An awesome aspect about DePaul is that it prides itself with having classes having to do with being outside of the classroom. One example is the junior level class where students are required to take an Experiential Learning course. This could be a study abroad, an internship, or a specific class; however, this is a course where DePaul forces you to do something in your major outside of the classroom.
I took the TCH 320: Exploring Teaching in Urban High School for my Experiential Learning course. Although I wanted to do an internship, this class is required for the TEACH program and also satisfied the credit. What I did not know going into this course is that students actually have to spend time in an urban high school. Students must have 20 student-teacher observation hours at a CPS (Chicago Public School) that you get placed at, in the subject matter you’re interested in teaching.
Although I was very scared about going to some high school I did not know, this experience is going to stay as a highlight of my DePaul career so far. I was very nervous on my first day, but, since then, I have really been looking forward to doing my observation hours. I was placed at Noble Street College Prep School, a CPS school in between the West Village and Wicker Park. I followed three classes - an AP Literature class with seniors, and two different AP Language class with juniors.
I am just finishing up my 20 hours right now and I am so happy about my decision. After spending time in an environment I have never been to before, I realized that I indeed do want to be a teacher. Coming from a very secluded and white area in Los Angeles, I was happy for the opportunity to see a very different type of school, and one that I hope I can work at for the future. My teacher has been an amazing mentor, and the school treated me well. Not only did I have an excellent experience, I now have a newfound knowledge of how education works and a connection with Noble Street for the future. The junior Experiential Learning courses and experiences are a great addition to the programs DePaul has to offer!
DePaul is known for having small classes sizes. Being from a small private school, it is nice to go into a classroom that I feel comfortable in. The biggest class I ever had was 40 students and, although it felt pretty big, it was not big enough to be overwhelming. The smallest class I was in had only 7 students. Compared to the dreaded 300-person lecture halls at other schools I looked at, I am very happy I chose a school with small class sizes.
Because of the close-knit classes, I am able to really know my teachers, and, in turn, my other students. Due to the small class size in a Creative Writing class I took last year, I now have two really close friends. We are all in different majors but the discussion-based class allowed us to get to know one another and we soon became friends! The three of us, through a passion for writing, made a club together. We all decided that we wanted to continue writing outside of the classroom and, because DePaul allows us to make clubs with a minimum of four people, we were able to create a space where we could do just what we wanted - continue writing as a team. We named ourselves Warehouse Writers, referring to how we are not polished enough to work in a house or apartment, instead we are in-the-works, just like a warehouse.
Today we still meet biweekly as a group to workshop writing pieces. We have twelve members now, and are still networking and growing. A few of the writers in our group have even been published in local literary magazines! DePaul, through the small class sizes, has given us the opportunity to learn and grow outside of the classroom. If you’re a writer and would like to workshop whatever you’re working on, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can set you up in our club!
One of the most intriguing parts of DePaul is the amazing community that the student body creates. There is always something fun happening on campus. If you walk through the “Stu”, or the Student Center, there are many events happening in and around that building. The events are free, engaging, and full of food!
The organization that produces the most events is the DePaul Activities Board, or DAB. They have six committees that focus on different events for the student body. They run about 100 events each year and, for a student who is not involved in the organization itself, I enjoy going to these drop-in events. Listed below are the six committees and the top event they ran this year.
1) DePaul After Dark. Every single Thursday, this committee has a fun events to end the week of classes. The most exciting event they had this quarter was “Bump Your Way Into the Weekend”, with bumper cars for the students to ride.
2) Social Change. The most attended event they had this quarter was the Black Excellence Show Case, where a series of black-lead businesses showcased what they have done in their organization. Social Change has also done fun events like Parade to the Polls and Cookies and the Constitution.
3) Arts and Media. The fun event (that I also personally enjoyed) was their Harry Potter event. They took one of our old buildings and decked it out with Harry Potter memorabilia. They served “dragon” eggs, pretzel wands, and “phoenix” hot wings. There was wand-making, trivia, fortune-telling, and pin-making.
4) FEST. This committee is focused on one event, and that is the music festival in the Spring Quarter. We don’t know what the artist is this year, but the past artists have been Jesse McCartney, T-Pain, Childish Gambino, and ASAP Ferg.
5) Signature Events. The Coffeehouse Series and “Sundaes on a Monday” are the long series events that this committee specifically focuses on.
