College 101: Student Organization and Recommendation Letter

Andrew Lee
3 min readMar 4, 2021

Getting Admitted Should Not Be The End Goal

Higher education has become a competitive market, especially for high school students as the concept of “going to college” is almost ubiquitous. However, a college environment is widely unfamiliar until he or she experiences it by oneself. Even if one is admitted, new questions arise.

More than half of college students end up changing their majors at least once, which leads to extra costs and time. Some factors include uncertainty of choosing the right major, unpreparedness to pursue a specific major, lack of an accurate picture of the current field, lack of personal/professional network and guidance, etc. Although college admission consulting companies are often chosen for these matters, they are highly expensive, and the mentors come from different college backgrounds and may not be intimately matched with students.

Let’s talk about an example of one college in the US. About half of the students admitted have SAT scores between 1230–1480 or an ACT score of 27–33. This does not mean one is guaranteed to get in with the above-average scores or get rejected with a below-average score.

When in doubt, start with these questions: What distinguishes you from others? What are you passionate about? Start looking into what you want to do at a specific university and plan ahead to be better adapted to a competitive environment.

Student Organization at The University of Texas at Austin

1,1000 — this is how many student organizations there are at the Forty Acres. When a semester begins, students have approximately less than a month-long window to find and join organizations, which could become a hassle for students along with an unfamiliar environment, new friends, challenging classes, and the infamous Freshmen 15. Thus, it is important to search ahead via Hornslink, where one can find student organizations at UT.

At some point, students may not find the right one for themselves. Then, why can’t they create one? The Student Activities website has tons of information about how to start a new organization. Normally, it’s very difficult to make one during the first year since a couple of officers and a handful amount of members are needed to create a sustainable organization.

Just because adding leadership experience on a resume is preferred, it does not mean that one should stop caring about the club right after it’s established. To truly articulate one’s experience whether it’s for a job interview or graduate school, he or she needs to know why it was made, what problems it encountered, and what was done to solve them. Another great source one can look for is an upperclassman who has experience with student organizations as a member, officer, or founder.

Recommendation Letter

A recommendation letter is often overlooked by many students. Although those who want to attend graduate schools understand it is a necessary component, other undergraduates may not.

However, your attention should rather be directed towards its process of networking. Just because you get an A in a certain class does not guarantee that you will receive a well-written, in-depth letter. Instead, you should “consistently” attend office hours or try to connect with instructors at a personal level because they were once students just like you. Sometimes, you will be introduced to different opportunities. For instance, a professor may have a connection with a program, organization, or research lab that you want to be part of.

Frankly, you really don’t know where a seemingly insignificant relationship will lead to. It could be a hassle to form such a bond with someone you don feel comfortable with but most relationships start with a bit of uneasiness. This may sound obvious but professors have met numerous students throughout their entire career; thus, in the end, they will know if you only want the letter not human connection.

One last piece of advice is that while being “you be you,” be liberal about reaching out to as many as you can. Then, you can be more selective with whom you ultimately want to ask for a letter — preferably from a professor who knows you the best.

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