College for Dummies: The Basic Guide for 2023 DePaul Freshmen
Going to college is a scary thing; leaving home, your friends and family, and the comfort of familiarity can be a real challenge. Still, it is an exciting and endlessly rewarding chapter of life—if you let it be. I know that when I was coming to DePaul, I was apprehensive. I never got the chance to tour (Go COVID), so when I stepped foot on campus to move in, it was basically my first time being in Chicago. Here are some tips and tricks that I am sending forward to you so those first few days are less nerve-wracking.
1. You will be lonely at first—own it!
When I moved into the dorms, my roommate was set to move in a week later. My family left, and I knew no one within 13 hours of travel to me. I would check the Weather App on my phone at the Stu because I was nervous to talk to people and wanted to seem nonchalant. I felt so out of place but I guarantee that everyone is also stressing about it. Embrace that time to explore the campus and get to know the area on your own! It gives you a minute to breathe and find comfort in your own presence before you start classes and socializing. Friends come and go, but you will always be there.
2. Attend the first-week on-campus events
I am not one for big crowds—especially without a group—but this really helped me meet people on campus somewhere other than class! I went to the Fall Carnival and met some of my closest friends now. It is stressful to put yourself out there, and sometimes school events feel a little corny, but they help to feel like part of the DePaul community and can be really exciting. Speaking of which, remember that your fall quarter friends might not be the #1s for the rest of your college career; you meet more people, and, eventually, you will find the perfect friend group. It just takes that first push to get involved!
3. Join Extracurriculars
I know this sounds like everyone’s dad, but get involved! I slept through the first two involvement fairs (and have since set louder alarms) and didn’t really make the effort my freshman year, which I regret. I still had a good time, but when I finally attended an involvement fair and joined a club, it was the best choice of my year. I have loved the people I have met through CHAARG at DePaul and it has helped me to move from my comfort zone and find my place here. I definitely recommend trying out different clubs and activities to see what you like—it is a great way to get out of the dorm and study-bubble and explore the social side of college.
4. Dedicate time each week to studying and relaxation
I am a scheduling, Type A girl through and through, so I have been making schedules since I can remember. I have a wall calendar to share with my roommate, a planner for class work, and a copy of it all on my phone (since I also have a bad memory sometimes). I found that when I put it all on paper—especially everything’s due dates from the syllabus—I was more on top of coursework. When I schedule my days out and block out time to relax, I can get everything done and also stay mentally refreshed. Taking the time to explore and enjoy life makes you so much more focused, and I never have surprise assignments that I spend all night writing as a result. It seems tedious to write everything down, but I promise it pays off!
5. Know the busy times on campus!
The Ray (our rec center) is a great place to destress and get a good workout in. I like to take group yoga classes, play racquetball, or lift in the afternoons to clear my mind, and there is always an option for everyone to enjoy. However, one thing I have learned is that everyone also goes to the gym at 6pm. It gets a bit busy, so I found that going between classes and in the morning has been super helpful. If you don’t mind, then great! If not, I always recommend taking walks around campus—you can go to the park, the lakefront, or just wander around the neighborhood. The Lincoln Park neighborhood is beautiful and has so many hidden gems that no walk is ever the same. Enjoy the warm weather and get to know your new home (at least for the next 4 years).
6. Talk to your professors—they don’t bite
Going into college, I did not know much about my major. I felt intimidated by the thought of college professors due to stereotypes on TV, but I guarantee that your professors are nice, just like you, and want to help you do your best. Talking to my professors helped me work with them to reach my goals and I found out so much more about my future career through their stories. Those connections will stick with you and help so much for the rest of your time here.
7. Try new things!
One thing that I love about Chicago is how much food variety there is. You can find basically every type of cuisine within a few train stops (and train passes are included in your tuition), and it is all delicious. I definitely would make the most of your meal plan and use your swipes every week. Stushi (sushi at the student center) is always classic and the 312 Burgers are my favorite. Still, it is so exciting to try new places and enjoy what Chicago has to offer! Socialize with new friends or go on your own—you’ll never be disappointed.
I hope these tips help you acclimate to this new chapter of your life. I find that they have helped me become comfortable and happy here at DePaul—I am still far away from my family, but my new friends here have made my days so much better and made this place feel like a home away from home. Wishing you the best of luck in your first year at DePaul University—maybe we’ll cross paths!