6) Amusement. The event this quarter that got the most people to come was the Snow Domes on the Quad. People could go inside of clear domes and do homework.
You should follow the DePaul Activities Board on Instagram (@dab_depaul) and go to their events! It is so much fun!
Although many comedians, including Chicago’s own John Mulaney, make fun of English majors, I have really enjoyed my three years here at DePaul in my major. Here are the top five tips and positive attitudes I learned as an English major.
1) An English degree is applicable to any job. When I decided to be an English major, I got a lot of comments about what I could do as a job. They would make fun of me saying that the only career you could get is being an English teacher. And, in fact, I do want to be an English teacher, but there is much more you can do with an English major. Being able to communicate efficiently, think critically, and analyze small details will never not help in any field.
2) There is a lot of flexibility in choosing classes. The English major curriculum at DePaul is tailored so that English majors can study what they want. There are core classes and some required classes, but, for the most part, English students can take the literature time period they like. You prefer medieval literature? 16th century poetry? 19th century romance novels? LGBTQ narratives? Native American Literature? Well, you can tailor your schedule to have those specific classes. There are so many literature classes and the ability to choose what class you want to take is very exciting.
3) English classes are challenging yet getting a good grade is pretty easy. Although there are exceptions, a lot of English professors grade based on big assignments being completed, not “good”. In all the classes I’ve taken so far, and that is a considerable amount, the professor will give me credit for thinking critically about the work and backing up my sources with textual evidence. The classes are difficult, especially my class where we read Paradise Lost and The Canterbury Tales, however I was able to get a good grade because I did the work. Unlike other types of fields like Math where you need to get the correct score to pass, in English, you can almost always do well by interpreting something and having the evidence to support it.
4) Similarly, I love that in English there is no wrong answer (for the most part). Because the poems and literature we’re studying have so many interpretations that could be possible, I never feel put-down in my classes. In some other fields, I always struggle because I feel as if I cannot find my way to the correct answer. In English, whatever you think may be true, as long as you have evidence and a logical progression of thought in your argument. I love that there is no wrong answer in English, so I am able to rhetorically persuade my audience that my answer is a correct one.
5) Lastly, the best part of being an English major is that I get to study stories. Although some literature is very difficult, I am proud to say that I read stories for a living. And I do. Literature, outside of essays, are all fiction and created through imagination of these amazing thinkers and writers in different time periods. Instead of reading textbooks, I get to read fun stories from all time periods. In addition to how much less money I am spending for textbooks, I love how creative and interesting English can be.
One of the biggest dilemmas about being an out of state student is what you do during breaks. Right now, we are in Week 9 out of 10 in the Winter Quarter. We only have a week or so for Spring Break, before we have to come back for another 10 week Spring Quarter.
Spring Break, in terms of time, is much different than the other breaks. We only have a week, unlike Summer Break that is about three months long and Winter Break, which is 6 weeks long. So what do we do?
For an out of state student like myself, the idea of going home is exciting and stressful. For someone who is very far from home, over 2,000 miles, there is a big choice to decide when to go home. Every year, I struggle with my choice. I’d love to go home and see my family, but I would spend more time travelling than I would like. It’s difficult because a lot of people at DePaul live in the area, therefore, if you stay at DePaul, a lot of the people will be gone with their families. And you’ll be here alone, with very little to do.
During my freshman year, I was homesick and wanted to go home to see my family. My sophomore year, I decided to stay in Chicago and pick up some extra work in the Film School. Although it was a little lonely and was jealous of my friends who took the train to see their family, I viewed more of Chicago than I realized. I took some walks alone, exploring the city of Chicago that I don’t have the time to see during the quarters. I learned about new restaurants and hubs of town that I didn’t know existed.
So no matter what you decide to do this Spring Break, you’ll have a good time. Staying here in Chicago is a great for exploration, and going home means you get to see your family. Both will be a positive experience.
One part of DePaul I was originally conflicted about was the liberal arts aspect of our curriculum. We have our major classes, which are interesting classes we really care about, but then we also have “learning domains” and “liberal studies program” classes, which are what the university tells us we have to take.
