Connecting with Classmates
When you are a student at a large university such as Illinois, you need to consider many sources of help, including classmates. This was a concept which took me a long time to learn, and now I want to stress the importance to all of you to do so earlier than I had.
In many classes, such as Physics 325, many of the homework problems require little subtleties, which others may notice when you do not. This was a source of a struggle for me early, as without office hours, I could not finish work. Then finally I started asking other students questions while at office hours, which seemed to help the most, and finally, one student provided the push I needed.
One peer asked for my number so we could trade ideas/notes. I thought this might help me work on assignments out of office hours and accelerate my work efficiency. From then on, I asked many students for contact information in multiple classes. I figured if I could get more people to speak with, then I could get more work done and return the favor, as well.
This philosophy proved to be crucial when I had a difficult problem and little time to solve it. I had a seemingly impossible physics problem which had me hung up at one step. That was when I remembered that I could contact one of my peers who I knew excelled at the topic. Literally within minutes, I had a response which left me frustrated at being so oblivious to the concept but happy I could finish.
Although my experience is general in nature, I suspect that classmate support is important at any school, including the University of Illinois. When I transferred here, I felt only teachers would be my main source of academic contact, other than maybe studying with friends, but I quickly realized otherwise.