I’d like to apologize for my lengthy absence from blogging! The end of last semester required my full attention and then I left campus for winter break! I’m back on campus now for my last semester of undergraduate studies and I’ve been reflecting on where I was a couple of years ago in my transfer process and the things that I wish I knew about being a student here. I don’t believe there is a one-size-fits-all guide, because ultimately, your experience is what you make of it. However, there are some things you can do to help make your transition to the university—and experience at the university—a pleasant one.
Go to class
This is pretty much common sense, but it can sometimes feel like a struggle when your alarm goes off for an 8 a.m. class. Regardless, you should attend every class and take thorough notes. Your academic success depends on not only the information you glean from lecture and reading materials but also your understanding of it and how to apply it in real situations. Going to class ensures that you have a greater understanding of the information; and oftentimes, your professor or instructor is a very interesting and entertaining speaker. Additionally, your consistent attendance and participation in classes will help you to develop a relationship with your professor should you need a letter of recommendation in the future.
Join a registered student organization
For incoming freshmen or those transferring in the fall, our annual Quad Day should be a must on your list of things to do when you arrive on campus. There are over 1,600 registered student organizations on campus so regardless of your interests or major there is definitely something for you to join, meet people, make friends, and develop relationships right from the start. Even as a non-traditional transfer I was able to join a few RSOs and feel right at home by attending meetings and events and getting to know other members. The relationships you establish and build here at Illinois will be some of your most valuable and it’s really great always having a friend you can study with or go grab a coffee with.
Explore the community
Our campus town is vibrant and has some of the best restaurants and retail destinations you can find in a college town. Additionally, downtown Champaign has destinations like The Art Theater, which is an amazing movie-watching experience when you go with a few friends. To top it all off, there are usually several well-known musical artists who make Champaign-Urbana a regular tour stop! (I saw Foo Fighters last fall at the State Farm Center!) There’s never a shortage of fun things to do or explore here in Champaign-Urbana.
Cheer on the Illini
There’s no better way to feel a sense of pride in your school than by going to a game. The atmosphere at State Farm Center and Huff Hall is electric with the student sections cheering and yelling and chanting. Attending a game to cheer on the Illini is a must-have experience during your time as a student here.
Find your “spot”
Our campus is absolutely gorgeous. There’s no other way to describe it. Explore all of the different academic buildings and libraries. Eventually, someone will ask you what your favorite location on campus is. Go explore! Find a cool building or a cool spot that you like to go to and relax or study. It helps to make the campus feel a little more like home and helps to prevent you feeling cooped up in your residence hall or apartment.
Make time to enjoy it
Speaking from experience, your time here as a student is fleeting. Being a student here is a transformative and rewarding experience, but don’t forget to make time for yourself to slow down and enjoy life as a student. It is easy and normal to be so focused on the future that you forget about living in the present. Be sure to slow down once in a while and just have fun being a student. Go out and learn new things about yourself or a different culture. Don’t let this glorious time fly by without finding time to have experiences.
These are just some of the things that have helped me. Hopefully they will help you in the future!