- Class: Senior
- Major: Anthropology
- Gender: F
- High School: Shelby County High School
- Transfer Student: N
Evanston is definitely one of the greatest assets about Northwestern. Though the suburb is a bit snooty, it has a large variety of fantastic ethnic restaurants and an excellent survey of stores that you don't have to travel to Chicago for. CVS and Whole Foods are the closest grocery stores because Jewel-Osco is a bit of a hike away, which can be a pain, but CVS has many of the typical student grocery items needed. The El is also a very convenient and close connection that can take you to Chicago in only about 30-45 minutes, depending on where you want to go. Most students tend not to take advantage of Chicago's proximity as often as they would like to because there are so many things to do on campus. There are always plays, a capella showings, dance group performances, or skit comedy acts occurring during any weekend of the year, and they are great for a weekend night event with friends. In addition, there are tons of student groups to get involved with, especially socially-active ones. Dance Marathon (DM) is probably the hugest event on campus, with hundreds of students participating in a 30-hour dance to philanthropically benefit a different organization each year. Nearly everyone on campus gets caught up in the excitement of helping out DM each year. The atmosphere of involved people is another one of the great things about Northwestern, although it does present a problem for many students in that they want to be involved in more things than they can be involved in. Though football games tend to be farely well-attended and well-tailgated, there seems to be a critical awareness of Northwestern's susceptibility to sports failures, which leads to a lack of school pride at athletic events. No one is ever exactly diehard about Northwestern sports, though there are a few very committed fans. When Northwestern plays well, the student body becomes much more fervent about its school's athletics. Additionally, no one attends as many basketball games as they do football games.
In the classes I've taken--predominantly anthropology and creative writing--the number of students is kept small enough that professors often get to know your name and facilitate discussion easily within the class in a compelling way. Professors are always available during their office hours, and many often make the effort to help you in any way possible when seeing you one-on-one on these occasions. My favorite classes have been my creative writing classes, in which the professors allow me to be daring in my work, my work is critiqued by my classmates in a highly-constructive manner, and the professors' own critiques and encouragement have really aided my writing. I also loved my psychological anthropology class, in which we learned how self and identity form, how genetics and environment can contribute to the formation of one's actions, and how people create coherent narratives to make sense of the world. The topics were fascinating and the professor was an expert at everything she taught, as well as a great facilitator of discussion. Students do tend to be competitive at Northwestern because everyone is ambitious. No one is outright cutthroat though. The resources for becoming a top student are pretty much available to everyone, so by trying for it and commiting to it, being one of the top is possible. The goal of both students and professors seems to be to genuinely learn more about the world. Several classes, like Russian Literature and the History of the Holocaust are must-take classes, which many students choose to take for the sake of learning even if the classes won't help them toward obtaining a job. Though all students are competitive and want to do the best they can to get the best job, all tend to also be genuinely interested in this type of learning. My major's department--anthropology--is small, but the people there are exceptionally helpful and very interested in getting to know their students. I also am a work-study aid in the English Department, and English is one of the most popular majors on campus. Though the English Department may not get to know all its students quite like the very small Anthropology Department does, its faculty always makes an effort to be as helpful to its students as it can be.
There are a lot of campus groups that provide a place for people to express and assert their racial, religious, political, or LGBT views, beliefs, and identities. The campus is, generally, very open to anyone wanting to organize a group around a particular identity or belief. Predominantly, the campus is liberal, and many conservatives dislike the automatic assumption of most students that everyone shares their liberal viewpoints. Though the campus tends to be very open, students of the same nationality or ethnic identity tend to coalesce to form strong groups. This becomes at once an asset and a drawback because those who follow this tendency can assert their identity and be comfortable with others like them, yet they lose a more diversified array of friends they could gain if social groups on campus were slightly less homogenous. Many students derive from upper-middle class, wealthy backgrounds. Consequently, fashion on campus is often very stylish, especially for girls. Those who are less wealthy can feel a bit out of place when friends talk about their expensive iphone or Blackberry they've just purchased, or the years of travelling they've done in Europe. Less wealthy students are not lacking on campus, but their lack of wealth tends to be taken for granted. Additionally, many seem to consider a future job that makes them wealthy the pinnacle of their careers.
The Best Things
The balanced intellectual concern and interest of students outside of the classroom as well as their love of artsy performances and social concern.
The Worst Things
Definitely the food, though the fastness of the quarter system can be a bit rough, especially when teachers try to cram the workload of a semester into a quarter.