The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (U of I) is the flagship campus for the University of Illinois system. Founded in 1862 and opened in 1868, U of I has been growing ever since. Today the university has 17 colleges with over 150 programs of study. The main campus is comprised of nearly 300 buildings on 1,468 acres, and student enrollment in any given year exceeds 40,000. Furthermore, the university operates a number of extension programs throughout Illinois and the world, serving a total of over 2 ½ million people.
The colleges of the university are: College of Agriculture, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences; College of Applied Health Sciences, Institute of Aviation, College of Business, College of Education, College of Engineering; College of Fine and Applied Arts; Graduate College; School of Labor and Employment Relations; College of Law; College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; Graduate School of Library and Information Science; College of Media; College of Medicine at Urbana-Champaign; School of Social Work; and College of Veterinary Medicine.
Some schools and departments at U of I stand above the rest. The College of Engineering is extremely well thought of. Individual programs that are highly ranked in their fields include Psychology, Library and Information Science, Accounting, Computer Science, Civil Engineering, and Agricultural Engineering. U of I is also well-known for its particularly strong and large natural history programs. The Illinois State Geological Survey and Illinois Natural History Survey are both located on campus and involve students in their work. Perhaps more than any other department, however, Computer Science at U of I has a particular reputation for excellence. Both Intel and Microsoft hire more U of I graduates than from any other college or university in the world.
U of I is classified as a very high research activity university by The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The university is home to the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA). NCSA developed Mosaic, the web browser upon which most contemporary web browsers are based on. NCSA also created several other groundbreaking applications for personal computing. The center is particularly renowned on the international research front for their work on supercomputers. Students involved with the center have the opportunity to work towards the successful completion of Blue Waters, a computer system which will be able to perform a quadrillion calculations per second.
Other well-known research centers on the U of I campus include the Siebel Center for Computer Science, the Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory, the Institute for Genomic Biology, the Frederick Seitz Materials Research Laboratory, the Institute for Condensed Matter Theory, and the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology.
The library system at U of I is the third largest in the United States—only Yale and Harvard have larger collections. There are over 40 libraries in the system with a total of more than 22 million resources. Grainger Engineering Library at U of I is the single largest engineering library in the country. U of I also has the single largest academic library in one location in their central library, which contains over 7 ½ million volumes. The library system includes a “residence hall” branch, which contains recreational and entertainment-focused materials for students living in the dormitories.
There are several honors programs at U of I. University Honors is an academic distinction awarded to those with a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.5 and a ranking within the top 3% of their class. Students with a GPA of at least 3.6 are eligible to be named James Scholars, which allows them to take honors classes while at U of I. Chancellor’s Scholars pursue excellence in leadership as well as academia, and must take several particular Honors classes to be admitted to and stay in the program.
Most Popular Fields of Study
Unlike most colleges and universities, prospective students at U of I apply directly to their major or program, rather than to the university itself. Overall, the university admits about 28% of applicants, with some programs admitting a larger percentage and some admitting less. Incoming students are expected to have completed at least 4 years of English, 3 ½ years of math, 2 years of social sciences, 2 years of lab sciences, and 2 years of foreign language. 4 years of instruction in every category is recommended.
Students come from all 50 states and more than 125 countries to attend U of I. Admissions are very competitive. Most incoming students in recent years have had an ACT score of 27 or higher and were in the top 10% of their graduating class in high school. Some of the colleges are even more competitive, with average ACT scores as high as 31.
In addition to the normal range of federal and state financial aid options open to college and university students in Illinois, U of I offers a large number of merit- and need-based scholarships for students in every college and department.
Student Financial Aid Details
Clubs and Organizations
There are over a thousand clubs and organizations on the U of I campus, covering virtually any topic or interest you can imagine. On the slim chance that a student cannot find a club to suit his or her interests, it is relatively easy to begin a new one. Student government at U of I is managed by the 54 members of the Illinois Student Senate. U of I has the largest Greek system of any university in the world. As of 2011, there were 36 sororities and 68 fraternities on campus. About 13% of students belong to a fraternity or sorority.
First-year students who do not live with their parents are required to live in residence halls or university private-certified housing and participate in a meal plan. There are 22 residence halls across the campus in both Champaign and Urbana. Students with disabilities are provided with housing to fit their needs.
There are several private dormitories in Urbana and Champaign, although they are normally more expensive than the on-campus options. The university certifies some private dormitories and gives students the option to move from one to the other if they are dissatisfied with housing arrangements.
Graduate housing is available in two residence halls. It is restricted to students over twenty years of age. The majority of students choose to move into an apartment, sorority, or fraternity after the first year or two of live at U of I, however. The University Tenant Union assists students in choosing off-campus housing as needed.
All in all, U of I is highly accessible by multiple modes of transportation and the campus is fairly easy to get around. University students have unlimited access to the transit system in Champaign-Urbana. This system provides frequent and convenient bus service to and from several different points on campus, popular living areas throughout both cities, Willard Airport, and Illinois Terminal, where students can transfer to Greyhound buses or Amtrak trains. Bikes are also very popular on the U of I campus and in the cities, aided by the university, which has built a very large system of bike paths and lanes in and around the campus.
U of I sponsors WPGU 107.1, a continually broadcasting, student-run radio station specializing in alternative music. The Daily Illini is an independently run student newspaper which is published daily. It has a readership of roughly 20,000. Both the print version of the paper and the website, www.dailyillini.com, have won many awards for journalistic and general excellence. Students are paid for their work on the newspaper. Several notable writers and journalists who attended U of I worked for The Daily Illini, including Hugh Hefner, Rober Ebert, Gene Shalit, Dan Savage, and Dave Eggers.
Student Enrollment Demographics
Student Graduation Demographics
The athletics department at U of I are known as the Fighting Illini, a name which has caused considerable debate about the racist implications of using a cultural group, the Illini, as a mascot. The Fighting Illini participate in 21 intercollegiate sports in NCAA Division I and the Big Ten Conference. Basketball is the most popular and best-attended sport at the university. The University of Illinois Ice Arena is open to students when not in use by the hockey team, making U of I a popular choice among ice skaters and dancers.
All students have full use of the Activities and Recreation Center. This facility is located conveniently close to on-campus housing and contains four separate gymnasiums, an outdoor pool, an indoor pool, a cycling room, a climbing wall, and several other recreational facilities.
The faculty at U of I includes several dozen Nobel laureates and Pulitzer Prize winners. Prize winners are especially concentrated in physics, medicine, and atmospheric sciences.
Admissions. University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. Web. 17 Apr. 2011.
Fiske, Edward B. Fiske Guide to Colleges 2011. Chicago: Sourcebooks, 2010. Print.
Pope, Loren. Looking Beyond the Ivy League: Finding the College That’s Right for You. New York: Penguin. 2007. Print.
Student LIfe. University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. Web. 17 Apr. 2011.