Back to School: A Comets Guide for a Rock-Solid Start to Fall Semester

UT Dallas is ready to welcome back students for the fall semester. Classes will begin Monday.

Whether you are new to The University of Texas at Dallas or just returning from summer break, here are some of the best University tips and resources that will help you succeed during the new academic year.


Making a New Home

Tips for new students. Connect with professors and fellow students. Manage and track projects with apps. Make use of student services and support.

Dr. J.D. Thomas, director of Orbit: Keeping New Comets on Course, offered these tips for new students.

Students who are living away from home for the first time may need help adjusting. Ryan White, assistant vice president for residential life, says University Housing staff work hard to make new students feel welcome on campus. Here are a few of his tips: 

  • Connect with your peer advisor. Be sure to communicate the types of things you are interested in and ask about ways to get involved on campus.
  • Get to know your roommates. Introduce yourself at move-in; grab a bite to eat on campus; or attend one of Weeks of Welcome events together. 
  • Look for people wearing name tags. These staff and campus leaders can help you navigate campus if you’re lost or have questions.

“We want to make sure students find staff accessible to answer questions and provide support on move-in day and beyond,” White said.

UT Dallas offers a variety of other resources to help students succeed, said Dr. J.D. Thomas, director of Orbit: Keeping New Comets on Course. They include:

“From the University’s Orbit initiative to its newest Quality Enhancement Plan, UT Dallas is committed to ensuring that all new students feel valued, respected and included, and have the resources and support they need to succeed in their first year and beyond,” Thomas said.


Getting Around Campus

Parking Structure 3

There are a lot of ways to get around campus, from biking or driving to hopping a ride on a Comet Cab. Elena Galli, assistant director for parking and transportation, offers the following suggestions:

  • Arrive early, and know where your classroom buildings are. 
  • Find out where parking is available. UTD Parking will be live-tweeting information for the first few days of the semester. Available spaces can be found on the UTD app for Apple and Android, the parking website and on signs at parking structure entrances. For those with green permits, the easiest places to find available spaces are in the more remote lots — A, B and especially U.  
  • Know your transportation options. Comet Cabs provide a free, quick shuttle trip around campus. VBikes and Zipcars are available for bike-sharing and short-term car-sharing use. DART partners with UTD to provide free passes to students, and the free Comet Cruiser shuttle bus service travels to McCallum Boulevard, the Frankford Road/Coit Road intersection and the CityLine/Bush Train Station.

“UTD Parking and Transportation Services prides itself on customer service, problem-solving and having a wide variety of parking and transportation options for students, faculty, staff and visitors,” Galli said.

Other Resources


Staying Safe

Student volunteers with University Emergency Medical Response serve as round-the-clock first responders on campus.

UTD Police work round-the-clock to make campus a safe place for students, faculty, staff and visitors. Police Chief Larry Zacharias offers a few tips to help those new to campus: 

  • Pay attention to your surroundings. If you walk alone at night wearing headphones while staring at your phone, you are more vulnerable to becoming a crime victim.
  • Never leave your backpack or other property unattended. Theft of unattended property is the biggest crime problem on campus.
  • Recognize and avoid financial scams. Banks and U.S. government agencies do not accept gift cards as a source of payment for any purpose. Report any such suspicious emails to UTD Police.

“Keeping our campus safe and having our campus community feel safe is our No. 1 priority,” Zacharias said. “Students can reach out to us with any question or any request for assistance to help resolve problems. Our highly trained staff of police officers, public-safety officers and police-dispatch personnel are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.” 

Other Resources


Staying Smart

The Student Success Center helps students meet their academic goals across a wide variety of subjects.

Students often need to earn extra income while in school or learn money management skills now that they’re living away from home. The Comet Cents program in the Student Success Center provides some wise financial guidance. 

  • Create a budget and use an app such as Mint or PocketExpense to help you track your spending habits. 
  • Use the 50/30/20 rule to stick to your budget: 50% for needs, 30% for wants and 20% for savings.
  • Prepare for emergencies. Save a little each month until you have at least $300 on hand for unexpected expenses.

“Students are often eager to get an on-campus job and earn some extra money. Before jumping in, we recommend students examine their class and study schedules so they don’t spread themselves too thin,” said Julie Murphy, director of peer education in the Student Success Center. “The work-life balance will serve them well here at UTD, and it’s a skill they can take with them after graduation, too.”

Other Resources


Staying Healthy

Yoga is one of the group fitness classes offered by University Recreation.

Most students know that maintaining their physical health is important, but they also need to take care of their mental health. Drs. Alanna Carrasco Drummond and Kimberly Burdine, licensed psychologists in the Student Counseling Center, offer the following suggestions to help students gear up mentally for a new academic year. 

  • No problem is too big or too small to talk about with a therapist or other trusted resource.
  • Adjusting to college and new classes will be difficult, and you may fail here and there. This is normal. No matter what school or program you have been accepted to, you deserve to be there and belong just as much as anybody else. 
  • Know the resources available to you, and get involved in something on campus. It will help you feel connected, and you will be more likely to succeed.

“Transitioning to college and earning a degree is a challenge, and there are tons of pathways to success,” Drummond said.

Burdine, assistant director of student counseling, adds: “Each student’s journey and the story they tell about it will be different, but what will be true for everyone is the importance of prioritizing mental health.” 

Other Resources


Fall commencement will be held the week of Dec. 16.

Important Dates

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