The learning domains are broken into six different categories - Arts & Literature, Philosophical Inquiry, Scientific Inquiry, Religious Dimensions, Understanding the Past, and Social, Cultural, & Behavioral Inquiry. Depending on what major you declare, you’ll have a certain amount of classes in each of these domains. If you’re in the Honors program or another specialized program, these run differently, but, for the most part, you get to choose from at least thirty different classes in each of these categories. So you are forced to take, let’s say, a history class that fulfills a Understanding the Past credit, however you can choose what historical context you like. I have taken an interesting Greco-Roman history class that I enjoyed so much!
The liberal studies program is the same for every student throughout the university, per specific exceptions. It includes the first year classes - two rhetoric classes, two math classes, a Chicago Quarter class, and a focal point. Then there are a class you have to take each of the successive years - a multicultural seminar sophomore year, an experiential learning junior year, and a capstone senior year.
At first, I didn’t really know how I felt about this. I have friends at other colleges who are allowed to take whatever classes they wanted. But now I really appreciate having taken all these other classes that are outside my major. Some of these classes were even better than my major classes. Looking back at all the learning domains I’ve taken, I am happy I could have taken a break from my literature and education classes to learn about topics that I am also interested in, but not enough to study it for a degree. Having learning domains and a liberal arts program allowed me to have a wide variety of knowledge, and still focus on the classes that I care about.
To accompany the post I just made about amateur and DePaul organization theatre, I would like to talk about the show I just directed over the past weekend! With the DePaul Theatre Union, I got the amazing opportunity to direct my first musical and it was a blast.
With the help of the E-Board of DePaul Theatre Union, I was able to put on a full production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee by William Finn. This is a fun show, however it is a hard show to produce due to the audience volunteers needed. Three to four audience members are invited onstage and spell along with the actors. Due to this, the actors must be good at improv, along with being good singers and actors. They need to ad-lib and interact with different audience members every night, which makes for a unique show.
The Producers of DePaul Theatre Union, comprised of student volunteers, helped organize auditions in the Schmitt Academic Center. Over 50 people from all grade levels and majors auditioned to be apart of the cast and crew. After careful scrutiny, we chose 9 strong actors, 10 commited crew members, and 5 production leaders.
Over four months, our whole team worked very hard to create this amazing piece of art. The Theatre School gladly let us perform in their facilities. Over the last weekend, we had over 150 come out to see our performance. Friends and family of the cast and crew flew out from all over the country to our beautiful musical. We were sold out for all four performances and got really good reviews.
All in all, I had so much fun directing my first musical! It was stressful at times, but I could not have chosen a better community to find myself in. I’m so glad I got the opportunity to direct a musical while here at DePaul!
One way to get involved at DePaul is through theatre. If you ever did theatre in high school, you know how much fun it can be. At DePaul, there are many ways you can continue your love and get on the stage (or behind the stage if you would prefer to do tech).
The Theatre School at DePaul, widely regarded, is a space where smaller clubs can perform shows. If you are not a student in The Theatre School, unfortunately, you cannot participate in their big performances. But there are other shows, small one acts and the like, that you can audition for.
There is DePaul Theatre Union, which is a fun club organization that any student can join. Their motto is about that anyone of any major can join and perform shows. DePaul Theatre Union usually does one show per quarter and they are recognized and licensed shows. Last year they did Mousetrap, Waiting for Godot, and Steel Magnolias. This year they’re currently working on the musical The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and 39 Steps.
If you love theatre but want something different, you can do Springboard Theatre. This company focuses on self-written work. They do a lot of smaller projects throughout the year too, instead of full shows like DePaul Theatre Union.
For the last 20 years, DePaul also organizes a performance of The Vagina Monologues. If you are interested in a play about feminism and women’s bodies, this play runs annually, always in the month of February.
Hopefully these options are a way for you to get your theatre fix. If it isn’t, you can start your own organization and put on the performances you want to see!
Fall Quarter, especially for freshman, is an introduction to DePaul. For the most part, the classes are easy and they can seamlessly learn and transition into college. The focus is on making friends, figuring out living outside of home, and attempting to learn in a higher education. Because we are a quarter system, everything goes very quick and, after eleven weeks, students are right back home for a very long six week break.
As lovely as it is that DePaul students can spend their Thanksgiving at home, it is quite a shock spending six weeks with family after living for a few months without parents. For six weeks, freedom feels much different than it did for the Fall Quarter.
