- Class: Sophomore
- Major: History
- Gender: M
- High School:
- Transfer Student: N
A great thing about Northwestern is its size. I feel like I am always seeing people I know, but it never feels confining. Another thing about Northwestern is that while it is a good academic school, its name doesn't have the same cache as the Ivies or Stanford, Duke etc. When I tell someone I go to Northwestern, there is a strong chance they haven't heard of it, and many of my classmates report similar experiences, especially those from the East Coast or the South. I don't see this as a positive or a negative quality. In a typical day, I'm liable to bounce all over campus, hitting classes, the library, the gym, the student union, my dorm and my fraternity house all in one day. Evanston is an interesting college town. Its got tons of great restraunts like Buffalo Joes, Flattop Grill, and staples like Chipotle and Chilis, but it only has a handful of bars frequented by students. Its not all about the college in the way places like Lawrence, KS, Athens, GA, or Ann Arbor, MI are. Many normal residents call Evanston home and some of it is quite upscale. Also, Northwestern makes a concerted effort to reach out into the community and provide services to its youth and other citizens. Its proximity to Chicago is convienent. While Evanston is relatively safe, its not completely isolated either. There have been some instances of crime, but its nothing to worry about as long you are aware. Northwestern's administration is fairly aloof. I never have contact with them, but the academic advisors and some other services offered by the university are fantastic. Unfortunately, school pride is not too prevalent at Northwestern. I think that while most people are happy here, a lot of minor griping goes on and our lack of success in the revenue sports hurts our ability to create school spirit. While we have been tremendously sucessful in some of the other sports, it doesn't generate much student interest.
Classes are challenging at Northwestern. Unless you are just incredibly gifted, you should come in expecting to work hard. That being said, if you put in effort, good grades are extremely manageable, at least in the liberal arts classes I take. I also find most of my Northwestern classes to be very interesting, and I think most people here would agree. I am a history and philosophy major, and am looking into a business minor. I find that I learn an incredible amount in my classes, but sometimes the quarter system makes it feel rushed and provides a tense atmosphere. Still, I like the fact that we switch classes every 10 weeks instead of every 16. Some students are close to their professors, although I haven't fostered more than a few relationships. Many professors make an effort to know everybody's name. Of course, my Modern Cosmology professor couldn't learn almost 500 names, but my Intro to Macro professor impressively learned upwards of 200. Professors are required to hold office hours, and I have found most to be approachable, willing to help, and interesting people, although there are a few exceptions. By far the strangest class I have taken at Northwestern was a Freshmen Seminar called Searching for ET: Science and Strategies. It was a class devoted to learning about the search for aliens, and we pretty much discussed far flung theories every period and then threw up our hands at the end and said "who know?"
Northwestern students are in general, hard working, down-to-earth people. Some might even characterize it as a lack of creativity, and its true that we have a very "by the book" mentality. There is an incredible diversity of talents here too, and some individuals have blown me away with their capabilities. I have a friend who is a brilliant engineer, a phenomeneal writer, and terrific musician. Such a person is not atypical. Also, eveyone here is incredibly fit. I guess part of the hard working mentality is manifested in the fact that many people excercise regularly. I personally love the fact that so many people share my enthusiasm for intramural athletics or pick-up basketball. The only type of student who I think would feel left out or more accurately, dissapointed, here was someone who came in expecting a big, state-school atmosphere. If you are hoping to slack and just party for four years, Northwestern is not a good fit. I think Northwestern is a reasonably diverse and tolerant campus, though people are always striving to make it better. Its quite possible that I am blind to some of those problems. Students are not nearly as wealthy here as I expected. I'd say that most people are the children of middle class working professionals, but not many are the heirs of fortune. There is a diversity of backgrounds as well, and I know many who rely on substantial financial aid to attend Northwestern. While students come from all over, Northwestern has a very strong pull from the Midwest, where along with Wash U, it is a top private school. Students from Illinois represent the largest number from any one state.
The Best Things
The fact that almost every student is motivated to learn and get the most out of the college experience
The Worst Things
The weather, period.