt like I needed something new. Coming from Upstate New York, I didn’t know how I would fare in Arizona. I was skeptical and afraid of college since I had never been away from New York without my parents. During my first day on campus, I made friends and I started living on my own. It was strange, scary, but also liberating. I didn’t have to tell anyone what time I would be home by or anything. I would call my parents every weekend and update them on how I was doing (which by the way I would highly recommend even if the call is only a minute or two).
The following are a few tips that I wish I had learned before coming into the life of a college student:
Financially, I would say that it’s been relatively stable. Don’t spend all of your money as soon as you get it. Spend things only on what you need to, but it’s okay to splurge on yourself every now and then. If you need to get a job, the school offers plenty of student work positions in IT, the Bindery, and as Student Ambassadors, which is a job I had. If for some reason you can’t do that, the Cafe is a nice alternative. All of the jobs on campus work around your school schedule with extremely flexible hours. Before getting a job, I would highly recommend getting into a steady work ethic first.
When trying to find a steady work ethic, it really depends on the person. Personally, I like doing work for one class a day so that I can have the weekends for myself. Most homework is usually due on Sunday at midnight. I used to be one of those people that would attend classes and wait until Sunday morning to do homework. I would finish around Sunday night and taking an entire day to do homework is miserable. I wouldn’t recommend it at all. Make a work schedule for yourself. Make sure that you get it done and try not to fall more than two days behind because the work starts to add up over time. Having the weekends to relax or to do big projects is always nice because of the free time that you have to do so.
Set alarms for classes! During my first semester, I found that I was missing class after class because I just lost track of time. Setting alarms 5 or 10 minutes before your class is extremely beneficial. You can get from a third story dorm room to a second story class room in two minutes if you’re walking casually. There’s no rush, but just don’t forget! You’re paying a lot in money and knowledge for each class you miss.
Don’t burn bridges. This goes for everyone in your life. You never know where they’ll end up and where you might be in a position to need their help in the future. Whether it be on a future project or on a future job, just because there’s an argument doesn’t mean you need to hold a grudge. Be the better person and try to make amends. Use it as a learning experience.
Put in a lot of work and you’ll get a lot out of it. Learn from your mistakes, make the most of the time that you have, and put effort into projects to the point where you’re proud of what you’ve made. Projects at UAT matter because you're building a portfolio and by the time you’re finished with school, you’ll want to prove that you’re the best of the best to everyone!
Finally, have fun. Yes, the reason why you’re in college is to learn, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun along the way. Make new friends, say hi to people in the hallways, ask them how their day is going, and make plans! Be yourself and people will be receptive.
I’ll be around for a few more days. If I don’t see that time before then, it’s been a nice time writing to you guys and thank you to everyone reading and everyone that helped along the way. UAT has been my home, but it’s time for me to move on. It's been a wild ride. Dallas is calling and I need to answer.