I moved to Texas from California when I was in the sixth grade. And when I say moved, I really mean dragged, kicking and screaming. It wasn't a fun time. For fear of death threats, I won't say I hated Texas, but I really didn't love it either. Whenever I tell people I'm from California, they without fail ask me which I like better, California or Texas. For years I, without fail, replied the former. It was the only life I had known, of course I was attached to it. I was convinced I wanted to go to college in California, too. I would see all my old friends again and it would all be perfect and wonderful and fantastic.
So I visited Berkeley, Davis, UCLA, even Stanford (this one was just wishful thinking), but none of them felt right. None of them felt like somewhere I wanted to call home. I'm sure everyone who goes to these universities are lovely, but when I toured the campuses, nobody looked up and said hello to me. Nobody asked if I was lost (which I was, desperately).
There have been many brilliant responses to the question of "Why UT?" (notably Rohan Ramchand's, whose this was partly inspired by) and this is mine: the moment I set foot on UT campus, I felt something click. The atmosphere was an oddly brilliant mixture of welcoming and peaceful and lively, and I don't know why and I don't know how, but everything felt right. Also, people told me where to go when I was lost so that was a bonus.
Whether you want to base it off of rankings or campus life, UT wins it all. UT's computer science program rivals the likes of Cal Tech and Princeton, and the Turing Scholars program probably beats out even Cornell. And everyone knows it, too. When I asked a computer science professor at another university for advice on where I should go to college, he said UT Austin with absolutely no hesitation.
I come from small towns, both in California and Texas, so the size of UT was a shock for me, but not like a pitcher of cold water thrown in your face shock. More like those little finger buzzer things that come in joke sets (you know the one). Jarring, yes, but it leaves you feeling a little giddy inside after. I love that UT's big because it gives me a sense of freedom. And there's a sort of freedom in Austin that I haven't seen anywhere else. A freedom in the endless skies and endless roads and endless possibilities. I know I'm just a freshman and haven't seen anything yet, but that's the best part about this; I can't wait to experience everything UT offers.