This attempts to address questions that you might have about UTD, preparing to come to UTD, the student life here, and other stuff. Most of it might be of use to you, if you already have a admission to UTD, and are planning to come here.
Use the tabs below to navigate to different sections.
Q. Will ISA provide transportation for me from the airport?
A. Yes. The ISA does help provide transportation from the airport and from other places such as bus stations, train stations etc. An ISA volunteer would be present at that place to receive you and get you to the university. Please note that you would have to inform the ISA well in advance by filling a request for pickup – the link to which will be activated on the ISA website about a month prior to the start of the semester.
Q. Should I contact ISA before I book my tickets? Is there any restriction on when I should reach Dallas?
A. You do not have to contact us before buying your tickets. You can reach Dallas on anyway, and at any time, and we will try our best to receive you ! But the ISA is an entirely volunteer organization, and the most of the volunteers are students who don't have cars. So, they, typically, have to request other working-students, friends etc. to help them with a ride to the airport. This means, that at times, it might happen that a new students coming at a really weird time and day might not be received at the airport ! The chances of this happening are rare, but it can. So, if you can, without sacrificing money, time, etc and without putting yourself in any trouble, try to reach here during a weekend, or the next best a week-day evening. Arranging airport pickups and transportation is easier on weekends so please try to come here on weekends. BUT, remember, if you have informed the ISA of your travel plans, and we have promised to receive you, we will do that.
Q. What should I do to get this transportation?
A. These are the steps that you must follow
Fill in an application for pickup on the ISA website (It will be activated around a month before the start of the semester) where you would be required to provide us with the following information-
Your Full Name - please specify your last name, since we might require this at times to trace your flight.
Your itinerary - airline which will get you to Dallas, flight number, the date and time of your arrival,Terminal number. Also detailed information about your remaining flights.
A Recent Snap – Note that the DFW airport has a large number of Indian students coming in to attend universities like UTD,Texas Tech, UTA etc so to help identify you at the airport it would be highly recommended you provide us with a recent snap or atleast a decent description of yourself.
IMP Note: please no group requests. Everyone requesting for a pickup should put in a separate request.
Confirm your tickets, and send pickup and accommodation request 10-15 days before you leave from India. PLEASE do inform us of any changes to your travel plans. There is no way we can get that information without you informing us. In case you miss your flight make sure you call us and let us know so that we don’t end up waiting at the airport.
Q. What should I do after reaching Dallas?
A. Some of you might have to do your customs and immigration check at the DFW (Dallas) airport. For others, this might be done at another airport in US, if you had a connecting flight. This is known as port of entry. After you are done with this, and after you have collected all your bags, stay where you are. We usually find out where you would be collecting your bags, and so will reach that terminal to find you. The Dallas airport is very large, and it would be very difficult to trace you if you wander away to another terminal/gate. So, stay where you are, and someone will come to meet you!
Q. What if I don't see anyone there?
A. DON'T PANIC! Even though this is a new place for you, and you don't see anyone around you who looks remotely familiar, don't get scared. In about 90% of the times, person who's coming to get you is caught up in traffic. The airport is about 25 miles from the school campus, and frequently, there are traffic jams on the route to the airport, especially on week-days. So, wait for some time, and he/she will be there. If you do get concerned, or if its been quite some time since have been waiting, call the number that you have been given. Each of you who has gotten in touch with us for transportation will be given a contact number to call in case you don't have anyone receive you at the airport. If you don't get a reply at that number, PLEASE leave a voice message for us. This is most important, and this is the cause of most miscommunication !
