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What I Wish I Knew Before I Transferred To Illinois State University

     When I committed to ISU, I really had no idea what to expect. I had never been on a campus that was more than one building! I was excited, but also scared. I was on a mission though to have as much as possible and learn everything I could about college life. So, to help those transfers of incoming freshmen out there, here is everything I wish I knew before I started at Illinois State.


1. Your floor is your squad.

    If you are living in a dorm you quickly learn that you are living in tight quarters with a lot of people. These people aren’t going to go away for the next year so try to make some friends! Your RA should be holding gatherings and taking you on mini adventures through campus as bonding experiences. Embrace them! See if you can click with as many people as you can who will all trek down to Watty with you when you have no one to eat with. 


2.    Greek life can get weird.

    ISU is a huge party school and that is very much thanks to our fraternities. There is a lot of drinking and other stuff that goes on at pretty much all parties including frat parties. I have nothing against Greek Life. Being in a Sorority or Fraternity is very rewarding to some and gives you a built-in family. However, the parties, inside info, and the exclusivity can be a bit much for outsiders looking in or for someone who has seen it all firsthand but is not a Greek life member. Proceed with caution and be safe but have fun!


3.    Living on your own is the best!

    Living on your own for the first time is really the best! No parents, no rules, no one telling you what to do with your life. It’s great! You oversee you and no one else.


4.    Living on your own can be the worst.

    Sometimes, living on your own can be the worst. You can get homesick. There is no one to tell you whether to use hot or cold water for laundry and you will probably have to look up how to boil an egg online. Plus, you oversee you and no one else.


5.    It’s okay to change your major as many times as you want.

    As you move through college and have new life experiences, our interests change. We may decide to do one thing with our lives and then do a one eighty and find something else that sparks an interest. College kids usually change their major three times on average. It will affect your career choices in the long run so why not strive for something you love?


6.    Keep professor’s contact info even after the semester is over.

     You never know who you are going to need to go to for pretty much anything. Professors are always there to help you out.


7.    Stick to your gut.

    There will be times in college that will get confusing and overwhelming. Whether it’s a big adult decision like signing a lease or a simple one like going out to the bars, be careful and trust your inner voice telling you what is right for you.


8.     Don’t go overboard with the melted cheese or the burrito line.

    Real talk: The food can be great or horrible in these dining halls. My two favorites are probably the cheese sauce for your fries and the burrito/taco/quesadilla station in which students will wait 20 minutes in line for. That is where the freshman fifteen comes from! Eat healthy to stay healthy and stay sharp.


9.    Join clubs and organizations!

    You will find your passion on campus through clubs and organizations. They look great on resumes and give you something to look forward to during the week. Make new friends and make some type of magic doing what you do best where you belong. Find the opportunity to have some fun at Festival ISU held on the quad in the first few weeks of school. Every single organization and club is out on the quad with a table. Go explore! 


10.     Never ever sign up for an 8 A.M. class.

         You won’t get up unless you are very much a morning person and will probably end up missing a lot classes. Stay away!


11.    Do not under any circumstance touch someone else’s stuff.

    You have no idea what a difference there is from touching your sibling’s stuff to touching your roommate’s stuff. Even if you feel like you are tidying up, it’s still their property. I’ve experienced epic blowouts just for throwing away moldy bread. Just skip the feud and ask beforehand.


12.    Peer pressure is still very real.

    Just when you thought you left high school behind, there are new ways to be pulled under into sticky situations that you don’t want to be in. Let’s say you are offered alcohol or an illegal substance and you don’t want it but everyone else is doing it so it feels safer. Do you do it? Let’s go back to sticking to your gut. My roommates once spent two hours convincing me to smoke with them. I was ready to do it after hour one and then changed my mind. You do you.


13.    Dating is HARD.

    Those dating apps are killer and the boy who sits in front of you in a lecture may not even text you back when you had a “homework question”. There are so many ups and downs when it comes to the world of dating. However, there are learning opportunities too. Just know that you should be treated like a queen in any type of relationship/dating/intimate situation and it takes two to tango. Know you are loved no matter what happens out there on the playing field.


14.    The kids you met at welcome week probably won’t be your friends forever.

    Unfortunately, this is almost all the way true. You found allies when you had nobody else. They may end up having completely different ideas on life than you do. And that is okay! As you guys move through the first couple weeks of school you may drift apart and that’s okay too. Make friends with people who will build you up in the best way. Not with people who you needed when it was time to sit on the quad and watch a movie on the big blow up screen.


15.    Schroeder Hall is pronounced Shrader Hall.

    It just is. Don’t let yourself get made fun of.


16.     Learn how to get around via Redbird Express, the City Bus, Bike Share and on foot.

    This is an important one. If you don’t have a car on campus you will need to find other ways to get around. You may need to go to Walmart or the mall. You may be in a neighborhood around campus and scared to walk back to the dorms or your apartment. You could even be running late for class in the CVA and you are by the student center and jumping on a bike would be easier than trying to run through people at 2PM on a Wednesday afternoon. Learn your way around campus and you will be fine.


17.    Why college is the best of times, the worst of times but most of all the craziest experience of your life!

    When you are in college, you have a lot of time to learn about yourself as a person. Situations, people, and responsibilities will mold you into a different person. There are ups and down and don’t forget the spin arounds but it’s all worth it in the end. Use your time in college to get good grades and realize your dreams.


Mimi McNulty

Illinois State '20

Hey there! I'm Mimi McNulty. I'm 22 years old and I am a Public Relations major at Illinois State University. Writing has always been a passion of mine and I want to turn the world upside down by telling it like it is. If I were to give a TED Talk it would be about how to sustain a wild heart. Please keep reading my pieces to receive your daily dose of hilarity, security and as much knowledge that I have to share! I'm here to say we've all been there. Shine Bright
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