view of the Illini Union through fall leaves

Making the Most Out of Your Illinois Visit

You’ve signed up for your Illinois visit! Well done. If you and your Aunt Sue are heading all the way over to Champaign-Urbana, you’re going to want to make the most of your time there. Here’s how. 

girl dressed warmly watching her breath in the cold

How to Dress

In general, most parts of our tours involve being outside. Before you come, check the weather, and then don’t trust it. You’ll never know what Mr. Blue Sky will have in store for you, so come prepared! Maybe 45 degrees doesn’t sound too cold (here in the Midwest we’d laugh at such a suggestion), but even the mildest temperatures start to feel extreme when you’re spending an hour trekking all over campus. Here’s a short list of what you might want to wear:

  • Sunglasses
  • Baseball hat or sun hat 
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Weather-appropriate coat (even if it’s late spring, bring a light jacket in case)
  • Gloves, scarf, and winter hat if it looks chilly
student holding an umbrella while waiting for the bus

What to Bring

You don’t have to bring much for the tour, but we’ve still listed a few items. The first is an absolute must, the second would be nice, and the rest are suggestions. 

  • Your awesome self
  • A good attitude
  • A small notepad and pen
  • A water bottle
  • Sunscreen
  • An umbrella (you can leave it in the car if you don’t need it)
  • Snacks (a bag of candy never goes amiss)

Questions to Ask

When you’re on campus, you’re going to want to think about how you like it. The best way to do that is to live in the moment and focus on what’s around you; you’re only there for a short amount of time and can think of the larger picture later, when you’re at home.

Ask your tour guide anything you want to know about campus. Some examples are:

  • Do most students live in the residence halls?
  • Where do students usually hang out? 
  • How do students get around campus? Do they need cars or bikes?

If you’re looking for more ideas, check out our College Visit Guide. You can print it out and bring it along on the tour.

How to Take Charge of Your Visit

If you have more questions than you think your tour guide can answer (“Who am I?” “What is time?”), never fear. There are ways you can personalize your Illinois visit to make your experience more advantageous to you. Here are just a few of them:

Meet with an admissions counselor.

The Office of Undergraduate Admissions has walk-in hours on weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and visiting students are always welcome. Come in, ask about the application process, or just say hi!

Meet with your intended college or department. 

When you register for your Illinois visit, there will be a section called “College Meeting Information” where you can sign up for one or several sessions with your intended department or college. If a college or department you’re interested in isn’t on the list, feel free type it in the box underneath the list, and we’ll try to make it happen! Note: We need at least 5 days’ notice to schedule a meeting with a department not on the list.

blurred view of an engineering lecture in the background with equations written on window in foreground

Visit a class.

We have a number of classes that you and your family are invited to sit in on when you visit Illinois. It might just change your life. Be sure to email the professor beforehand in case the class has an exam or quiz that day (who besides teachers wants to spend 50 minutes watching other people take a test?). 

Explore!

Feel free to check out the buildings and locations related to your intended major, like the Siebel Center for Computer Science or the English Building. Look up your intended major’s webpage (this can be found under the “additional resources” section of your major or through a simple Google search) and check out what their department’s address is; that’s the building where you’ll probably have some of your classes! 

What to Do During Downtime

You might have some downtime during your visit. One way to spend it is all of you sitting in your car and getting in a big fight. But while you’re here in Champaign-Urbana, you might want to check out some of the things campustown has to offer. 

There’s a particularly interesting garbage can near the Union. Or, if dining is more your thing, head on over to Green Street. There are some great restaurants there, especially on the strip between 4th Street and Wright Street. They’re right on campus, so they’re an easy stop for lunch and a good way to scope out the types of stores available for students. After all, Champaign-Urbana is the #1 Midwest Food Town, according to Midwest Living

student posing with the Alma Mater statue

While you’re by Green Street, why don’t you take a photo with Alma? It’s a tradition for students to take a picture right after graduation, and those who have planned ahead enjoy comparing pictures from their first tour with ones from their graduation day! 

If you’re wiped out from your busy day, you can always go the Union, Krannert Center, or even one of the restaurants on campus to chill out. You don’t need to go crazy over trying to see everything. Just make sure that you spend your extra time in a way that makes the day better for you. 

What to Do on the Way Home

Once you’re done with your visit, you’ll be able to think about what you saw with some perspective. How much of your excitement (or apprehension) might’ve been because of the tour guide you had, or the people who you went with, or the weather, or that menacing squirrel that wouldn’t leave you alone? Can you separate your feelings about the college itself from factors that don’t really relate to the school? This is difficult to do, but you can at least get a start by thinking over these questions: 

Positives

  • What point during the visit was the most fun? 
  • What impressed you about the college?
  • If you could relive one part of your visit, what would it be? 
  • Did you see or hear anything that made you excited about college?

Negatives

  • What point during the visit was the hardest?
  • Did anything disappoint you about the college?
  • Did anything you learn immediately put you off?
  • Did you see or hear anything that made you anxious about college?

Big Picture

  • How does Illinois compare to other colleges you’ve seen so far?Consider both the vibes (positive or negative) that you got from the college as well as the school’s location, size, and cost.
  • Consider filling out our College Visit Guide now that you have a fresh perspective. 

We can’t wait to see you on campus! Whatever you do, don’t forget to wear those comfortable shoes. And of course, don’t forget to enjoy your time here at Illinois. You might just fall in love. 

Illinois Admissions

Illinois Admissions

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