Home sweet University home


By Matt Pasquini

To the University of Illinois class of 2018, welcome!

You may or may not have heard by now, but you’re about to embark on the best four years of your life. I can almost guarantee that the college environment is unlike anything you’ve experienced before and the actions you take will determine whether or not you make the most of your experience here at the University. 

From the classes you take, to the registered student organizations you get involved with, to the extracurricular activities you take advantage of, the number of opportunities you have to foster personal growth at the University is unlimited.

I want to point out, though, that each and every one of you, as first-year students here at the University, have been offered a very unique and automatic opportunity. Due to our campus’s first-year living requirement for students under 21, you are living on campus in either University-owned or Private Certified Housing. It’s not something you can opt out of, so why not make the most of it? 

I’m a big fan of the residence halls, which is evident, considering I am beginning my third year living in them and my second year working as a resident adviser. I’ve had nothing but positive experiences in the halls, and by drawing from these experiences, I have two pieces of advice on how to use University-owned and Private Certified Housing as a spring-board into a successful college career:

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    1) Be social. The halls are one of the easiest places to meet people and they will be your first, and often times your best, college friends. 

    It’s as easy as keeping your door open so other people can stop by, but taking initiative is even better. If you see someone with the door open, say hello, introduce yourself to them, see what they were involved with in high school, or ask about things they want to get involved with in college. There are so many ways to find commonalities that will foster lasting relations.

    Your floormates will also serve as one of your best resources and support groups. If you’re a freshman living on a floor with mostly other freshmen, you have the advantage of becoming part of a group of people that can empathize with your experiences. 

    If you’re struggling with being away from home for the first time or having a hard time adjusting to college, you’re not alone! Despite having a college campus as large as ours, the halls do a great job of providing a community that you can make as large or as small as you want, and where students can thrive in their academic and social lives. 

    Building strong and lasting relationships with your floormates will give you the advantage of knowing people in all walks of campus life. Simply knowing people in different majors and extracurricular activities will open your eyes to everything the University experience has to offer.

    2) Expand your mind and take advantage of the convenience of residence hall programming. You never know what you might learn. 

    Housing staffs put a lot of work into their programs that take place within the residence halls. From social to cultural programs, each one has an intended learning outcome.

    College is an amazing time to step outside of your comfort zone. Whether you’re looking to meet more people or to learn more about various backgrounds and social identities, the halls do a great job of facilitating that through these programs. 

    They allow you to learn about new experiences from your friends, and being surrounded by the people who live around you make it easier, more fun and worth your time to attend these programs. At a campus workshop, however, you leave the experience once you leave the room, but in the halls you continue living the experience and learning from those around you.

    Branching out and attending these programs is an important thing to do because once you enter the workplace, you’ll be working in settings that are as diverse as the college campus. Taking the time to try new things and meet new people, as well as learning to be inclusive and respectful of various cultures are important skills to have after graduation. Learning those skills now will be much more beneficial for the future, and you can do this through your experiences in your first-year housing at the University.

    The residence halls are a great “in” to having an exciting and productive time here. The convenience and hands-on experience is hard to top. By taking advantage of the opportunities offered in the residence halls, you can meet new people, actually live new experiences, and, most of all, start preparing to be a well-rounded person and professional.

    Matt is a junior in LAS. He can be reached at [email protected].