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Program Specific Thread UIUC

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Hi Everyone,  right now I'm strongly considering UIUC.  I'll ask the same questions as on the other program specific threads:

  1. Is anyone planning on visiting? 
  2. What do you see as pros and cons of the program?

For me, I've great experiences with the profs there so far.  One I had been emailing before I applied and he is very nice and quick to reply.  Another professor offered to set up a phone call with me and I was able to talk to her for a good 45 mins about the program.  The one downside for me is location.  It seems to be in the middle of nowhere.  :P

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i'm visiting in March for Chemical Biology.

I have similar pros/cons right now... talked to a prof for an hour, he was really nice. I don't mind being in the middle of nowhere so much, but the complete flatness of the area. I need some mountains or streams or forests to run around in. It also seems like an extremely affordable place to live

 

Seems like they have a strong program, it's an internationally recognized and well respected university. They also have some cool research going on, and a pretty sizable chem bio department.

Edited by doyouevenchop

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I did not apply there and I have never been but I know a few people who have. They all enjoyed their time and really liked the area. They described it as a little city in the middle of know where and this it is similar to any other large college town (assuming that college is not located in some massive, major city). There is the university and everything else that supports it. There are bars, golf, events, just like anywhere else. Also, it is only like a 2 hour drive to Chicago which is a very easy Saturday morning drive. Anyway, I thought I would add that. Good Luck

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I really like the program! I'm visiting on Feb 19th.

Pros: I really like several of the profs there (I think Christina White is soooo cool honestly) and the work they're doing is really up my alley. I like big schools a lot and they're pretty large. I've tabulated some data on their alums and where they've ended up and it all looks pretty good.

Cons: Yes, it is in the middle of nowhere. I can't drive and I don't really want to learn, and I'm worried I might have to if I go there.

 

Anyone heard anything about any of the organic chem professors? (Specifically Christina White, Kami Hull and Martin Burke)

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I really like the program! I'm visiting on Feb 19th.

Pros: I really like several of the profs there (I think Christina White is soooo cool honestly) and the work they're doing is really up my alley. I like big schools a lot and they're pretty large. I've tabulated some data on their alums and where they've ended up and it all looks pretty good.

Cons: Yes, it is in the middle of nowhere. I can't drive and I don't really want to learn, and I'm worried I might have to if I go there.

 

Anyone heard anything about any of the organic chem professors? (Specifically Christina White, Kami Hull and Martin Burke)

I'm in materials/inorganic, but I agree they are are doing a ton of cool stuff in my field too.  I can't drive either... hoping to get my license before graduation! But even then I wouldn't bring a car.  But all UIUC students get a free bus pass for all of the UC area, and I think I've heard that the bus system is pretty good.  But you should definitely ask grad students about that when you visit!

 

Which reminds me, what kind of questions should we ask profs and grad students on visits? 

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Haha, I can tell you guys aren't from the midwest. UIUC doesn't seen like the middle of nowhere to me, but I can't imagine life without a car. Public transportation ,beyond getting to scool and back, is horrible in this area (Atleast my midewestern state). Good luck getting groceries or going anywhere interesting without a liscense. On a postive note, driving isn't scary here like I would imagine in coastal areas.

Pros: good stipend for cost of living, I really like the professor I've been in contact with, prestigious, they have been very personal and supportive so far! Close by for me.

Cons: I've heard its harder than the other schools I applied to, maybe not as prestigious as UMich?

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Haha, I can tell you guys aren't from the midwest. UIUC doesn't seen like the middle of nowhere to me, but I can't imagine life without a car. Public transportation ,beyond getting to scool and back, is horrible in this area (Atleast my midewestern state). Good luck getting groceries or going anywhere interesting without a liscense. On a postive note, driving isn't scary here like I would imagine in coastal areas.

Pros: good stipend for cost of living, I really like the professor I've been in contact with, prestigious, they have been very personal and supportive so far! Close by for me.

Cons: I've heard its harder than the other schools I applied to, maybe not as prestigious as UMich?

Actually I am from the Midwest... been living in MN for 8 years now! Based on what I've read about the UC area it's not too bad without a car as long as you live close to campus especially with the bus system there. But it feels in the middle of nowhere compared to other schools I applied (Austin and Seattle for example!) 

 

What do you mean by harder? I have a friend who is in his 2nd year there for computational chem and he said the classes aren't bad and when I talked with the professor she confirmed that they're basically a requirement you have to get through, but they are low priority.  Research is what matters! Plus no cumulative exams! 

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I understand not owning a car... but how do you guys not know how to drive/have licenses?!?

