DeBlogs > Willy Subach
I am now officially a graduate student! This week, I started my summer graduate class. This is my first summer staying in Chicago. Let me tell you, things at DePaul work a little differently during the summer. I’m taking one night class during the summer. While night classes usually meet once a week for ten weeks during a normal school term, the summer term is actually divided into two five-week sessions, so my night class meets twice a week for five weeks. It’s short, but intense.
Actually, my whole schedule is intense (at least for these
five weeks). Following my own advice, I found a great full-time summer
internship. So I work at my internship from 10am-5pm Monday-Friday. After work,
on Mondays and Wednesdays, I then run to work at my other job at the Lincoln
Park campus library from 6pm-10pm (because my internship is unpaid and I need
money). On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I head over to my summer graduate class from
6pm-915pm. And then in all my free time, I will try to finish all the
coursework for that class. It’s looking to be a super relaxing summer. Despite
my overwhelming schedule, I’m still hoping to find time to enjoy my first
summer in Chicago, especially after my class ends in early July. There’s so
much to experience during the summer.
To be completely honest, I just really want to go to The SpongeBob Musical. If you haven’t heard, there’s a new Spongebob musical that
is premiering in Chicago before it moves to Broadway. The super unique thing
about this musical is that rather than a single composer writing all of the songs,
a bunch of famous musicians each composed a single song. So imagine a musical
about Spongebob Squarepants featuring songs composed by Lady Antebellum, John Legend, Panic! At The Disco, T.I., and David Bowie, among others. I cannot
imagine what a T.I. song about Spongebob sounds like and I need to find out.
If you’re not into Spongebob though, there are plenty of
other things to do in Chicago during the summer. If you like music but aren’t
as interested as I am about hearing a Panic! At The Disco song about Spongebob,
you can try to find tickets to Lollapalooza. You can find the lineup for
Lollapalooza here. Or if you’re more like me and you’d rather spend your money
on food, you can always try to brave the crowds at Taste of Chicago. I’ve
always wanted to go to Taste of Chicago, but I’ve never gotten a chance, so my
goal this summer to is find time to make it to Taste of Chicago.
I’m so excited to finally be able to spend the summer in
Chicago. Let me know if you have any exciting plans for your summer!
To be completely honest, I almost turned down the
opportunity to present at the conference. Unlike most people (I imagine), it
wasn’t the idea of public speaking that gave me anxiety. I did theatre for
years; I have no problem speaking in public and I knew my topic well. I got
anxious when I found out that I would have to make a poster. Not only am I not
a very visual person in general, but my paper topic was very conceptual and
theoretical and did not lend itself very easily to visual representation.
Thankfully, the Honors Program offers two short workshops to
prepare everyone for the conference. While everyone had to attend a workshop
about how to present a poster, I opted to also attend the workshop on how to
create a poster. I furiously took notes and started working on it that night. While
I was able to format everything right, I still struggled to figure out how to
visually organize my topic. I stressed out about it for weeks. Unsurprisingly,
I finally had my flash of brilliance the day before the conference and stayed
up until the early hours of the morning working on my poster. In the end, the
stress was worth it and I could not be more proud of my poster.
Presenting at the Honors Student Conference was really the best experience. If I weren't a senior, I would already be looking to present again next year. If you're ever on the fence about presenting, do it and I promise you won't regret it.
had a really rough start at DePaul and almost dropped out. I don’t think I had
emotionally prepared myself for such a big change in my life. I was so homesick
and overwhelmed that for the first month of school, my dad would drive to
Chicago all the way from Madison every Thursday, pick me up right after my last
class, drive me home, and then drive me all the way back to Chicago on Sunday
night. I remember my parents begging me to just try to finish out the quarter. I
had a similar experience with International Studies as well—after I finished
the first course, I contemplated dropping International Studies as a major
because I thought I wasn’t smart enough and I just wasn’t good at it. I just
felt so inadequate.
I first came to college, my goal was just to graduate. I did not have high
expectations for myself at all. And when I think about that, I realize that
I’ve accomplished so much more than I ever thought I was capable of doing. All
throughout high school, I knew that I wanted to study abroad at some point
during college, but I sort of doubted that I would ever actually go through
with it. Not only did I study abroad in Madrid, but I discovered that Spanish
political history is pretty interesting. I got back from studying abroad and
applied for my master’s (which never even crossed my mind in high school) so
that I could study Spanish political history. The kid who almost dropped out of
DePaul and International Studies because he thought he couldn’t handle it is
staying at DePaul for a fifth year so that he can get his master’s in
summer will be the first summer that I’m staying in Chicago rather than going back home. It’s sort of bittersweet because I feel like it means that I’m
finally officially an adult, but I’m also excited because I have a great
internship lined up, I get to work on my thesis, and I'm just ready to start a new phase of my life.
