Words of wisdom for new students

8/24/2009 Laurel Bollinger, ECE ILLINOIS

Students and faculty alike have soaked up the last days of freedom and are preparing for another year of classes, quizzes, homework, and exams.

Written by Laurel Bollinger, ECE ILLINOIS

Marie-Christine Brunet
Marie-Christine Brunet

Another summer has gone by way too quickly and a new school year is beginning. Students and faculty alike have soaked up the last days of freedom and are preparing for another year of classes, quizzes, homework, and exams.

However, for new undergrad and graduate students, the new school year may seem like a daunting date if they don’t know what to expect. We talked to several advisers to help ensure that new students have a successful career at Illinois.

ECE Chief Adviser and Lecturer Marie-Christine Brunet wants incoming undergraduates to know that being creative with their program and academic career is key. “You have to make your degree your own and you do that by asking lots and lots of questions and experimenting with different things,” she said.

Brunet said it’s important to have fun and know that you can arrange your degree in a number of ways. It is also important to take exciting opportunities because you never know where they will take you. “Not everybody is doing the same thing for four years,” said Brunet. “You can actually get a little crazy with your degree sometimes.”

Stephen G Bishop
Stephen G Bishop

For new graduate students, ECE Associate Head for Administrative and Instructional Affairs Stephen G Bishop also emphasized asking questions but also on being aware of what needs to be done to obtain a master’s degree. “Many graduate students come in with the assumption that all they have to do is get all their coursework out of the way,” said Bishop. “That is part of the requirement, but not all of it.”

Bishop warned that many overload on class hours without leaving time and consideration for their thesis research. He also stressed that it is crucial to find a research adviser as soon as possible. “Students need to think deeply about what areas they might want to go into, but also keep their minds open,” said Bishop. “Guide yourself by trying to find a research adviser who can support you with a research assistantship in the area that interests you. Take advantage of all the available sources of information to identify faculty members working in your area, and then introduce yourself.”

Andreas C Cangellaris
Andreas C Cangellaris

Department Head Andreas C Cangellaris reminded both new and returning students that they are here because of their high potential and what they can contribute to the world.

“Work hard. This is the only way to discover the true bandwidth of your potential,” said Cangellaris. “Be a curious, engaged, and outspoken participant in the process of learning. Your curiosity, your dreams and aspirations help inspire and define the future. Without them, the learning we facilitate for you will fall short from helping you make the future happen the way you like it.”

But Cangellaris also advises to be aware of the reason that you are attending Illinois.

“You are here because what you can do, very few people can do,” he said. “And the well-being of the world depends on you doing the things you can do.”

So, no pressure.

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This story was published August 24, 2009.