Adjusting to a new school does not come easy for incoming students such as yourself. If you are reading this, you most likely are transitioning into a bigger school than you are used to…but these lifesaving tips for Illinois State University Freshmen will help you!
1) Attend Welcome Week Events:
Welcome week on campus occurs the week before fall semester begins with various activities throughout the week for students to participate in such as Viva Las Vegas, Midnight Meijer Mania, and a Picnic on the Quad. Events like these are a good way for students to get accustomed to campus, and it gives them a chance to make new friends.
2) Have an Open-Door Policy:
One of the mistakes that my floor made is that everyone had their doors closed. I tried to make an effort to talk to other students on my floor, but I would feel uncomfortable knocking because they don’t want to be bothered. I would return to my dorm from class at the end of the day and not know any names of anyone on my floor because they never talked to me. If you get to make friends with others, it makes your first year better.
3) Don’t be afraid to make new friends:
There are 23,000 students on the campus of Illinois State, so there’s a good chance that nobody knows you. There are many events going on around campus that I will talk about that serve as a chance to make new friends. College is the time to build friendships that last a lifetime. Perhaps the person you meet in your Sociology class could end up being your roommate next year.
4) Get to know L-J:
Levester Johnson is the Vice President of Student Affairs at ISU who can always be seen walking around on campus. You are always greeted by a smile on his face. He loves to get to know the students because that’s his job. You can also participate in tweet treats, which is basically meeting him at a certain location on campus and he will give you a coupon for a free snack. For finals week in the fall, he gave everyone that showed up to Starbucks at the rec center a free medium beverage.
5) Be Cautious when Buying Textbooks:
Most students choose to buy textbooks prior to class, but the problem is that textbooks are expensive and some teachers don’t require them. I took a Geology class last semester and I bought the textbook, but it wasn’t required. If I was confused about something, it helped clear things up. My advice is to wait to buy textbooks because current students might be selling required textbooks for way cheaper than Barnes and Noble.
6) Budget your Laundry Time:
Now that you are in college, chances are you will not be going home every few weeks to do laundry, so you will have to do it on your own. Most students choose to do their laundry Sunday night, but it’s a bad idea because everyone chooses to do at this time. My advice to you is to do laundry when you feel you need to, such as when your hamper is full or if you will be busy over the weekend. The machines can be started by using your student I.D. or with Quarters.
7) Distinguish between Flex and Redbird Dollars:
Often confused by students, both forms of cash are loaded on your student ID. Flex dollars are a certain amount of cash given to students per semester based on your meal plan that can be used at the restaurants on campus such as McAlisters Deli, Einsteins, and the Business Bistro (located in the State Farm Hall of Business). Redbird Dollars is payment used for printing on campus and laundry. Redbird dollars can be loaded at any time rather than once a semester.
8) Attend Professor’s Office Hours:
Don’t feel ashamed if you are attending office hours because the professors are getting paid to have those hours. They are designed to help you and they want to meet you and help you succeed. I remember attending my Sociology professor’s office hours in the fall. He taught roughly 300 students per class and because I attended office hours, I was able to succeed in the class and the teacher knows me by name.
9) Use the Visor Center:
This is the most underrated place on campus in my opinion. The Julia N. Visor Center offers a variety of services for students and is located in Hewitt-Manchester. You can sign up for tutoring for the majority of your Gen-Ed courses, have an academic coach to help keep you on track, get writing assistance for term papers and much more. The best part is that all the services provided by the Visor Center are free!
10) Utilize the Fitness Center:
We have all heard of the Freshman-15, the phenomenon that we will all gain 15 pounds in our first year in college. As crazy as it sounds, this is a true statement. If you are scared about gaining the weight, think ahead and begin working out at McCormick Hall. There’s a variety of machines to use to work out all areas of your body in addition to cardio machines. The service is free for you to use at any time. Did I mention there’s a pool, basketball court and a rock climbing wall?