Then, after break, students are right back for Winter Quarter. For a lot of people, the transition is difficult. Especially if students are a West Coast kid like I am, the transition back into freedom, along with the shock of realizing that Chicago is very cold in January, is a struggle. Coming into Winter Quarter can be hard, with the new added stress of moving back in, starting another quick quarter, and the seasonal depression that could kick in.
I would suggest making sure to really take care of yourself coming into Winter Quarter. Everyone, including the Professors, is struggling with the transition from the holidays back into work. Keep a to-do list to keep yourself on track. Make sure to stay on top of your work, but also give time to see your friends and do something fun. The transition may be a little bit of trouble but another wonderful quarter is ahead and in a few weeks everything will go back to normal.
As a junior in my winter quarter, there is the depressing and looming fear of the “real world” coming in my near future. As I reflect back on my time at DePaul, I think of how I would have done my freshman year differently, or what I would have told my freshman self if I could go back in time. Here are the five pieces of advice I think are important to know going into freshman year:
1) Although your counselors or advisors or even your parents will make a big deal about how you need to make a decision about a major, don’t listen to them. You can always change your major, your concentration, or your minor. Just because you made a decision as a 17 or 18 year old about what you want to do about your future doesn’t mean you have to stay with that decision forever. You can always make a new choice.
2) You’ll make friends. Do not worry that no one will like you and you’ll be lonely. I promise, you’ll find a friend, if not multiple. If not, I’ll be your friend.
3) Strike up conversations with the people around you. My freshman year, I was a little too introverted than I should have been. I lived on campus, in the hub of DePaul. I wish I spent more time talking to people in the Dining Commons, in my dorm, and even in my classes. As an upperclassman living off-campus now, I don’t get as many opportunities to meet new people and I wish I could go back and make friends as easily as it would have been when I was on campus. So make sure to put yourself out there and meet new people. DePaul students are very friendly.
4) You may or may not fall in love and that is okay. I was scared out of my mind that I would not find anyone I would want to go on a date with. I was worried everyone would date someone and I would be single and lonely. That is not true. I have friends who are dating, I have friends who are not dating, and everyone is happy with their choice. If you want to date, the option is there. If you don’t want to date, you won’t feel left out.
5) Although the quarter system may seem stressful, everyone is in the same boat and you’ll make it through. The teachers and your fellow students are just as stressed about the timeline as you. The syllabus may look scary at first glance but everything will be okay. Just make sure you keep up with the readings, homework, and attend class. I was so stressed about homework my first quarter freshman year, and I wish I told myself that everything would work out. You’ll get the hang of it.
At DePaul, there are so many different clubs that it is hard to choose one to devote your time to. There are a few organizations I perused before deciding on being an active member of the DePaul Dance Company.
This long-standing dance company, coined “DDC” by its members, is considered both a club and a team sport. Although we do not have games, trainings, or merchandise like the club sports, we technically get “team sport” funding and get to practice at the Ray Meyers Fitness Center, the campus gym. We have 30+ people across our six teams - ballet, hip hop, jazz, tap, modern, and lyrical. For a small team membership, which lessens each year you’re on the team, you get the opportunity to rehearse twice a week in the Ray (a team rehearsal and a Sunday all-company rehearsal) and perform once a quarter at an off-campus venue.
My freshman year I auditioned for DDC and I do not regret it. As much as I love having friends in my major, it is nice to be friends with people outside of your major! It is also nice to be friends with people of all grade levels. Last year, we even had a graduate student on our hip hop team! I love that I have a group of dancers that I have cultivated friendships with through our passion for dance! Because we rehearse twice a week, we get close to the people around us. In fact, I met my best friend through DDC. If you have a passion for dance, please consider auditioning and joining us!
Cluck is the on-campus chicken restaurant on the 2nd floor of the Student Center (or the “Stu,” as coined by the students). As good as it is, there are many amazing choices for off-campus chicken in the city of Chicago and around DePaul.
Branko’s is a sandwich shop across the street from the Quad. It is a small little place right on DePaul campus that many students love to go to for a break from on-campus food. If you go, the menu is a little overwhelming but there are some delicious food choices! I would recommend the grilled chicken sandwich, which is made right there in the back. I’d also suggest having a long conversation with the sweet lady who works there because she is very interesting!
2) Broken English.
