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Articles by Tim Littman

Chicago Music Scene

​Chicago’s music scene should be reason enough to move to the city. I love music and have grown to love it even more after moving to Chicago. If you look at current musical artists, many of them are from Chicago. Luckily, there are many ways to get involved in the music scene in Chicago and at DePaul. Here are a few ways my friends and I have gotten involved in DePaul and Chicago’s music scene.

1) Taking music-based classes
DePaul has an amazing music school. With one of the most well-known programs in the nation, there are many classes that are available for people majoring in music and for people that are not music majors as well. My friend Remy is taking a class exclusively on the Beatles and his experience in the class is a common discussion amongst my friends. Even classes not directly based on music are taught by professors involved in Chicago’s music scene. My sociology professor’s research is on white rappers in Chicago. Hearing him talk about what he has done was very interesting. There are also classes at the Old Town School of Folk Music if you are interested in learning an instrument.

2) Doing internships
There are many music venues in the city. Some of my friends have had internships at local music venues and have gotten involved in music and sound production both at DePaul and with local studios. My roommate spent most of his summer last year interning at Jeff McClusky and Associates, which is a huge player in the music scene in the United States.

3) Going to concerts and festivals
Almost any artist stops in Chicago for a concert. This is a great opportunity to see some of your favorite bands play live. We have some awesome venues such as Lincoln Hall, The Riviera, and Schubas to name a few that are just a train ride away from DePaul. I have seen some awesome concerts in the city. Chicago truly is a concert lover’s paradise. In the summer, there are a few concerts that are very popular. There is Lollapalooza, Spring Awakening and Pitchfork that are all nationally renowned festivals and are tons of fun as well.

4) FEST!!!
DePaul, every spring, hosts a concert solely for DePaul students. Some of the most memorable experiences I have had at DePaul have been from FEST. They have had artists such as Childish Gambino, Lupe Fiasco and Diplo play for DePaul, along with openers such as Portugal the Man.

Overall, the music scene is very vibrant in Chicago and at DePaul. If you have any interest in music, it is very easy for you to become involved in music at DePaul either as a career or as a hobby.

Standardized Testing

​I was reading an article last week in Time Magazine that was talking about standardized testing and it got me thinking extensively about the topic with my friends and professors.

Almost every week, I spend around forty hours per week in the library studying for the CPA exam. I will be doing for almost 6 months straight in order to pass the four standardized tests required to become a CPA. It is interesting to think that tests such as these exist and are supposed to grade competency. I am sure many of you are studying for the ACT/SAT to get into college. If someone were to ask you if it is a good test on your academic ability, would you say yes? Most people would say no. I remember studying for days on end for the exam. It does not make much sense to me as it is nearly impossible to test a person’s academic ability based on a test.

This idea coincides with many of the standardized tests that kids and adults take. Our society has become obsessed with standardized tests, with some people being forced to change their entire life over exam scores. Hopefully society will soon learn its lesson and understand that a person should not be judged based on a number.

Luckily, DePaul has the test optional​ choice, where if you are not good at taking exams or think your score is not a reflection on your academic ability, you can complete other requirements in lieu of the exam. This is a feature that has been offered for a couple years now through the Office of Admission and it is a great thing to take advantage of, especially if you are displeased with your test scores. Therefore, don’t stress if you don’t have the highest score. Your acceptance should be more than just about your grades and your test scores.


De-Stressing

​This week, as a way to de-stress from midterms and CPA studying, I decided to go with one of DePaul’s accounting organizations to a game of WhirleyBall. I initially got introduced to WhirleyBall my freshman year when our resident advisor (RA) took our hall on an outing to play WhirleyBall. For those of you who do not know what WhirleyBall is, imagine playing basketball using bumper cars. It is honestly as fun as it sounds and is a huge adrenaline rush.

I am someone that really likes basketball; however, because of my size, I am unable to compete against the six foot giants that usually play at the gym. WhirleyBall does not discriminate against height, luckily. This gives me the ability to show how truly good I am at basketball if it was played at the same height level as myself.

One of the largest changes for me coming from high school was the transition from a school on the semester system to the quarter system​. This was because the amount of midterms and finals that the quarter system has is significantly more that at semester schools which can make it seem more stressful. That is why it is very important that you are able to find your methods to de-stress. 

