So, How Does One Get Into the University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign?
1. Have a clearly defined goal and path.
When you apply to Illinois, you will need to give a first- and second-choice major and explain why you’ve selected them, as well as the activities you’ve done that correlate to your chosen major and demonstrate your skills and intellectual curiosity. Also, keep in mind that the adcom will consider your application in the context of the school to which you apply, and each one has different criteria for admission. For example, Gies College of Business wants to see strong math coursework, including Calculus, and leadership.
Remember: Your major is not set in stone; you are not declaring it now. However, you should be applying to the school that best correlates to your strengths.
2. Take the most rigorous curriculum available to you.
This is true of most competitive colleges, and Illinois specifically states that it considers the AP and honors courses that are available to you. This also means if you performed worse in a challenging class, it won’t necessarily be a strike against you (however, performing well in a regular class is preferential to performing very poorly in an advanced class).
Academic strength is one of the most important admissions factors at many colleges, and that includes both high school transcript and standardized test scores; in fact, these factors can also help you earn scholarships and automatic admission into the Honors Program without having to submit a separate application.
3. Express individuality.
Illinois considers diversity, veteran status, geographic location, and first-generation status, among other characteristics. Be sure to describe any unique experiences that may have impacted your performance, since they could bolster your application or explain any weaknesses in it. For example, if you struggled academically for a semester because you had to care for a sick parent, you should be sure to let the adcom know.
What If You Get Rejected?
Being denied admission to any college, particularly one of your top choices, is disappointing. Still, it’s important to take a step back and regroup. If you get rejected from Illinois, here’s what you can do:
Take a gap year or transfer in. If you had your heart set on Illinois or received bad news from the other colleges on your list, one option is to take a gap year and reapply next admissions cycle. If you do decide to go this route, make sure you have a productive plan for the year. You might undertake a research project, volunteer, study to improve your SAT scores, or take classes at a local college. Do know, however, that this path is risky, as taking a gap year won’t ensure your acceptance the second time around.
You could also begin your studies at another institution with the hopes of transferring. U of I has around 1,350 transfer students annually, some of whom transfer from other universities within the Illinois system. Keep in mind the minimum GPA requirements for transferring to a program.
Keep it in perspective. Even if Illinois was your top choice, chances are, you’ll find a way to make a college that did accept you work. College really is what you make of it, and if you put effort into adjusting to another school by joining clubs, working hard in your classes, and cultivating a social life, you’ll likely find that you can make a fulfilling college experience for yourself, even if you end up at a college that wasn’t your top choice.
For more personalized expertise on getting into U of I, consider CollegeVine’s College Application Guidance Program. When you sign up for our program, we carefully pair you with the perfect admissions specialist based on your current academic and extracurricular profile and the schools in which you’re interested. Your personal application specialist will help you with branding, essays, and interviews, and provide you with support and guidance in all other aspects of the application process.
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