- Class: Junior
- Major: Biology
- Gender: F
- High School: Champaign Centennial High School
- Transfer Student: N
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!
Professors don't know your name, even if you go to office hours often and you have the highest grade in the course. I know this for a fact because this is my situation every single semester. Everyone studies as much as they want to - some students never study, some students never do anything else except study. It's not uncommon to study 5 hours a day outside of class. Students are really, really competitive. In the majority of classes, participation is discouraged because there simply isn't enough time for questions from more than one or two people. My major is Molecular and Cellular Biology. I had to take the intro course because I'm pre-pharmacy, and you have to take a year of biology. The course was so interesting and so hard, but I did so well, that I decided to switch majors (I was previously Community Health, which is the most boring and repetitive major on this campus!). The department is decent, there are some really great advisors and some really awful ones... But fortunately, they are not assigned, so you can choose who you go to. The first few courses in the major are painfully boring, but I've been assured by many former students that the interesting courses come later. I've heard this is common for many majors.
In Illinois, there is a pretty even divide of liberal and conservative students. There are groups for everyone, and the groups tend to keep to themselves, so there are few issues here. You probably won't know enough students to experience any kind of insulting or discrimination. You learn what is important to argue about and what you should just brush off.
The Best Things
If you want to do anything - academic, athletic, spiritual, anything - you can find plenty of opportunities here.
The Worst Things
Outside of sports events, there is lack of unity.