Jeet Samarth Raut is a graduate of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with a Bachelor’s degree in Cognitive Psychology.
Jeet decided to major in Cognitive Psychology after spending his upper class years in labs doing Research. He continued the Quiz Bowl in college. He enriched his experience by his interactions with the diverse student body - to learn and understand students from different parts of the world and cultures.
Hi-Fives from the Podcast are:
Episode Title: Jeet Raut on UI Urbana-Champaign: Cognitive Psychology, Quiz Bowl, and International Classmates.
Episode summary introduction: In school, Jeet played the cello. He did Quiz Bowl. He was into science and technology clubs - robotics and astronomy being his favorite. He also played tennis in high school. Jeet, to put it mildly, had a hectic high school life.
Jeet Samarth Raut is a graduate of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with a Bachelor’s degree in Cognitive Psychology.
In particular, we discuss the following with him:
Topics discussed in this episode:
Our Guest: Jeet Samarth Raut is a graduate of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with a Bachelor’s degree in Cognitive Psychology. Jeet later earned a Master’s degree in Instructional Technology and Media at Columbia University.
Memorable Quote: “...you know, the group of people I met there was, has really influenced a lot of my life and what I've done and where I've ended up.” Jeet on UIUC.
Episode Transcript: Please visit Episode’s Transcript.
Suggestions for you: STEM Podcasts.
Transcript of the episode’s audio.
I'd say that, you know, one thing I loved about it and has really shaped my worldview is I got to live with so many different international students at my dorm in Bromley Hall. Students from Korea, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Ghana, India, for me and it was just such a fun way for me to kind of meet people from around the world, express a lot of different worldviews.
Jeet Samarth Raut is a graduate of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with a Bachelor’s degree in Cognitive Psychology.
In school, Jeet played the cello.
He did Quiz Bowl.
He was into science and technology clubs - robotics and astronomy being his favorite.
He also played tennis in high school.
Jeet, to put it mildly, had a hectic high school life.
Jeet joins us today to tell us his University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign story.
Before we jump into the podcast, here are the High-Fives, Five Highlights from the podcast:
I thought it was a very rich, rewarding experience, I get to learn a lot about myself. But what I like to do and what I would want to do in the future.
Living in Illinois at the time, I've lived in Illinois for most of my life. But it was definitely the best public university and stay for me to attend. Oops, that was a major factor myself. Another one was, it was just had a really good balance of really strong academics, good social life.
[Top Notch Professors]
Because that was a good balance of professors that could clearly do research, but also AI professors that were on top of being strong researchers are also just that strong pedagogy skills are very good at teaching as well.
Yeah, so I think I mentioned that I did quizbowl in high school. So I ended up doing, I basically ended up joining the university team, which was really nice. It was a great way to kind of meet similar similarly minded folks. And also I got to travel around the US competing against other people from all the other big schools.
[For Aspiring Students]
Right, regarding the University of Illinois, one thing I'd say is that it's just, it's just extremely well rounded. It has, it has a strong academics, if you want to really go down that path and really focus on academics that has that, if you want to more of the kind of the general social life in college, it has a lot of that if you want the student activity aspect of college is a lot of that. So.
Venkat Raman 3:02
Now, I'm sure you want to hear the entire podcast with Jeet. So without further delay, over to Jeet Samarth Raut!
Venkat Raman 3:12
Hey Venkat, how are you?
Venkat Raman 3:16
Good, good. Great, let me so, welcome you to our podcast. College Matters Alma Matters. Thanks for making the time.
Yeah, thanks for having me.
Venkat Raman 3:29
Cool. So we're going spend some time today talking about your experience at the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign. And I, as I think I mentioned to you, we are catering to an audience of aspiring students from all over the world. So what you have to say would be very, very beneficial. So thank you for making the time. Well, maybe the best place for us is to start at the top. It's been a few years since you graduated. What do you remember most? What are your impressions of your college years?
Yeah, absolutely. So I attended the University of Illinois from 2007 to 2011. And I absolutely loved it. I thought it was a very rich, rewarding experience. I got to learn a lot about myself. But what I like to do and what I would want to do in the future, we got to meet a ton of amazing people, on both faculty and students. And I just had a lot of great experiences there. And I was really thankful for my opportunity to have attended the University of Illinois.
