Even though I've only been here for a few weeks, so many things seem clear to me that I couldn't understand from months of preparation for college--you just have to get here and then you'll get it. I'm just really loving my school, and so if I ever need to give advice to people going to UIUC or any college in general, I'll have this.
1. Once you get here, you get it. No campus tour or overnight stay or any amount of research will truly make you feel like you live here until you actually live here! All of a sudden, things will just make way more sense, so there's no need to freak out. You will, of course, but that's normal!
2. Freedom is awesome. You don't have a bedtime or people telling you how to do anything, so it can be a good or a bad thing. For me, it's okay because I'm used to keeping myself on track. But it is awesome to go anywhere and do anything you want when you want to.
3. Do stuff. It can feel scary with a huge class schedule to do things, but DO something. If it's close to where you live, you're more likely to get involved, like I do Zumba at the rec center because it's next door to my dorm.
4. In my honest opinion, big school > small school. I don't have much experience with other big state schools, but I am SO glad I chose the University of Illinois over Northwestern or Washington University. I realized that even more today. There's nothing at this school that makes me feel like a number or insignificant purely because of the sheer size of it. I have classes from 300 to about 8 people. It's a good variety. And if you are a good student and go to office hours, then your teachers will know you. It's your own fault if they don't. Anyway, so today was our first career fair for engineers, and I have to tell you, the companies that recruit from this school are huge. Google, Facebook, Lockheed-Martin, John Deere, the CIA, Abercrombie & Fitch even! It was amazing. And this was the small career fair! You'd never get the chance at these opportunities at a small school. Never. I have an interview with John Deere on Tuesday. John freaking Deere! It feels like the best thing in the world to be an Illini.
5. For engineering, don't buy a Mac. Engineering software currently isn't made for Macs. Get the highest core processor available. And get that number pad on the keyboard. It helps. Go for Toshiba!
6. Find your quiet place. Mine is the Engineering library. The silent floors are so good for getting work done with lots of space and light. It's a bit of a trek from my dorm but it's worth it.
7. Eat. Drink. Sleep. I've already gotten in trouble for eating and drinking too little with a busy schedule, and eating the wrong stuff when I do. Make time to eat. Bring a water bottle everywhere. And sleep? Just try to fit it in somewhere.
8. People are nice here. I haven't met one person who isn't. Dumb and annoying, yes, but not mean.
9. Go with your gut. If you don't feel like something makes you excited or happy, don't do it. You'll find something else.
10. Be with people that make you happy. It's the best thing you could possibly do.