College Visit Report: DePaul

October 11, 2008 at 4:50 pm Leave a comment

My daughter and I began our Midwestern college tour in Chicago, a city that both of us love.  I lived in the western suburbs and worked downtown for 3 years before we had kids.  We should have lived downtown back then, buy my original job was in the western suburbs.

We came in the summer to visit Northwestern, but now she has her eyes on DePaul University, because it offers Public Policy majors, with emphasis in either Urban Studies or Environmental Studies, both of which interest her, and an Economics major.  DePaul has also built up a significant part-time MBA program and established a campus right inside the downtown Loop, which makes sense given the number of people working in downtown Chicago.

The info session was pretty much what we have come to expect, then we split up to attend several smaller sessions led by faculty or administrators.  I went to a very sparsely attended session with an Economics professor.  They offer Economics degrees through two schools, and we basically concluded that she would be a better fit for the Economics through the College of Arts and Sciences rather than the downtown campus, which is more quantitative.  Encouragingly, the professor said her AP Economics classes were a great preparation and they give credit for both semesters.   The second session was led by a Dean who used to be an English professor, who discussed the core curriculum.  Since DePaul is a Catholic university, there are some religion/ethics/philosophy core requirements but they sound like classes that she would love to take.

The campus tour was interesting and enlightening.  At a Catholic school, I expected we’d find some dorms that were very segregated by sex.  It turns out that they aren’t, because Chicago has a law that any building with 6 or more occupants, all of whom are females, is a brothel and is therefore illegal!  The college has a few apartment-style buildings for upperclassmen.   We really turned up our noses at the dorms on the east side of the campus, bordering the athletic field, because they were pretty ugly architecturally and they have no air conditioning.  (When we moved to Chicago, we were told we didn’t need air conditioning.  Big lie.)  The other dorms, across the quadrangle from the library and main academic buildings, are very nice, although the rooms are pretty cramped.  One girl demonstrated how she can see the downtown skyline from her dorm room.  The recreation center is impressive, too.

There is some Catholic influence, though.  The Dominic’s grocery store, which is the 1st floor of a dorm building, is prohibited from selling condoms.  Wonder what the pregnancy rate is amongst students?

What has us rather leery, though, is finding out that not only is housing not guaranteed for freshmen – and how are we supposed to find an apartment and roommates and furniture when we live clear across the country – but that it is virtually non-existent for upperclassmen.  How do you build relationships with classmates when most of your classmates are “commuter” students?  The college cannot tell us what % live in apartments in the neighborhood, which would still make it more like a traditional campus, versus what percent live so far away that they drive or take public transportation to their apartments or live with their parents.  This has us both rather unsettled.    I know Lincoln Park is a great neighborhood to live in and being off campus would give her the option to take a summer job or stay during breaks, but it also means you have the whole issue of finding roommates and getting everyone to pay their share of the bill.

For such a large population of students, the campus seems very small.  Are there a lot of part-time students in their headcounts?  Are many of them attending the satellite campuses?

Aside from the Lincoln Park campus, she would also have the option of living at the Loop campus downtown.  I originally thought being in the heart of the city would appeal to her, but the classroom building was very corporate looking and didn’t feel at all like a campus, and the “on-campus” cafeteria was pretty limited.  Plus, on Sunday morning, Chicago pretty much rolls up the sidewalks.  The Lincoln Park campus seems like a much more fun place to be.

Of the schools she’s considering, DePaul accepts students with the broadest range of SAT & ACT scores.  I think DePaul only makes sense for her if she can get into the Honors program, where she would take her core classes with other Honors program kids.  Otherwise, I’m fearful that it would be somewhat like taking the “on-level” high school classes rather than being in the gifted or Advanced Placement classes.  She needs to be with other kids who think and question and challenge ideas like she does.  Plus, by being in the Honors program, she would have multiple classes with the same students, which creates more opportunities to build friendships with them.

We’re still leery about the whole housing thing, but I think DePaul might make her list.

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Entry filed under: Catholic, DePaul, economics, IL, political science.

Info Session: Carnegie Mellon College Visit Report: Macalester

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