Happy fall everyone! There’s just nothing like the delicate transitions to crimson and gold and new Starbucks drinks. Not to mention counting down the days until we can wear silly costumes and justify eating lots of unhealthy food, all in the good spirit of Halloween, of course. Unfortunately, October doesn’t only bring cozy sweaters and spiced lattes. Yes, the FAFSA season is upon us.
Fortunately for us admitted students, the chilly autumn months don’t bring as much stress as they used to when we were in high school. But if you find yourself feeling anxious about the college admissions process, here are a few tips to help you out.
1. Keep an eye on the deadlines
Most universities offer two deadlines: early action and regular decision. Sometimes they want you to apply early decision. It’s important to know what these plans mean and when all the information is due.
Early action is the route I chose to go and the one students should choose for their top universities. What this plan means is that you apply to the university earlier than other applicants normally would. Students receive an earlier response to their application but do not have to commit to the school until National Decision Day (May 1st). These applications are generally due early November.
Early decision plans are binding, meaning that if you get accepted into the school you must attend that college. These contracts are offered more in prestigious schools. Applications for early decision are also due in the beginning of November.
Regular decision is the normal process by which students apply to college. These applications are frequently due in the middle of January and applicants receive a response late March/early April.
2. What is important to you?
Location. Student/Faculty ratio. Tuition. Majors offered. Size. Acceptance rate. Private or public? All of these are factors to consider when applying to college. I know I prefer smaller universities to large ones because I learn better in a close-knit environment. Know what you like and what you don’t and then use that information when selecting a university.
3. Financial Aid
Everyone should fill out the FAFSA. Let me say it louder for the people in the back. EVERYONE SHOULD FILL OUT THE FAFSA. Regardless of income and background, the FAFSA is a great tool- and it’s free! It offers you grants (which you don’t have to pay back) as well as give you information about loans that you qualify for if that’s an option your family was considering. (Did I mention it was FREE???).
4. Apply, Apply, APPLY!
Applying to colleges has been made way easier thanks to the Common App. You can fill out one application and submit it to as many universities as you want. Keep in mind that the more colleges you apply to, the more options you’ll have in the spring. So apply to as many as you can, there’s nothing to lose.
Good luck everyone and happy college application season!
Song of the Week: Dandelion Wine- Gregory Alan Isakov
Deciding where to go to college is no easy choice to make. Around this time last year, I remember making lots of lists, desperately trying to figure out where I wanted to go to school in the fall. I come from a city in Wisconsin where it’s very common for high school seniors to consider the big state school, UW-Madison, as their college option. While there were a lot of people telling me that Madison would be a good fit for me, I felt in my heart that I wanted to do something different. Going out of state was definitely something I wanted to do, but being close to my family was really important to me. After weighing out my options, DePaul seemed like the perfect decision for me. I’ve been living here for almost a year now, and I continue to fall in love with different parts of the community and the school each day. There are lots of reasons as to why this university has been the best option for me and since lists are what I’m best at, here’s why I chose DePaul:
- Location! With two campuses in very different locations, you truly get the best of both worlds here. Lincoln Park has the stereotypical college campus with a beautiful quad and all the buildings close by, while the Loop campus is centrally located downtown, with Millennium Park just a five-minute walk away. Not only is there so much to do here, but it was also only 2 hours away from home so I could easily visit if I ever got homesick.
- Academics! Coming into college I knew I wanted to study Psychology. I love the program and all of the opportunities that come with living in such an exciting city. I joined a research team and volunteer for them by screening participants. It was important for me to get opportunities like this because I was unsure of the concentration I wanted to pursue and needed to see the options available. I also added Spanish as a double major, and have had very positive experiences with the department.
- Size! I knew that I worked best in smaller class sizes, so this was a big factor when it came down to choosing schools. I like DePaul because even though it feels small during class, you have a whole world to explore when you step out into the city. Another perk of having smaller classes is the relationship you get to build with your classmates and professors. They all know my name by the second week of class and always say hi if I see them around campus.
