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Voices of ACES Blog

5 things I wish I knew before coming to Illinois

Katie Landers sitting on the Illini football field

Adjusting to college is a learning curve, but it can be great if you’re knowledgeable of what to expect before coming to campus. I was taken by surprise my freshmen year by the many differences between high school and college. Here are the five things I wish I knew before coming to the University of Illinois. 


  1. Walk your classes. 

Campus is large, and knowing where you’re going is vital to surviving your first day. My best piece of advice is to walk your classes before they start. My mom is an alum at Illinois, and she helped me find all the buildings I had classes in. Find a friend with a good sense of direction, a current student, or family member who’s an alum and find those classes. This will help you get where you’re going on time and help you make a lasting impression on your teachers. 


  1. Use your time wisely. 

The biggest shock my first semester was how much free time there actually is! Don’t be fooled by the amount of time you find yourself able to spend lying in your bed, there’s still work to do. Delegate your time, this way you’re able to maximize your free time and be able to do things you enjoy. Once I created a plan of attack for doing homework, I was able to make time for chilling on the quad with some friends or getting a cup of coffee in the Illini Union. Time management is your best friend. 


  1. Don’t skip your classes! 

A huge misconception is that you can skip class once you get to college. I’ll be the first to inform you that is not the case. Whether attendance is mandatory or not, the information you need will always come from your classes. Showing up creates good habits and helps you gain the materials better than you would by cramming them in your room. It became evident that I performed much better than my peers who consistently skipped. Go to class and learn, it’s what you’re here to do! 


  1. Prioritize your sleep. 

I’m a very go-getter person, so when I have a list of homework or events, I tend to choose those over my sleep. This habit caught up to me so fast. Sleep helps keep us engaged and motivated and is a huge factor in our health! One way to prioritize your sleep is saying no, even when it’s hard. This may mean going to bed early instead of hanging out with friends, or saying no to homework when sleep would be a more productive use of time. It’s hard to make these boundaries with yourself, but it will save you in the long run. 


  1. Get involved! 

It may be intimidating, but everyone on campus is in the same boat as you. People are looking for friends and community, and one of the best ways to get involved is to show up to campus events. Sights and Sounds is held on the very first night on campus, and it’s a great way for new students to connect through learning fight songs and more together in Memorial Stadium. Quad Day is another great way to find your community. Here, all the registered student organizations line up along the quad with fun free items to tell you about their club. These are just some of the ways to get involved at Illinois. Showing up puts you in a great position to find interests and friends you may not have found otherwise. 


This new chapter of your life will consist of four years full of fun and newfound freedom. I’ve been able to find some of my very best friends and new passions through my time in college. Your time here moves fast, and before you know it, you’ll be the one giving advice. Make the most of your time here at Illinois!