A Day in the Life of a Freshman Engineer

One of the biggest things I wondered about as I came into college was how I would structure my days. It’s no longer as simple as driving to school, walking into the building, following my daily schedule, and then going home. Now there is much more variety to an average day. I can choose how I get to class, where to eat, and when and where to study.

While this can seem like a lot of variables to manage, it’s surprisingly easy to settle into a routine within a few weeks of starting your classes. This is what my typical Wednesday looks like, and I hope you’ll find that managing all the variables in a day isn’t as daunting as it might initially seem.

8:00 a.m.

It’s time to wake up! By this time, my roommate will have already left for her morning classes, but I know that I am NOT a morning person, so I planned my classes to start later in the morning to accommodate this. I get up and head over to the Campus Recreation Center East (CRCE) for a short morning workout. CRCE is one of the two gyms on campus, along with the Activities and Recreation Center (ARC), and it’s located only a short walk away from my dorm. After my workout, I head back to Lincoln Avenue Residence Hall to eat breakfast and get ready for the rest of my day.

CRCE is a smaller gym with a more relaxed environment, plus it has a pool with a water slide!

10:00 a.m.

First things first: I have my chemistry discussion section in Noyes Laboratory. For my Introductory Chemistry 102 class, we have discussion sections twice a week where we meet in smaller groups of about 30 students to go over the material from lectures. For me, this is where I learn the most because I am able to work on practice problems at my own pace, ask for help from the TA and other students, and occasionally learn new material that we didn’t cover in lectures.

Noyes Laboratory is the building where most chemistry classes are located.

11:00 a.m.

Next up I have my Principles of Microeconomics lecture in Lincoln Hall. As a freshman, you will typically have to take a few general education classes, and this is one of mine for the semester. Gen eds tend to have a bad reputation, but they can actually be some of the most interesting classes you’ll take. Although economics doesn’t interest me as much as some of the other classes I’m taking, it’s a nice break from the other math and science classes in my schedule.

If you ever have a class in Lincoln Hall, make sure you rub Lincoln’s nose for good luck!

12:00 p.m.

At this point, I have a break before my afternoon classes start, so I decide to grab lunch at Blue 41, the dining hall inside the Illini Union, since it’s located conveniently on the Main Quad. After this, I go to my favorite coffee shop on campus: Espresso Royale. Everyone has a different preferred study environment, but I definitely work best in a place with a bit of background noise, so coffee shops are the perfect place for me to get some homework done. I grab a coffee and work for a few hours before going to my afternoon classes.

2:00 p.m.

I’ll be honest—I look forward to this part of my day the least … it’s my Calculus III lecture in Altgeld Hall. Most of the time I struggle to understand the concepts from my calculus lectures the first time, and it can be discouraging at times. However, there are lots of resources to utilize to get help, including multiple tutoring groups and office hours. There will most likely be a few classes in college that you struggle with, but don’t be discouraged! There are always people who want to help you out on campus, and utilizing these resources will help guide you to success.

Altgeld Hall is one of the prettiest buildings on campus, especially during the fall.

3:00 p.m.

I have an hour in between my calculus lecture and my next class, so I take advantage of this time to complete my SWE office hour for the week. SWE stands for the Society of Women Engineers, and it’s one of the student organizations that I’m involved in on campus. I hold a chair position in this organization, which means that I have to hold one office hour (or “SWOffice hour,” as we like to call it) per week. This time is usually spent working on planning the events that I coordinate, but if I don’t have anything to work on in any given week, I can use the time for an extra hour of studying.

4:00 p.m.

My last class of the day is CEE 195: Introduction to Civil and Environmental Engineering. All majors have an introductory class for freshmen to take during their first semester. In CEE 195, we learn about the different concentrations we can choose within our major, hear from professors in the department, and work on small projects that relate to different concepts within civil and environmental engineering.

During homecoming week, my CEE 195 class dyed Boneyard Creek orange to show our Illinois spirit and learn about the physics of water flow.

5:00 p.m.

After my last class ends, I head out to grab dinner at one of the dining halls, then go back to my residence hall to finish up my homework for the night. If I finish everything I have to do for the day, my roommate and I will watch a show or play a board game to de-stress for the night. Finding a balance between schoolwork and relaxation is key, and while I may not have time to fit in something fun every day, it’s important to remember to give yourself breaks, especially at the end of a busy day.

Abby

Abby

Class of 2023
I'm a Civil and Environmental Engineering major in the Grainger College of Engineering and I hope to one day work to lessen society's impact on the environment. I am a major nerd, have a passion for all things outdoors, and I can't wait to see what new opportunities are in store for my freshman year at University of Illinois!

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