Touring colleges is one of the most important and most fun parts of our job. We get to see firsthand what is special about a college, taking our time to analyze which of our students would find it most attractive, and reading between the lines on what kind of a student the college really wants.
We are required to visit a certain number of colleges every year to maintain one of our credentials as an Independent College Advisor and we try to exceed what is required so that we can have personal experiences with as many schools and admissions teams as is possible. During 2016, we have visited many colleges and gone beyond what we thought we could achieve, giving us the opportunity to see universities that are not on the radar of some of our students. One of these colleges is DePaul University. What we found is that DePaul provides unique opportunities and a great college campus, but that many students don’t know what the school has to offer. If they did, more of our students would visit and add the college to their application lists.
DePaul has top-notch programs in Psychology, Accounting, Finance, Public Relations and Advertising, Marketing, Hospitality, and Digital Cinema. The academic climate seems to be demanding, but not overwhelming. The university is in the city of Chicago but separated enough to get that college campus feel. All freshmen take a course called Discover Chicago or its alternative, Explore Chicago, which forces them to step off their comfortable college campus and also get to know the surrounding city and all it has to offer in terms of arts, culture, career opportunities, etc..
This was my second visit to DePaul, but my first opportunity to spend substantial time on campus and meet with their admissions office. I was also lucky to spend some time with one of our students, Justin Woolhiser, who is a freshman studying business at DePaul. Justin travels to Chicago for his business classes and he has learned his way around the city. I remember when our College Counselor, Lisa Schmidt, suggested DePaul to Justin, he was not sure he would like the setting of the college and wondered if it was a good academic match. After research and a visit, he narrowed down his top choices to DePaul and Loyola. Although he applied to eight colleges so that we could have offers to compare, DePaul was always at the top of his list, and when all was said and done, it’s where he ended up.
Since he arrived on campus, Justin has made DePaul and Chicago his home. He explained to me that his favorite part of the university is its proximity to Chicago, and access to all the opportunities the city offers. This fall was a particularly fun time to be in the Windy City. Justin explained, “It was very special to be living here when the Cubs won their first World Series in 108 years.” Although the city itself is great on its own, what drew Justin to DePaul was actually the business program. Their excellent b-school combined with the benefits of being located near, and connected to, countless Fortune 500 companies “caught [his] eye for the networking opportunities that would be available.”
Seeing Justin over lunch at one the many cafés on campus, I realized how happy he is and what a great fit the college ended up being for him. As I dropped him off at his dorm, I reflected on the previous year with Justin: looking over his college applications, helping him decode financial aid and scholarships, and finally, celebrating with him as he accepted his offer to DePaul. As he waved goodbye I was filled with pride because we were able to help him find a home for the next 4 years.