The following reviews are the views of students or alumni at this school and are unrelated to the school data and other editorial content on usnews.com. These reviews neither reflect nor impact a school's position within the Best Colleges rankings.
Overall I'd say that Illinois is your quintessential college movie experience, the college town that you imagine when you are planning on leaving home, the place that feels like home even though its nothing like where you're from. The school itself is split between Urbana and Champaign but I spent the majority of my time in Champaign so I'm biased of course. I played hockey at U of I for the club team which on campus is treated like a D1 sport here in lieu of an actual D1 team. Champaign has it all, by which I mean that is where Assembly Hall, Memorial Stadium, the new fitness center, the mall, Green St., most Frats, and all the bars are located. Illinois is a big enough school that if you're not all party all the time and you come without friends you will eventually find your niche. What they don't put on your acceptance letter (and they probably should) is that at heart Illinois is Sports, Greek, Academics (not in that order). If you don't like sports or the color orange Illinois might not be for you. If you don't like the greek system (a lot) I can tell you now you will eventually run into it on campus and Illinois might not be for you. Lastly if you don't know how to balance your time well, the combination of freedom, cheap alcohol, and a ridiculous work load from your classes will put you on your***and out of school fast. In general if you want school spirit, a good job when you graduate, and to have the time of your life then come to Illinois. If you're anti social, undisciplined, or have a vendetta against alcohol, Illinois might not be for you.
The best thing about Illinois is there are so many academic opportunities. There's a class for everything, and if you can't find a class, you can always do an independent study of what you like. There are many research opportunities, if you're interested in that. I would change how many professors lead their courses - the courses tend to be huge lectures and there is little time for students to ask questions during lecture or to go up to talk to the professor after the lecture. The professor generally assigns office hours where you can go ask questions, but often, you will have a course during these office hours, and many professors are not happy to do office hours by appointment. This all really depends on the professor, but this is really typical in the science majors (in LAS, I can't really offer an honest opinion about engineering). The university is way too big - it does not have the resources to accomodate everyone. There is little unity except at sports events - most of the time, students compete with one another (it's cut-throat competition). White students hang out with white students, Hispanic students also hang out with just themselves... There's plenty of diversity, just no unity. When I tell people that I go here, the intelligent ones act very impressed. The athletic ones have their own opinions about the different teams here. And people who don't fall into either category sometimes aren't familiar with the university until I tell them we have one of the best engineering programs in the world. It's sad that people only know this university because of the engineering program, but the university is not interested in using any money or resources to make the school just as great in all the other departments. They just keep building up the engineering school. Illinois's administration has no idea what's going on, ever. An E-mail from them is a big joke. Nobody ever takes them seriously. The biggest recent controversy on campus was getting rid of our symbol, the Chief. It was not Native Americans who were offended by him, only African American and very liberal white students. The fact is there are very few Native Americans here, and the school claims that getting rid of the Chief will attract more Native Americans - but actually, the percentage of Native American students here is about the same as any other university in this region. We all know the university just caved because they felt they could receive more money from anti-Chief alumni. They actually never received more money. Many students are angry about this, but many students continue to wear Chief apparel every day. The controversy has FAR from gotten rid of the Chief!
The best thing about Illinois is that fact that it's isolated from the 'real world', that three hour drive takes you into a world that is unlike reality. It's fun you feel free, you can grow as a person and develop intellectually all the while being independent. I think my school is just right in terms of size. When I tell people that I go to Illinois they are impressed and proud of me. I spend most of my time on the quad. It's a college town hands down. I am not too familiar with the administrative aspect of Illinois, sorry. The biggest recent controversy was over an exchange between a greek sorority Delta Delta Delta and fraternity ZBT entitled "Tacos and Tequila", the reasoning behind the controversy was because they had members of their sorority dressed in urban clothing and pregnant clothing while the guys dressed up as landscape workers with fake tattoo tear-drops. This event was huge but our school tried hard to keep it under wraps, which I believe they did a good job, only the local newspaper published an article on the event. There is so much school pride, Illinois students are the proudest of their school. I don't think there's anything unusual, well actually there is a dormitory that's the farthest from campus which happens to be the dorm that minorities are assigned to...segregation perhaps? The experience that I will never forget would have to be my freshman year, the first week had events catered to the entering freshman. I loved it! The most frequent complaints would have to be politics with the 'Chief'
Illinois is a great institution with many traditions. This year, the administration made the decision to discontinue the use of Chief Illiniwek as our mascot. Personally, I felt this was ridiculous as the Cheif was only held in the highest regard. During sporting events when he danced at half time, students were always respectful and never mocked the chief. The student body size at Illinois is huge, but I don't think I'd change it. Students just get involved in the hundreds of Registered Student Organizations on campus to make it seem a little smaller. This helps everyone "find their place". One thing I'd change is the size of the Greek system. The Greek system is the largest in the nation and these students rarely hang out with GDI's (God Damn Independents). I feel this really inhibits something that is essential to a college experience-- meeting different people. While there are thousands in the Greek system, you don't find much variety. You rarely stray from the rich, white, suburbs of Chicago students. This organization makes Illinois seem a little like high school in that people rarely venture outside of their cliques to meet or talk to someone who is different.
I think Illinois is the perfect campus. It's large enough that you feel like you are in a small city, but you still have that security knowing that everybody that walks by you is a student or faculty. There is always so much to do: campus-sponsored events, bars or restaurants on Green Sreet, or shops, bars and clubs in Champaign and Urbana. The mall is only 15 minutes away by bus. The bus system is amazing, you can get anywhere you have to for free. I have never met someone that goes to Illinois that does not love it. School pride here is immeasurable, everyone wears Illinois gear, and sports games are filled with students cheering.
To be completely honest, I have never gotten a bad reaction when I told someone that I went to the U of I. In reality, I have found that most people automatically draw a connection between U of I and intelligence, so when I tell them that I go here, they say,"Oh so you must be really smart." Obviously there is a lot of controversy over the chief, with a majority of the students upset by the fact that he has been removed as our symbol. Many students are upset with how the administration handled the issue, feeling that they did not stand up for the tradition of the school. Nevertheless, the issue with the chief has not affected the academic standing of the U of I.
Tony JuniorReviews provided by: Unigo