University of Illinois College of Law
504 East Pennsylvania Avenue
Champaign, Illinois 61820
Academics & Programs: “You’ll definitely get the bang for your buck” at the University of Illinois College of Law, “a jewel amid the cornfields [that boasts] the best mix of academic excellence, social interaction, and human decency for the best price available.” Tuition is especially affordable for in-state students. The “tireless [administration] is also very accessible” and extraordinarily popular among students. “The new dean is extremely supportive of the students and does a wonderful job of building community.”
Students at the U of I tell us emphatically that “the faculty is the school’s greatest strength.” The “tough but not unreasonable” professors are “prolific writers [who are] clearly brilliant and accomplished.” Students say the professors “are, for the most part fantastic, both in and out of the classroom [and] always able to clarify concepts that are confusing. More significant, they are completely available [and] genuinely interested in teaching and working with students.” The professors make an effort to be reached in that they “have open-door policies and are available for discussions with students about class, a job, or just life in general.” Students also note that the school “employs a nice mix of tenured and adjunct faculty, which makes for a perfect balance of legal theory and real-world experience. The primary complaint that students have with regard to the faculty is “keeping the good professors around. “One student explains, “There’s not much reason for them to stay in central Illinois. The school really needs to make an effort to not let the good ones get away.”
Graduates enjoy “a great employment rate” thanks to an aggressive Career Services Office. As one transfer student attests, “I’m in a unique position in that I’ve seen how two different law schools operate. I was blown away by the quality of the Career Services Department at the University of Illinois. The administration goes to great lengths to make sure that not only do all University of Illinois College of Law graduates get jobs, but that they get the jobs they want.” “If you do well here, nothing in Chicago will be off limits.” However, students complain that the college “needs to broaden its resources [and] expand beyond the Midwestern market.” Until that happens, “It is difficult to get much traction” on either coast “when searching for jobs in Champaign.”
Campus Life/Facilities: The facilities at the U of I “are good” in that large chunks “are wired,” and the research resources of the library are as abundant as you’ll find anywhere. Overall, though, the “rather Spartan [College of Law] could use some serious help.” Suffice it to say, the “incredibly ugly and cheap-looking [building] does not give anyone goose bumps for the grand study of the law.” One student writes, “There are no windows in any of the rooms.” It’s like going to school in a casino.” Students note, “Sometimes seats are scarce [in the] crowded” classrooms, as well as in the “cramped” library, though now that the school has reduced the size of the incoming class, this should help to alleviate the problem. Also, wear layers because “There also seems to be a bit of a temperature control problem” no matter what the season.
If they do say so themselves, the students at the U of I are “very amiable, noncompetitive, [and] very intellectually minded, yet not stuck on themselves.” These are the “brightest [and] most fun” people—”all the cool, smart kids.” Students at the U of I are also “a bit neurotic [and] love to hear their own voices.” The student population “has a wonderful mix of student ethnicities, religions, sexual orientation, and gender.” There is also a laid-back atmosphere on campus. “Everybody really cares about you. They want you to succeed, and it’s almost difficult not to.”
“The school truly is a community because of its manageable size. Lunches with the dean” are common, and there are “endless other ways to connect with the other students and, more important, the faculty.” One content student writes, “The cafeteria has good food and, best of all, they carry Starbucks coffee.” Students also say, “Although U of I is located in the corn fields of Illinois, it is impossible to feel isolated” because the administration “is constantly bringing in lecturers, symposiums, and guest speakers.” In addition, the College of Law sponsors “a weekly happy hour, [at which] professors and administrators act as the celebrity bartenders.”
Life outside the classroom has many positive aspects. Students are very “sports-oriented” and say “It is great to be on a Big Ten campus and be able to devote yourself to the study of law full-time,” and surprising though it seems, “There is actually a lot to do in Urbana-Champaign.” There are “great bars, coffee houses, [and] centers for the arts.” There is also “a progressive music scene.” Some students gripe that “social life can seem dominated by a frat/sorority type atmosphere,” even at the law school level. “The town is basically designed for college students, so it gets a little dullsville at times.” Many students would “prefer to be in a larger city,” with Chicago being the example of choice. “Socially, we do the best we can with the town we’re in,” asserts one student. “That means we drink a lot [and] go en masse to football and basketball games.”
* The Princeton Review is not affiliated with Princeton University.