Daria Zelen is a junior pursuing a dual degree in psychology and advertising. During the school year, she works as a digital media intern for the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. In her free time, you can usually find her listening to new music, embroidering her old clothes, exploring CU, or playing around with graphic design.
As a senior in high school, choosing which university you are going to can be a very difficult decision. There are many factors to consider before making the decision that’s right for you, whether it be about campus culture, location, or opportunities offered.
Here are five reasons why I chose UIUC:
One thing that truly radiates on UIUC’s campus is the feeling of community. Wherever you go, you see students and faculty bonding over their shared interests and supporting each other’s success. The university fosters a community in which everyone has each other’s best interests at heart, whether it be helping each other with homework, sharing new hobbies and interests, or even sending out job opportunities. This was a factor that was very important to me, as I knew that moving away from home right out of high school was a life-changing decision, and I wanted to be surrounded by people who fostered community and helped each other through all aspects of life. Not to mention, on game days there is an insane amount of school pride and spirit in the air. Everyone bonds over their shared love of UIUC, and it emanates from all students who bleed orange and blue.
Ensuring that there were opportunities for career advancement at my university was one of the biggest factors that impacted my decision on where to go to college. Through resources like career fairs, UIUC puts students in direct contact with hundreds of companies, from start-ups to Fortune 100s, recruiting directly from Illinois. Other resources like the Life + Career Design initiative and the Humanities Professional Resource Center help students build their professional portfolios and discover their career interests.
From career fairs to research opportunities to on-campus internships, UIUC offers students countless opportunities to build, promote, and put their skills to use in real-life contexts. With the help of my advisor, I was able to land two separate marketing internships with the university. The first one was with the Department of Gender & Women Studies, and I am currently working with the College of LAS as their digital media intern. In turn, these internships along with the career fairs led me to my summer marketing internship at Deloitte this past summer which has prepared me for a full-time position once I graduate.
Coming from one of the most diverse high schools in Chicago, I grew up surrounded by different cultures and views. It was important for me that my university demonstrates that same level of racial and cultural diversity because it is essential to fostering an open, welcoming, and communicative learning environment.
At UIUC, students not only come from all over the United States but from all over the world. There are lots of cultural groups you can belong to or participate in to learn more about cultures from around the world. Organizations such as Paksa, the Pakistani Student Organization, offer events open to all students where you can try foods from around the world and watch and participate in cultural dances. I am involved in an Eastern European Club to celebrate my European heritage. Even through classes and school-run events, you can become friends with people you never thought would have crossed paths with. Most recently, I celebrated the Chinese New Year by having a dumpling-making night with some of my Chinese and international friends!
As someone who knew they did not want to rush for Greek life organizations during their time in college, it was essential to me that the university I went to had student-run clubs so that it was easier to meet people and form lifelong friendships.
Our campus has over 1,600 registered student organizations, making it impossible to not find one that fits your wants and needs from your college experience. These organizations can range from professional, political, philanthropic, or even social clubs and offer students the opportunity to make friends while bonding over a shared interest. At the beginning of each school year, the university hosts Quad Day, in which hundreds of clubs gather on the Main Quad while students walk around and sign up for the ones that pique their interest. This is how a lot of students find their home away from home on campus.
Whether you’re looking for a book club, bridge-making club, or want to rush Greek life, UIUC has a place for everyone on campus, which is one of the reasons why I found the school so appealing.
5. A traditional college experience
Finally, the last factor that impacted my decision in choosing UIUC was the idea of the traditional college experience. Going to college in a campus town allows you the freedom to learn more about yourself while you’re away from home. Living in the dorms during your freshman year at UIUC is a requirement, but it provides you with the experience of living on your own for the first time while being surrounded by hundreds of others who are doing the same. It helps you explore your interests and hobbies outside your family and hometown friends, expand your horizons, create valuable social connections, gain independence and maturity, and teaches you how to deal with responsibilities and challenges.