11) Snag freebies from Festival ISU:
Festival ISU takes place at the beginning of the fall semester on the Quad and is the largest event at ISU. There are tables set up across the quad with every student organization on campus such as club sports, Greek life, academic clubs, and local businesses. As you are walking around, there are many freebies that you can take. This is a great way to not only make new friends but find others that have the same interests as you.
12) Join an RSO:
One of the things students strive for is to get involved. There is a large amount of RSO’s on campus. If you are unsure that there is something for you, attending Festival ISU will help because there are organizations for all interests regardless of your major. If there’s something that interests you and there is no club at ISU, you have the ability to create one.
13) Attend UPB events:
The University Program Board puts on various events throughout the year for students and they are a ton of fun. Last year, they hosted Jesse McCartney and T-Pain for the fall concert. You read that right; they performed at ISU and it was amazing. They have also hosted a Harry Potter experience, movie night at the Normal Theatre, and Treat yo’ Self. These events are a great place to hang out with others and there’s lots of cool giveaways that you can take home.
14) Listen to WZND:
The majority of students don’t know that there’s a student run radio station on campus. Well, there is and you can listen to it on 103.3 FM radio, or if you have a smartphone, you can listen to the station on WZND.com by clicking the play button at the bottom of the screen. During Festival ISU, they are playing music while you are walking around. They have various contests as well where you can win gift cards, free concert tickets, and other school prizes.
15) Attend as many sports events as you can:
Illinois State might not be a top school like Kentucky, but there is still a large athletic presence on campus. On game days for Football and Men’s basketball, the student section gets packed and everyone comes together to cheer on the Redbirds. The atmosphere is electric and it makes the game more memorable to watch. The majority of sporting events are free for students, but you have the option of purchasing Red Alert to attend all games for free.
16) Take a picture with Reggie Redbird:
Better known as the mascot of ISU, Reggie Redbird is a character. You will see him at all of the sporting events on campus goofing around with others and pumping up the crowd to create an amazing atmosphere. You can see him on campus every so often promoting ISU events. With a large yellow beak and a red body, he’s hard to miss, so make sure you grab a photo with ISU’s favorite bird!
17) Explore Uptown Normal:
For those who argue that they have nothing to do over the weekend or don’t know where to go, look no further than uptown normal. Here you will find restaurants such as DP Dough and Medicci’s. Insomnia Cookies and Emack & Bolios are popular places to grab some sweet treats anytime throughout the day because the majority of the food places in Uptown Normal are open late.
18) Attend an event at Normal Theatre:
Located in Uptown Normal about a block away from Watterson Towers, it is home to multiple events through the year such as the Rocky Horror Picture Show in October. They also show various old-time movies throughout the year, and host various events. One time, there was a benefit concert to fundraise for the victims of Hurricane Maria. Although it is no AMC, there’s plenty of seating and you can still buy your movie watching goodies for a fair price.
19) Stay up to Date on Social Media:
Various departments at ISU post what is going on via social media. UPB, Red Alert, Student Affairs, and more use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat to post about what is going on around campus. Be sure to check it often as often times there will be posts about a free event going on or a contest to win some free shirts and other swag. Who doesn’t love free stuff?!
20) Stand out:
You were put on this earth to stand out, and ISU admitted you onto its campus because they believe you can bring something to the table. If you are hanging out with friends who want to join a club that you are not interested in, don’t bother joining. As I mentioned before, there are many RSO’s on campus so surely there’s one that interests you. You are only an undergraduate for 4 years, so make the most of it. Create memories that will last a lifetime so you can tell your friends about it.
Hopefully these tips for Illinois State University freshmen will help you out! With that I leave you with the fight song:
Go you redbirds onto battle fight for ISU
Raise the banner red and white, to this emblem we’ll be true
So let us cheer you Redbirds onto victory, every voice proclaim ‘Go State’
We’ve got the fight, we’ve got the might, let’s win this game… ISU go!