- Campus Life! DePaul places a lot of emphasis on its core Vincentian values. The school is named after St. Vincent and dedicates a good amount of work to make sure that the spirit of service that he embodied is represented throughout campus. I felt welcomed the minute I stepped foot on the quad and the feeling has stayed with me through the year.
Sitting on my bed, reflecting on my college decision, I could not be happier with how things turned out. Even though it’s only my first year, I’ve grown so much as a person and a student. I’ve created my own home away from home here in Chicago and I couldn’t imagine having the college experience anywhere else. Good luck to all of the lovely seniors on your college decisions, I hope to see some of you next year!! :)
Song of the Week: Cold- Novo Amor
Transitioning to a new place is always nerve wrecking. There are many uncertainties and everything around you is changing faster than you anticipated. College is completely different from high school and often, we don’t know what to expect. At DePaul, there are a variety of programs and activities implemented to help students adjust to the new city lifestyle. Our orientation is called “Premiere DePaul;” it is a mandatory overnight stay designed to introduce incoming students to all of the resources that DePaul has to offer.
Once you’re signed up for one of the sessions, you are divided into groups based on the major you declared on your application. An Orientation Leader (OL) is assigned to your group and they are meant to help guide you and answer any questions you may have. My group consisted of students from the College of Science and Health, and they weren’t all necessarily psychology majors. This is the first time you are introduced to your future classmates and it’s interesting to see how Chicago draws the attention of people from across the country.
Orientation consists of a lot of introductions and icebreakers for your small group as well as a plethora of information being thrown at you. While this may seem overwhelming, you can ask questions that you may have at any time and there are people there to answer them. During this time, you pick your classes for the fall quarter as well as get more familiar with the campus. There are optional tours of the university and information sessions going on at varied times. Students sleep in the dorms for the overnight portion of orientation to get familiar with dorm life.
It’s important to remember that everyone is nervous going into college and this is a wonderful time to acquaint yourself with some friendly faces. Orientation is only the beginning, so have fun, put yourself out there and welcome to your future here at DePaul! :)
Song of the Week: All Comes Down-Kodaline
It’s about that time of the term where we have to stop everything that we’re doing and pick out courses for the next quarter. I can’t believe that there’s only one quarter left until I’m done with my first year of college. This time last year, I was still debating between schools. I remember that DePaul required incoming students to choose between Discover Chicago and Explore Chicago before even selecting classes for the fall term. Both courses are aimed to help first-year students get acclimated to a new environment and immersed into the Chicago lifestyle.
The First Year Program offers a wide variety of options when it comes to these courses. This year, the options I had ranged anywhere from “Death in the City” to “Chicago’s Public Art & Murals”. There is a course for everyone, the only thing is that they fill up fast so it’s wise to sign up as soon as you can. I remember feeling confused about what Discover and Explore Chicago were and their main differences. To ease some of those worries, I’m here to give you an in-depth rundown of these classes.
Discover Chicago starts with an Immersion Week, that takes place a week before the beginning of fall quarter. During this week, you and your class will learn about different places around the city as well as take trips that pertain to the course. This is also the time when you get familiar with using the CTA and public transit. Students who take this class get to move in a week earlier because of the Immersion Week. After the first week, the class will meet once a week for 3 hours for 7 weeks during fall quarter.
Explore Chicago starts right at the beginning of fall term and it works like every other one of your classes. Students who take Explore are in that course for the full 10-week quarter and meet twice a week for 4 hours. Because this class starts at the beginning of the quarter, Explore students move in at the same time that all of the other students do which is the weekend before the start of the term.
Discover Chicago was the route I ended up choosing because I got to move in a week before everyone else and wanted a bit more time to get used to the city. The class I took was “Psychology of Chicago’s Parks” and it was one of my favorites. I met some of my best friends there and we explored a lot of hidden gems that I would never know about had I not taken this class. Regardless of which option you choose, I guarantee that you will come out knowing a lot more about the city than you did before.
Song of the Week: Build It Better- Aron Wright