Broken English is a Mexican restaurant a few minute walk from campus on Lincoln. This restaurant has a super fun and hipster vibe - with a giant blue cow in the middle of the store and a hanging red bicycle from the ceiling. It is a very loud restaurant but a fun place to be in for a lunch or dinner out with friends! I’d recommend getting the quesadilla “la gringa” with chicken. You will get about the biggest quesadilla I’ve ever seen! For dessert, I’d suggest getting the El Puro Churro, which is a churro with cinnamon ice cream! What’s not to like!
3) Budlong Hot Chicken.
Budlong Hot Chicken is a Tennessee Hot Chicken restaurant located off of the Brown Line stop Armitage, which is one stop from the DePaul Lincoln Park campus. It has a really cool vibe with white picnic table seating and red bandana napkins. I’d recommend getting the hot chicken sandwich with the “classic” level of spicy. I’m so weak when it comes to getting hot food but the “classic”, although hotter than the “naked”, has a better flavor. To stop your mouth from burning, I’d suggest getting a side of their white cheddar mac and cheese!
4) Batter and Berries
If you are looking for chicken in your breakfast or brunch, look no further! Batter and Berries is a really popular brunch place down Lincoln. Because of its popularity, I’d recommend not going during peak times, unless you’re prepared to wait an hour or so. But, although they are known for their delicious French toast, their Cluck-N-Gaufre is my favorite. This is their take on chicken and waffles. The waffle is sweet potato stuffed with pieces of fried chicken inside with a piece of herb chicken and nutmeg hot sauce on top. Although it is a little different from what you expect, it is quite a breakfast! To go with it, I’d suggest the irresistible cheesy potatoes.
5) Mo’s Chinese Kitchen.
Mo’s Chinese Kitchen is a Chinese food (although they also have Japanese food) restaurant down Fullerton, about a 10-minute walk from the Lincoln Park campus. It has really delicious Chinese food that also delivers late night food for pretty cheap! Although I love their chicken fried rice, their orange chicken is the best! I’d highly recommend getting that and maybe some appetizers because the menu is expansive and everything I’ve had there has been good!
Although we are taught from a young age not to ask for help, having the courage to be vulnerable and say we need assistance is one of the most respectable things a person can do. Especially in college, where we are getting a taste of the real world and we are stressed about homework, work, social life, and pressures of the future, it is hard to do everything on your own. There is nothing wrong with asking for help.
There are many different resources that DePaul has to offer, but one that I would like to highlight is the DePaul Counseling Office. I am not afraid to say that I am a frequent visitor of the Counseling Office. I love that they are currently working to get rid of the mental illness stigma. Just like there is nothing wrong admitting when you need help, there is nothing wrong with saying you have mental health problems and you’re struggling yet working through your depression, anxiety, etc.
Within the Counseling Office, there are many different choices of help. There is group therapy, individual therapy, and psychiatry appointments. I attended an all-women’s group therapy meeting for a quarter and it was amazing. I grew to love these powerful women who were going through the same struggles as me. Even if you aren’t having current problems, you could still learn because there is something nice about people voicing the similar insecurities you’re too afraid to say. Individual therapy is helpful because you can focus on your own personal problems with a therapist who is there for only you during a one-hour session. Psychiatry is also important because there is nothing wrong with needing prescriptions if the therapists think it could help your situation.
All of these resources and more are available through the Counseling Office. These appointments are only $5 - $10, which is a very low price to pay for your mental sanity and health.
One of the most terrifying parts about deciding to go to DePaul was not about DePaul itself; it was about Chicago and its winters. Being from Los Angeles where there are no seasons, I was very nervous about coming to Chicago and living here in the dead of winter.
It really isn’t as bad as they tell you. Yes, at times it is very cold and you will regret coming to Chicago for that brief period of time when you are walking outside and hating your life, however, really, Chicago winters are not as bad as they say. For me, it was a huge transition leaving the 60 degree LA “winter” to -11 Chicago winters, however here I am! You just need to learn to dress smart. The changing of leaves in Fall is absolutely gorgeous and worth the winter that follows. The snow is beautiful and, although it can get tiresome, being in Chicago and fighting the winter is worth it.
What I would suggest is buying a very good heavy duty pair of boots, along with some great fuzzy socks. Keeping your feet warm is very important. Make sure to wear lots of layers. Get thermal leggings, basically just fuzzy socks for your legs, and wear it under your jeans or pants. Wear thermal shirts or just warm layers under your sweaters and your heavy parka. Make sure to get gloves, a scarf you can wrap around your ears and face, and a warm hat. I know, it sounds a little scary with all of those clothes, but being wrapped up like a penguin really puts you in the holiday spirit, ready for the White Christmas!
