Dear future Illini,
I remember when I was accepted to Illinois. I was sitting in the learning center at my high school during third period (which I had free), and I opened up myIllini on my computer. And there it was, on my screen in bright orange and white. “Alexandra, you’re an Illini!”
Unlike what I assume is true for many people, my reaction was subdued. My heart rate didn’t pick up. I didn’t cry. I didn’t immediately message all of my friends, and I never posted on Facebook. I didn’t call my parents or my brother to tell them I had just gotten into Illinois. In fact, I didn’t tell them until I had pressed the accept button. I didn’t know how to feel about it. Some people dream of going to their perfect college and have it all planned out. Some people don’t want to go to college and never send an application. I fell somewhere in the middle. I knew I was going to go to college, and I knew it had to be in a certain price range, and the idea of college itself was exciting, but I never knew where I wanted to go. So I applied to a few places, and I just chose. I just chose Illinois. And it sounds really cheesy, but I think it was one of the best choices I could have made.
I didn’t think it at the time, and I definitely didn’t think it when my dad was dropping me off at my dorm, where I had just realized I was going to spend an entire year in a room, in a dorm, at a school full of people I didn’t know. I don’t think I really understood what it truly meant to be here until I made my first new friend and found my place. But when I did, among the 40,000 other students at this school, I knew I was home.
Looking back, I don’t think I would change any decision I’ve made up to this point. I accepted an offer to an amazing school. I made my senior year as memorable as possible, and spent as much of my time as I could with the friends I had grown up with. I packed and planned and planned and packed, and I came here. I found more lifelong friends. I found clubs that I love so much I regularly give each of them hours of my time a week. I went to class (every single class) and learned how to learn better, understand more, make decisions and grow.
So, whether you’re over-the-moon excited and already quickly converting your closet to exclusively orange and blue, or you’re a little more like me and more anxious of what the future holds, I say embrace it. Illinois is a great place to live and learn, and I think you’ll be proud to call yourself an Illini.