Went to the ASD yesterday, and loved it. The faculty, and the students were very nice and informative. Dean Smith seemed like a very engaging. These are the sorts of things you can get at many schools, so i won't harp on all that stuff. I'll kinda just highlight the issues that were more specific to UIUC's program. First and foremost, the issue we are all thinking about (or should be): JOBS. The ASD had a pretty good itinerary, and one of the speakers was the head of Career Services. He wasn't the detached academic that i was expecting, in fact, he made a point of saying that Dean Smith had went out and recruited him from private practice. I think he said he was at Winston Strawn for 14 years. He is actually based in Chicago, and pretty much meets with Chicago firms a great deal in order to perpetuate the Illinois brand. He also flies to many cities in order to make connections for the benefit of future students. It's kinda nice knowing that there is this proselytizing Career services director, out there in the world spreading the good word about Illinois before you send off resumes. His team is also pretty similar to him in terms of background, but I think they are on campus. Throughout his presentation, he was very straight forward about career stats. I thought he would paint a very rosy picture, but he was actually much more real than I thought he would be. For instance, he was very candid about firm salaries, citing the big jump in salaries from 98-04, and what that means in today's market. He also showed us how many jobs the class of 2011 were able to get, and in what field. He said that 2011 was probably hit the most hard as a result of the recession, and then showed us class of 2012, which showed some improvement. He seemed pretty objective about all the info, a quality that I definitely appreciated. I would actually feel more anxious about UIUC if he had just made everything seem so rosy, since that sort of unbridled optimism sort of reeks of desperation. But his message was really direct, and actually puts me at ease about attending UIUC.
Another thing I liked (but others may not), was just how INVOLVED Illinois is with the Chicago market. It seemed like there was such a strong tie to Chicago, that it was almost not worth mentioning. During the career services presentation, and throughout many discussions, the themed seemed to be something like "Well, of course we have great placement in Chicago, but let's talk about Texas and New York!" I found it cool that they were ambitious to go into other markets. I guess they also could be trying to portray the school as being very national, but they weren't espousing how good they do in coastal markets, more like, how they are doing a good job in trying to plant a strong foothold in those regions. Still, I suppose it is common knowledge that they have strong ties to Chicago, but I thought they would talk about it a little bit more in detail.
Another observation that struck me was the great diversity of the student body. Not just racial, but also geographical. I met many people from Cali, NY, Texas, all over the midwest (of course), and from a few other places. Everyone seemed nice, and very mature. The situation seems to be that many students are also older than I expected. I'm only a year out of undergrad, so I'm relatively young for an incoming law student, but I thought that there would be many more K-JD types. I like having an older class, I think it will bring more professionalism, and even collegiality among peers. Can't wait for football, either.