DePaul University for Jewish kids

Hi. I have a daughter who was admitted to DePaul. She applied because she wants to go to college in a city and we have family close by. She may be interested in the comedy writing program. She is very bright, but not a great student. However, they gave her good money, likely because of her stellar ACT score.

One concern is that we are Jewish and although we are not terribly observant, my kids grew up steeped in Jewish tradition (Jewish sleep away camp, Hebrew school, bat mitzvah, survivors in the family, etc.). According to Hillel’s statistics, typically around 500 Jewish students attend DePaul, which is pretty good. Still, my daughter is skittish and says she doesn’t know if she would feel comfortable if there are crosses in every classroom and anywhere you look. Info on this would be appreciated. The Catholicism at some Catholic colleges is more muted and incidental than at others. Thanks.

We have not visited DePaul yet, but my daughter was also accepted with great merit aid. My daughter is “Jewish-ish” with a Jewish sounding name but no Jewish observance in our household other than the occasional menorah. We are not Christian either; we are an agnostic/atheist household. My daughter does not seem to be concerned about the level of Catholicism at DePaul and has in fact, applied to a few Jesuit universities as well. I watched a youtube video made by some DePaul students and one proudly pointed out the Jewish fraternity logo on his hoodie. My impression is that DePaul is diverse and welcoming to all. Perhaps Catholicism is there for those who seek it, but I’m thinking no one is too judgy. We are hoping to visit in the next couple of months.

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This is an interesting question. We actually live in the area and we are jewish. The exact type of jewish you mention above is the type of jews we are. Every time I walk through the campus of DePaul I say to myself…DePaul is so pretty and is in such a great part of the city. My kids wouldn’t consider it bc we live a block away but I will tell you that we do hear the church bells and we have been told that there is a Catholic vibe. I don’t get the feeling there is much of a jewish community, even with the Hillel. That said, my son goes to a university which is not very jewish and has very few jewish friends. It is not a catholic university though. It has about 600 jews out of 5500 students. He is in the jewish frat and that consists of about 10 jews out of 100 guys. If I am honest I do wish there was a heavier jewish presence at his school but I certainly wouldn’t say it is a make or break. If crosses were on walls that might be a deal breaker. Not bc we don’t have a large variety of religions within our circle of friends but it just doesn’t feel as comfortable to sit and stare at something that feels a bit foreign. Maybe your daughter won’t feel bothered by that and maybe you allow her to make the final call. The kids weve come across that are students there and work in the local stores always seem lovely and polite. Not sure if this is helpful but your question caught my eye.

I appreciate the response. 600 out of 5,000 is actually very good (anything over 10% is a significant Jewish presence). Sounds like Elon. Did I guess right? We live in Westchester County, New York in a town with a significant Jewish presence such that the Italian Catholic and Latino kids know the lingo and have attended many bar and bat mitzvahs. It’s hard explaining that our reality is not the reality of most people.

There are actually 2 or 3 Jewish kids from our area who attended DePaul, but we do not know them. My older daughter is at Miami-Ohio, which was a bit of culture shock, but she has found what she wants at Hillel. My younger one is more of a free spirit and less of a joiner, but she also knows who she is and just doesn’t want to feel completely out of place. Have you been inside the campus buildings at DePaul? If so, did you feel surrounded by Christian images? Of course, a Catholic university has every right to have this kind of an environment, but we are still deciding whether to visit and knowing some things beforehand is always helpful. Thanks.

Hello. My son was raised a heathen and is very proud of it. Our household is not at all religious. Because of this, I had to talk my son into applying to DePaul even though they have one of the best programs out there in his intended major and also check every other requested box, including a substantial scholarship offer. We read a couple of threads on line on the subject. From what we can determine, the school views religion from a service perspective and is extremely inclusive. They have a DePaul Jewish Life home on Facebook and a full time Jewish Life coordinator. You can email him at mcharnay@depaul.edu.
We will be visiting this week (freezing cold forecast during our Friday visit) and I will be glad to report my observations when we return next Sunday.

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My D22 was also accepted with very nice merit. We are Catholic, and we have visited. I will say that I had the distinct feeling that the Catholic faith is there for who want it and that other than knowing it is a Catholic school, I did not see anything that struck me as extraordinarily Catholic. I think we saw stained glass at the library entrance? I don’t remember seeing crucifixes anywhere. The school is Augustinian and will express their teaching in subtle ways. I would guess through service. No one, Catholic or not, has to worship or attend any religious group. I am unsure if there is a religious Gen Ed, but you can do a quick search to check that out.

We do practice our faith, but are not overly religious. My D22 is a liberal feminist of the LGBTQ community, and I am glad our faith is there for her to explore the social justice teachings of the Church if she chooses to. She would not want to attend a “religious school”. It would turn her off even though we go to church.

I hope this perspective is helpful.

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Thank you for the perspective.

