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
It’s not unknown that college can be very expensive. Tuition alone can cause people immense stress - and that doesn’t include housing, textbooks or other hidden fees. As an incoming freshman, I heard rumors about the cost of textbooks, but it wasn’t until I stepped foot in the bookstore that they were confirmed. Our school is on the quarter system which means that every 3-4 months, our professors require different books. After a year here at DePaul, I quickly learned how to avoid insane textbook costs, and I’m here to share a few of my favorite tips.
Compare Prices on Websites!
Slugbooks.com is the first place I go when I have to order a textbook. All you do is type in the title of your book or the ISBN number, and it shows you the prices on different websites. My favorite part of Slugbooks is that they show you both the option to buy and to rent, so you know that you’re getting the cheapest option.
Consider an E-book or Online Alternative!
While printed textbooks are really nice (and my personal preference), a PDF version or an e-book have proven to be way less expensive. The pros to this option are that you don’t have to wait for shipping and you’ll always have your copy on your laptop, so it’s impossible to lose.
Wait Until the First Day of Class!
*Disclaimer: This doesn’t work for everyone or every class*
There have been so many times when I’ve bought a textbook for a class and then only ended up referencing it twice. There’s nothing more frustrating than spending a lot of money on a book that you don’t really need. My advice is to wait until the first day of classes and see if the professor truly requires it before you purchase it.
Song of the Week: Winter Song- The Head and the Heart :)
With only a week left of freshman year, I’ve found myself journaling more often and filling the pages with reflective thoughts. This year has been nothing short of exciting and I find myself reminiscing about all of the experiences that I’ve had. When I came to DePaul in the fall, I had no idea what the year had in store for me. Feelings of anxiety and doubt circled my mind, but they were quickly replaced with excitement and love for all that this city has to offer. This first year has been full of a lot of changes and positive academic and personal growth. For my last blog of my first year, I wanted to share a few things that I learned along the way.
How to Develop a New Independence.
I’ve lived in a relatively small town my entire life and moving to a city as big as Chicago was definitely a big shock for me. I expected to be overwhelmed for a long time, but what I didn’t expect was how much I would benefit from the size of the city. I used to be the kind of person that would cling to friends and avoid going anywhere alone out of fear of being judged by other people. However, with the help of public transit, I began to develop an independence and new confidence that I didn’t know I could have. Running errands, walking around the city and eating alone became activities that I found myself enjoying.
The Importance of Maintaining Relationships.
While I was living at home, I would do everything I could to spend as much time as I could with friends and family. Having a strong community is something that I’ve always valued and leaving for college has only strengthened those relationships. Because I’m living out of state, I’ve put more effort into communicating with the people that have added value to my life. My favorite method is writing letters to friends and family because it feels more personal than a phone call.
Asking for Help is Okay.
Being fairly introverted, I’ve always been terrified to ask other people questions or help when I needed it. Attending college and being given a bigger workload, I learned that asking for help is inevitable. After getting over the initial fear of approaching professors, I ended up really benefiting from their help. All of the professors I’ve had are extremely friendly and want to see you succeed. Not to mention they’re crucial for networking and also some pretty interesting people to get to know.
I couldn’t be happier with my first-year experience. I was introduced to some of the best people I’ve ever met and have done things I didn’t know I was capable of. Thank you, DePaul for a great start to my college career, I’ll happily see you in the fall! :)
Song of the Week: Hunger- Florence and the Machine
Chicago is known for a lot of things: Navy Pier, the bean in Millennium Park, deep dish pizza and unfortunately, extremely long winters (I say as I write this in April). One day while waiting for the train, a friend of mine noticed that the heat lamps had a sign that read “operate November 1 through March 1”. He asked if the winters were truly that long, to which I nodded unhappily. Once the cold months hit, it’s hard to imagine a time where the sun was a consistent part of each day. Fortunately, after living in the Midwest for nineteen years, I’ve gotten some insight on a few things that can help you battle the long winters.
Remind Yourself of the Color Green!
When the sky is constantly gray it’s easy to forget that the world was once painted with other colors. My favorite way to reincorporate green into my life is by buying flowers and succulents to brighten up the room. Additionally, Chicago has two beautiful conservatories that are both warm and free! If you don’t feel like making the trip to the Garfield Conservatory, the Lincoln Park Conservatory is a short walk from campus. They always showcase a diverse collection of greenery that serves as a wonderful reminder of what the warmth will bring
Taking care of yourself is so important, especially during the colder months. Drinking enough water keeps your skin hydrated and healthy, despite the cold air. Exercising releases endorphins into your system that both boosts your mood and helps fight stress. Also eating food that’s rich in vitamins can help compensate for the lack of Vitamin D the sun isn’t providing.