Q. I have been waiting for more than an hour, called the number many time - what do I do?
A. We are, but, humans, and it can sometimes happen that the person sent to receive you got incorrect information, and went at a different time to a different terminal, or has been caught in traffic for a loooong time. If at such times, you feel the need to reach the campus on your own, do so - its very easy.(Please note however that ISA has a 100% pickup record – If we have acknowledged to pick you up we will do our best to do just that) One of the best (and most cost effective ways) is to take the discount shuttle . In the terminal where you are, you will see signs for Ground Transportation . Follow those, they will take you to something that looks like a telephone / intercom booth. Look up the code for Discount Shuttle ,and call that number. Tell the person who answers, that you need a discount shuttle for UTD, which is in Richardson city, which is in North Dallas. Also tell him/her the number of the gate and terminal where you are. You might have to wait for sometime. The shuttle will eventually reach you, and take you to the school campus. This is the address that you give him/her -
University of Texas at Dallas (UTD)
The street address:
2700 Waterview Parkway
Apt. # 5113
Closest Intersection : Campbell Road and Coit Road
Q. What do I call and leave a message?
A. The public telephones in Dallas need around 35 cents to make a call. Please keep this change with you. If you don't have the exact change, but have more than that in coins, you can still use the phone, but you won't get the difference between what you put and how much was actually used (35 cents) back ! If you don't have any change, you can buy something - coke, water, coffee, and ask the vendor for change to make the call, OR look for a samaritan to give you change ! Dial the entire 10 digit number that you have been given. Contrary to what you might have heard from your friends in other cities, you cannot reach anyone in Dallas with just the 7 digit number. You have to put the money in BEFORE you place the call. After the call connects, and no one answers, wait for a few rings, before the answering machine or voice mail comes on, and leave a message. In the message, be sure to say your name, the exact place where you are (gate/terminal) and the airline and flight number that you took.
Q. You are scaring me !!
A. Hey - chill! These are instructions that you might not even have to use. For most of you, you will be met by one of us the instant you come out, and will have a comfortable ride to school. These instruction are for those rare cases, which even though very unlikely, can still happen - and it is better to know what to do than just sit and cry ! AND remember, if you are not sure of what to do, ask any policeman, security person, official, or just any person in the airport for instructions on how to use the phone
Does UTD have dorm / student housing?
Yes - UTD does have on-campus housing. These aren't dorms but are like regular apartments with complete kitchen, bedroom, bathroom and hall; they are owned by a private company (Waterview and University Village). They are for UTD students and are located on the school campus. You can get more information at http://www.utdallas.edu/student/slife/housing/index.html. and in the housing section of the ISA website.
How much do the apartments cost ?
University Housing has a variety of apartments depending on how much space/privacy you require, and how much you can spend. The University Housing web site will have this information. Since the price varies and changes without notice, we request you to check the cost on UTD website.
Most of the new students arriving here stay in apartments on the school campus. However with the large number of students coming for each semester, there is no guarantee that each and every one gets an apartment on campus. Under such circumstances the best thing would be to move to an apartment off campus and located close to the university. You will also need about $100 for other initial expenses. This is because the the apartments are unfurnished and you will have to buy some basic stuff for the apartment. The apartments come with a gas-range, dish-washer, refrigerator, air conditioner/heater, hot water; some apartments have a washer-dryer
Can I book an apartment before I reach UTD?
You can write to the contact person at the UTD Waterview website for more information on this. You will find the online applications for applying for housing on the respective housing websites. Usually at the start of semesters, the Waterview apts have a long waiting list of students (numerous undergrads, and a few grads) wanting apartments, and there is all possibility that you end up on the waiting list too so if possible it is always recommended that you apply for an apartment as soon as possible.
Then how would I get an apartment if I haven’t booked one already?
Typically, you would come to UTD, meet with the apartment officials, and wait till an apartment becomes empty. More frequently, you would have parts of apartments become vacant, when a few of the residents move out, and you would then move in those apartments. Depending on the availability, it can take anywhere from few days to a month to get an apartment. In case you do not get an apartment on-campus you would have to move to an apartment off-campus.
Where would I stay till then? Will ISA arrange for apartments?
