BackgroundInterview Date:December 2018
Gender Identity: Female
Race/Ethnicity: East Asian
Graduation Year: 2021
Sexual Orientation: Straight
High School Experience: Public high school in Cusco, NJ with a graduating class of 520 students. There was a culture of going to college.
First Generation College Student: No
Major: Communication Studies
Minors: Asian American Studies and am doing the Integrated Marketing Certificate within Medill (the School of Communications).
Extracurricular Activities: Varsity athlete, I hold a leadership role for The .WAV Company, which is the music collective on campus.
Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience? In what ways?
Since I’m a varsity athlete, I was recruited before coming here. Being a student-athlete is a big part of my collegiate life. I have practice Monday through Friday and when we’re in the season, our weekends are spent with my team. My social circle revolves around my team when we’re at practice, the competitions, and hanging outside of classes.
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.
Is there anything you feel that the Communication Studies department does especially well or poorly?
This is my first quarter officially in the School of Communications, so I only have a general idea. For the few Communication Studies classes I’ve been in, the professors are always offering opportunities to be part of a lab, and there are other opportunities to meet with other people in the department.
Most of the student-athletes can say the athletic department does a really fantastic job making sure the student-athletes are on top of their coursework. Based on the experience of myself and my circle of friends, Northwestern does a good job at making sure there are tutoring services available for student-athletes, and they are always preaching about sessions you can go to. You have an academic advisor that you’re required to meet with once a week your entire freshman year, which is super helpful.
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.
How accessible have the professors in your department been?
They have all been fairly accessible. The only professor I ever had who wasn’t that great about getting back to me was a French professor last year. Other than her, the rest of my professors are super good at answering my questions. One even reached out to me on Twitter because he realized there was something wrong with one of my accounts, so that was super awesome.
Why did you choose your major? And are you happy with your choice?
I came into school thinking I’d be an Economics or Political Science major, but I realized that wasn’t for me. I had spoken to one of my teammates last year who is in the School of Communications, and she was telling me about the school and the different programs available. As I was going through the courses last year, I realized those are the type of classes I want to take. They seemed more interesting than your typical economics or history class. I personally want to do marketing and public relations in the future, so I thought being Communication Studies major would help to better prepare me for that type of job.
How was managing both your sport and coursework?
Because of the type of classes I’m taking as a Communication Studies major, the workload has been easier to manage in comparison to other student-athletes I know. When you’re traveling, it’s a lot easier to crank out an essay while you’re on the plane or bus than it is to study for a math midterm you have when you get back on Monday. Not having to submit problem sets every week, and taking classes where the only assignments for the whole quarter are two or three papers is easier to manage.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived during college?
Freshman: Elder Hall with 1 roommate, but she never showed up.
Sophomore: Lincoln Hall with 2 roommates.
How was transitioning from your hometown in NJ to Evanston, IL?
I live in a small town, but I’ve been around different areas of the country. Evanston isn’t exactly what my hometown is like, but it wasn’t that different and I didn’t have a really hard time adjusting to the campus, and Evanston itself. It’s easy to navigate walking into downtown Evanston. It’s a short walk from campus, and it’s not like you have to take the subway everywhere. If you need to take the bus, it’s pretty accessible.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
I feel super safe. The school is super well lit, and there are always people out and about.
What is your favorite off-campus restaurant?
Shang Noodle and Chinese
What is your favorite place to get away from campus?
I have friends who live in Chicago, so I can go hang out around the area they live in.
Pros and cons of being in Evanston, Illinois?
1) It’s super clean, nice, safe, and you never have to worry about getting away.
2) We are situated next to Lake Michigan, and during the spring when it’s nice out you can go out on the lake.
3) For people who don’t like the city but want access to it, getting to downtown Chicago is a very doable 30-minute ride on the L Train. If you want that outlet for culture and shopping, it’s an opportunity.
1) You’re in the Midwest where it’s really cold.
2) It’s in a very upper-class neighborhood, so if you’re a low-income student, it’s hard to find restaurants to eat at because everything is super pricy.
What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
I’ll help run the shows and concerts the music collective I’m part of puts on a few times per quarter. I’ll help run those. Sometimes we have them on campus, and sometimes they are at venues in Evanston. Other things I do would be going clubbing in Chicago, going to restaurants, hanging out with friends, and going to concerts. We don’t get to go that often because we travel so much. I regularly do things on Friday and Saturday night.
Can you describe a typical night freshman year versus now that you’re more established on campus?
I went out more often on the weekends to frat parties and bar nights. I would go anywhere there was a party to meet other people. I don’t think I’ve stepped into a fraternity house since freshman year. I kind of stick with my friend group, and instead of going clubbing we may stay in at a friend’s apartment.
