I came to DeVry University almost by chance. A DeVry representative visited my high school and put forth an interesting image of the college: small classes, hands - on learning, and professors who are the voice of experience. The more I learned about DeVry, the more I realized that's what I want.
The small class size was key to me. I hate large classes, and one of the colleges on my initial list had classes with upwards of 200-500 students. I've always been something of an independent learner. The way I learn - by asking questions and discussing an issue fully - is not conducive to large class settings.
Approachable geniuses, available tutors
It is very easy to approach a faculty member here and talk with them. Most of them work in the field and they know their stuff very well. I would go so far as to say that some professors in my major are clearly geniuses when it comes to code. They sometimes expect us to know more than we do because they are so used to dealing with people in the know, but they will slow down and explain when you ask.
One of my current professors is even willing to come in on his day off to ensure that we can talk with him and get help on our assignments. He is very accessible and very friendly. And if you need more tutoring in any class, there are tutors right there in the Academic Study Center, and tutoring is free. The tutors are very friendly too.
Getting beyond shyness
I was generally a shy kid, but once I got over that, it was very easy to step out and make friends at DeVry. Once you start meeting the same people in different classes, it's kind of like a train. You start off slow with them but then you pick up momentum. You end up talking about everything. Now in my free times, I hang out with friends and play video games. I also write and read and listen to music.
Collegiate housing is an efficient and convenient option for newcomers to town. You don't have to look for a furnished place and set up utilities. Everything is set up for you, and you are given a roommate. Once you make friends and know the city, you might want to just rent an apartment on your own with 2-3 friends.
Look and leap
If I were back in high school, preparing for college, I'd make sure to do the research and know the school. A friend applied to DeVry University at the same time as I did and neither of us had done enough research. I caught a lucky break when I went to DeVry. It was the right place for me, but not for him, and he ended up transferring out. Research your major too. Don't go into Game & Simulation Programming (GSP) just because you like playing video games. There's more to it.
In general, my advice is not to hold back. Don't apply just because you think that you won't make it, and never think you're not worth it. Apply for every scholarship you can, even if you think you don't have a chance. You might get lucky, you might have a skill they're looking for. DeVry University awarded me a Presidential Scholarship that covers all my expenses except housing. Applying for it required one of the most difficult writing assignments of my life, but it was worth it. During the application process, the Financial Aid advisors were always in touch; I had 3-5 phone numbers I could call if I needed help. They were very good on their end.
Designing a career
My career goal is to get a job in web design that I enjoy, with a variety of challenges and opportunities, and preferably in a smaller city than Chicago. Five to ten years from now, I want to be a web design team leader or lead designer for a good company, working on their web site. I will probably go back to school for an MBA and a master's in CIS. Many of my teachers have told me to work first, get experience, and find out what employers need. If you need a master's, they will send you to school and pay for it.
DeVry University lives up to what I expected. In a class with 10-25 students and a teacher, you can discuss and debate, and understand why and how things work. The professors are wonderful. They've worked in the field and they know what I need to succeed. The other students really make it for me because we all have different ideas. I've found so many people that I mesh well with and hope to work with again in the future, or just keep in touch with, to have reference points.
I will take many valuable lessons and experiences away from DeVry. If I had to pick only one, it would be versatility. All the majors open you up to a world of many different subjects. They encourage you to go out, push more on what interests you, and figure out the deeper mysteries. Whatever else you think about doing an ordinary 15-week course in eight weeks, it does push you to be versatile and adaptive. I have learned how to learn effectively and efficiently, to the point that I can pick up new programming languages in two or three weeks. I don't master them in that time, but I can begin doing rudimentary things right away.
I will graduate with my bachelor's degree in two and a half years instead of four or five. It takes a lot of work and self-motivation, but it's worth it. I love going to DeVry, but I am eager to get out and start my career.