Looking back at my two years here at DePaul, I’ve had some wonderful Professors who I would love to take another class with. Some of these I had chosen because the class worked with my schedule or I heard recommendations, but these professors listed below were just incredible. I would highly recommend taking one of their classes if you can!
From the English department, I have taken two professors who just blew me away – Eric Selinger and Kathleen Rooney. I took a required course ENG 207 Literature from the 1900s - Present taught by Professor Eric Selinger. I was not all that excited for this English core class. It ended up being one of the best courses I have ever taken! He is so passionate and knowledgeable. He also treats his students like the adults they are, which I appreciate. Kathleen Rooney is a Creative Writing teacher and I took her ENG 291 Craft of Fiction Writing. Similarly, she is so invested in her students and passionate that, although there were some short stories I didn’t like reading, her desire to show what makes good writing can’t help but make you fall in love with her and her craft. She is a lot of work but absolutely worth it!
From the Film department, before I switched my major to English, I had two wonderful professors - Firas Aladai and Nick Schmidt. Firas Aladai taught my DC 110 Foundations of Cinema class. It was one of my first classes I took at DePaul and, surprisingly enough, it was his first class! He was a little shy at the time but he is so nice, eloquent, and taught us about some really interesting movies and basics of creating movies! My second class at DePaul was TV 110 Foundations of Television and was taught by Nick Schmidt. As a Film & Television student, I knew I wanted to focus more on Television and I was so blown away with what Nick taught us about the Television industry and some foundational television shows. I’m lucky right now because Nick is my boss on my on-campus job so I get to keep working with him!
Lastly, there are two Liberal Arts professors, Tim Mazurek and Zoaib Mirza, whose classes I really enjoyed. Professor Tim Mazurek, who taught LSP 110 Discover Chicago: Careers in Art and Culture, really inspires me to want to go out and pursue the arts. He is amazing, in particular with switching up the lessons so it was not always just a lecture and I appreciated that. Zoaib Mirza taught my LSP 121 Quantitative Reasoning II class. Although I am not someone who likes math and this class was not my favorite subject matter-wise, Zoaib made the classes interesting and pertinent to real life. I love how he always ended his classes saying “wasn’t that sweet and easy like a Hershey's kiss?”
Overall, I’m lucky to have had these great Professors and I’d highly recommend them! For me at least, a good Professor can make a bad class great!
College is a stressful time financially. Your grandparents will tell you that they made it through college with the funds they made during their senior year of high school working at the Dairy Queen. But life is very different for us in this day and age. Being a student with a job is the norm.
Having an on-campus job is a wonderful way to make money and stay involved in your community! I work in the Production Office in the School of Cinematic Arts, where I am half a receptionist but also a producer of sorts because I organize and “rip” movies (another word for digitizing), and run our Quarterly Casting Sessions and other events.
I love this job for multiple reasons. First of all, it is nice working on campus because your peers and bosses are all on the same schedule as you. My bosses are both CDM film professors so they understand the stress of midterms week, the lull of Week 7, and the amount of work students have assigned. When I am overloaded with stress or when I have an exam when I am scheduled for work, they are very understanding. This also means that I only have to work when the academic year is up and running. I don’t have to work on school holidays. I don’t have to unless I want to, work over breaks. As an out of state student, it is great that I can work the hours when I am on campus and when I go home for spring break or summer, I don’t need to worry about being fired for having weird times off!
I also get to do something that I am mildly interested in. Although I am not a Film major anymore, I still get to work with film students, read scripts, and help with casting. These are interests that I care a lot about! My roommate is a Film major herself but she works in the Theatre School because she also has a passion for theatre! By getting an on-campus job, you have a way of making some money while still being a student, people who understand the schedule you have, and a built-in networking system and DePaul community involvement at your fingertips.
Happy job hunting!
Living on campus in a dorm is a lot of fun. Your friends live so close to you, you can be social at any hour of the night, and you only have to leave five minutes to get to class on time (unless you are going to the loop). It may not be your own personal space, you might have roommates, and a Resident Advisor is technically in charge, but it is still a room of your own that is not your parent’s property. It is freedom for the first time.
