Zack Dean is one of the many students all over the world who is in the midst of selecting a college. Dean could be in DePaul’s incoming freshman class, but since students are not able to visit the home they will have for the next four years, many are left with lingering questions.
Most college campuses across the country are closed until further notice due to COVID-19, so many schools, including DePaul, won’t be able to give prospective students a glimpse of life on their campuses.
For that reason, national decision day for students to commit to their college has been moved from May 1 to June 1 and DePaul’s events for new students, like admitted student visits and orientations, have been moved online.
Offices like admissions, student involvement and new student and family engagement are facilitating virtual visits to help prospective students envision their future homes, answer urgent questions and introduce them to the members of the community they will be sharing their next four years with.
The Office of Admissions is offering information sessions twice a day, six days a week, virtual tours and one-on-one appointments. They’re also offering optional chats with tour guides to talk about student life, experiences on each DePaul campus and why they chose DePaul, according to Sally Baker, associate director of undergraduate admission at DePaul.
Many students are wondering how DePaul will be the best fit for them.
Dean is one of those students. He has been admitted into DePaul’s class of 2024, but has yet to commit.
“There’s so much to look at in such a short time,” Dean said.
Like Dean, Kayla Holliday is saddled with having to make a decision under unprecedented circumstances. Because of the Covid-19 outbreak, Holliday’s visit to DePaul was cancelled; she committed without seeing the campus.
“It’s definitely taken a leap of faith, into the unknown, to move across the country to a university I’ve never visited, but I absolutely love Chicago,” she said. “Hearing student testimonies and reading about the strong community here has definitely helped ease the process and reassure me that I’ve made the right decision.”
“The people here have all been so welcoming in answering my questions and offering advice, and I truly feel as if I’ve found my home,” Holliday added.
But campus visits often change prospective students’ view of a school.
Alexis Willard, a DePaul sophomore, did not initially picture herself as a DePaul student. Willard knew she wanted to live in a city and she fell in love with Chicago based on what she saw on campus.
“DePaul wasn’t even in my top colleges before I visited — then it became my number one,” Willard said.
In light of the absence of “admitted student” days, Baker said that digital conferences will be held over Zoom. The conferences will include faculty speaking to admitted students about their major and designated college.
“Right now over 40 faculty members have committed to hosting a session, and we’re hoping there will be more to come,” Baker said.
The university will still offer information sessions and appointments for admitted students. Spring visit days will be opened for both admitted and prospective students online, too.
The Office of New Student and Family Engagement have been receiving many calls about what a virtual orientation will look like. Marisa Sanchez, an office assistant for the Office of New Student and Family Engagement, said that orientation will take place through Zoom. A student will be placed with a prostaff coordinator and two student coordinators.
Virtual orientation will be “official as of now, but subject to change” due to coronavirus’ unpredictability, Sanchez said.
Through Zoom, students can engage with each other in on campus activities, too.
Even though the office mainly handles events for current students, they are planning on inviting admitted students to participate in DePaul’s Gaming League through their Esports program, according to Courtney James, director for the office of student involvement.
“We can welcome them into the experience without taking away ‘virtual seats’ from current students,” James said.
Though many prospective DePaul students are excited about what the university has to offer them, COVID-19 has made committing to the school a financially questionable decision for some.
Sara Vianna is an admitted student who is excited to attend DePaul because of the Cinespace program at DePaul. But like many, Vianna has been financially impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. She was laid off from her job and sees the American college market as being completely different from the Brazillian one, which is where she is from.
Vianna explained how her family didn’t plan on saving up for college, because many of the best universities in Brazil are free.
“While I feel I belong at DePaul, I’m afraid my wallet might not feel the same,” Vianna said.
Joe Crisp, an admitted student, said even though he isn’t currently having to pay tuition for DePaul, he is wondering how costs are being influenced by the coronavirus.
“Anyone who has even considered going to DePaul knows that it’s not cheap, and part of what they are paying for is the assets provided to them by being in Chicago and having those resources provided by the campus and the city available to them,” he said.
Even though DePaul’s Class of 2024 may not be experiencing first-hand how life happens on campus, many are still thrilled to join campus next fall.
“DePaul is located right at Chicago and it’s very close to home,” Dizon said. “I absolutely love the city and its location makes it even better.”