From Normal — 11/23/2007
Illinois State University is not a bad school. However, from my experience it is not a great one either. As a student and an employee there, I can say I saw major politics on both sides (student and employee). It never ceases to amaze me the quality of people that get positions and promotions there, and how incompetent some of them really are. Most of the instructors and professors I had there were decent, some were mediocre, and some were downright horrible. I switched from my field of study (education) during my senior year to a general studies major because I found during my horrible pre-student teaching experience that a career in teaching was not where I truly belonged. But to this day I cannot help but think that I and some others I know were not given a fair chance or treated fairly nor responsibly. My cooperating teachers and university supervisors were not helpful, accommodating, or encouraging. If you did not meet their expectations, or if they did not personally like you, they could ween you out of the major in a heartbeat. Granted, it was for the best in the long run. However, I think this is common in a lot of departments there. Advisors will tell you one thing, and then do another. This is especially true when it comes to course and graduation requirements. People have been messed over by professors and advisors more times than necessary there. Tuition rates are also going up tremendously!
Now, don't get me wrong. I did have some good experiences at ISU. Some of the better professors I had were the ones who 1) were personable, 2) had clear and reasonable expectations for performance, 3) were consistent, 4) did not play favorites, 5) kept their political beliefs to themselves, 6) gave opportunities for extra credit, 7) graded on more than just exams and finals, and 8) were available and willing to help you within reason if you needed it. Also, my best professors were in areas not part of my major (i.e. history, music, psychology, speech pathology). I love writing, and the good professors I had there graded us fairly if our work met criteria. This is how professors truly should be.
For one semester, I was a student employee in the College of Arts and Sciences. My supervisor was nice. I worked for her in her office at a computer filing applications to one of the departments. However, during this particular year, the university had to make cuts due to the state budget being limited, and I was eliminated after one semester. I did alright in the position, even though I made some mistakes and had to be told how to do some things (I have a learning disability, so I learn a little differently than some people). Office work may not be totally my cup of tea, but this was not bad. I can see in hindsight, however, how higher educational politics operates and how you must know the right people and things to succeed.
Overall, my experience at ISU was satisfactory despite a difficult senior year. I graduated with a general studies degree, and am thankful for this. My advice to students wanting to go to ISU is to work hard, get to know your classmates, roommates, professors, and everyone well as much as possible. If you have any kind of disability or limitation, get in touch with the Office of Disability Concerns and provide them with the right documentation for academic and social accommodations. Don't let them talk you into things that sound good but may not be. Get policies and documents in writing, signed, sealed, and delivered! Above all else, have fun. College is one time in your life. There is a future for you even if ISU is not your cup of tea all the time. You will find your niche. Good luck!