 

I just did my first visit last weekend, some of the questions I asked were how well they liked living in the area, what kind of activities there are to do, typical cost of living, good areas to live, bars to go to, sports, etc. Asked different students what kind of hours they worked, and the resounding answer I got was: if you work for an un-tenured professor, expect to be worked to the bone (one student worked 72 hrs/week) - however you might get more publications out of it. 

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I understand not owning a car... but how do you guys not know how to drive/have licenses?!?

Welp, at the age of sixteen I became blind in my left eye due to seven failed reconstructive surgeries because of an ocular muscle defect I was born with. I didn't think learning to drive while adjusting to monocular vision was the best idea, you know with new lack of depth perception and reduced peripheral vision.  Don't be so quick to judge. 

Edited by chemcece

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Yeah that's why I judged you as non-Midwestern. Everyone I know who doesnt drive is from big cities, and doesnt need to. Sorry to hear about your past ailment! Personally, I would still consider driving to be pretty important (unless you enjoy spending a lot of time on campus), so maybe you should weigh that in your decision when picking schools?

Here's the vague reason I think UIUC might be difficult: the head of my small schools chem department, who knows me well, was telling me about one of our students who went to UIUC and didn't make it through after the 4th year. She stressed how bright this student was, and I got vibes that she has less faith in me completing the program than she did in the girl who dropped out.

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Yeah that's why I judged you as non-Midwestern. Everyone I know who doesnt drive is from big cities, and doesnt need to. Sorry to hear about your past ailment! Personally, I would still consider driving to be pretty important (unless you enjoy spending a lot of time on campus), so maybe you should weigh that in your decision when picking schools?

Here's the vague reason I think UIUC might be difficult: the head of my small schools chem department, who knows me well, was telling me about one of our students who went to UIUC and didn't make it through after the 4th year. She stressed how bright this student was, and I got vibes that she has less faith in me completing the program than she did in the girl who dropped out.

Were you able to probe for the reasons this student dropped out? There are many circumstances that could lead to someone leaving the program.

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Bumping for those that are planning to visit soon. 

I can confirm that the Organic classes are very difficult. A huge pro to me is that we don't have to teach after the third year, and that fellowship support is strong.

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UIUC is one of my top choices , and also the only acceptance I have gotten so far. I'm hoping to get into a good ChemBio or Bio-organic research group so I will be there during the ChemBio visit weekend on March 13-14.

I thought I would bump this thread for the 2020 cycle since it hasn't been commented on in a few years. Only one thing that I'm a little concerned about is the state's budget issues (refer to this article for more info: https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/10/midwestern-public-research-universities-funding/542889/). I really hope that any funding cuts over the next 4-5 years won't affect my stipend or research funding if I decide to go there.

I'd be interested in seeing what the rest of you think about this and also about the current pros/cons of this program.

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10 minutes ago, mgg59 said:

UIUC is one of my top choices , and also the only acceptance I have gotten so far. I'm hoping to get into a good ChemBio or Bio-organic research group so I will be there during the ChemBio visit weekend on March 13-14.

I thought I would bump this thread for the 2020 cycle since it hasn't been commented on in a few years. Only one thing that I'm a little concerned about is the state's budget issues (refer to this article for more info: https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/10/midwestern-public-research-universities-funding/542889/). I really hope that any funding cuts over the next 4-5 years won't affect my stipend or research funding if I decide to go there.

I'd be interested in seeing what the rest of you think about this and also about the current pros/cons of this program.

I also got accepted to UIUC for chem bio. IIRC, they promised in the offer letter that stipends would only ever increase, not decrease. 

I realized that the visit weekend slightly conflicts with another (non-academic) event I wanted to attend, but I’ll still do my best to make it. Maybe I’ll bump into you there! :)

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17 minutes ago, isk20 said:

I also got accepted to UIUC for chem bio. IIRC, they promised in the offer letter that stipends would only ever increase, not decrease. 

I realized that the visit weekend slightly conflicts with another (non-academic) event I wanted to attend, but I’ll still do my best to make it. Maybe I’ll bump into you there! :)

Yeah I also had the same wording in my offer letter about the stipends. But I'm more concerned about overall research funding/ability of the school to retain professors because the Illinois state government is notorious for budget issues. That article I posted mentioned how some of the big Midwestern public schools are having professors taking higher paying positions at other schools which have more money to spend from endowments, etc. For example UW Madison had two well known chem/biochem professors recently take positions at MIT for salary reasons. I don't think it's a major issue, but it's something which I hadn't been seeing getting discussed on the forum.

And cool, hope to see you there.

Edited by mgg59

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