Venkat Raman 4:43
So maybe we can start out by sort of talking about why you joined the University of Illinois, why did you go there?
Yeah, so a big part of it. For me it was specifically was I was actually living in Illinois at the time I lived in Illinois, for myself. Life, there was definitely the best public university in state for me to attend. So that was a major factor myself. Another one was, it was just had a really good balance of really strong academics, good social life. And I also had a lot of friends from high school, who also ended up going. So that was definitely, these were all motivating factors for me to attend. But, you know, everything together as a whole is kind of holistic, I guess it was multiple factors. It wasn't any one thing.
Venkat Raman 5:35
While you were in high school, what did you have some strong interests? What kind of things? Can I excited you?
Yeah, in high school, I was very involved in a bunch of different activities after school. So for example, I played cello for a number of years. From sixth grade until I graduated, I was involved in different other musical performances. Along with that. I was mostly into science technology clubs, though, I guess which kind of foreshadowed what I would end up studying what I would end up doing. Two clubs, I was probably most involved with that front would be the robotics team that we had first robotics, as well as an astronomy club. And their major activity in high school was Quiz Bowl, which is like the University Challenge in the UK. And I also played tennis for four years. So, you know, I tried to keep pretty busy throughout a variety of different activities that kind of, you know, touched on different interests of mine. But yeah, and it was nice, because almost all those activities are continuations of all those activities and found a university as well.
Venkat Raman 6:52
When you moved over to college, what was that transition like, moving from high school to college?
I mean, it was a, it was a pretty big one, I'd say. So I was I'm originally born in India, and I moved to the US when I was about six, and I was living in a very small town where I was, you know, living throughout high school. And then I go from there to, you know, Urbana Champaign is a college town where the major kind of industry, and major happenings are the university. But in some ways, for me, that was similar in terms of just being in a rural environment. It's a couple hours from Chicago, it's pretty easy to get to there. But in terms of just kind of student life, and living on my own for the first time, that was a pretty big departure from what I grew up with what I was used to, it was beneficial for me, because the dorm I was living in, I ended up living with one of my good friends in high school, just to have, you know, something somewhat constant, you know, someone I knew? Sure. But yeah, it was, you know, it was a big adjustment in a lot of different ways. You know, in high school, everything is, you know, very scripted out in terms of what you do your regimen, your plans, you know, the school day is continuous, versus, you know, going to college for the first time, and really being the person that's on top of my own schedule, you know, figure out my own time management skills, you know, just kind of maturing in that manner. You know, dealing with things like food for the first time, having to actually think about, you know, doing laundry for the first time. So these were all major changes for myself.
Venkat Raman 8:29
Sure. How did you find the academics? How did you find the classes?
Oh, yeah, I thought the classes were fantastic. One of the biggest differences for me, definitely, when I first started was, you know, most of my high school classes usually range from, you know, 20 to 30 people. Definitely, some of my first year classes, especially in the sciences, you know, the intro to biology, intro to physics and sort of chemistry, a lot of those classes had the hundreds and hundreds of people. So that was definitely something that was a big adjustment in terms of how we do before, before knowing all my mom, teachers intimately. And now going to large lecture halls and the professor, you know, when he speaks to a couple times, we've been on potentially shorter office hours, you know, he wouldn't know me as well. So that to me, was probably one of the major adjustments that I had to make in terms of getting used to attending college in general. And then definitely, I'd say by, by, my junior year, my classes were a lot more specialized. And the the number of students in the class have dropped a lot. So that's a little bit more familiar in that sense.
Venkat Raman 9:46
How did you find all your classmates? What what kind of peers did you have?
Yeah, you know, one of my one of my favorite things about attending the University was just having such a strong peer base. A lot of people that are extremely ambitious, very talented, studying a variety of different topics, obviously, in the in the STEM fields, you know, I started off as a molecular biology student, a lot of people pre med or pre pharmacy, you know, wanting to get on those gray pads. But you know, meeting people doing a variety of different things. There was something I particularly enjoyed about my, my general studies classes and my humanities and the general curriculum classes was having students from all around the University studying basically almost every topic I could think of, and definitely, you know, talking to them, you know, these are people in my class about philosophy and religion and history. And so, so having everyone with such diverse backgrounds made for a very enriching experience, and it was very academically rewarding. And I think some of my favorite courses, were those kind of intro courses with lots of different people.
