Student Stories: Lauren Carroll

Lauren Carroll

Major: Associate in Science

Basketball was more than a game to Lauren Carroll. It kept the former Chaparral guard focused on academics – and the future.   

“I don’t think I would have done so well in my classes if I wasn’t a part of the basketball team. Being on the team gave me an incentive to get it done in the classroom, so you can be a part of the team.”

Although she played sports her whole life, Carroll wanted to concentrate on her studies when she enrolled at College of DuPage. After attending an open gym session and talking with the coach, Carroll decided to give collegiate basketball a shot.  

“I think if I didn’t play, I would have regretted it. Although being a part of a college athletic team was very demanding, it helped me utilize my time wisely. Between going to classes, practices, games and even working a couple days a week at Chaparral Fitness, I guess you could say I stayed pretty busy. I know that my time to work on my academics was limited due to my jam-packed schedule, so it helped me buckle down and get my work done when I needed to.”

While at COD, Carroll worked on coursework that she needed to transfer, which she initially did to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. But the large class sizes were not for her.

“I had a hard time adjusting to the size of the campus,” she said. “As you can imagine, I became fairly accustomed to the small class sizes from my time at COD. I didn’t even realize how much a smaller class size meant to me until I didn’t have it. The simple things like the professor knowing your name is something you miss out on when your smallest class consists of 100 students.”

Carroll made the difficult decision to leave UIUC and transfer to North Central College. After her first day of classes, she knew it was right for her.

“My class sizes ranged from 10 to 15 students, and my professors knew my name by the second day of class,” she said. “The little things like that may not seem like a huge factor, but having a more personable learning experience made all the difference for me.”

After leaving COD, she also made the decision to end her basketball career.

“Sports will always be a part of my life, and I will continue to participate in recreational and intramural leagues for enjoyment,” she said. “I knew with the major I was going to be continuing on with, I would need to really commit myself to my academics. I thought if I had the commitments of being a collegiate athlete, then my academics would be comprised.”

Having earned her Bachelor of Arts in Exercise Science, Carroll entered the Master of Occupational Therapy degree program at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She joined the Student Occupational Therapy Association, earning the position of treasurer, and was inducted into Pi Theta Epsilon, the national honor society for occupational therapy. 

“It can be a little challenging beginning a new program, because you aren’t always sure what to expect, especially at the graduate level,” she said. “However, I learned very quickly that this program cultivates a tightly knit community and everyone is there to help you succeed.”

She remains confident that she made the right move coming to College of DuPage.

“The main reason I decided to come to COD was the affordability. I knew that COD would give me great opportunities. I also thought it would really help with the transition from high school to college,” she said.

“COD helped me grow and become a better student. I learned how to balance school, basketball and working. Personally, I became more independent. My advice to students who are considering COD would be that it’s a great place to start. You have to make the most of it. You get what you put into it. So I would encourage students to become involved in something.”