You want the quick answer? The first 8 are the letters I-L-L-I-N-O-I-S, and the other 2 are those squirrels playing tag around the southeast tree on the Quad. If you’re still not convinced, then by all means, read on. We have plenty to say.
1. We’re more than a school …
… we’re a pirate-themed amusement park! Just kidding. But we’re not kidding when we say you won’t just find academics at Illinois—you’ll find a community. Our campus is like an entire town, made up of professors, squirrels, and many, many, many students. And our town welcomes everyone.
Students don’t just attend Illinois; they live here. Over 35,000 students at a time call Illinois their home away from home, and we really are all in this together. You can see it in how we get along—Illinois is full of people who are committed and willing to help each other out. Among them, you’ll have a place to belong.
There are so many wonderful people out there. Illinois is a great place to meet some of them, whether in class, at student clubs, through friends, or completely by accident. Why wait?
2. We’re in the greatest food town in the Midwest.
We’ll talk later about how Illinois is a feast for the senses, but first let’s talk about the feast part. Our food. Is. Spectacular. Illinois has a unique situation where chain restaurants exist, but many local options maintain their importance and popularity, and for good reason. Midwest Living ranks us as the #1 Midwest food town. If you don’t believe us, come take a gander yourself, or read an Illinois student’s take on the best restaurants on campus.
The fun doesn’t stop there. For students living in residence halls, University Housing’s seven dining locations present a jamboree for your appetite. Whatever you’re hungry for, you can find it on the menu somewhere. The adventurous can even whip something up themselves at one of the dining halls’ self-serve stations or at the Activities and Recreation Center’s instructional kitchen.
3. We’ll support you during any college lows.
Our campus can seem massive, and because of that, we have a massive support system. You never have to feel like you’re slipping between the cracks, because we are a university made up of people, and we’re dedicated to getting you through the ups and downs.
We know you can’t see into the future, or at least we’re pretty sure, so our Counseling Center provides a same-day appointment system. Our student services also include our Career Center, Office of Minority Student Affairs, Financial Aid, Disability Resources, Legal Services, and dozens of active cultural centers and departmental advising services. There is never a question of whether someone can talk to you.
Whatever issue you find yourself facing—academic, financial, emotional, spiritual, physical, you name it—we’ve got your back.
4. Our student involvement makes a big campus seem like home.
When you hear people talk about “finding their place” at college, that place is often a club or student group. With over 1,800 student organizations, we can say without a doubt that there is a place for everyone here at Illinois. Browse through our list of RSOs if you don’t believe us, and if you have 6 hours.
Enjoy playing board games or fighting with robots? Or maybe you’re into sports. Do you like football or basketball or baseball or soccer or badminton or cross country or field hockey or broomball or roller derby or judo or dance or bowling or camping or fencing or climbing or tennis or skydiving or paintball or chess or billiards or … ?
We’re hyperventilating a bit here if you can’t tell, because we can’t tell you how much we have to offer. It’s like a deck of a trillion cards was just thrown into the air; you can try out anything you like, and it’s all for you, so take advantage of it!
5. We have the most underrepresented minorities among top-ranked Midwest universities.
Diversity is essential in both learning and living, and it’s something we embrace. When you go to Illinois, you’re not just meeting people “from Illinois.” Students here come from 50 U.S. states and 116 countries across the world. And if you didn’t catch it from the header, Illinois has the most underrepresented minorities—over 15,700!—among top-ranked Midwest universities (National Center for Education Statistics).
There are all kinds of ways to make your way through college, and we encompass as many as we can. We make it easy as pie to transfer here from other institutions and offer pathway programs for students planning on attending community colleges. With over 150 majors to choose from, we also make it a piece of cake to create your own college experience. We also like pie and cake.
The bottom line is that you should feel free to be yourself, wherever you go to school. And Illinois is proud to have created an environment that welcomes everyone, no matter who they are, what they want to study, or where they’re from.
6. We’ve got spirit—yes, we do.
When the Beach Boys sang about being true to your school, they were not talking about Illinois. Because they didn’t have to. Do you think you need to tell Illini Pride, the official student support group of Illini athletics, to be true? Or the 100+ social and professional alumni groups Illinois has across the world?