I had never heard of WhirleyBall until I had come to DePaul. Thanks to my RA I have learned of a new, cool sport that Chicagoans play. In college, it is pivotal that you find your way to de-stress. There will be times that college will make you want to cry and pull your eyes out. In reality, your professors do this on purpose and use it as a method to challenge you. I personally like it because I know that there always is a light at the end of the tunnel. 



Making Your Schedule

​One of my favorite parts about going to a large university is the ability to create your own schedule. Every quarter, I have wanted a different weekly schedule based on my job, goals, and lifestyle. DePaul makes it very easy to make your class schedule fit your needs. Here are some examples of ways I have molded my schedule to tailor to my desires:


1) Freshman year

​During my freshman year, I really wanted to get a solid friend group and equalize the social and educational aspects of college. Because of this, I took easier classes that were during the day so I would have the evenings to study and hang out with my friends. 

2) Sophomore year

In my sophomore year, I spent part of the time working. Because of this, I molded my school schedule into my work schedule by taking night classes and taking classes only two days a week. This was surprisingly easy to do, and even though I was very busy, I was able to effectively work a job and go to school at the same time. You would be surprised at how many DePaul students do this.

3) Junior year

During this year I had some extremely difficult classes to take at DePaul. Knowing this, I molded my schedule so I was taking classes when I was the most focused. Having a large amount of class options, I could schedule my classes so I took my tougher classes in the morning and my easier classes as night classes. I was also able to take a December intersession class so I had a lighter work load during my winter quarter.

4) Senior year

My senior year schedule was very interesting. I had to both complete my classes as well as take my CPA exam​. Luckily, DePaul has online classes and December break classes so I could match my study schedule with my school schedule.

All of these things made it so much easier to make my schooling the way I want it to be. 

Communities at DePaul

One word that you hear a lot in college is network. On your path through college, you meet tons of people. All of these people have different importance to you. They could be best friends, professors, or classmates to name a few. I find it very fun meeting new people and I get to do that every day at DePaul. Many of the people you meet are through the various communities you become a part of.

One of the biggest communities you are a part of is in regards to your living situation. Whether you are in the commuter community or the living on campus community, there always happens to be a connection in regards to your living situation. This is especially the case with the dorms at DePaul.

Another place where many communities form are in your classes. I have had many classes where, by the end of class, everyone in the class was friends and knew each other. I have found that having a community like that makes the learning process easier and better. One class where this especially happens is in your Discover and Explore class. Because there is so much experimental learning in these classes, you really get to know your classmates.

The many organizations and extracurricular activities you take part in also create small communities. These are some of the closest communities I have at DePaul because you’re in that community because you initially have something in common. For example, being involved in an accounting organization means you have a similarity in major, etc. Some of these communities have gotten me on campus jobs as well as internships and leadership positions.

Forming these communities are crucial for your college experience. I honestly feel that without the communities I am involved with at DePaul, I would not have learned the amount that I did. Not only do these communities add to your network, they are your support group and help you excel by pushing you in the right direction.


High School versus College

If you plan to go to college in hopes of getting a similar experience to your high school days, you are wrong. There are many more differences than similarities in going to college.
 
To begin, you are given more independence. For example, you can set you schedule and choose your classes every quarter. Instead of having a counselor looking over your shoulder, you make the schedule of your dreams with the classes you want. You also make the decision of going to class or not. Missing class at DePaul is not recommended. Since the class sizes are so small you will probably have a message from your professor asking where you were. If you do not live at home, you also have the independence to eat what you want, clean what you want, and sleep where you want. Remember, that hygiene and health are pivotal to your well-being, especially in college.
 
You also have a lot of "free time". This is in quotations because free essentially means that you have extra time to do what you want with your time. College is all about making experiences and learning. It is up to you to utilize that free time and make the most of it. Luckily, DePaul makes it very easy for you to use your free time based on all of the clubs and activities that it has.

    

The other major difference is the diversity of people at college versus high school. Whereas in high school you mostly see people from your hometown or surrounding areas, in college you meet people from all over the nation and world. This mesh of cultures makes the college experience that much better and gives you the opportunity to meet people with different religions, experiences, and cultures than the ones you are familiar to you.
At the end of the day, college is what you make of it so be sure to make the most of it.



