Impressions Of
Northwestern University

Academic Experience

Female Russian Language and Literature Major on Pre-Med Track C/O 2021

How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
In general, the university is very competitive. For me, my department is super collaborative, and I’m good friends with my classmates. We work together and form study groups. But, it’s very different on the pre-med side where everyone is trying to be at the top of the class. Everyone wants to outdo their classmates, saying they have more work to do or got less sleep. Everyone is trying to be the one doing the most, but it does depend on what department you are in.

How has being on a quarter system impacted your coursework?
Part of it is really nice because you get to take as many classes as you want, and you aren’t just limited to classes in your major or minor. You get to explore, but the pace of the course is a lot faster than it usually would be. For the more difficult classes, it can be hard to keep up sometimes. You essentially do an 18-week course in 12 weeks.

Female Communication Studies Major C/O 2021

Can you describe your weekly coursework for Communication Studies?
It’s a lot of reading with not many large assignments. We have smaller weekly tasks such as blog posts. Depending on the class, you either get smaller assignments or two big essays.

Is there anything that you feel the Communication Studies department does especially well or especially poorly?
They capture every side of the broad major, such as digital marketing and persuasion. They do a good job at guiding someone who doesn’t know exactly what they want to do.

How has being on a quarter system impacted your course work?
It feels like as soon as you start the class, it’s over. Syllabus week is more so one day. There is a break after each quarter, which makes it hard to get back into the mindset of being in school.

Female Communication Studies Major C/O 2021

Can you describe your weekly coursework for your major?
For the classes I’ve been taking I spend around two to four hours per week on work. Obviously, if finals week is approaching, I’ll spend a little more time in the library. The majority of my assignments are papers or presentations. I’ve taken written exams, but my classes are mostly essay or collaborative presentation based.

How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
It depends on the classes you’re taking. For me personally, the Asian-American Studies classes are definitely collaborative. I’ve never had any issues asking someone for help, and everyone seems very eager to help me with stuff. Personally, I haven’t felt stressed out being in a competitive environment. I’m not one to get rocked over who the other people are in the class, so that doesn’t affect my learning experience.

Social Opportunities

Female Russian Language and Literature Major on Pre-Med Track C/O 2021

What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
I think I speak for a lot of pre-med students in that my weekend life is mostly spent at the library. We have a joke here that you are either a Nerdwestern or a Northwasted. You are either the person who goes and studies on a Saturday night or one who goes to a party and socializes. You have the option to party, but depending on your major and course load, sometimes there is not time to do it. With the quarter system, you almost have a midterm every week.

What do you like to do with your friends?
When I do see my friends, I’m more of the type of person to have a chill hangout. A lot of people do go to parties or the one bar we have, but my friends and I like to hang out in an apartment. No matter what you like to do on the weekends, you can find your friends here. I hadn’t felt the pressure to go out and party when I didn’t want to.

Female Cognitive Science and Economics Double Major C/O 2021

What’s an alternative to going to a party or a bar that you like for a night out?
There are lots of school-sponsored events in the evening. Aside from plays and student productions, something is coming up called B-Fest, which is a night at the student center where there are movies and free food. There was also a concert in the fall that was completely free, organized by a student organization. I’ve also been to more themed events. Last year for Mardi Gras there was free food, and you could make a stuffed animal in the student center.

How has identifying as LGBT influenced your nightlife experience?
I’d say it hasn’t influenced my nightlife experience. Usually, I go out with friends, and it’s not significantly different from being straight. Everyone is very accepting and welcoming about it.

Male Biology Major C/O 2021

What kind of weekend activities nightlife do you like to participate in?
I don’t drink do any drugs because of my religion, so I usually enjoy going to the library. I also like to play basketball and exercise with my friends. If I do that, it’s usually Friday nights.

What are some of the activities you like to do on campus?
There is a Christian club here that offers family-friendly events. I don’t go because I feel as they [can be too focused on Christianity]. There will also be movie nights put on by the school which help students who are looking for sober nightlife.

 

Campus Culture

Female Russian Language and Literature Major on Pre-Med Track C/O 2021

To what extent do you feel people of different races and sexual orientation mix socially?
It’s pretty good here. In general, we seem to gravitate to people that are similar to us, so there are groups made up of similar races, sexual orientations, and similar backgrounds. There are lots of opportunities to meet people who are different than you. It’s a diverse school which is something a lot of people like. The majority of students are open minded and down to make friends with anyone they meet.

Do people generally seem happy with their college choice by senior year? Do people love your school?
I think people wouldn’t be here if they weren’t committed to Northwestern. You have to work hard to be here, and it isn’t something you can breeze through. Lately, people have spoken out about the lack of mental health services on campus. We have a high suicide rate here, so people are upset that if you go to counseling services they will turn you down because there isn’t enough faculty to satisfy the demand. The competitive culture is bad for us, but we are advocating for a positive change to make things better.

