By KATIE LINDER
For most students, turning 18 and finally moving out of Mom and Dad’s house to a new school in a new city is the final step in reaching the long-awaited threshold into adulthood. As, an Illinois College student who was raised in Jacksonville, it was only a matter of traveling five minutes for college, but the sentiment remains. College is a new chapter in everyone’s life who’s fortunate enough to experience it, and now that the 2013-2014 school year has begun, many first-year students, myself included, can finally say that we are done with the halls of high school for good and have graduated on to bigger and better things.
When choosing a school to continue on with my education, the quality of the schools I was looking into vastly outweighed the distance they were from home. Unlike most of my high school classmates, I have never felt the need to “get out of Jacksonville.” I like the town, I like the residents, and (obviously) I like Illinois College.
Though the academics are what initially drew me to IC, in the end I discovered that being close to home was more important to me than what I thought. I love the fact that it takes me a whole five minutes to drive to my house, which makes it convenient whenever I want to stop by my house and relax a little bit if I have a few hours off between classes. No matter how much I love the campus atmosphere at IC, there is no better place to relax than home. Besides, I think anyone would agree that a nice, home-cooked meal wins out over whatever the cafeteria is serving any day of the week.
When choosing to attend IC, however, what I didn’t realize is how separate the campus is from Jacksonville. Most of my graduating class in high school disregarded IC immediately because it was too close to home for them and they had been clamoring to get out of Jacksonville for years. As enclosed and tight-knit as IC is, it almost feels like I am in my own, secluded area that is a different entity from Jacksonville entirely.
While the comforts of home are only a five minute drive away for me, I am finding myself spending more time on campus than I expected I would. It would be all too easy to spend my time holed up in my air conditioned house in South Jacksonville, but instead I am finding myself hanging out with friends, both old and new, in the sweltering dorms, grabbing a cup of coffee and a sandwich at Baxter with my best friend, or simply finding a quiet spot in the library to study between chemistry and Spanish.
I am fortunate enough to say that I came to the same college as my best friend, even though it was actually a coincidence that it happened, and that has made all of the difference in the world while I have been adjusting to college life. It is an unbelievable source of comfort to me that we ended up on the same campus and now I cannot imagine life any other way. However, there is also something to be said for making new friends in college. Much like my dilemma with being close to home, it would also be easy to restrict my group of friends to those I knew in high school since there are a considerable number of my classmates here. This is where the IC Connections program has proven to be a blessing in disguise.
The IC Connections program exists for the sole purpose of getting incoming students acclimated to college life. The Connections program places every freshman in a First-Year Seminar class that is paired with either a writing or speaking class. Though it took a while initially, with every day that passes, my First-Year Seminar class is becoming more comfortable with each other than the day before. Our discussions, which were almost uncomfortably quiet for the first day or so, are slowly turning into well-rounded discussions that are eliciting participation from every facet of the room. By being put in the same two classes as roughly 15 other students, everyone is forced to interact which will lead to friendships being formed among the class.
After surviving my first full week of college, I cannot imagine where I would be thus far had I not been given the experience of all the events that went along with Welcome Week. Though they seemed like a silly waste of time to me over the summer when I first received my brochure in the mail, I have come to realize just how important it is to have the opportunity to get out there and make connections. Welcome Week provided me, and all incoming students, with the opportunity to do just that. We were able to form connections amongst ourselves without worrying about what it would be like once all the returning students arrived. And when they did arrive, it just gave us even more opportunities to meet new people and form the foundation for what will be our next four years.
No matter how far we have come, we all have something in common: eventually we will all be able to call ourselves graduates of Illinois College. That being said, there is no better time to meet new people than the present. Everyone says that friends made in college are friends for a lifetime, so we should use as much time as we can to make sure that