How to Make a Good First Impression

​Professors are resources. They do more than just teach you. They can help you with career advice, be great mentors, and provide you with seasoned life lessons. To get all of these great things, it always helps to be on the professor’s good side. Here are some things that you can do to ensure that you give a good first impression to the professor.

Step 1: Get to class on time or early
It is crucial that you are in class on time. Especially if it is an important or difficult class, the professor will start lecturing right when the class begins. Running in late is obnoxious and can be easily alleviated by catching the earlier train or hitting the snooze button one less time

Step 2: Be active and aware
It is one thing to be in class and another thing to be actively listening and participating in the discussion. Let’s face it, professors know if you do not care. They know if you are actually taking notes on your computer or if you are just tweeting about how bored you are.

Step 3: Make a connection
In my opinion, this is most missed step, the hardest step, and the most important step. If you are able to go to the professor and show interest, share a commonality, or ask a question after or before class, it will show your interest and desire to have a personal relationship with your professor.


College is more than just sitting in class all day. You need to take advantage of everything that DePaul gives you. Every student wants something different out of college. It is important that you look a professor as a resource and not an obstacle.

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How to Deal with a Difficult Quarter

​​One accounting class is a lot. Two accounting class is near crazy. This quarter I have the pleasure of taking two accounting classes at the same time. Most students that major in accounting spread their classes out so they only have one accounting class every quarter. Luckily, I have learned how to deal with taking multiple tough classes at once. 

Below are a few tips on how to cope with a tough quarter:

1) Acknowledge that you have a tough quarter
​No quarter is going to be a walk in the park; but, it is up to you to understand and acknowledge when one quarter is going to be hard. Being able to do this can get you mentally prepared.

2) Have some scheduling tool
​​​Whether this be a written planner or something on your phone, be able to organize what you are doing so you don’t forget anything. Even though this is a good idea for any quarter, it is pivotal for the difficult ones.

3) Stick to study plan
​In college there are a ton of distractions. Make sure that when you have a date with the library, treat it as a date: be early and don’t leave until the date is done.

4) Do not take important things out of your life to do well
​Even though you are going to be busy, don’t stop going to the gym, calling your mom/dad, talking to your friends, or having fun. Obviously you have to find time to study, etc., but make sure what you move around or get rid of is not something important.




Sandra Cisneros: Guest Speaker

In my sophomore year of high school, I read Sandra Cisneros's novel The House on Mango Street. At the time, I thought very little of the novel as it was a book for class and, well, my impression on reading in high school was much different than it is now. I look back at the novel today and now understand how amazing it is.

I feel as if many of the themes in the novel represent many of the topics DePaul tries to stress in its classes. This book is a coming of age book. It is about a Chicano girl who is trying to find her place in this world. She deals with issues such as race, culture, gender, and economic issues.

Based in Chicago, it talks about the immense racial segregation in the city. The main character sets her mind on one day leaving where she lives and pursuing her dreams; however, this rarely happens in her neighborhood.

Now, I do not want to spoil the book for you all. I highly recommend reading it and am sure it will be worth your time. I am extremely excited that Sandra Cisneros will be speaking at DePaul. Along with her event, she will also be speaking at the commencement for the School of New Learning and will be earning an honorary degree.

Below is the link for more information on her and the event:

http://newsroom.depaul.edu/NewsReleases/showNews.aspx?NID=2787




On the Table

One thing that DePaul works hard to do is immerse itself in the city. It helps that we live basically in the center of everything. It also helps that DePaul centers on working toward social justice. This year was the first year that DePaul was selected to be part of On the Table.

On the Table is an event where Chicago organizations are invited to attend a dinner event where people get together and discuss current issues occurring in Chicago and ways to fix these issues.

DePaul invited a select group of students to participate in this event and I was luckily invited to attend. Led by our president, Father Holtschneider, we were able to come up with viable solutions to some of Chicago's problems.

Some of the topics we focused on were education and violence. Through much contemplation, we came up with a few solutions that we all submitted to the Chicago Community Trust. Essentially, the Chicago Community Trust works with On the Table and sponsors some of the solutions that the participating organizations come up with.