Living off campus is a whole new type of freedom. You feel like a real adult. It is very stressful going to see open houses and filling out paperwork to sign for an apartment but it is so rewarding. I lived in an off-campus apartment, about a 10-minute walk to the Lincoln Park campus, my sophomore year of college and it was about the best thing that could have happened. I ended up staying for my junior year too because my apartment was just perfect.
Freshman year is a year of discovery, seeing who you are outside of your family and usual friends. Sophomore year, at least for me, was the year of being a real adult. I had to figure out rent, utilities, and grocery shopping. I had to make sure I wear presentable clothes to class because I’m walking around in the real world, not just on the DePaul campus. I had to leave time to walk to class. I had to fit grocery shopping into my schedule, meal-planning, and cooking, in order to have food for the week.
Although it may be stressful, living off campus is definitely rewarding and totally worth it. I feel like I understand “adulting” more than I did living in a dorm. I assume not being in college will make living in an apartment different because I’ll have to juggle money and job-hunting, but it is good to know that I have the basics down of how to get an apartment and how to live in one. Once it is time for me to graduate, I feel as if I can handle the real world a little better.
Choosing your major is a daunting task. Basically, you have to choose what area of study you want to devote four years of your life to and then you must spend the rest of your career in a job somewhere related to that field. As an 18-year-old, that’s terrifying. How do you know what you want to do? How can you choose a major when there are so many? How do you know you’ll want to stick with it for the rest of your adult life?
The beauty of being a junior and looking back at when I applied to DePaul is I realize now that I put a lot of pressure on a decision that I ended up changing. My high school counselors stressed me out because they told me picking and changing my major would affect my future and even hurt my chances of getting a steady and high-paying job. That is not true. I was admitted into DePaul as a Film & Television major. Sophomore year I decided that Film was just not for me and, after considering a transfer to the Theatre School, I landed on being an English major with a concentration in Creative Writing. Right now I am in the process of changing that to a concentration in Literature so that I can apply for the TEACH program and maybe someday teach secondary education English.
And I am still doing okay. The world has not imploded, I am not behind in my studies, and I will still be graduating in four years. And I changed my major three times. So if you are having trouble picking a major, that is normal. If you want to radically flip a major in a whole new field, that is okay. I have a friend who was a pre-med student and now is a directing major in The Theatre School. But if you love your major and don’t want to change it, that is normal too! Do what feels right and you’ll figure it out. If you are struggling, contact an Academic Advisor on campus and they can help steer you in the right direction. I promise everything will work out.
One of the most exciting parts about DePaul, at least for me, was the number of student organizations and extracurriculars you can get involved in. From sports teams to acapella groups to Greek life to the Pokémon club, there is something for everyone to do. DePaul has over 350 student organizations in just about every field imaginable. And the best part is that if there is an organization that doesn’t meet your fancy, you can go ahead and create that club!
Like your soon-to-be running theme of freshman year: with freedom comes responsibility. It is overwhelming going to the Involvement Fair
(branded at DePaul the “real-life recess”) and seeing all of these clubs that you’d love to join. But I caution you to keep the clubs you actively devote your time to, to a minimum. As a freshman, you will join so many clubs and believe you can keep up with your commitments but don’t spread yourself too thin. Take the time to look over all the possibilities, but maybe select one or two that you can actively attend meetings for, become a member of, and possibly even become an executive board member. It is so much fun being actively involved in a club for years because you can bond with the people who share a similar interest with you!
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t do everything you love. Freshmen have the tendency to sign up for 40 clubs and only end up doing one or two because of time’s sake. I encourage you to go out and explore all the ways you could get involved but caution you not to overload your schedule. Please attend club meetings, events, on and off-campus events with the organization of your choosing! But also keep in mind that classes are important, studying is valuable, a social life is healthy, and taking care of yourself is non-negotiable. I wish I told my freshman self that I could not be a member of DePaul Dance Company, DePaul Theatre Union, Writer’s Block, Chinese Studies Association, DemonTHON, DePaul Democrats, DePaul Women’s Soccer, DePaul Film Society, and HerCDM at the same time. In the end, I consistently chose DePaul Dance Company and DePaul Theatre Union, the latter of which I am now President of.
Go out, attend all the Info Sessions and Club Meetings you can, and then choose one or two clubs that mean a lot to you. You’ll appreciate this advice by the end of Fall Quarter when you are slammed with finals. Good luck!