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Kopp's Weekly - Final Exams

Kopp's Weekly - Final Exams

Standing in between us all and the holiday is the final exam period which starts tomorrow.

Dear students,


This will be my last email of the semester before we all go home and enjoy a well-deserved rest. Over the break, I'm sure all of you have some combination of airports, sleeping in, catching up with friends back home, and thinking about next steps in Spring semester.

Standing in between us all and the holiday is the final exam period which starts tomorrow. To be honest, this was always one of my favorite periods in college. It always seemed like a quiet period when I finally had a chance to go back, re-think the material, bug my TA about things I never understood well, and prove to myself I really did understand the point of the class. I still remember a final paper due in my Greek Civilization class that I must have brought to the professor 3 times before he finally indicated I was on to something, and I still remember the "Eureka" moment in my sophomore physics class when I understood why diagonalizing a matrix was related to understanding the motion of a spinning object. While I somehow fumbled through those classes just fine, it was these end-of-semester realizations that delivered the satisfaction that the class was worth the investment of time and energy. And it was the shared camaraderie of working with my classmates in the library at odd hours that gave me that sense of shared commitment to a goal and of being part of a community of learners that I still relish today. That shared experience of us all striving for new knowledge is one of those things that makes being at a university special.

At graduation on Sunday, Dean Laude spoke to the graduates about what a special group you all are. Sadly, this is something you don't always realize. You are at one of the best universities in the world (did you know UT Austin was recently ranked #15 worldwide?). Even more, you are majoring in science or mathematics in one of the most rigorous colleges here on campus. Back home, very few people are like you. Some day, you will be at a cocktail party or a potluck dinner and you will tell people you majored in biochemistry or computational physics while you were in college. After the conversation moves on to the backgrounds of the others at the party (I won't even name their majors), you'll realize what an amazing set of skills you've acquired and challenges you are capable of tackling. It's useful for you all to hear that now. Even as you're worried about doing a good job in your classes and you might be feeling a little stressed about how final exams will go, just know that your being here, your taking on this challenge, and your daring to take risks for your dream, all these things set you apart. And those exams (with a lot of hard work on your part) will go off just fine.

Best of luck in the coming week, and have a safe, restful holiday. See you in the new year.

Sacha Kopp
Associate Dean
College of Natural Sciences

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Friday, 22 October 2021

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