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Chaparral Experience

The Chaparral Experience was designed to support first-year students with their transition to College of DuPage. First-year students will have the opportunity to network, develop a sense of belonging and acquire necessary tools to stay academically engaged and succeed at COD and beyond.

All first-time-in-college students will be automatically enrolled in the Chaparral Experience through Blackboard beginning in January 2022. If you started at COD prior to January 2022, you can self-enroll. There is no-cost to participate.

Self-Enroll in the First-Year Seminar

The Chaparral Experience strives to provide a collaborative environment for you to grow and develop your skills. 

Academic Development

Professional Development

Personal Development

  • Connect with a community of engaged learners and participate in mentoring opportunities.
  • Attend social and cultural outings.
  • Network and develop positive relationships with peers, staff, and faculty members across campus.


The goal of the Chaparral Experience is to help you succeed personally and professionally throughout your studies at COD.

What You Will Learn

  • Discover Academic and Career Pathways to help you choose a career.
  • Identify places to transfer your credits seamlessly so you can continue your education at a baccalaureate-granting institution.
  • Explore resources that can help you prioritize your studies.
  • Participate in mentoring opportunities and explore career options.
  • Attend social and cultural gatherings that can help you develop a sense of belonging.
  • Learn more about New Student Orientation and the College of DuPage website.

First-Year Seminar/Learning Modules

As a first-year student, you will be assigned to a Chaparral Mentor to facilitate your transition to COD. The Chaparral Mentor will keep you engaged throughout the experience and on track to complete the required learning modules.

Login to Blackboard to Begin

Explore key communication and critical thinking skills needed for academic success. You will compare syllabi from your courses and create a sample email.

Learn about the resources available to you at College of DuPage. You will have the opportunity to attend the Student Life Fair (virtually or in-person). 

Explore the importance of building a community through campus and join a new community of learners. This activity aims to help you locate a community through COD to help you in your college journey. You will also discuss with other students clubs available at COD. 

Have the opportunity to identify career goals, strengths, interests and preferences. Through this self-exploration process, you will understand how to establish a plan to achieve goals. The Academic and Career Pathways at the College of DuPage will be introduced and you can begin to create a personalized academic plan with your counselor or faculty/program advisor. 

Explore how to change your habits to achieve academic success. Conduct a deep dive into your time management to provide a snapshot for a successful life balance. Create a weekly calendar and consider how you spend your time. 

Learn how thinking can improve your studying and apply this knowledge to your classes. This section aims to help you develop learning strategies, critical thinking and a process for studying for tests that will aid you throughout your college journey. 

Review challenges college students face, along with strategies to navigate and overcome potential obstacles including overcoming academic stress and balancing mental and emotional wellness. This section aims to better equip you with the tools to have a successful college experience. These tools can help when you are confronted with anxiety about coursework or exams, disappointment with academic progress or indecision about your future. 

Learn about college majors, begin to explore transfer options and start to develop your employability skills. You will have the opportunity to meet with a key partner to create a resume, practice interview skills or plan job search activities. 


Students engaging in first-year experience programs are more successful than their peers who do not participate in these types of programs.

Jayne Brownell and Lynn Swaner

Contact Information

Roberto C Valadez
Director, Pathways for Student Success
Phone: (630) 942-2481

Beth Buhmann
Administrative Assistant, Pathways
Email: buhmannb@cod.edu
Phone: (630) 942-2487