Discover Chicago was one of my favorite parts of freshman year at DePaul, and I’m so thankful for the experience I had. The course I enrolled in was called Nonprofits in Chicago: The Business of Helping, and was taught by Professor Melissa Markley. Throughout the quarter we traveled to nonprofits all over the city and spent time in class coming up with our own ideas for the nonprofits we envisioned within the city. By delving into the details of how each nonprofit worked, we were able to learn what a nonprofit needed to succeed and implement it into the creation of our own. This course inspired me in numerous ways and acted as a catalyst for me to become more involved in community service and volunteer work at DePaul. A few weeks into the quarter I even landed my first internship with a nonprofit, and I’m not sure I would have pursued that opportunity without this class.
For Discover courses
, students arrive at school one week earlier than everyone else and are plunged into a week-long immersive experience traveling throughout the entire city of Chicago. In my class, we took field trips all over the city including to the Chicago History Museum, Ronald McDonald House, Tree House Humane Society, Pilsen Alliance, The Plant, and Growing Home. We traveled by bus and train, learning how to navigate the CTA along the way. Most of the days were pretty long, ranging from a few hours to all day. However, nothing compares to having an entire week to simply explore the city you’re going to call home for at least the next four years and learn about a specific aspect of it (for me it was nonprofits). It was also nice to have the campus to ourselves before the rest of the student body arrived.
My classmates from my Discover course are now some of my best friends, and the experience we shared brought us together in a different way than any of my other courses ever have. Last summer I even spent time traveling with a friend who I sat next to on the first day of Discover week. One of the best parts of this class is that each student picked it for a reason, so you’re all brought together by this passion you share. You’ll truly make connections that last, and I wouldn’t trade my experience for anything!
Being from another state has pushed me to be more independent and reliant on myself. Rather than being able to call my parents to come check out an apartment I am interested in, I have to be attentive and responsible and decide for myself whether it seems like a safe place to live and a good fit. Instead of going home when I get sick or have had a hard week like some of my friends are able to do, I do not have that option. Being completely on my own has pushed me to succeed on my own without falling back on anyone else, and I am proud of the accomplishments I have achieved while living here in Chicago.
Another thing that going to school in another state has taught me is to treasure the time I have with my family and friends at home. When I fly home for Thanksgiving in a couple weeks, I will not have been home for eight whole months! Since this is the case, when I do have a few days at home I make sure that I take full advantage of them. Rather than spending any time watching Netflix in my room, I’m usually hanging out with my grandma, going on lunch dates with friends I rarely see, or catching up with my five siblings. I don’t waste a single moment because I understand how precious this time truly is.
Although it is difficult when one of my roommates meets her family downtown for dinner and I’m missing my family, or my other roommate calls her parents to bring her something she forgot at home and I crave that convenience, I do not regret my decision to go to school in another state. I would not be the person I have become if I had not pushed myself to do this, and there is truly no place I would rather be than living and learning in Chicago. My experience at DePaul is simply not something I would have been able to have at any school in Ohio where I am from.
When I was a senior in high school, my head was spinning with the thought of all of the colleges I could apply to and potentially attend. It seemed as if the opportunities were endless, which caused me to feel extremely overwhelmed and unsure of which choices to make. One thing I knew for sure was that I wanted to attend school in a city filled with opportunity and potential for growth. I wanted to be in a place where I could do a million different things and not feel as if I was limited in any way. For me, that ended up being Chicago due to its location (six hours from home) as well as my love for the city and all that it has to offer.
Once I knew I wanted to go to school in Chicago, the next step was to decide which school was right for me. My situation was a little bit different than your average applicant because I applied before I even visited DePaul due to being an out-of-state student. By spending a lot of time on DePaul’s website, I gained some insight that led me to realize how important service is to the DePaul community. As secretary of my high school service club and an extremely active volunteer in my community, I knew service was something I wanted to continue to be a part of in my college career. DePaul’s emphasis on service was a large factor in my decision to apply as well as one of the reasons I was drawn to DePaul in particular over other Chicago schools.
Once I applied to DePaul, the decision to attend school here was fairly easy. It’s cliché to say that once I stepped on campus it felt like home, but it did. DePaul is unique because it does not feel like you are constantly surrounded by the hustle and bustle of downtown Chicago. When you are on campus in Lincoln Park it feels like a college campus, and when you are downtown in the Loop it feels like you are right in the middle of Chicago. You could go from a class in 14 E. Jackson to an internship with any of Chicago’s Fortune 500 companies within ten minutes. On the other hand, you could also go from a class in Lincoln Park to relaxing on North Ave. Beach within about twenty minutes. At DePaul, you really do have the best of both worlds, and this is another significant reason that I was drawn to this school in the first place.
Good luck to all of you seniors who are in the application process! I know you’ll find the right school for you, and hopefully, that means being a blue demon for the next four years here at DePaul.
Around this time last year, I was in the process of making the seemingly impossible decision regarding where I would go to school in the fall. There are so many reasons that I had for choosing to come to DePaul that I’ve decided that the best way to share them is by making a list:
1. Location, location, location
! DePaul is centrally located in one of the most exciting cities in the country for a college student to live and study in. Chicago offers so much to do and see that sometimes it can even be overwhelming. Coming from a small town in rural Ohio, this was really important for me, and I wanted to ensure that I was choosing a place that would be able to offer me a wide range of opportunities. You definitely won’t get that at a state school in the middle of nowhere.
2. The truthfulness to the cheesy slogan, “The city is your campus.”
While this line was probably repeated endlessly on your visit to DePaul, it’s completely accurate. With an unlimited CTA pass at your disposal that allows you to ride all the trains and buses throughout the city, you could potentially explore the entirety of Chicago and its surrounding neighborhoods during your time here. From heading downtown for class to simply taking the train over to Wicker Park to indulge in some late night tacos, the easy-to-navigate and convenient CTA system connects you with the city in numerous ways.
3. Depaul’s emphasis on service
. Another key slogan that is often repeated at DePaul is “What must be done?” These four words are integral to DePaul’s mission because they reflect how dedicated the DePaul students and faculty are to helping communities around them in whatever capacity they are able to. Through service-learning classes, service trips that are offered over winter and spring breaks, service-oriented clubs, designated community service days, etc., DePaul makes it possible for you to get involved however you want to. This combination of activities was really appealing to me because I’ve always wanted to get more involved in my community, and throughout my freshman year I have only become more impressed with the extensive amount of service work that DePaul offers and encourages each student to take advantage of.
4. How many interesting majors are offered.
When I entered college I had no idea what I wanted to major in, so it put me at ease knowing how many diverse majors DePaul offers. For example, it’s one of the few schools in the country that has a Peace, Justice, and Conflict Studies major, which was a huge draw for me seeing as I picked it up as my minor. Even if you don’t have a clue what you’re doing, DePaul has so many resources and opportunities for you that it will only be a matter of time until you’ve figured it out.
5. The feeling I felt when I stepped onto campus for the first time
. In the end, this is what made my decision for me. When I arrived for my visit, DePaul completely blew me away. After walking through the Quad (I did not realize a city school could have such a beautiful Quad!), hearing from students, and exploring the neighborhood, I subconsciously started picturing my life here, and it was surprisingly effortless. It’s so easy to feel at home on campus, and this feeling only grew when I attended orientation and eventually moved in.
DePaul truly has become my home away from home, and the decision to come here was one of the best I have ever made. Now that I have experienced what it’s like to be a student here, I can’t imagine living anywhere else for such an exciting time in my life. I hope this insight into how I made my decision helps you to make yours!