Illinois is the home away from home for over 35,000 students at a time. Can you fathom how many living, breathing alumni that means there are at this moment? If you’re planning on calculating it, we’ll give you a hint: it’s over 470,000. Some might think that more school spirit exists at smaller schools, yet flocks of alumni come to cheer on Illini each weekend, whether at sporting events, performances, or family reunions.
Being an Illini means you’re part of a community, both during your years here and when you graduate. From grocery stores to concerts to job interviews, you’ll find loyal Illini all over. Why not join in?
7. We’ve got roots, too.
College is a huge investment, both of time and money, so you want to make sure that whatever you’ll leave with will be valuable to you. If you value a top-ranked education, you’ll find it here. Illinois is an established and respected university. Students graduate from Illinois not just with credentials but with a degree of lasting merit.
Just call up any of those 470,000+ alumni. After all, we have them, along with our outstanding faculty, to thank for our reputation. How about Parisa Tabriz, who runs browser engineering for a little thing called Google Chrome? Or Richard Powers, winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction for his novel The Overstory? Or Jeanne Gang, the architect leading the O’Hare International Airport expansion? Or maybe our Chancellor-with-a-Grammy, Robert J. Jones? We could go on and on. Some of us have won Nobel Prizes. Others have achieved triumphs that go beyond recognition. Together, we all leave an impact.
Illinois has learned a lot in 150 years, and it’s because of our continually evolving student body. To maintain our stellar academic standards, it is vital to progress with them, and that is something we happily embrace. After all, a tree has to spread its roots if it wants to grow!
8. We are a campus of opportunity.
Illinois is like a landing with 300 different staircases, ramps, and slides sprawling off of it. Why do we say that? Because we don’t have any escalators on campus. Why else do we say that? Because here at Illinois, you have the opportunities you need (and many, many more) to design your own college experience.
Remember in high school when your options for classes were either “Biology” or “Biology”? Well, imagine going to a school where you could choose between 50 different classes or 500. At Illinois, we offer over 7,000. And if none of those classes interest you, we have study abroad opportunities in over 60 different countries.
Students wishing to enhance their education beyond the classroom can always check our virtual job board for positions with the university or our Handshake page for local opportunities. And don’t forget about Research Park, a collection of over 120 companies working here on campus that are always hiring students for careers and internships. If you’re looking for a school where you can grow, you’ve found one with us. Pick your poison (your squirrel?) between jobs, internships, research, or study abroad. They’re all possible.
9. You ask, and we deliver (and we probably already have).
We promised we’d get back to Illinois being a feast for the senses! There is always something going on here and always fun to be had, and it’s all made possible by the resources we offer. Few of our resources are limited to students in particular departments, which means you can always reach out of your comfort zone, develop skills outside of your major, and connect your learning across different mediums.
Students are welcome to explore 3D printing and prototyping at our MakerLab or the local Fab Lab. You can also request to view any materials from our Rare Book and Manuscript Library (First Folio of Shakespeare, anyone? You might not be allowed to touch that one.) Any student can register for a 90-minute cooking class at our instructional kitchen, offered all year and themed around different cuisines and holidays, or work up a sweat in a group fitness class.
There are so many ways to learn, develop, and enjoy yourself here that students can hardly keep track of them all. If you do decide to become an Illini, keep your eyes and mind open for everything available to you. It’s going to be a lot.
10. We’ve got the Quad.
What better place to experience all four seasons of the year than the Quad? Changing leaves in the fall, snowmen in the winter, more snowmen in the spring, and chalk in the summer.
Without a doubt, the Quad is picturesque (seriously, check out any picture of Illinois). But it’s not just for looking, it’s for cooking—that is, it’s a center of activity. The Quad is like the family room of campus. People are always running in and out during the day, and it’s a staple place to meet and hang with friends. And, just like in your living room at home, don’t feed the squirrels!
You might think it’s just a big stretch of grass now, but chances are you’ll get a tear in your eye when you look out across that big stretch of grass on your graduation day.
You know, there is an 11th reason to attend Illinois, but we can’t say it just yet. Whatever your reasons may be, we sincerely hope that you choose Illinois as your first step toward great things. It would be an honor for us to call you an Illini.
(Oh, and that reason number 11? It’s you!)