A student walks along the Quad, located in Lincoln Park. (Eric Henry)
A student walks along the Quad, located in Lincoln Park.

Eric Henry

Incoming Blue Demons prepare for 2021 school year

May 9, 2021

Cancelled proms, virtual graduation ceremonies and online classes have all been the norm for both college and high school students. 

The Covid-19 pandemic has altered the way school, work and lifes accomplishments have been conducted and celebrated this past year.

But one event that stayed in the calendar is National College Decision Day, which takes place annually on May 1. The day is reserved for high school seniors to announce their commitment to the college where they will spend their next few years. 

DePaul’s enrollment summary report shows the university enrolled 2,774 freshmen in the fall of 2020. The 2020 freshman class was the largest the university has welcomed –– 147 more students than the 2019 enrollment total. 

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, the university consistently raised tuition costs across all its respective schools. In between the 2017, 2018 and 2019 academic years, annual tuition rates increased between $500 and $2000 across all 10 colleges. 

As the pandemic halted in-person learning and offered a limited campus experience, DePaul did not raise annual tuition costs in the 2020-2021 school year –– the same year DePaul welcomed its largest freshman class. 

In recognition of the economic uncertainty that the COVID-19 pandemic has introduced into families’ lives, DePaul University today announced it will not increase tuition for 2020-21 for new and continuing students,” the university announced in April 2020. 

DePaul spokesperson Russell Dorn told The DePaulia that 2021-2022 tuition figures are now updated and a letter should have gone out to students this past month. 

The new figures show that tuition rates for the 2021-2022 school year will remain the same within DePaul’s Richard H. Driehaus College of Business, College of Computing and Digital Media, College of Science and Health, College of Communication, College of Education and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. 

The School of Music and the Theatre School both have raised annual tuition rates for the 2021-2022 school year by roughly $800. The College of Law also increased its annual tuition rates for the upcoming school year by approximately $900. 

An empty classroom set aside for socially distanced learning at DePaul’s Loop campus. (Eric Henry)

The university will soon have to finalize a new enrollment summary report for the 2021-2022 school year, after slightly raising tuition costs and a global pandemic. 

Dorn told The DePaulia that it is too early to share any freshmen enrollment numbers for the upcoming fall at this time. But a quick browse on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram shows that many high school seniors have announced their commitment to enroll at the university. 

Gracie Crone is from Dallas, Texas and is a graduating senior from the Ovation Academy of Performing Arts. She will be coming to DePaul next fall as a playwriting major at the Theatre School. 

“The playwriting program is so small and so selective that I thought it was a long shot,” Crone said. “As soon as I got my acceptance email, I knew I would be committing.” 

Crone wasn’t aware that DePaul’s Theatre School tuition had increased, but she said she was prepared to take out loans.

“DePaul’s tuition is definitely a bit of a dent in the pocketbook,” Crone said. “I did get a scholarship from the Theatre School, but even if I didn’t, I have an amazing family that would help me to make it work anyway.” 

Kevin Serrano is from the Southwest Side of Chicago and is graduating from Jones College Prep on June 13. On National College Decision Day, he announced his commitment to DePaul in an Instagram post. 

Serrano will be coming to DePaul in the fall quarter as an economics and finance double major on the pre-law track. 

“DePaul has a strong business program, and given that it is in the heart of Chicago, I know there will be so many opportunities to meet professionals and gain work experience,” Serrano told The DePaulia. 

Prior to enrolling at DePaul, Serrano was also considering going to University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, University of Illinois at Chicago and University of Wisconsin-Madison. 

“I committed to DePaul for their generous financial aid,” Serrano said. In his Instagram post, Serrano shared that he received a four-year, full ride scholarship from the university. 

Edwin Garduza is a senior at Morton East High School and is from Brighton Park –– a neighborhood near Chicago’s Little Village. Garduza also announced in an Instagram post on May 2, he will be coming to DePaul in the fall. He will be majoring in music performance and commuting to campus.  

“I think what got my interest was the rigor of instruction at DePaul, the premier fine arts conservatory, [which] develops true professionals,” Garduza said. 

Garduza shared that DePaul was his main school he wanted to attend.

“It was almost an automatic yes when I received the acceptance letter,” he said. 

Similar to college students, high schoolers also lost a bit of academic experience during a year of online classes.

Sam Brick graduated a semester early from Grayslake North High School. He will be coming to DePaul in the fall as a psychology major. 

Students walk on the Quad, located on the Lincoln Park campus. (Eric Henry)

Brick shared that when the opportunity arose at his high school to return in person, he didn’t have the option to since he wasn’t a student anymore. 

“I didn’t get to experience a junior or senior year prom, really any of the fun stuff you experience during the final year of high school,” Brick said. “I just finished high school by closing my Chromebook and going to bed.” 

Online classes aside, students themselves had to face the challenges of contracting Covid-19. 

“I also missed my school’s winter formal because my whole family got Covid-19,” Crone said. “I’m just trying to hold out till the end of the year.”

Brick also said that the pandemic has changed his vision on college itself. 

“It makes me wonder how many people will be there, how long we will be dealing with the long lasting effects and if it will be my whole college experience,” he said. 

But as vaccines are becoming more available to high school and college students, some incoming freshmen are hopeful to return to school in person –– this time on a college campus. 

“I expect my first year to be filled with tons of energetic students,” Serrano said. “Especially freshmen that are happy to be on campus.” 

On April 21, DePaul announced it will require students to be fully vaccinated before returning to campus in person. 

“DePaul’s decision to require vaccinations for all students returning to campus gives me high hopes for what college will be like,” Serrano said. “I think that by the fall, the college experience will appear close to what I normally expected pre-Covid.” 

While National College Decision Day has given a broad scope of how many incoming freshmen DePaul will welcome for the 2021-2022 school year, there still isn’t an exact number. 

Expectations of whether or not DePaul will exceed its 2020 enrollment record is unclear, as is what the future of college experiences will entail, but many are still hopeful. 

“I have absolutely no idea what to expect, even without the pandemic,” Brick said. “I’m really looking forward to just experiencing new things and starting this new chapter in our lives.” 

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