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Northwestern University

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Date: Dec 21 2004
Major: Political Science (This Major's Salary over time)
So much to say, so little time to say it.

First, like all universities, Northwestern has its pluses and minuses. I've read a lot of the reviews on this website, and every college, no matter what the preconvceived reputation, seems to be loved by some, hated by others. So, although my own experience at NU wasn't great, I'll try to breakdown the pros and cons.

SIZE AND LOCATION - Northwestern is a good size for undergrads, not too big, not too small (right under 8,000 undergrads). This allows for both familiarity and a chance to be involved in a wide assortmenet of activities. I thought Evanston was a great place to go to school. Beautiful city, lots of good restaurants and shopping. Plus, Chicago is at your fingertips, only a short train ride away. Evanston is fairly diverse, and has recently undergone a major transformation in its downtown making it much more urban.

Cambridge (MA) of the Midwest
may be a stretch, but it's come a long way. City is now fairly dense and has a lot to do (theaters, coffee shops, bookstores, etc.)

BUT - Evanston is a little bit too pricey. Very upscale, especially now. Doesn't really feel like college. Wine bars and professional hangouts rather than true college hangouts. A few more down to earth hangouts would suit the university well.

Beautiful campus, good facilities, including dorms, right on Lake Michigan.

A uniformly good academic school, if a bit overrated (like most schools in this age of prestige rankings). NU, at least in the social sciences when I was there, is not so much intellectually difficult as it is work intensive. The terms are short, and there's always midterms and/or papers in addition to the final. Therefore, something major is always aroung the corner. Can be a bit stresstul, but if you stay on top of it, will do fine. Not a slackers school.

The student's I found who had the best time time at NU were the ones who were enrolled in its most reknowned departments (theatre, communications, journalism.) Ovbivously, the business school (Kellogg) is highly regarded, but the undergrad program is underdevelped. Other than Econ and Sociology, the social sciences are middling (most respected, but none amoung the top ten in the nation). No matter, most students are geared toward i-banking, consulting or grad school, so major matters less than GPA. Having said that, NU is a real pre-professional school. Hard work for the sake of good grades for the sake of a good job (nothing wrong with that) instead of hard work out of intellecutal curiosity.

Engineering and premed are very good programs. Like I said, no big academic weaknesses.

I had a wide range of experiences with professors and classes. Classes range from quite large auditorium lecture classes to small seminars. Profs can be complete arrogant assholes who are not available, or can be sincere and accomodating. You have to be political about it and try to get in good with your professors. Although there are TA sections in most classes, almost all classes are tought by professors

Administration is fairly typical. Frustrating to deal with, but that's normal. Financial aid is good (NU has a lot of cash), but can be difficult for those who are stick in the middle of not being from a wealth family, and not being poor enough to qualify for a lot of aid.

So, overall, a good expereince. But knowing what I know now, I always tell people that unless they are so obsessed with prestige that they have to go to Harvard, Amherst, Yale, Northwestern, etc., or unless they have a very specific area of study they want to pursue in a specific program (e.g. Penn's undergard business program), then go to a good state school, and save your money for a prestigious grad school, or just save it period.

There is some diversity even though the percentage of Blacks and Latinos is low (and much lower than when I attended. But overall not a diverse place. Class diversity is much more of an issue, in my opinion. NU is a rich kids school, which is simply a fact, neither good nor bad.

Being a kid from a normal middle class family in the midwest, I really fell out of place at NU. Didn't have the right clothes, talk the right way, go to the right prep school, etc. I met a lot of great people, and things got better, but simply not for me. So, I don't want to call NU snooty or stuck-up simply because of my own then-insecurities, but let's call a spade a spade. NU's bitchy, snooty and arrogant. This is particularly manifested in the frat'sorority system, which is large, but given the breadth of the metro area, there's always other things to do.

A lot of pros and a lot of cons. THINK BEFORE YOU GO.

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