The reasons I chose the University of Illinois at Springfield (UIS) are simple. Coming out of high school, I wanted to become involved in Illinois state politics, as Illinois had been my home for my entire life. UIS offered me ample opportunity to get involved in the Illinois state capital and its associated internships while studying its politics. I also wanted to attend a smaller school with class sizes that did not require binoculars to see the white board. UIS offered me small classes and the opportunity to work more closely with professors. Other schools did not offer me such an opportunity. UIS, sitting near the center of Illinois, was also close enough to my home for me to visit frequently, while maintaining enough distance for me to develop independence and important life skills like shopping with proper lists, laundry management, and time management. Lastly, the scholarships offered by UIS for my academic standing made attendance reasonably affordable.
Once I began attending UIS, I wanted to host my own political event that focused on getting students to discuss political topics in a civil manner. UIS made the process of hosting a major event easy and supported me throughout. Faculty from the political science department were excited to help me host the event, partaking as facilitators, encouraging their students to attend, and providing priceless advice. Student Life made founding my own club to host the event easy and provided plenty of resources, such as funding, conference spaces, food supplies, and advertising, for me to host my event and its attached club. Years later, the Political Understanding and Activist Club I started is still running strong. My premiere event Spilling Tea, Spittin’ Topics won an event of the year award from Student Life. Hosting this event was my standout experience. The help I received at every turn, the resources that were made available to me by UIS were immense and invaluable. One such source of aid from UIS was the Student Organization Funding Association (SOFA). The funds that SOFA provides are what helps to make student events possible. It is a resource unparalleled in the help it provides to student organizations. I have served on the SOFA executive board for the past two academic years and have personally seen the amount it contributes to student organizations and the dream events that students come up with are made possible.
The faculty at UIS have helped me with anything I was stumped with. When applying to the master’s program, hosting my event, and academic inquiries. The faculty were available and genuinely invested in my success as a student. I chose UIS because I wanted smaller and more personal classes, and I found exactly that. My achievements at UIS were simply not possible without the help that I received from different departments on campus. I am intending to pursue a master’s degree in history with a European concentration. UIS provided me with numerous opportunities to grow, and a multitude of avenues in political science to find a career. Programs offered at UIS, such as the ILSIP, GPSI, and GA programs offered me plenty of choices for my future and made them financially accessible.
One resource that I must mention, is the UIS learning Hub. The Learning Hub is the only reason I succeeded in college. The Learning Hub helped me learn to write in a more academic fashion, something I struggled with in high school. They made sure I was both comfortable and improving. The Learning Hub helped me with skills and academic subjects that I was struggling with, without any judgement. Because of the Learning Hub, I could feel confident in the papers I submitted for my courses, I learned to write academically, to research, and generally improved as an academic in ways that the standard classroom could not effectively help me with. I cannot give enough thanks to those at the UIS Learning Hub who made my academic successes possible and helped me to grow as a student.
UIS did not simply offer me a wealth of academic avenues and opportunities but also opportunities for close friendships and connections. Since attending UIS, I have found numerous individuals whom I consider to be some of my closest friends. Together we have revived the old game of Kriegsspiel and have played countless games together and formed memories we will take with us into the rest of our lives. We have created our own little social network of college friends who will lean on and support one another in our future endeavors. Finding friends is something common for college students, but UIS’ environment makes it incredibly easy to build friendships. With plenty of common areas, recreational activities, Resident Assistants (RA, which is a job I have held for the past academic year) makes social bonds easy to form.
If I had to choose a school again, fresh out of high school, I would still choose UIS. The memories I have made here, the people I have met, the faculty and staff who have helped me grow as a person, make my own club, and host a stupendous event, are exactly how I imagined my college career. I am leaving behind a student club, unique in purpose and membership, that will last well beyond my academic career. I have friends and connections to go forward into life with. UIS has done more for me than I could have found anywhere else and fit my personal needs perfectly.
Connor Krater, Political Science major / History minor, graduated with a Bachelor's degree in May 2021.
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