How happy are you with the weekend activities or nightlife at your school? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I’m pretty satisfied. Every once in a while, it sucks when you have a $30 or $40 Uber charge coming back from Chicago because the L closes early. Even the stuff on campus I’m happy with, and I’ve gone to a few cultural student association events off-campus.
How did you meet your closest friends?
Being on the team, you spend pretty much every day with these girls. I was recruited with two of my club teammates back from home who I knew for four or five years already. Those were my closest friends coming in, but because you spend so much time with the team, I got really close with the other girls in my recruiting class. Being in a team environment makes them become your best friends. They’ve seen you at your worst and at your best. They also help you with your classes.
How would you describe the overall social scene at Northwestern?
I think it’s super separated. There are people in Greek life who tend to stick to other people in Greek life. Some of them will go their entire four years and not realize there are other social groups outside of Greek life, such as inner circles of lower-income students, or those in other cultural organizations. Everyone has their little group.
To what extent do you feel people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
I’ve found a wider variety of people come to these concerts I’ve been to. There are students of color and different socioeconomic statuses, but then you also have people from Greek life who enjoy going to some of these things. Going to parties or events that are hosted by non-predominantly White organizations, you’ll get a wider variety of students who have different interests and backgrounds. Some of the fraternity tailgates last year were made up of all White people. Me and two of my friends would be the only non-White people there which is uncomfortable at times. [The Class of 2022 is made up of 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?
I think the vibe between the socioeconomic backgrounds is very divided here. I came from a town that was predominantly White, but there were a lot more Asian and Latino students. Here, I feel like everyone owns a Canada Goose jacket, and the people here are definitely more well off than the town I came from. On spring break, there will be people that go to Cabo, or Europe, and I can’t necessarily do that. [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?
Despite all of the stuff I mentioned about the student body, I bet 50% to 60% are. I also know people who have graduated from here and are unhappy with their experience. They were unhappy by the fact that they were definitely outplayed because they didn’t fit in with the mold of most of the other students here. While they are grateful for the opportunity to take classes and have the network of resources to utilize, people have still had their personal gripes about the school.
How do you like the size of your school? How has the size of your school influenced your social experience?
I think the size is decent. At times, I wish I went to a slightly bigger school, but it’s fine. [There are about 8,300 undergraduates at Northwestern.]
To what extent have you used the career office? How helpful have they been?
I haven’t gone to career services itself, but I have used Handshake, which is their version of LinkedIn that connects you to internship opportunities.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
I didn’t go on an official tour of this school. I guess you should get a general idea of how the campus is. I know for some people they want things to be close together where you can walk to class. Maybe you want to have your car or a bike on campus, so take these things into account. Also, explore the college town itself because some people don’t mind only living in a college town surrounded by the university, but others want to live in their own bubble.
What is something a perspective athlete should know that we haven’t touched on?
The team dynamic is huge. Talking to a lot of friends who are trying to go through the recruitment process, a lot of them will choose the Ivy league school for the name. I always tell them to consider what kind of team that school has, what the kids are like, what do they do inside and outside the team, and what their relationships with one another are. A lot of girls who come to Northwestern and join the team have seen us at competitions and like the fact that we are very close with one another. They like how we act at competitions and are one cohesive unit.
What is something you wish you knew about Northwestern before you entered as a freshman?
I wish I had a better idea of what our practices were like, and what our team’s culture is. A lot of athletic teams differ from school to school and from sport to sport. Coming in last year, it was a bit different from what I was expecting. I envisioned what my other friends had gone through as student-athletes, but over the past year or so I’ve gotten to understand and enjoy it. I had a bit of a harder time adjusting to the type of dynamic our team has.
Reasons to attend Northwestern:
1) While I wanted to sign Division I, I also wanted a highly-accredited education. While I could’ve been Division I at other schools, to me the Northwestern name stuck out. I don’t have regrets, but I did care a lot more about the name brand in high school than I do now.
Reasons to not attend Northwestern:
1) The price tag is ridiculous. You could go to literally any other public school without paying the tuition here. Student-athletes have an attempt at getting a full scholarship, but I tell others it’s not worth applying here because you can pay half the price at other places. [Total fees add up to $75,758 per year.]
2) If you’re looking for a more diverse school in terms of race or socioeconomic backgrounds, we don’t have a ton of diversity. It’s here, but it’s not as blatant as other schools.
3) If you are 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.
4) I have never recognized it, but my other friends in the math or science classes say it’s super competitive, and people are always trying to one-up each other by doing extra stuff.
5) The mental health services here are not great. While I haven’t personally utilized the services, most of my team has. It’s understaffed, and they don’t choose solutions good for you, but ones that normally work better for the university and its name. [See Daily Northwestern article, “Schwartz: NU is grossly underfunding students’ mental health services.”]