Venkat Raman 10:59
Where these folks from Illinois, or were they from all over the place?
Yeah, I'd say about three quarters of the students were from kind of the Chicago or Chicagoland suburbs area. There's also University of Illinois also has a very strong international population. And as well as a bunch of different students from around the country. Yeah, something that I enjoyed a lot is the dormitory I lived in. My first two years, probably Hall had a large international student population. So for me, I actually made a lot of international friends early on, and I really appreciated that.
Venkat Raman 11:43
Anything more you want to add about your professors? at Illinois?
Yeah, the professors are really, really top notch, a lot of them have to, basically the largest research institutions around the country and from around the world. There are professors have won the Nobel prizes, especially really, strongly represented in STEM. Almost, I'd say almost every professor I had, especially on really, really strong. And yeah, I can't really speak much more highly about them. One thing I want to say a lot too, is that I'm a good balance of professors that could clearly do research, but also I professors that were on top of being strong researchers are also just as strong pedagogy skills were very good at teaching as well. So yeah, overall, I was very, very pleased with the, with the quality of the professors that that did teach courses. I would say, though, that, you know, with some courses, they were taught by teaching assistants who were PhD students, and yet again, the PhD students are very academically solid, very intelligent, I would say there's probably a little bit of variability in terms of some of their teaching skills, given that they're so early on in their academic career overall, as a whole, very pleased.
Venkat Raman 13:07
Let's move over and talk about outside of classes, the campus life. Maybe we can start with the dorms and the food and things of that kind.
Yeah, sure. Um, so as I previously mentioned, I spent my first two years living at Bromley Hall, which is nice. It's a private dorm. And with like, kinda came a lot of extra amenities that some of the other university dorms didn't have. One thing that was nice was we actually had, so I, myself, my roommate would share one bathroom with another room, and other people. So that was kind of nice, having kind of like a semi private bathroom. On the dining hall was also one of the main reasons I wanted to live there. They had a great kind of, you could just pick out all if they saw all your food was basically you'd have a certain amount of swipes that you would get when you start the semester. So I was doing two meals a day. So once you swipe in, it was all you can eat. And they had a salad bar and a sandwich bar and a hot entrees and dessert and all basically everything you'd want. And yet again, just to not have to worry about that, especially my first few years. You know, getting used to school was definitely one of the biggest benefits. There's also a pretty nice gym in the basement. They had a full size pool. Yeah, just all these kind of like amenities definitely made for an easier transition. It was also as I mentioned, is extremely international and Australian. And also had a very social dorm as well. So for me, that was really nice.
Venkat Raman 14:51
What on campus, what kind of activities Did you engage in?
Yeah, so I think I mentioned that I did quizbowl In high school, so I ended up doing, I basically ended up joining the university team, which was really nice. It was a great way to kind of meet similar similarly minded folks. And also I got to travel around the US competing against other people from all the other big schools I went to, you know, I went to Stanford, Michigan University cago, Northwestern was around the Midwest, but you don't get to make some West Coast trips as well. So that was fun. There's, there's just so many different clubs at the university that like, basically, if you have an interest in with such a large, you know, base of students, it's pretty easy to find probably some activity that fits you well. The beginning of every year, there's, there's, there's a big kind of on campus thing called quad day where basically, all the registered student organizations on campus, or other quads are set up, and then easily just walk around, you can talk to everyone about the club is doing and yet again, myself and a ton of my friends ended up all joining a variety of different clubs. And yeah, just another facet of student life, we found a really rewarding.
Venkat Raman 16:07
Now, did you do the quizbowl all four years? Or did you do something else?
Yeah, I ended up only doing it for a couple years. One thing that was really beneficial was that the team, you know, was very competitive, you know, and we were actually, it was actually one of the top schools in the country at the time. But you know, kind of as time went on, and I got a little bit more involved in different aspects of academic and social life, I didn't quite end up doing it as much. But I was, you know, I still had that group of friends, my teammates and whatnot. So, and even as I was getting kind of less involved with quizbowl, competitively, you know, traveling around the country, you know, it's so made up for late bar trivia nights and whatnot. So it was still something I was doing after I was less involved, and even something I'm doing to this day, so I really appreciate it for that.