My son had a concern about the religious class requirement. We were sent a link to the classes that fulfill that requirement by our area DePaul rep. The classes are very diverse - literally something for everyone and several he was interested in that could be described more in historical rather than religious terms

Depaul is also extremely welcoming to LGBTQ students. This was very important to my son, who is very strict about his beliefs in inclusion for all.

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This was very helpful. Thank you.

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I live in the city. Your Jewish kids will be accepted and do well at DePaul. There are plenty of Jewish kids but also the surrounding community has lots of Jews living there. There are opportunities at local synagogues that are all inclusive and set for college age students through early 30s… I am Jewish and have been on the campus and know students that went there. No religion is being shoved down your throat. It’s a wonderful area also. BTW - the church is beautiful and they have held concerts etc there.

As far as inclusion it isn’t a problem at DePaul or in Chicago at all. Just be who you are and you will fit in m

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Winky1, has your daughter made a decision yet or is she still waiting for everything to come in like my son?

Thanks for the info about the religion requirement. Good to know.

She needs to hear back from 5 more schools, but she’s heard from 4 and DePaul is still in the favorites column! The merit they gave has made the cost like our state school. It’s an exciting option for her.

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This is fantastic. Thank you. Believe me, if we were all raised heathens a lot of problems would not exist. As I implied in my opening post, we are not religious people but a strongly cultural Jewish family (my wife and I can speak chapter and verse on why we do not like the word “Jew”). As I say to my kids and clients (I do college counseling), most of you won’t spend much time thinking about religion in college, but wherever you go you want to be comfortable. So, if it is important to know people who come from a common experience and tradition, then you need to make sure there’s something there for you before choosing a college and that you will not feel alienated for any reason.

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Thanks for the response. This is helpful. I usually avoid college confidential, but this has been a wonderful group.

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College Confidential can be tough because most who use it have high achieving children, which can deflate the expectations of everyone else.

I thought this thread was a great example of how helpful this forum can be.

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Excellent to hear Winky1! Very best of luck to her!

My son did all EA and has one left announcing in 10 days. If that goes as expected he will have a very tough decision to make. The trip to DePaul this week is very important as he has visited everywhere else.

My wife and I (selfishly) want one of the major city schools so we can visit and be entertained.

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Hi, no my son does not attend Elon. I would rather not say on the public forum where he attends as I want to maintain my son’s privacy. Chicago is a large city but a smallish jewish community of everyone knows everyone, 3 degrees of separation. I do have an understanding of your community. I am from long island as is my husband. It sounds like your community is very similar to what we are familiar with, that said we have raised our kids in Chicago. I am also familiar with Miami of Ohio. Lots of local kids go there and I have heard wonderful things about the school. I have been around the DePaul campus a lot and in some of the buildings. But I can’t tell you I have dived in deep. I do have some other thoughts. If you would like to email privately I am happy to go into further details. Not sure how to even share info on this site as I have never even written or replied to anything on here. Like I said, your question was intriguing and one my group of friends and I have discussed as we go on daily walks through the campus when it is not 23 degrees!! Feel free to share any info with me and I can reach out to you.

I do also but somehow I am been here for 5 years :rofl:…

The Hillel at DePaul is very active. Just look at their Facebook and newsletter. For people interested just reach out to them to answer questions

Lots of college kids look to Mishkan for services or of course the Hillel at DePaul. Mishkan is inclusive and works for social justice programs etc. You can be any flavor of Jewish you want to be. Lead by a female rabbi that is outstanding. I don’t belong there but have been to one of their services. Again the young professional crowed loves it.

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My S went to a Jesuit university. He had friends of different religious as well as atheists/agnostics who were happy there. The Jesuits are educators first and foremost and do not force religion on anyone. That said, to be comfortable at a Catholic university I think one should; 1) be respectful of religion; 2) have no issue with seeing some religious symbols on campus (ex. crucifix); and 3) look at the core curriculum and be fine with the idea of taking any required philosophy/theology courses (Depaul’s core curriculum is likely online).

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DePaul has a pretty diverse student body with many kids who are children of immigrants and/or first in their families to go to college. My wife hired around 20 business students out of DePaul, and around 50% were first generation immigrants, including Russian Jews, Indians, Bulgarians… people of all backgrounds. I would not worry about anyone feeling unwelcome at DePaul based on their ethnicity or religion. On a broader note, Chicago is a very diverse city with a fairly large Jewish population. Your daughter will fit in at DePaul without any problems.

DePaul has the added benefit of being in a great neighborhood with many bars, restaurants, music venues, etc. Your daughter will get a great education at DePaul, and if she is not careful, she’ll have a blast too.

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Good write up. We are not only visiting campus (both) this week but going to the Art Institute, Shedd, the Field Museum, and Second City. Trying to give my son a taste of what Chicago has to offer. The environment is part of the equation.

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