- Class: Junior
- Major: Engineering
- Gender: F
- High School: Oak Park and River Forest High School
- Transfer Student: N
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.
My freshman year, most of my professors definitely did not know my name. Most classes are taught two days a week in large lecture hall (over 300 students) by a professor and then once or twice a week in a smaller setting by a TA (20-30 students). This makes it hard to ever even talk to your professor face to face although you usually do develop a good relationship with your TA's. Classes at U of I might be a little different from my point of view. To me, my classes are difficult and require a lot of concentration and studying in order to fully understand the material. It is a running joke in the engineering community about "classes south of Green". the engineering quad is north of Green Street and the main quad and all other colleges are located south of Green Street. Many engineers enroll in those classes to either fulfill requirements or boost their GPA. The requirements for an engineer are not hard to fulfill. I can complete all of the hours needed in four classes, but I'll take more to pad my overall GPA. I know my professors pretty well now because you start taking engineering courses during your sophomore year and the class size decreases exponentially. It is also imperative that you attend office hours and talk to your professors to understand the material and do well in the class. The professors also take an active role in student activities. To raise money for various organizations, professors will donate a student/faculty basketball game or dinner at their house. These dinner parties can be really fun and get pretty crazy. Professors are fun to hang out with outside of class, surprisingly.
Illinois is very diverse. I can't think of one race that would feel extremely uncomfortable or left out overall. However, if you look into smaller groups this would definitely be different. In the college of engineering, being a woman or maybe even just Caucasian would be a little weird. I am not surprised if I walk into a classroom and I am the only girl. In the Greek system, most individuals are white. One of my good friends dropped out because it wasn't diverse enough for her (she is part African American) and made her feel slightly awkward. Also, different majors are more homogeneous, like my roommate is a nursing major and there is only one or two males per class year. These types of things are something you would want to consider when looking into Illinois. Most students I have come into contact with are from Illinois. This is a great institution and almost a steal at its price. While this may seem homogeneous and boring, there is a good mix of kids from rural areas and "city kids". Kids do talk about how much they will make one day. Especially kids in the Greek system when they are getting bashed will say something along the lines of "Yeah well, you're going to work for me some day." Good one.