If you have a bad quarter
and your grades drop, you have plenty of opportunities to raise your GPA. Rough quarters happen to
the best of us. Whether you’re dealing with personal issues outside of class or you just don’t
understand the material in class, it’s way easier to recover your GPA in the quarter
system. Under the semester system, your final GPA is the average of eight
semesters. Under the quarter system, it’s the average of twelve quarters. So
when it comes time to calculate your overall GPA, a single semester has a way
bigger impact than a single quarter.
If you don’t particularly
like your professor, you don’t have to deal with them for that long. Somewhere along the line,
you’re inevitably going to end up taking a class with a professor who, for
whatever reason, you wouldn’t take again. The good news is that, in a quarter
system, your class with that professor only lasts for ten weeks rather than
fifteen weeks. You can always see the light at the end of the tunnel.
The schedule just makes
way more sense. The semester system is fragmented in ways that the quarter
system isn’t. In a semester system, Thanksgiving break interrupts fall semester
and spring break divides spring semester. In the quarter system, Thanksgiving means
the end of fall quarter and the beginning of winter break, which is the entire
month of December. Spring break marks the end of winter quarter and the
beginning of spring quarter.
Let me know what you think about the quarter system!
If your group is working primarily on your computers, try
out one of the media:scape tables on the first floor of the library if you
haven’t already. While you can reserve the media:scape tables in the
Information Commons on the first floor of the library, the media:scape tables
in the Scholar’s Lab in the library are first come, first serve. Each
media:scape table has one or two big monitors, either a PC or a PC and a Mac,
and a bunch of connection cables for laptops. After everyone plugs their
laptops into the media:scape table, you can switch which screen is displayed on
the monitor with the push of a button. It’s especially amazing for doing
research as a group. Whenever someone finds a really helpful source, they can
push the button and everyone can see that same source up on the big screen.
If your group is a little more casual, or you’re just
studying for a test with a bunch of people, the SAC Pit is the place to go. While
the SAC Pit is super busy during the morning and early afternoon, it quiets
down and turns into a great place to study. If you’re looking for somewhere
quieter during the day, you can just go up to meet at one of the tables on the
second, third, or fourth floor of Levan Center, which is connected to the SAC.
The tables are right next to huge windows, which obviously provide tons of
light, and aren’t used nearly as often as they should be.
My other favorite place to meet up and study is at the Arts and Letters Hall, right across the street from Levan Center and the SAC. All
four floors of Arts and Letters have different arrangements of tables, couches,
and chairs that make studying a lot more comfortable. That being said, I get distracted way more often in Arts and Letters than I do anywhere else, so I can only study here when I'm feeling particularly motivated. It's one of the most popular places to meet for group work, so good luck finding a table during the day.
Good luck studying!
Almost nine years after my first Spanish class, I’ve
officially completed my Spanish major. After I finished my last Spanish class
last fall, I realized that I never have to take another Spanish class again. Pretty bittersweet. Two
months later, my friend, who knows four languages and makes me feel terrible
about myself, told me about the DELE test. Let’s talk about why I’m kicking
myself for not taking a Spanish class this quarter.
The DELE test is basically a Spanish fluency exam endorsed
by the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science. So when my friend mentioned it, I
imagined it being like the ACT or SAT. I thought I’d casually go in and take a test and
they would tell me how fluent I am. NOPE. It’s no joke. You register to test
for one of six fluency levels and then it’s 4+ hours of writing, reading, listening,
and talking. If you pass, you’re certified at that level. If you don’t pass,
then you just end up wasting $150. That stresses me out. By the time I take
this test, it will have been five months since I was last in a Spanish class. Of
course no one told me about this test when I came back from studying abroad in
Spain and was at the top of my Spanish game. I basically sounded like a
telenovela at that point in my life. Now I can barely pronounce the menu at a
Like a geek, I bought the big study book in order to prepare
myself. A day later, I’m already realizing that I’m in over my head. You may be wondering
why I’m doing this to myself. I’m sort of wondering that, too. In all honesty, I just
think it’d be nice to have an official certificate saying that I’m fluent at a
specific level, rather than just saying that I majored in Spanish. I think it’d be something nice to have on my resume.
Furthermore, since I’m done with Spanish classes, my Spanish is only going to
get worse (unless, of course, I somehow get a Spanish-speaking job or move out
of the country or become famous for my rendition of "Genio Atrapado"). If I do move, the certificate is internationally recognized
and if I pass the level that I’m attempting to test into, I will officially be
fluent enough to enroll in Spanish universities. Since it’s permanent and I’d
never have to take the test again, I might as well take it as soon as possible.
It’s not like I have anything else going on in my life right now.