Venkat Raman 17:03
We can talk a little bit about your summers while you were at Urbana Champaign. What, what did you end up doing the different summers?
Yeah, um, so my very first summer, I wasn't quite sure what I do. So my high school job was working at a Subway sandwich shop. So I ended up just doing that my first year. Yeah. My second year, though, you know, I was a little bit more focused on Okay, here are the classes I need to take and whatnot. So nearby Urbana Champaign is Portland College is a really high quality Community College was one of the great benefits is that, you know, I could actually take some of the the general education courses, I needed a knockout and you actually pay less in credits, and you can transfer them in. So it was really beneficial in that manner. And also, I got to meet some other students who were also university students, buddy, and I first met them taking community cloud college classes at Parkland. So that was one of the big benefits. And then, my third year, my junior year I ended up that's when I was very research minded, focusing on the kind of research I was doing. So I just that whole summer doing research. And even the summer after I graduated, I spent most of that doing research as well.
Venkat Raman 18:13
So what what was this research about? Tell us a little bit about it?
Sure. So quick, quick, little backstory. So when I started, where I started, I was a molecular and cellular biology student, right? I kind of realized that like, pre med wasn't for me, going through my second year. But the classes I really did enjoy taking were psychology based. So I ended up kind of switching over to cognitive psychology and neuroscience. So almost all my research was heavily based on the subjects working throughout a three different labs. So it was a nice way to kind of get a broad exposure to the field, and kind of get experiences in three different labs will bring other different topics, like how to help figure out what I would want to do next. So my, my day to day, well, there would just be interfacing with both the primary investigator, the professor, the PhD students, kind of helping them set up experiments running the experiment dealing with human subjects scheduling, doing the data analysis. So yeah, it was a really, really fun time. I learned a lot and kind of that was my career path. Coming out of undergrad,
Venkat Raman 19:26
You briefly referred to it. How did you make the transformation from sort of majoring in molecular biology to cognitive psychology? What what was, what was sort of the motivation for that? If, was there a driving force there?
Yep. So coming out of high school biology is probably one of my favorite subjects. And you know, in my mind, I was kind of thinking to head into medicine and high school. I was volunteering at the local hospital. And my family has a variety of different backgrounds in medicine. So I also got a lot of exposure to that growing up. But, you know, when I start when I started classes, I found it to be not, you know, it was, it was pretty wrote a lot of memorization, right. And I didn't find that as academically rewarding as I initially hoped. And then, kind of going along, I really, you know, as I mentioned, just the psychology aspect of it, a lot of the psychology stuff that I liked was the fact that it was a little bit more part of it just a little bit more unknown at the time, right. And there's a little bit more critical thinking based on the kind of classes I was taking. So I like that more versus just a memorization. And plus, for me, I think I saw that, if I didn't like the memorization, us, going down the path of med school was just a lot of that, you know, and not. And I realized the kind of things that I like to do and probably wasn't gonna be the best fit for me. So, and yet again, I really liked the kind of unknown aspect of research and kind of trying to figure out part of the puzzle. So it just kind of made the most sense for me to switch at that time.
Venkat Raman 21:11
You are a few years out of college, had some time to reflect, how do you think Urbana Champaign has shaped your post college life and career?
Yeah, it is an absolutely massive effect on where I ended up with my life since college. So just immediately after graduating, I moved out to Stanford for two years, work as a researcher in a couple of different psychology programs, and Stanford is one of the top if not the top psychology, cognitive psychology programs in the world. Me, you know, Illinois, having a great psychology program with well-known professors, I mean, being very hands on with research, directly led to me getting those opportunities out there. And granted, once I got there, like, I had a kind of second realization that also maybe academic psychology wasn't great for me either. But it was it was really beneficial for me, it Illinois fed me, basically in to Stanford which then I got exposed to a lot of new things, I learned a lot more about the kind of the tech world, you know, the kind of Silicon Valley lifestyle and the kind of things going on there. And then I ended actually ended up going to Columbia for my master's after two years, that's begin, you know, it's all kind of just, you know, the dominoes all kind of fell that way, right, the path worked out for me, but in that matter, so it was really, really beneficial. And, you know, like, I'm in New York City, even to this day, I still I, I finished my degree at Columbia. And I ended up working in different tech startups and even starting my own company. But it's always been great having, you know, University of Illinois having such a large alumni network. And definitely in the Midwest in Chicago, by far the most. But even in New York City, I still have friends and still got alumni events here. So very wide reach, I'd say, worldwide. With the alumni network.
