Champaign's student population is served by the excellent schools of the Champaign Unit School District #4. Comprised of 18 schools including one early childhood center, 11 elementary schools, three middle schools and three high schools, parents can expect their children to excel within a safe, healthy and progressive learning environment at any of the district's schools. Champaign Unit School District #4 has earned a remarkable reputation for exceptional ACT scores that are higher than the state and national average, as well as exceedingly higher scores on the Prairie State Achievement Exam. In addition to the public schools located in Champaign, parents also have many options when it comes to private and parochial education for their children.
In terms of higher education, Champaign is noted for being the home of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, sharing its campus with neighboring Urbana. The university itself serves as a significant landmark for the city and the Silicon Prairie, referring to the Chicago and Champaign-Urbana areas. With over 11,000 international students attending the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the university has more international students than any public university and this fact alone has attracted even more international residents to the area.
Students looking to attend a community college before transferring to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign may do so at Parkland College. Parkland College serves approximately 18,000 students annually and offers over 100 degree and certification programs aimed for transferring to a four-year institution and for immediate job placement.
Other local colleges and universities within commuting distance from the Champaign area include Heartland Community College, Illinois Wesleyan University, Eastern Illinois University, Millikin University, Lake Land College, Illinois State University, and Indiana State University.
Local Economy & Job Market
The second largest employment sector after education thanks to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is healthcare. In fact, this area of Champaign County serves as a regional medical center. There are three hospitals in the area, including a premier cardiac care and cancer center at Carle Hospital. In March 2015, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Carle Hospital entered into an agreement to create the Carle-Illinois College of Medicine, a state of the art medical and engineering research campus. As a whole, the residents of Champaign and Urbana will have greater access to better health care, more biotech and medically oriented companies will likely relocated to the area, and the Urbana-Champaign area will see a rise in economic growth.
Champaign has a fairly large industrial and technology base, which contributes to the area's overall strong economy and job market. Many software company technology firms are located in Research Park in the southern part of Champaign, which is home to several Fortune 500 companies as well as Yahoo, Caterpillar, the Illinois Natural History Survey, fuel cell company Tekion, and State Farm Research Center. Many more software and technology companies can also be found in Champaign.
Aside from technology, Champaign is home to some nationally recognized record labels, booking agencies, recording studios and artist management companies. Undertow Music—whose current management roster includes The Bottle Rockets, Pedro the Lion, David Bazan, and Cotton Jones—and Polyvinyl Record Company—whose artists include Asobi Seksu, Of Montreal, and Japandroids—are based out of Champaign. Great Western Record Recorders, Pogo Studios, and Nicodemus Booking Agency are also based out of this city. REO Speedwagon, Dan Fogelberg, and Allison Krause all have roots in Champaign.
Champaign is known for its award-winning parks, which takes up over 500 acres of parkland within the city. Run by the Champaign Park District, there are three large parks and three smaller parks for the benefit of residents and visitors. West Side Park, located in downtown Champaign, consists of 12.5 acres of land and includes several statues and plaques that commemorate the Indian War. At 110 acres, Dodds Park is located near Parkland College and is known for its "Tribute to Olympic Athletes Monument" and the "Prairie Grid Sculpture." Centennial Park includes 134 acres of land and is located in West Champaign near Centennial High School. As the largest park in the park system, residents and visitors will find that there is a large public swimming pool complete with waterslides, two baseball fields, a network of trails, picnic areas, a volleyball court and two tennis courts here.
Hessel Park, Eisner Park, and Clark Park are the three smaller parks in Champaign. Hessel Park runs at just under 27 acres and includes a children's water park and a small perimeter path. Eisner Park is situated between University and Church streets along the city's west side; two children's playgrounds, a baseball diamond, basketball courts, and a recreation center can be found here. Clark Park is a small neighborhood park that includes a playground, memorial rock garden, and basketball and tennis courts.
Points of Interest
If you're a visitor to Champaign or a resident who's ready to spend the day out and about, then you're in luck as there is much to see and do here in this wonderful city! A terrific place to start your adventure is the downtown district, which was revitalized not too long ago and is now a booming area for business, shopping, and dining. Many of the turn-of-the-century buildings have been restored, giving the downtown area a welcoming, historical feel for this pedestrian-friendly district. Festivals and events like the Pygmalion Music Festival and the Roger Ebert Film Festival are also conveniently held in downtown. Other entertainment venues include the Virginia Theatre, the Art Theatre, and the Orpheum Children's Science Museum.
Campustown on Green Street is a commercial district that services the students and residents at the University of Illinois. A $7 million streetscape project was recently completed and the area is now experiencing a boom in retail and entertainment shops.