Even though ISU has a reputation of being a large party school, a lot of students are concerned with their academics, as well. There are six major colleges at ISU: the Mennonite College of Nursing, College of Arts and Sciences, College of Education, College of Applied Science and Technology, College of Business, and the College of Fine Arts. Originally, ISU was strictly an education-based college, where students went to get their teaching degrees. Since it was founded in 1857, ISU has grown to offer more opportunities to students with other interests. There is a list of general education classes that each student must complete before graduating, but students get their choice of courses that interest them within each level, of which there are three: inner core, middle core, and outer core. These classes are in addition to students' major and minor courses. Students are able to pick classes per level when they register for each semester, or they can keep track of them on the iCampus portal Web site.
Recently, ISU has become one of the most popular colleges in Illinois and has joined the ranks of such competitive schools as the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. One of the main reasons this has happened is because of the relationship between the professors and students. Many of the professors are highly recognized for their craft and are willing to help students whenever possible. For example, most professors in the English department are skillful, published writers who can offer some advice. This connection between advocacy and friendship helps take ISU to the next level.