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Keeping afloat with heavy course load

Meet the freshmen: halfway

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Parthiv Patel
Parthiv Patel joined the water polo team in time for its trip to the nationals. “I’m going to have to step up my game,” he says.

Photo: Roberta Dupuis-Devlin

This fall, UIC welcomed nearly 3,000 new students to its freshman class. UIC News will follow four of them — Brandon Bell, Malikha Daniels, Parthiv Patel and Camille Sanchez — through the challenges and opportunities they encounter in beginning their college careers.

In September, we spoke with them as they settled in. Here's the second round of interviews, soon after midterms.

Just three months into college, Parthiv Patel has already competed in a national tournament.

He’s on the UIC water polo team, which participated in the 2008 Men’s National Collegiate Club Championship Nov. 14-16 in Cincinnati, Ohio.

UIC beat Duke and Dartmouth, but fell to University of Oregon and University of Florida. The team finished in seventh place out of 15 teams.

Patel only played a few minutes of the Oregon game, but he was “pumped” to jump into the pool to compete at the national level.

“The experience was good,” he said. “I hope to go there again next year, but I’m going to have to step my game up a lot more.”

Patel has been balancing six hours of water polo training with 17 hours of classes each week.

“I usually finish all of my schoolwork before I go to practice, and if I have some left, I finish it before I go to bed,” he said.

Patel hasn’t picked a major yet. Before school started, he was considering business or science. But now that he’s taken Chemistry 112, majoring in science is probably out, he said.

He likes Economics 120, although he said some of the tests are hard.

“In high school, I was leaning toward business either way, but my parents wanted me to do something in science,” he said. “Chemistry is my worst class — it’s too boring.”

He’s also learned that 17 hours might be too much to take on each semester.

“It’s tough — I’m not doing that again,” he said. “I’ve been staying up really late and I have class early in the morning.”

Patel had tickets to the Grant Park rally for President-elect Barack Obama, but he couldn’t go because he had too much homework.

He’s trying to be more disciplined to finish his work amidst a flexible college schedule.

“When you have a three-hour break between classes, you can just go home and take a nap instead of staying at school and studying,” he said. “And while you’re doing homework on your computer, you can just open the Internet and do whatever you want.”

Patel didn’t receive a residence hall assignment, so he lives in an apartment in Greektown. He has two roommates who are upperclassmen — one graduates in May and the other in December 2009.

At first, Patel thought living with older students would be beneficial because they could assist him with homework. But they aren’t always so helpful, Patel said.

“It seems to me they have more free time than I do, and they mess around a lot more,” he said.

Still, he likes living in an apartment, and probably will do it again next year — with roommates his own age.

“I like the freedom of living in an apartment,” he said.

“It keeps me more focused because if I were in a dorm I probably wouldn’t get much done.”


Keep up with the other freshmen:

'I've always liked pressure and stress'

Making new friends a necessity for fun, and help with chemistry

All-nighters and a daily commute

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