ISA would love to arrange for vacant apartments for temporary stay, but as of now, it's been very difficult to do that. Instead, we would put you up with some other students in their apartments till you get your own. This is a neat arrangement, since this has a number of benefits - you have a lot of (seniors) friends to help you get adjusted to a new place, guide you with school, courses etc., and help you get your own apartment. Most of the times, this is where you will make friends ! But please understand that this is only a temporary arrangement and asking people to bear the additional expenses of 4-5 temps for more than a week or two is not reasonable. You would have to make your own arrangements for housing as soon as possible. Most of the students who came for last fall experienced the same shortage of apartments so they will be able to help you out as to where to stay in case you need to move off-campus. Feel free to ask any of the ISA members/Indians for more information. Also if you have relatives/friends in Dallas, it would be a great help if you could stay with them for a few days. This would in turn help us to provide temporary accommodation to other students who are in much higher need of one
Why can't the school or ISA arrange for apartments before I get there?
A very valid question, one that we ask ourselves and the school frequently. It does sound very easy in theory, but in reality ... its quite a different story. Firstly, UTD is expanding, the number of new students joining UTD every semester is increasing. In a past few semesters, Waterview alleviated this problem temporarily by building new apartments. We don't know what their future plans are, but even if they do build new apartments, the increase in the new student strength could just nullify that. Also, most of the apartments which become vacant are when students leave those apartments after the semester starts. It is very difficult to anticipate that. What this means is that while the ISA is constantly seeking UTD's help is addressing this problem, we do understand their side of the story, and do realize that this is quite a formidable task.
Kinda confusing .. so what do I do?
Nothing, really ! Just inform us when you are arriving, and we'll take care of your temporary housing. If you have friends staying off-campus, close to UTD, try to stay with them for a few days. We will arrange for apartments where you can stay till you get your own. That might mean some adjustments, but you'll find that its a lot of fun too!
My GRE score is... , will I get admitted with or without a TA/RA?
It is very difficult for any student to tell about your chances of getting admitted here at UTD. Many factors such as the GRE scores, your academic performances, your statement of purpose, your fields of interest count towards this decision by the department. The best person to check on this would be the department graduate program secretary, or a faculty member. Since they receive thousands of such emails, they may take a long time replying, or may not even reply to a very general email. Financial aid is decided by the department, and professors frequently appoint teaching/research assistants depending on their research and how that matches with your interests. So writing directly to professors does help sometimes. Usually, from our experience at UTD, your test scores don't matter a lot for being considered for a TA/RA - its usually the other factors (again Q1).
Will I get financial assistance / aid?
As we mentioned in the first Q, there is no way anyone can predict your chances of getting aid. The number of international students coming to UTD has increased tremendously in the past few years, and consequently so has the competition for TA/RA and all on-campus jobs. Also, the number of international students coming to UTD has been on an high increase every semester, which translates into an increased competition for a very small number of assistantships. Also, due to the current market scenario, the number of students enrolling for PHD has shot up drastically. So the chances of getting TA/RA are extremely low for MS students, almost non existent. Even getting on-campus jobs is very tough now as there are huge number of applications for even a single opening. We would not advise you to depend on on-campus job for your education at UTD. Please do remember that the situation changes every semester, and it is better to be prepared for the eventuality of having to bear all your expenses after coming here. Though the chances of getting assistance increases with every semester that you stay here, since you get to interact with faculty more, and can demonstrate your abilities with good grades in your courses here, there is no way any student can tell you about your chances of getting financial assistance in UTD, either in the first semester or second. Getting a TA/RA depends on a lot of factor like your grades in your undergrad, courses you had taken. courses you take in your first semester in UTD, your grades in the first semester, the interest that you have shown in research, your abilty to demonstrate your knowledge of the research being conducted etc.
Can I be sure that I can get financial assistance in my second semester ? I am depending on that?
Read next answer for the first part - can I .. ?
The second - we don't want to scare you guys - we really want to see you here, but we hope that you realize that if you come here without a TA/RA, there is a high probability that you may NOT get any financial assistance for 2-3 semesters. Also, when we write that, "your chances of getting aid in the 2nd semester are better" - what we mean is better than your first semester, but that does not mean that everyone would get a TA or a RA in their second semester !
so - MOST IMPORTANTLY - don't depend on getting a job/aid in your 1st/2nd or further semesters in UTD. Make sure that you have enough funds to fall back to, in case you are in a spot. Getting on-campus job is also equivalently tough. But even if you get one, then also no job pays enough to cover tuition fees.
I have ... years of experience in teaching / research / industry; will that help?