Surround Yourself with Positive People!
Several studies show that the people with whom we surround ourselves with make a big difference in our emotions, both positively and negatively. During the winter, it’s easy to isolate yourself and most of your time doing activities alone. Spend more time with friends and people that you can share laughs with, it’s more than likely that their excitement and smiles will be contagious. :)
Song of the Week: Camera- Young the Giant
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
Athletic is a word I’ve always used to describe myself. In high school, I was involved in a variety of sports and I enjoyed being active. In moving to a new city and adjusting to a more demanding schedule, finding time to exercise daily became a challenge. Lucky for me, I got a membership to the Ray Meyer Fitness and Recreation Center when I decided to enroll at DePaul. Often referred to as “the Ray,” our gym has a multitude of options that meets everyone’s athletic needs. As someone who has zero knowledge about how to use any exercise machine besides the treadmill and gets easily intimidated by fit strangers, I usually opt for the fitness classes. From pilates to cardio kickboxing, there’s a variety of new workouts to try. These are some of the best classes that I’ve taken are
Yoga: I used to play soccer in high school and yoga helped me stretch out my body. Not only is it a really healthy way to relax and meditate, but it’s also secretly a workout. With some ab exercises subtly woven into the practice, this class will have you do hard work without you realizing it. There’s usually at least one yoga class that runs every day so it’s easy to find a time to go, even during the busiest of weeks.
Boxing Bootcamp: A friend of mine convinced me to try this (thanks, Tommy!), and even though I felt totally out of my element at first, I ended up really enjoying myself. There is something very empowering about learning different kinds of punches and realizing that I’m absolutely capable of defending myself, should the occasion ever arise. This class does wonders for your arms. Fair warning though, you will be EXTREMELY sore after day one.
Zumba: Dancing is one of those activities that I am absolutely horrible at but continue to do because it’s so much fun. The combination of upbeat music and a room full of energetic people is such a powerful motivator and will get you through 45 minutes of intense Zumba.
I’ve grown to love the Ray and incorporate a visit into my daily routine. Going to these classes with friends is a fun activity that will encourage healthy habits (and it’s free!). Even if occasionally it means braving the cold, I know I’ll feel really good after working out. And as a bonus, they have really delicious smoothies in the cafe on the first level :)
Song of the Week: Don’t Take the Money- Bleachers
With the start of a new year comes a long list of resolutions that usually takes a while for me to start addressing. That’s why this past November, I decided that I was going to start my journey towards self-betterment a little earlier. Over the course of the past two months, I chose to transition into a vegetarian lifestyle. Meat wasn’t a huge part of my diet before, so I thought it wouldn’t that big of an adjustment. I made this change while we were on our long winter break, and I grew nervous about maintaining this diet in college, where the food available to me was more limited.
Fortunately, I returned to the student center pleasantly surprised. Over the break, the university had built a new vegan restaurant next to the sandwich deli. “Rooted ” offers the option of a wrap, a salad or a bowl with lots of different kinds of yummy foods to mix together for endless combinations. This was my first experience with vegan food and I fell in love with it! This is my new go-to place because everything goes well together and it’s so delicious, you can’t even tell it’s healthy.
One of the things I appreciate about DePaul is how accommodating they are to students’ needs. There is a variety of foods to enjoy even with a limited diet. In case you need some more inspiration, a few of my favorites meals are:
Salads with a lot of garbanzo beans. Right when you walk into the main portion of the cafeteria, there’s a salad bar that’s always stocked with enough fresh greens to satisfy any salad craving.
Buffalo Mozzarella Sandwich. The Bean is the main cafe on campus. They’re always stocked with lots of different sandwich and wrap options when you want a quick bite to eat before class. I love the buffalo mozzarella sandwich because it’s super filling and easy to take with me.
Veggie Sushi. We are fortunate enough to have a kitchen staff that makes fresh sushi every day. That’s right, FRESH sushi. The veggie sushi holds a very special place in my heart. They sell it at ETC, which can be found on the second floor of the student center. I will say that sushi is super popular and it goes quick. For the most variety, I’d suggest going early in the afternoon.
There are lots of signs and labels on foods listing the ingredients. It’s always safe to check before you eat anything. If you have any other dietary concerns, don’t hesitate to ask the staff. They’re super kind and very willing to help you find something that suits your needs. Happy New Year and happy eating! :)