Venkat Raman 23:08
You know, there are hopefully a lot of listeners here who are aspiring students, and what kind of advice would you have for them as they start thinking about college, applying to college and applying to maybe the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign? What would you tell them?
I would tell them a few things. First of all, you know, like, What does everyone want in their college? I think that's a very difficult thing to answer while you're in high school and trying to figure all that out, especially when you don't know what is really out there. Right, regarding the University of Illinois, one thing I'd say is that it's just, it's just extremely well rounded. It has, it has a strong academics, if you want to really go down that path and really focus on academics that has that, if you want to more of the kind of the general social life in college, it has a lot of that, if you want the student activity aspect of college is a lot of that. So, you know, just kind of, you know, go there and make the best of it, um, kind of figure out what makes you happy, what you enjoy. You large, large, very diverse student population there with a lot of differing interests. So there's, there's a group out there for you somewhere, that people with similar interests and similar, you know, ambitions. And, you know, who knows, I'm still extremely good friends with a lot of my friends that I've met there, you know, tended weddings gone on trips, people, I still talk to you regularly in group chats. So, without a doubt, you know, the group of people I met there was, has really influenced a lot of my life and what I've done and where I've ended up, so it's just one of the things that really does and it sounds so cliche, but this is really something that stays with you throughout your life. So, you know, I tell people just to kind of know, kind of jump in with your feet Be open minded and just kind of go for it.
Venkat Raman 25:06
Okay, so Jeet, we are coming to the end of this podcast, I'd like to open it up for you to share any kind of memories or traditions or say something more about something we've talked about or something we haven't. Whatever you want to share.
Yeah. So I'd say something I didn't talk about it too much. But is kind of the social life aspect of it, too. So, you know, Illinois has one of the largest Greek systems in the United States. So the frats and fraternities scene is very large, but it's by no means not necessary to be part of it in order to, you know, have a social life there. Bars in Champagne. This is very interesting. In Urbana, you can get into bars at the age of 18, and Champagne 19. So it kind of exposes you to kind of American Bar culture very early, which is interesting. I'd say that, you know, one thing I loved about it and has really shaped my worldview is I got to live with so many different international students at my dorm in Bromley Hall. Students from Korea, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Ghana, India, for me, and it was just such a fun way for me to kind of meet people from around the world, it express a lot of different worldviews. And you know, like, lights, a lot of my most fun campus memories, were just kind of doing simple things like, you know, just going out to eat random nights, you know, just ordering late night pizza, just kind of like, you know, what I should have been studying and not studying and just kind of joking around it playing video games, all that, you know, these are some of the traditions I think are, you know, like, this is the kind of the kind of things that are very intangible, you don't you know, you don't think very much of it, you know, the University of Illinois has kind of, there's something called unofficial St. Patrick's Day, which is kind of a big kind of party event where a bunch of people from all over the Midwest come out, you know, just to kind of party but um, yeah, I'd say more than anything. For me. It's just kind of the small intangible things that was hanging out my friends that I kind of remember and cherish more than anything.
Venkat Raman 27:18
That sounds great. So Jeet, this has been really very, both informative and inspiring. I think the listeners are certainly going to take a lot from this discussion. So I probably want to talk to you a lot more later. But for now, take care, be safe. And we'll be in touch.
Yep. Thank you so much for having me. Take care.
Venkat Raman 27:43
Sure. Bye Bye.
Hope you enjoyed our podcast with Jeet Raut about the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
Jeet followed up his hectic high school years with an equally busy four years in college.
He decided to major in Cognitive Psychology after spending his upper class years in labs doing Research.
He continued the Quiz Bowl in college.
He enriched his experience by his interactions with the diverse student body - to learn and understand students from different parts of the world and cultures.
I hope Jeet’s story motivates you to consider the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign for your undergraduate study.
For your questions or comments on this podcast, please email podcast at almamatters.io [firstname.lastname@example.org].
Thank you all so much for listening to our podcast today.
Transcripts for this podcast and previous podcasts are on almamatters.io forward slash podcasts [almamatters.io/podcasts].
Till we meet again, take care and be safe.
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