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Students choose UTD for academics

     While she swears she’s not anti-sports, senior Ekaterina Kouznetsova decided to attend UTD next year partly because it doesn’t have a football team.

     “UTD prides itself on its internationally renowned chess team as opposed to being noticed for sports,” Kouznetsova said. “I’d much rather learn how to play chess than learn how to play football. There’s something I prefer more about focusing on the academics.”

     UTD freshman and 2011 Plano graduate Andrew Leo, a biology major, said his decision came down to cost. He was offered a full four-year scholarship at UTD before he even applied for financial aid.

     “With the economy the way it is, I was either going to have to get a massive scholarship or go to Collin College, so I was very excited by the opportunity,” Leo said.

     Kouznetsova, who also said she received a lot of financial aid, will major in marketing and minor in art history. She said that the marketing major will teach her skills that are necessary for everything.

     “If I have this bag, I want to sell this bag, but I don’t know how to make people buy it,” Kouznetsova said. “Literally, if you have a product, you’re going to need to market it. You’re going to need someone who knows what they’re talking about, who knows the market, who knows the consumers and knows how to market your product.”

     After getting a marketing degree at UTD, Kouznetsova plans to study photography at New York University, that way she won’t have to double major in the business and art schools.

     “That would be crazy, traveling all over the city in the not-so-clean parts,” Kouznetsova said. “I’d rather have all my classes in one building. Even riding a bike would be annoying. I love the NYU campus, though. It’s absolutely perfect. It’s right by SoHo, right by Chinatown. It’s literally the perfect position for a campus.”

     Location was a factor that Kouznetsova considered heavily when choosing UTD. While she doesn’t mind being close to or far from home, she said that the Dallas area is growing well despite the recession and that the area offers opportunities she wouldn’t find in a small college town.

     “It’s in the center of everything,” Kouznetsova said. “I’d rather have somewhere where I can do more things than just be at the university. In Dallas there are so many things to do that people overlook. There are a bunch of art galleries. They have the Contemporary Art Dealers of Dallas, and it has all these galleries that have world class exhibitions. You have Dallas Museum of Art. You have the Nasher Sculpture Center, the Modern Museum of Art. I really love the location. It’s close to Addison, and Addison has a lot of things. They have Shakespeare in the Park.”

     While New York is also a large metropolis, Kouznetsova has ruled out getting her first degree in New York because of all the networking she’s already done in the Dallas area. She interns for fashion photographer Greg Daniels and helps him set up models for photo shoots.

     “It really helps me to learn from an experienced photographer who’s been doing it for a while, and it’s good to have a mentor who knows what he’s talking about,” Kouznetsova said. “I feel like if I would go somewhere else it would take a long time to make the same kind of network that I have here again. I don’t want to do that unless I have at least one degree and I can actually work in a specific field.”

     Leo also picked the university for its opportunities. He’s planning on going for the Green Fellows Program, a paid semester-long research experience, during his junior year.

     “UTD is quickly becoming the MIT of the South,” Leo said.

     Despite the university’s academics and location, Kouznetsova said that UTD is overlooked by many students.

     “It’s probably the popularity factor,” Kouznetsova said. “I think a lot of it has to do with their friends and what their friends want to do.”

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