The University’s business and agricultural programs are world-renowned and very popular, but the liberal arts and sciences programs do not receive the same patronage from the University. Some students complain about the state of the English building compared to the engineering buildings, claming that arts majors are passed over in favor of other majors. However, U of I still has great drama and writing departments, and it has recently added a creative writing master’s degree. Efforts are being made to reach out to other interests, but the bulk of this school is still the engineering department. If that’s your interest, U of I is definitely a competitive choice.
Many professors are dedicated to teaching and reaching out to their students. Most make themselves available, and a few have even been known to give out their home phone numbers. Still, it can be hard to get acclimated to a school of 28,000, which is why the University implemented discussion groups to accompany big lectures (though not all lectures are huge, and some classes are entirely discussion-based). These discussion sections are generally led by teaching assistants (TAs), some of whom are excellent teachers, though others are less than enthusiastic. If you want help outside of class, the best bet is office hours or online notes. Most big classes, such as general education classes, have Web sites that include notes and PowerPoint presentations online, so you never miss anything even if you skip a class or can’t keep up with the teacher’s notes. Of course, every university has its share of terrible teachers, but the faculty is generally well-informed and caring, and every once in a while, you meet a really great teacher who inspires you.