My first semester of college was overwhelming in the best way possible. It seemed like everywhere I turned there was something going on, but I had no idea how to narrow down what I was interested in. There were so many different sources of information, and so many different ways it could be presented. After a while, I started to notice a consistent theme for a place you could find pretty good information about almost anything: information sessions.
An information session can be on any topic, but is typically focused around just one thing. It could be study abroad or changing your major or graduate school. Depending on what it’s for, they’re often given by a professor, faculty member, or expert in the field.
There are also student groups info sessions. At the beginning of the year, almost all RSOs (registered student organizations) host info sessions so you can learn more about what they do before you actually commit to joining them. They usually last about 45 minutes and leave 15 minutes for questions at the end. In general, info sessions are a great first step to learn more about an experience you’re interested in. There are a few different ways to find out about them.
The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences sends out a weekly email with all sorts of opportunities within the college and across campus. This is just one of many good reasons to check your email as frequently as you can. I get anywhere from 20-30 emails a day, and I do my best to check them as soon as I can. This ensures that you’ll hear about these opportunities at the prime time.
It’s also possible that from things you’ve indicated interest in, you’ve been put (or you put yourself on) on an email list. Illinois has a job and internship website called Handshake that connects students to potential employers and graduate programs. Based on your interests on that site, you can get emails for info sessions for jobs and graduate school. Although I’ve never indicated a specific interest in graduate school, based on my undergrad degree and jobs I’ve held, I got this email a while back:
Often, there’s a place to RSVP. While this isn’t always required, it’s a very welcomed courtesy appreciated by the people hosting. Plus, if it’s an info session with food and you don’t RSVP, you’re not guaranteed that delicious Jimmy John’s sammie.
If you are interested in any collegiate experience — whether it’s studying abroad, changing your major, or getting involved in an RSO, your best first bet is to check out their website. One of the first things on Illinois’ study abroad website is a calendar with the dates of their info sessions. For programs and events sponsored by different units on campus, you can often find more info about the event on the unit website. Here’s an example of a Leadership Institute hosted by the Illinois Leadership Center.
For selective programs or events, those in charge of selection sometimes look at attendance at information sessions when deciding. This is an aspect of applying called demonstrated interest. While not all programs are like this, it’s pretty important to keep in mind!
There are so many places around campus that post flyers! You’ll see them on bulletin boards, campus structures, bathrooms, and more. These are a little bit more random and less targeted, but are still a great way to find out about different opportunities.
At a school as big as Illinois, there are always a million great opportunities right around the corner. And you know what they say — with great opportunities comes great information sessions.