My best tips for college students of all ages


Lilly Keller

Lily Lowndes offers incoming freshman tips for how to excel during their time at DePaul.

As I enter my fourth and final year at DePaul, I think I’m finally getting the hang of college life. I’ve seen and been through a lot during my time as a Blue Demon and I wanted to share my best tips and tricks for students. Whether you’re a freshman or a grad student, if you’re still navigating your way through DePaul, keep these tips in mind to make your experience a great one.

1) Open Outlook every day

If you’re like me, checking your school email is a painstaking task. For the longest time, I dreaded opening my inbox. I was always worried that there was an important message that I missed or that there would be too many emails to sludge my way through. The only way I got over my email crisis was to have a dedicated time to check it every day. Make time for yourself to do simple tasks like this to avoid becoming overwhelmed!

2) Get some aerobic exercise

One thing that you’ll notice about being at DePaul or in Chicago in general, is that there are a lot of stairs. If you are able, I recommend opting for the stairs over an elevator, within reason of course. I’m not advocating for anyone to walk up 18 flights to get to the academic advising office at 14 E. Jackson, but I would suggest walking up three flights in Levan to save time waiting for the elevator.

3) Be honest and open

Building a new community, meeting new people and forging a new friend group in college can be daunting. The best way to get to know people is to be open to talking to new people. I’ve found that because we are largely a commuter school, no one is going to say no to meeting someone new. Just be honest and open about who you are, your interests and hobbies and you’re bound to find people who enjoy those same things.

4) Get to know your professors

More often than not, your professors are open and available to help you out. If you are struggling or have questions, reach out to them! If they don’t respond within a few days, don’t get discouraged, reach out again. Professors can be busy people, but they are dedicated to helping you succeed. Many of the current faculty and staff are still practicing in their field and have very useful tips and tricks for young professionals. I reached out to a professor whose class I really enjoyed, and she ended up offering me a job. Don’t be shy and make sure you send your professors emails, drop in during office hours or simply talk to them after class.

5) Read Newsline

When you commit to reading your email, commit to reading DePaul Newsline. Every morning, DePaul sends a newsletter noting community accomplishments, campus resources and my favorite section, free events. There are so many cool activities, performances and guest speakers on campus every day. In the past, I’ve attended book talks with famous authors, watched student music groups and ate delicious free food. If you’re ever bored and want to find something to do at DePaul, check out the featured events on Newsline.

6) Go to DeHUB and Instagram to get involved

Let’s talk about joining clubs. If you don’t know where to start, head to DeHUB, DePaul’s website for student organizations. Once you log in with your campus connect credentials, click the “Groups” tab on the sidebar and then scroll all the way down on the page to see a full list of student organizations. If you don’t want to read every name in the list of 507 clubs, you can search by key term or filter by group category. Each club will have a page with contact information and possibly upcoming events which you can attend. DeHUB can be tricky to navigate, so if you’re looking for a specific club, Instagram is another good place to go. Just search whatever club you’re looking for and add “DePaul” in front of it. Follow those pages for events, meetings and ways to get involved.

7) Look up classes you want to take

In my sophomore year, I was interested in learning more about book publishing. I knew that we had a graduate program for writing and publishing, but I wasn’t sure if there were any undergraduate classes that I could take. Some schools, like the Jarvis College of Computing and Digital Media, have a giant course catalog where you can search available classes. Some schools probably have course catalogs, but they’re a little difficult to find. Sophomore year me just typed “publishing” into the Campus Connect course selection page and found a class about book editing. That was one of my favorite classes that I’ve taken at DePaul, so I hope this strategy works for you.

8) Read your assignments

Okay, so you like to procrastinate. That can be a hard obstacle to overcome. If you can’t be the person that turns in their assignment days ahead of time, be the person who reads the assignment guidelines as early as possible. There’s nothing worse than starting an assignment at the last minute only to have questions about the prompt or realize that you’re required to do something extra, like attend an event. Reading the prompt ahead of time will allow you to reach out to your professor in a timely manner if you have any questions, make note of any difficult aspects of the project and maybe encourage you to get a head start on the assignment. If you need additional help, make sure to check the calendar section in D2L or download the Brightspace Pulse app for extra reminders.

9) Take a class from your major ASAP

Please take a class related to your major as soon as possible! I’ve changed my major multiple times, and that is not uncommon for college students. I recommend taking at least one or two major-related classes in your first year at DePaul.

10) Know your resources

Take a step back and breathe. There are so many stressors and challenges that arise in college, but you do not have to go through it alone. DePaul has different departments dedicated to addressing the problems that you may be facing. If you aren’t sure where to go, ask your friends, professors, RAs or advisors and they can point you in the right direction.

11) Try it out at least once

If you’re even vaguely interested in something, try it out! You have no obligation to continue if you end up hating it, so I would encourage you to sign up for a few interesting clubs, go out with friends, and register for that fun-sounding elective, whatever it may be.

Connect with Lily Lowndes: @LilyILowndes | [email protected]