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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UIC chapter.

As a senior in college, I have a lot of advice and I am really happy to have the chance to write it all down for this article. I hope with all this advice, someone does not make the same mistakes I did. College is hard and there is no correct path towards graduation. Bumps come and go along your path and someone else’s journey will look differently than yours. There is no guidebook to know what to do during every step of the way. Some people are thrusted into college after high-school. It can be hard to adjust because now you have this new freedom. You get to pick your classes, make new friends from people outside your town, and have a lot more time in between classes. You learn from your mistakes and then once you learn you can write an article like this to help the generation after you.

Here is my advice…

person standing on arrow sign on road photo
Photo by Smart from Unsplash

  • Do not declare your major until it’s necessary because a lot of universities will charge extra, depending on the major you go into. For me, I declared my major after already completing 60 credit hours.
  • If the class is not worth credit, don’t take it. In my freshman year, my advisor had me take a class for getting to know UIC. This class was completely useless and did not go toward the credits that I needed to graduate. 
  • Additionally, even though they are advisors, they really do not always have your best interest at heart. I decided to change advisors after my first advisor told me that it’s no big deal to stay five years. Yeah, if you want to pay more and not have financial aid cover that extra year because you’ve exceeded your limits.
  • Take your hard classes first. Not only would you have an easier senior year, but you will have a backup if you fail. Failing is common and you should not feel bad. But it’s important to have that time to make it up during the summer or during the school semester.
  • Check the requirements of community colleges if you need a prerequisite before going into a class that will not count toward it. The goal is to only take classes that matter. So, if you can skip to the one that does, then perfect. Be careful of the class translation. Math 140 can be equal to math 110 at another school.
  • Your major advisor will be your best friend. Don’t be shy to make an appointment and ask if you’re on the right track. Some classes may cancel out another in a category. I had that happen with my Understanding of U.S Society course. Some classes will not count if you have taken another class.
  • Pay attention to all the events going on. At UIC, there are so many events. At first, I was overwhelmed. It’s important to take advantage of these events because not only does it encourage them to make more events, but it can be fun to have a break from class and learn more about what is offered on campus.
  • UIC is a commuter school and I would recommend anyone who has the means to dorm. A lot of the events I attended were because of dorming. Being on campus helps you be in college mode.
  • It’s hard making friends. Your first year really sets a foundation for your experience. There are a lot of events like orientation and first-year dinner that help students meet each other. It’s a time solely for meeting others and you should take advantage of that. Not to be a Debbie-downer, but it just gets harder to make friends from there forward.
  • Check your email every day. I used to never checked my email very often and that’s a huge no-no in college. Professors send emails all the time with updates. You cannot always trust Blackboard announcements.
  • Also, check your grades weekly and keep track of your progress. I hated checking my grades, so when someone asked what I got on a certain assignment, I would never know. I changed that mentality junior year and was not afraid anymore. Sometimes, professors and TA’s make mistakes and it’s important to catch them. Also, it helps you to know what you need to do in order to get a certain grade, such as attending TA review sessions. 
  • Lastly, keep a planner! This can be a physical planner or something on an electronic calendar.  
Maya is currently a Senior at University of Illinois at Chicago. She is majoring in Integrated Health Studies with the goal of becoming a genetic counselor. She joined HER and is excited for all the article she will create. She enjoys staying connected with pop culture and all the new restaurants.
UIC Contributor.