It’s crazy to think about how my time as an undergraduate is
coming to a close. Last quarter, I completed the last of the requirements for
my Spanish major. After next quarter, I will have finished my International
Studies major and will be registered as a graduate student at DePaul. Right now,
though, I’m taking my final Honors class.
No matter what you study at DePaul (during your
undergraduate career, at least), you will have to take some series of liberal
arts classes to fulfill your degree requirements. For most students, this requirement
takes the form of the Liberal Studies Program. For other students, the Honors Program replaces the Liberal Studies Program. I know when I was applying for
the Honors Program, I really had no clue what it was. And now even as a senior,
I still meet students who have never heard about the Honors Program and know
nothing about it. With the deadline for Honors Program applications approaching
quickly (March 2nd, in case you were wondering), I thought this
would be a great time to talk about how the Honors Program differs from the
Liberal Studies Program.
The Liberal Studies Program is comprised of two parts: the
Common Core and the Learning Domains. The Common Core is a series of 7-8 classes
that all students in the program have to take, including the Chicago Quarter
class, the Focal Point Seminar, and the Sophomore Seminar on Multiculturalism.
The Learning Domains, on the other hand, are extremely broad categories. Each
student must take at least one class (depending on your major) from each of the
six Learning Domains. Each Learning Domain can be fulfilled by taking one of
~100 eligible electives.
The Honors Program is designed for students who want an extra
academic challenge. In particular, the Honors classes really emphasize writing
and critical analysis. That being said, participation in the Honors Program
severely limits your course options. While Honors students similarly have to
meet the same Common Core and Learning Domain requirements as Liberal Studies students, Honors students are
generally limited to the courses offered by the Honors department. For
instance, while Liberal Studies students can choose from a list of over 100 courses to fulfill the Arts and Literature requirement, Honors students take
HON101: World Literature (to be fair, the content of which can vary with the professor). While
I’ve heard of one or two people that really didn’t like the limited options, I
can say in all honesty that I’ve been genuinely satisfied with almost every
class I’ve taken in the Honors Program.
In addition to your transcript reading “Honors Program
Graduate,” the Honors Program offers a ton of perks. Seriously, I tell everyone
to apply to the Honors Program for one main reason: priority registration. At
DePaul, freshmen get last choice for signing up for classes. By the end of
registration week, a lot of classes are already full. As an Honors student, you
have first choice for signing up for classes, even before seniors. It’s amazing
(and a good way to make sure you always get the schedule you want). Beyond
that, the Honors classes are never more than 20 students. Never. I have four
years worth of emails from the Honors advisors reminding students not to waste
their time asking professors to make an exception for them. Because the program
is relatively small, you end up seeing a lot of familiar faces in your classes.
And if you want even more of a familial atmosphere, the Honors Program has its
own floor in Seton Hall.
The Honors Program may not be right for everyone, but I
recommend it to anyone who thinks it might be right for them. Check out their website and apply soon!
Combined BA/MA programs are relatively new in the grand
scheme of higher education. You can see the ever-growing list of DePaul’s BA/MA
programs here (they’re the ones with the asterisks). The conventional path to a
master’s usually takes six years: four years to earn your bachelor’s and another two to earn your master’s. At DePaul, the BA/MA programs allow you to complete both
your bachelor’s and your master’s within five years. On top of that, the BA/MA
program cuts the cost of a master’s almost in half!
In my BA/MA program, the BA/MA students and the regular
master’s students have the same class requirements. The difference is the
distribution of those classes. During the two years of a regular master’s
program, a full course load is generally two classes per quarter. Right now,
during the senior year of my undergrad, I will be taking one graduate class and
three undergraduate classes each quarter. Next year, I’ll be taking three
graduate classes each quarter. So while it’s a shorter program, it is
definitely more intense.
If you’re thinking about going for your master’s, but the
price is intimidating you, I would definitely suggest looking into the BA/MA
programs. The three graduate classes that I take this year are covered by my
undergraduate tuition (and the credits go towards both my bachelor’s and my
master’s). But that’s not even the best part. The real MVP is the Double Demon Scholarship. Before I met with my advisor, I had never heard of the Double Demon
Scholarship in my life. Don’t let the ridiculous name fool you. It’s pretty
amazing. If you went to DePaul for your undergrad, and you’re coming back for a
graduate program, you receive 25% off all of your graduate credits. So not only
am I getting twelve graduate credits included in my undergraduate tuition, but
the rest of my credits are discounted.
How much does that actually change the cost? The conventional two-year master’s program in International
Studies at DePaul will cost $32,552. For me to earn my master’s through the
BA/MA program, I will pay $18,503. That’s a savings of $14,049, not to mention
a year of my time (which is priceless, as everyone who knows me will tell you).
