Make the most of it!


Let’s face it.

Classes aren’t going to teach you all you need to know to be a competent and capable professional.

Yep. I said it.

There are no Networking 101 or Collaboration 200 classes in Foellinger Auditorium.

You need these skills, and you need other people to help you learn them.

To find them, you need to get out of your comfort zone.

You need to take risks to make mistakes, and if you do, you’ll come out better than you were before.

It is only outside your comfort zone where you will learn things you will never forget.

It’s where you will learn that looks really are deceiving.

It’s where will learn that there are other people that care and value the same things you do.

And you’ll learn how to work with those who don’t.

It’s where you will learn that, academically or otherwise, getting started is often the hardest part.

And over and over again, you will find you’re  glad you pushed through the butterflies. It was worth it.

But how?

At a school of 40,000 undergraduate students, you need to be your own advocate.

You need to reach out to all the people and activities you can to help you find your niche.

Your academic adviser could be more than just for help picking out classes, but a mentor for life.

Professors have insights about career choices from their own struggles.

Teaching assistants have been in your shoes very recently.

Outside of the classroom, resident advisers are there to help you make Illinois your home away from home.

There are more than 1,000 RSO’s in which to get involved.

From Alterative Spring Break to the Yoga and Meditation Club, you can be sure to find something to do.

Quad Day overwhelming?

In the search bar at type in “RSO list.” Done.

In short, be more than a student…

Be a traveler.

Be an intramural champion.

Be a volunteer.

Be a musician.

Be a reporter.

Be a brother or sister – Greek or otherwise.

Be a leader.

Be you – let Illinois make you even better.

Your experience at Illinois is up to you.

What will you make of it?


Please note that comments close after 90 days.


April 25, 2010, 12:26 am

Hey Alessandra!

This was a very informative post. My question is what do you think about being a James Scholar for someone who aspires to go to grad school (med school). Is the extra work worth it and do grad schools really like to see James Scholars? Also are James scholars the only students allowed to take honors classes?–Also if im not a James Scholar as an incomming freshmen how difficult/competitive is it to become a James Scholar?

Also are there any clubs you recommend for someone like me? I read about a club in a letter i got from UIUC that goes around C-U and helps the community with health clinics. (forgot the name but i hope to join lol)



April 25, 2010, 6:08 pm

Hello! I was wondering if I could ask you some pre-health questions. I am admitted to my biology major as an incoming freshman for the 2010-2011 school year. You are attending UIC’s Medical School in Chicago for your medical school next fall right? I was wondering how many undergrads apply to UIC’s Medical School,approximately how many are accepted there from UIUC as well as other universities, and the closeness with which professors at UIUC work with you to help you succeed academically for Medical School. I’m trying to compare schools and really appreciate it! Thanks!



April 26, 2010, 5:59 pm

Hey Samm,

Good to hear from you again!

It is a personal choice to become a James Scholar. I am like you in that I wasn’t accepted after college, but I applied during my freshman year. It is not too difficult to get in, you obviously would need a decent GPA for your first semester.

The added work load isn’t too bad. Can I tell you with 100% certainty that having honors next to my class grades helped me get into medical school? Unlikely. It has to do with three main things: your GPA, your MCAT score, and your extracurriculars.

In terms of the clubs, I would check out Quad Day. I don’t know you well enough to recommend specifics, but I would definitely recommend checking out Quad Day.

Also, the club you heard about sounds awesome! I wish they had that kind of thin set up for me, but remember, you also can take the initiative yourself with one clinic over time to create a more meaningful relationship than just seeing them once.

Hope this helps!




April 26, 2010, 6:06 pm

Hi Gabby!

Actually, I have decided on attending Northwestern’s medical school just a couple of days ago. Here is something to think about when you are looking at any major university supporting you and your plans to go pre-med:

1. It is what you make it.

Thats honestly it.

You need to go where you will be the happiest, so you will have the motivation to study when all your friends are going out every other day, etc. You need an enviornment where people also care about more things than school like volunteering etc.

I felt Illinois was this for me and a great undergrad choice – especially since I am from the suburbs and didn’t want two changes at once with the city and undergrad at once.

In terms of the professors working closely with me… Getting into medical school is your job and your job alone. Sure, they have office hours, but you need to sit down with a book and do the work yourself to truly do well. I don’t mean to sound harsh, but in working with freshman for over a year some expect people to hold their hand through college. They quickly are left behind.

Also, keep in mind that school is not enough to get into medical school. Everyone will have a high GPA and MCAT score. What will make you stand out?

Wow this is a longer post than I thought!!

To finish up, I think about 7,000 people apply for UIC’s 200 spots. I am not sure though. In terms of the number accepted from UIUC to UIC med school… probably the most from any other school considering we are the top public institution in the state. Still, I am not sure on numbers!

Hope this helps you out!




April 29, 2010, 9:46 pm


That was a huge help! Thank you so much. Congratulations-that’s a great med school! I think i am going to go to UIUC. Also, I noticed the talk on James Scholars…I too was not accepted but will hopefully apply my freshman year! Best of luck to you!



April 30, 2010, 1:51 pm

Hey Gabby!

Thanks so much for the congrats! 🙂

Don’t worry too much about the James Scholar Program – remember, you will learn so much too from the other things you get involved in non-academics wise!




May 5, 2010, 11:22 pm

hey alessandra
I was reading your posts,and your advice was very helpful. I was curious about the part where you said you didnt want 2 changes at once w/city and undergrad…so U of I’s location was not intimidating? because I am kind of nervous about that.
also I was searching U of I’s college of medicine, and was wondering how it was associated with UIC med. school.
because they have the same website, so are they connected, or the same ?



May 7, 2010, 12:07 pm


Well, I am from a suburb of Chicago, so I wanted to be around an area with trees… NOT the city. Learning the city is another change I didn’t want to handle, I only was learning buildings around the quad.

Also, Illinois College of Medicine has four campuses. They are in Rockford, Champaign, Peoria, and Chicago.

The one in Champaign is for MD/PhD students only.

Hope this helps!




July 6, 2010, 6:10 pm

Hiya Alessandra!

I think your blog is really inspiring and exactly my mindset for when I get up there :D. Make the most of it and never let any opportunity slip by. One simple question though. Do you think you will have done everything you wanted to do by the time you leave?