As for admissions, a lot of factor decide your chances of getting a TA/RA. No student will be able to help you with this question, and the only person who can is the faculty from whom you are trying for a TA/RA. Your experience might help you get a better advantage than say another student with no experience but the final decision comes down to the faculty members.
How easy is it getting an on-campus job in the first semester?
Most of the on-campus jobs depend on factors such as availability, duration of the job, and (we hate writing this, but its true) - your luck at being in the right place at the right time ! The procedure that you have to follow for such jobs is to fill out application at a few places in school, but there are no fixed qualifications for these jobs - most of them are jobs which anyone can do, and don't need any special skills. So, sometimes, if you are lucky, you could walk into (for example) the space physics department, where the graduate secretary has just decided on hiring a student as an assistant - she sees you, talks to you, and decides that she doesn't want the hassle of going to the HR office etc., and gives you a job on the spot ! But, at times, you could have filled out applications at all offices, and be waiting at home for a call, which doesn't come for days. We don't want to disappoint you guys, but this is how it works - the school has number of offices, who usually hire students for jobs - its your job to make sure that you have done everything that you could for getting a job.
What is the procedure for applying for an oncampus job?
The best way would be to personally approach the people at the offices where they are recruiting students. You would generally need to submit a copy of your resume and might have to fill in an application for the post. In most cases the school officials ask you to apply through the comet careers (online community where you can forward your resume to places having job openings oncampus). However students gain access to the comet careers only after orientation so if you are a new student, in such cases there isn’t much you can do but wait.
I have heard that getting jobs in UTD has become difficult. Is that true?
The stuff about .. increased competition etc as said in above questions. ... stands for this too. The number of jobs don't increase proportionately with the number of students coming in, and so it has become extremely tough too, than it was earlier.
How easy is it in getting a job after I graduate?
UTD is located in Richardson, which does have quite a few companies. But like any of the questions here, we have to add a disclaimer which says that many more factors determine the kind of job that you might get after graduating, including your academic progress here at UTD, and the current economic climate in the US.
Can you check on my admission status ? Why haven't I still received my I-20 ? I want to clarify a new/old school admission/ visa rule.?
Unfortunately, school policy forbid us to answer any such questions related to the status of your admission, or visa related. Please check the site for International Students Services Office , or write to them at firstname.lastname@example.org , and they will be able to help you.
Do I have to undergo a medical exam here or get any vaccination?
The only test that you have will have to go through is a skin TB test. UTD will test you the day of your international orientation (usually around the 15th of august). If you test positive for this test (a lot of Indians do), you have to get a chest X-ray to prove that you don't have TB. You have to get this done here, it costs around $ 25-$30 for the X-ray. You will be allowed to register after the skin test. If you really do have TB, you will be given treatment for that here. Medical Certificate ( Plus Chest X-Ray in case skin test is positive ) from India can save you these hassles and money.
There is no other medical examination here. The TB test is for immigration purposes - registration at school does not need you to 'pass' any medical tests.
How are the living conditions in Richardson?
Richardson is a really nice place to live in. In fact it was recently voted the 16th best place to live in America. There are a lot of Indians staying here and in the neighboring towns of Irving and Plano. The weather varies from very hot in summers to cold in winters. We do have snow fall a few times in the year so it would be better you pack appropriate clothing while coming here.
What kind of recreational activities does the university have?
The university has its own activity center which has an indoor gym, indoor basket ball, squash, volleyball, walleyball, racquetball courts and an indoor swimming pool. In addition there are a number of outdoor basketball and tennis courts along with a few football fields. We also have a cricket ground where ISA generally conducts cricket tournaments throughout the year. The university also has a student union center which houses a couple of billiard tables, chess, carom, and billiard tables in addition to a few arcade machines.
What do students do for daily lunch and dinner?
Usually almost all students cook their own food at home in their apartments (sharing the days of the week they need to cook along with roommates). The university does have a food store called the Comet Cafe on campus in the student union and also a sort of restaurant called the UTD Pub where you could purchase your lunch/dinner though this might turn out to be a bit too expensive.