Right now, I’m loving the program. All the International
Studies grad classes are held at night, so it has been really easy to schedule
around (especially since night classes only meet once per week). It’s
definitely a new level of stress to be balancing the requirements of three
undergrad classes and a grad class at the same time. But to me, a little extra
stress is worth saving the money and time.
who knows me knows about my laughable attention span. So naturally, the hardest
thing to do is to get away from distractions. I physically gravitate towards
distractions, so this just kills me. Sometimes you really need to get work done and the Candy Crush request notifications just won't stop. There have been times when I have had to take extreme measures. I
have (in order of insanity): turned off my phone, taken the batteries out of my
remote, placed my phone on the other side of my room, and at my lowest moment,
I even turned off my WiFi. But I got my work done, and that's what is important.
Spread It Out
I’m not one of those annoying people who believe that you should write “a
paragraph a day” or any of that nonsense. Honestly, I have yet to meet someone who
actually does that. I am very much someone who has to write an entire paper at
once. Nevertheless, I still spread my work out. How? One day, I might pick my
topic and find some sources. Another day, I might outline my argument. Then,
usually at the last moment, I write the paper. No matter what, I know I will put off the actual writing until the last second, so anything I can do in advance to prepare just makes my life easier. Try different ways of
dividing the work and see what works best for you!
Phone A Friend
poor friend Joanna can tell you, I’m a talker. I talk all of my ideas out.
Unfortunately for her, she’s always around when I have an epiphany about my
thesis, so she is routinely forced to listen to me go over my argument. If you're
struggling with a concept or you’re not sure if you're making sense, try to
talk it out with your friends (especially if they’re in the class too!). Most
of the time, they will be able to tell you where you’re going wrong or give you
Not all friends are made the same and it's up to you to pick one who will make
your paper better, not worse.
struggling up a storm (we’ve all been there), you can make an appointment to
meet with a Writing Center tutor. They can help you with almost anything you
need. If you’re trying to clarify or strengthen an argument, write your thesis
statement, fix grammar, or whatever, they can go over your essay with
you. They won’t write it for you, but they can help you every step of
the way. And for the record, they can
even help with papers for foreign language classes!
to the Source
obvious and most underutilized resource you have: your professor. If there is
something you don’t understand about your assignment, you can’t pick a
topic, or you just need a little guidance, no one can help you more than your
professor. DePaul professors are usually really good about being open and
available for questions. Obviously, this varies from professor to professor.
I’ve had professors who were only willing to meet during office hours or who wouldn’t reply to emails on weekends. I’ve also had professors who hand out
their home phone number and tell students not to hesitate to call if they ever
have any question. One of my professors even came in on a weekend to meet with
me. No matter what, professors are there to help and want you to do your best, so don’t be
afraid to talk to them!
getting ready to write a ton of essays for my finals, so if you have any more
tips, let me know!
Not wanting to confuse myself with another foreign language, I chose to take on a second major, despite having no clue what that major would be. At the suggestion of my advisor, I took some sociology classes, but I quickly realized it just wasn’t for me. One night, after scrolling through the majors offered by the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences while having a
marathon of all four of the Halloweentown movies, I made the rash decision to
declare a major in International Studies.
I don’t know why I chose International Studies. I didn’t really know anything about the major and I didn’t know anyone else who was in the program. To be honest, I was just lazy and wanted to be done with picking my second major.
After the first meeting of my first International Studies class, I was pretty sure I could not have made more wrong of a choice. I was super intimidated by everyone and felt so out of place. I was tempted to drop the major right then and there, but my pride got the best of me and I decided to stick it out for the rest of the quarter. At the end of the quarter, I had made so many friends in the International Studies department that I decided to take one more class to prove to myself that it wasn’t the right major for me (that makes total sense, right?).
I walked into that second class prepared to drop International Studies and pick a new major. I had been looking at possible new majors the night before. By the end of the first week of the second class, I couldn’t remember ever wanting to drop. I was calling my parents and telling them that the major was the greatest thing to ever happen to me.
Two years later, I’ve just started the 5-year BA/MA program in International Studies. The BA/MA program is an accelerated program that allows me to get both my bachelor’s and my master’s within five years. Instead of completing my bachelor's in four years and spending another two on my master's, I start taking graduate classes during the senior year of my undergraduate career. Basically, I eliminate the second year of graduate school. Not only do I save that much time, but the graduate classes I take during my senior year are included in my undergraduate tuition and I get a 25% discount on the other grad classes because I also will have completed my bachelor's at DePaul (and you know I love to save money).
The moral of the story is that if you're trying to find the right major for you, keep looking. I promise it's out there. And if you already have found the perfect major for you, push yourself and go as far as you can with it! And if your program offers a 5-year BA/MA, do it (it's a pretty solid deal).