An Interview On
Northwestern University

Background

Interview Date:December 2018

Gender Identity: Female
Race/Ethnicity: East Asian
Graduation Year: 2021
Sexual Orientation: Bisexual
High School Experience: Public high school in California with a graduating class of 600 students. There was a culture of going to college.
First Generation College Student: No
Majors: Cognitive Science and Economics
Minor: Business
Extracurricular Activities: Executive board for my residential college, a competitive ballroom dance team called BLAST, and Students Consulting for Nonprofit Organizations.

Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience? In what ways?
The Student Consulting Organization has given me some insight on what I want to do in the future career-wise, while equipping me with skills I wouldn’t develop in class. Being on the dance team is a good social community that I’m happy to be part of. It’s a big-time commitment as well, upwards of 10 -12 hours per week. It’s been a great way to stay fit, build a good community, and have the discipline to manage it outside of schoolwork.

Academic Experience

Can you describe your weekly coursework for your majors?
For Economics, there are practice problem sets every week. It depends on the class but usually they aren’t that difficult and you can work in groups.

For my Cognitive Science classes, there aren’t usually problem sets. There will be a lot of readings, but we typically don’t have homework to turn in.

How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
I think it’s pretty collaborative. I’ve never been in a situation where I felt it was particularly competitive. Compared to my high school it’s pretty laid back and cooperative as a whole.

What has been your favorite class so far in your majors?
A Psychology course called Relationship Science. The professor is engaging, and the readings are interesting and easy to get through.

What has been your least favorite class so far in your majors?
An Economics class. None of the homework was required, so it’s hard to find people who want to do the work. It was poorly structured.

How accessible have the professors in your department been?
They are generally really accessible. Professors and TA’s have office hours, but sometimes there are scheduling issues on the TA’s end.

Why did you choose your majors? And are you happy with your choice?
I picked my Economics and Cognitive Science majors because I was considering going into business after high school, so I figured this would give me a good background for my career field of choice. I’m pretty happy with my choice so far. I feel that economics gives you a strong analytical and quantitative background, while cognitive science has allowed me to dig into more social sciences while getting a more traditional arts and sciences type of education.

On and Around Campus

Where have you lived during college?
Freshman: Ayers with 2 roommates
Sophomore: Ayers with 2 roommates

Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
I’ve never felt unsafe on campus. I often see the campus police parked around, or driving through just patrolling. Last quarter I heard about a few issues of girls being harassed near the sorority quad, but I’ve never experienced it personally.

What is your favorite off-campus restaurant?
Joy Yee. An Asian restaurant that is a short walk away from South campus.

Pros and cons of being in Evanston, Illinois?
Pros:
1) It’s perfectly positioned in relation to Chicago. It’s about an hour train ride from the heart of Chicago, and public transportation is convenient and cheap.

Cons:
1) It’s positioned in an expensive area. There is a patch around Northwestern that is more expensive than it has to be.
2) There aren’t many things to do in Evanston as a city.

Social Opportunities

What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
I go about once a week. As a member of the Ballroom, Latin, and Swing Dance Team, I often go social dancing in Chicago. There are a few bars in downtown Evanston, like the Mark II Lounge, that holds events. There are usually events going on around campus like plays and productions.

What do you like to do with your friends?
I like to cook with my friends. There is a pantry on each floor of our dorm, and sometimes you can get ingredients from the dining hall. It’s also nice to just hang out in a friend’s room.

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.

Campus Culture

What have been your favorite times at Northwestern?
On a broad level, dancing has been my favorite part of my college experience. If I had to pick one thing at the moment, I’d go with Dillo Day put on in the Spring where you can go out to parties and see different artists. Classes are also more lenient after this weekend.

How did you meet your closest friends?
I met a lot of them by being in my dorm. At the beginning of last year, a lot of people on the floor ended up hanging out together.

How would you describe the overall social scene at Northwestern?
I think it’s pretty good. There is a good mix of people wherever you go. The engineering school may be more close-knit than other schools, but you get to know people all over campus, in classes, organizations, and the dorms.

To what extent do you feel people of different races and sexual orientation mix socially?
It’s pretty easy for people of different races and sexual orientations to mix, aside from some things such as Greek life that may be more homogenous. [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.]

How would you describe the student body?
Northwestern has a reputation for having wealthy students which makes sense for why it has expensive tuition. From what I’ve seen most students are down to earth, and interested in a variety of things. You can’t just look at an engineer and think they will be one dimensional in any way. They could be involved in Greek life, or a dance team, you just never know. [The median family income of a student from Northwestern University is $171,200 and 14% of students come from the socioeconomic top 1%.]

Do people generally seem happy with their college choice by senior year? Do people love your school?
I think most people are happy with Northwestern. It depends on what you’re looking for. I have a friend that is unhappy with Northwestern, because she was happy with the competitiveness of our high school and thought Northwestern was too laid back.

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.

Careers

Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
I’ve been to events sponsored by the alumni association which have indirectly helped me. They hold panels with Alumni in different fields.

To what extent have you used the career office? How helpful have they been?
They hold a lot of events throughout the year. You can drop in or schedule appointments to talk about interview preparation, work on your resume, or look for a job. They are generally very helpful.

Have you learned any computer programs or computer languages that have been or will be especially helpful professionally?
There are Excel classes sponsored through the business department, so they are kind of subsidized. They are useful if you are going into fields that use Excel. As a Cognitive Science major, I’ve picked up some programming and am hoping to focus more on AI. I’ve had to use Photoshop and Illustrator for some of my organizations.

Advice for Prospective Freshmen

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.

What is something somebody who identifies with the LGBTQ community should know that we haven’t touched on?
A lot of people use dating apps, and I’ve heard good things about it if you’re looking to date around the school. It’s generally accepted, and you won’t have to worry about being shunned for your sexual orientation.

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.

Notice: Northwestern University is a trademark. Induck uses it for descriptive purposes, not to imply affiliation with, endorsement from, or sponsorship by Northwestern University.

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