Female Cognitive Science and Economics Double Major C/O 2021

How has the size of your school influenced your social experience?
It’s not a huge school. I think it’s a good size and campus feels cohesive enough. It’s never unmanageable, and when you bump into random people in classes that you might not know, you realize you have mutual friends. It’s large enough that there is always something to do, but small enough that there is a good community. [There are about 8,300 undergraduates at Northwestern.]

How strong is the LGBTQ community on campus?
The community itself isn’t super out there, but the general student body acceptance of the LGBTQ community is really good. I haven’t felt unsafe regarding my identity here. Maybe the community itself isn’t very closely knit, but people are mostly friends with whoever.

Female Communication Studies Major C/O 2021

How would you describe the overall social scene at Northwestern?
I would say it’s two-sided. It’s either “Nerdwestern” or “Northwasted.” Sunday – Wednesday, everyone is grinding or having weekday social, like projects or dinner. The rest of the time it’s Northwasted. The noise doesn’t really die down until around 3 AM in my dorm on the weekends.

To what extent do you feel people of different races and sexual orientation mix socially?
I feel like it’s still not as integrated as it could be, but I think that it’s a lot better than other campuses. If I’m at a Greek life party, it would not be one race, but it’ll still be predominately White. Northwestern is really open toward different sexual orientations. If you are LGBTQ, I feel that this a good place to go. [The Class of 2022 population is 13.5% Hispanic or Latino, 1% American Indian or Alaska Native, 23.5% Asian American, 10% Black or African American, and 56% White.]

Evanston, IL

Pros of

  • “We are situated next to Lake Michigan and when it’s nice out you can go out on the lake.”
  • “It’s close enough to Chicago to access its resources, but far enough to not be in the middle of a big city.”
  • “It’s super clean, nice, safe, and you never have to worry about being able to get away from campus.”

Cons of

  • “The campus itself is a little isolating. The STEM courses are in the north part of campus and the Humanities classes are in the south part of campus. I wish there was a place with a little bit of everything.”
  • “You’re in the Midwest where it’s really cold.”
  • “It’s an upper-class neighborhood. If you’re a low-income student, it’s hard to find restaurants to eat at because everything is pricey.’

Advice for Prospective Freshmen

Female Russian Language and Literature Major on Pre-Med Track C/O 2021

What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
You can contact a professor in your desired major to sit in on a class which is a good way to get a feel for what college is like before coming.

What is something somebody who identifies with the LGBTQ community should know that we haven’t touched on?
Everyone, including gay people, are definitely accepted here, which is something I appreciate. It’s not a place where you have to be in the closet or nervous about sharing who you are. Of course, there will be people who discriminate against you, but in class and talking about my sexual orientation has been accepted. They have resources to meet other LGBTQ students, and if you are having any issues there are people to reach out to that can help you through them.

Female Cognitive Science and Economics Double Major C/O 2021

What is something you wish you knew about Northwestern before you entered as a freshman?
The quarter system is a blessing and a curse. Depending on the classes you might have a midterm every week, and there are only ten weeks in the quarter, so the last half is constant testing.

What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
There are a few secret places around campus. The Shakespeare Garden behind the Technology Institute is a nice spot that can be easily missed.

Female Communication Studies Major C/O 2021

What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
It’s worth checking out the Mudd Library in North Campus.

What is something you wish you knew about Northwestern before you entered as a freshman?
I wish I knew how rigorous the quarter system would be. I like it because I can graduate sooner given how many credits it lets you get through.

What is something that we haven’t touched on that a prospective student should know?
It’s really important to say no to certain things. There is so much going on that you will want to do, but you have to be okay with not doing everything. We only have so much time, so being able to say no to specific opportunities is important.

Reasons to attend and not to attend Northwestern University

To Attend

  • “There are lots of opportunities here. We have excellent courses and professors, but it also provides connections for internship and careers in the future.”
  • “The student body is amazing here. The people are friendly and accepting. People are passionate about what they do and there seems to be a lot of love on campus.”
  • “People are well rounded and engaged in a variety of interests, hobbies, and academic subjects.”
  • “It’s position in relation to Chicago. Whenever you want to experience something you can hop on the train.”

To Not Attend

  • “If you’re someone who suffers from seasonal depression and the cold affects you, I wouldn’t come here because it’s cold most of the year and the seasonal depression is very real.”
  • “The mental health services here are not great. It’s understaffed.”
  • “The culture of having to work all the time and the feeling that you have to be better than other people.”
  • “The workload is intense. You need to figure out how hard you want to work because a lot of students struggle with this.”
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