I have been involved in a few things like these at DePaul and I think it is great that I can not only be involved with DePaul but I can also be involved with the community.

My Religion Class/ Contemporary Moral Ethics/ a Marxist Pope?

Before coming to DePaul, I attended a public high school; therefore, I had no religion classes at my school. Being the Catholic school that DePaul is, I knew I was going to have to take religion classes, which I was a bit nervous about. I soon noticed that the religion classes that DePaul offers are not your typical religion classes. Like many of DePaul's classes, they tend to focus on current issues rather than just looking at the past.

When looking for a religion class, the one class that most caught my eye was a class called "Contemporary Moral Ethics: A Marxist Pope?". It not only caught my interest because it was about Pope Francis, who is an incredible person, but also because it was about economic systems and how they are affecting our current world.

Our professor is Father/Dr. Benson. With seven degrees, I think he is qualified to teach anything he wants. If I could describe him in one word it would be cultured. He has been around the world and has learned everything there is to know about religion, science and ethics.

The class is designed to be about half lecture and half discussion. It is based on a comment made on Rush Limbaugh's radio station when he accused Pope Francis of being a Marxist.  In the class, we have studied Pope Francis by reading Evangelii Gaudium, which is a book he wrote about his preachings. We are now reading Capitalism and Christianity, American Style, which talks about how Christianity and the American economy are intermingled. These books really complement the class well and I would recommend both to anyone interested in the topic.

There are a few things I know I will take from this class:
1) Pope Francis is awesome. He is someone I definitely do and will
        continue to look up to and appreciate.

2) Economics is not just graphs and numbers: it is cultures and ideas meshed together with the government and the environment.

3) With every decision you make, be sure to critically evaluate and ensure that it is right not only for yourself, but for your friends, community, and family.

Vincentian!

It seems as if when many people look at DePaul, they think religious. Sure, we are the largest Catholic university in the United States and yes, being Vincentian is one of our core pillars, but hearing these words should not steer away any student from DePaul. There is more to religion than going to church and that idea is embraced at DePaul.

First of all, the Vincentian order was founded along the ideals of St. Vincent DePaul. Vinny dedicated himself to the poor in France, teaching them, feeding them, and telling them about Catholicism.

Tying this to DePaul, the university was founded to allow the marginalized in Lincoln Park, which used to be a very poor neighborhood, to get a quality education. Even today, education is a top priority of the university. That is why professors, not TA's, teach almost every class at DePaul.

DePaul also embraces the idea of doing community service and understanding what is happening in our local community. Many of our classes are geared toward understanding realities of society. There is also a plethora of volunteer opportunities and service trips that you can go on through DePaul.

You should not look at DePaul's religious identity as a negative aspect. The effects are extremely positive for every DePaul student. This creates a positive, effective environment for any college student to learn.

My First Tax Class

As my junior year comes to a close, I am beginning to take some of the more difficult classes for my major. One of those classes is tax. As I have come to find out, tax is one of those courses that you either love or hate. Some people find joy in filing returns, learning tax code, and saving their clients money. Others have trouble wrapping their head around the subject and would probably rather take any other class than tax. Even though I have just started taking this class, I have noticed that there are many things that I enjoy about the subject.
 
For one, I really like that it is very relatable to current situations. I recently filed my tax return and noticed many things went hand in hand with my class. Taxes are very important in every American's life. Learning how they work is very interesting. It is one thing to know you have to pay taxes every year and another thing to know and understand why you pay taxes and what your taxes are doing for you.
 
When looking at tax code, it is very easy to get bogged down in the numbers and rules and laws that make up the code; however, when you take time to really dissect the information, it can be extremely interesting. What I really like about this class is that we are not just memorizing information. We are critically analyzing the code and understanding why it is what it is. Not only am I able to understand the code better, I know why I pay what I pay.
 
I think that it is extremely important that you take classes that are relatable to your future. Many students, in my opinion, don’t understand taxes. Some probably have not been in the position to care. But, looking to the future, I know that taxes will be a part of life, whether good or bad. As Ben Franklin said, 'In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes."

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