view of the Illini Union through fall leaves

How to Make the Most of Your UIUC Campus Visit

You’ve signed up for your UIUC campus 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 comprehensive list! Feel free to write down the ones you care about most and bring them 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 UIUC campus visit to make your experience more advantageous to you. Here are just a few of them:

Meet with multiple units. 

Maybe you only signed up for a campus program, or maybe you only opted for an academic meeting. If this is the case, why not see what else is available the day you’ll be on campus? Attending multiple programs can be a good way to get in-depth info about all facets of our university, or to explore multiple options if you’re torn over what it is you want to study.

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

Take a housing tour.

If you’re taking a campus tour, it includes a housing tour of our Illinois Street Residence (ISR) Halls. Additional walk-in University Housing tours are offered from 2 to 4 p.m. every weekday, excluding holidays and university breaks. You can also pre-arrange a Private Certified Housing tour directly with the facility of your choice.

Engage with current students.

We realize it can be intimidating to approach someone you don’t know, and not everyone is an extrovert! But know that our students are at our programs for you, and they want to help you however they can. So don’t be afraid to talk to them, whether that means peppering them with questions during a panel or chatting with them informally.

Explore!

UIUC is vast, and there’s so much to discover even outside of any tours you’ve already scheduled! So if you have the time, take a self-guided tour or a driving tour for a fuller picture of campus, or scope out the buildings related to your intended major.

You can 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 UIUC 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 for UIUC and other schools you visit in order to more easily compare them later on. 

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 UIUC. You might just fall in love. 

UIUC Admissions

UIUC Admissions

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6 comments

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  • My son and I are signed up for the Blue and Orange day tours on Friday. We are coming that day as I was told the biology department is open that day. He’s very keen to see that department. Is there a way we should sign up for that?

    Thanks!

  • Thanks for reaching out, Trish, and we’re excited to see you and your son today! You should have received an agenda of the day at check-in, and almost all colleges, including some departments, will be represented. College/departmental breakout sessions are at 2:00 p.m. There’s no need to sign up for these sessions; they’re one of the many optional events you and your son can choose to attend throughout the day. We hope this helps, and that you and your son enjoy your time on campus!

  • Hi I am bringing my 2 sons to the visit this Friday Oct 28 for Blue and Orange day. Will there be an agenda emailed to us before.? We are unsure when exactly it starts. Thanks

  • Hi Lori, and thanks for reaching out! The check-in for Friday’s Orange & Blue Day will begin at 9:00 AM at the Illini Union, and the event will officially start at 9:30 AM. You’ll receive an agenda for the day when you check in. If you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to contact our Campus Visits team. We look forward to seeing you and your family soon!

  • Hello – we are attending the Orange & Blue Day visit on Friday, 11/4, with our daughter. Will the engineering department be available to speak with? Do we need to sign up separately to meet with them?
    Thank you!

  • Hi Peter, we’re excited to see your family tomorrow! You’ll received an agenda of the day when you check in. College/departmental breakout sessions are at 2:00 p.m. There’s no need to sign up for these sessions; they’re one of the many optional events your daughter can choose to attend throughout the day. We hope this helps, and that your family enjoys your time on campus!