Before coming to the Hilltop, I was a naive incoming freshman. As a Peoria local, I had a good grasp on the lay of the land, but campus culture is an entirely different beast. Here are a few things I wish I knew before starting at Bradley:
1. Don’t buy books from the book store
Oftentimes, students who have previously taken your courses sell their books cheaply on Facebook, especially texts for BCC courses. In the event that no one is selling the textbook you need, check Amazon, Slugbooks or Chegg. Odds are that you will find the textbook you need at a fraction of the cost. When I entered college, I thought I needed the bookstore version of my textbooks and paid $700 for books I could have easily gotten for $300.
To be clear: I’m definitely not advocating for students to find illegally uploaded PDFs on the internet because that would be irresponsible. Several textbooks are uploaded in full on the internet and can be found with a quick Google search. Doing this is deplorable. Under no circumstances should anyone ever Google the name of their textbook and download a completely free, easily usable textbook.
2. Don’t pay for a parking pass.
Parking is not guaranteed, even if you pay hundreds of dollars for a parking pass. If you want to park your car in a covered parking deck, sure, buy a pass for Duryea. But if you’re willing to scrape snow and frost off your car, try parking in one of the many free locations near campus, such as Fredonia Avenue, Bradley Avenue, University Street or one of the many side streets off Bradley Avenue. While parking there may be a slight inconvenience, walking five minutes to your car every day is worth the money you’ll save.
3. Get to know your professors
One of the incredible benefits of Bradley is the entirely professor-led courses. Instead of learning from a teaching assistant, you are taught by experts from your desired career field. These professors have worked in the field and are an incredible source of knowledge and connections. Go to your professors’ office hours. Introduce yourself after class. The relationships you forge with your professors now will prove invaluable later.
4. Get involved.
Because Bradley is a small campus, organizations are usually understanding of conflicts with other student groups. Getting involved on campus is the best way to meet new people and make friends, and it’s surprisingly easy. Because of COVID-19, many clubs are short on members and are eager to get new recruits. Not only are these student organizations fun, but they look great on resumes.
5. Escape the Bradley bubble.
Don’t be the person who makes it to senior year without having gone farther than Campustown. Peoria has a rich downtown culture, with many great restaurants, bars and entertainment businesses. The cost of living in Peoria is low when compared to other cities its size, so many of these places are also surprisingly affordable. If you’re stuck and don’t know where to begin, check The Scout’s local business features, where we highlight businesses in the Peoria area worth checking out.