You Do Not Have to be Perfect to be Perfect for Northwestern
By Alicja Ramotowski
Located in downtown Evanston, Illinois, Northwestern University is situated on a very walkable campus with two private beaches, three gyms, lakeside halls, and six dining halls with an unlimited meal plan for all students. That’s right; it’s unlimited. The university is in a college town-type community but remains close enough to Chicago to enjoy the benefits and opportunities of a large city. Downtown Chicago is just 50 minutes away by train. There is also an inner campus shuttle that goes from the Evanston to Chicago campus and is free to all students with their ID cards.
There are plenty of ways to enrich your education and community involvement at Northwestern. The Chicago Field Studies Program is one of the ways students can get involved in their community. This is a program that builds an internship into the curriculum of any Northwestern student. You get paired with a business organization in the Chicago area in your area of study. It is a great way to gain job experience and see what a job in the field looks like. For those interested in clubs and extracurricular activities, Northwestern has many of those as well; there are over 500 student groups on campus. Some of these include the Happiness Club, which gives hugs and high fives or brings puppies to the school library during finals week to help students de-stress. One of the admissions representative’s personal favorite groups was the cheese appreciation club. A student a few years ago proposed the club to the school board and asked for funding. Sure enough, a grant was given, and now the group meets once a quarter and eats fancy cheeses, all expenses covered by Northwestern.
Some of Northwestern’s traditions include a rock that used to be part of the fountain which, for 24 hours every year, can be painted any way by anyone on campus. Another tradition is Armadillo, otherwise known as Dillo Day, which is a music festival organized by a group called Mayfest. The festival is free to all students and is very popular among the Northwestern population. In previous years, the event has even featured performances by Chance the Rapper and 2Chainz. Another anticipated tradition is the “prime of screams.” On the Sunday before finals, the whole campus stops all work for one minute and everyone makes their way to the windows, opens them, and as the name implies, screams.
Northwestern school spirit can be felt in clubs and traditions, but it doesn’t just stop there. Northwestern University is a Division I athletics school. It is the smallest and only private school in the Big 10, and adding to the excitement, students have free access to all home athletic events. If you like being active but are not interested in Division I sports, Northwestern offers club sports that travel in the area as well as intramural sports which is open to faculty and staff.
Northwestern’s campus is welcoming and there are many opportunities to get involved in the community. Freshmen have many chances to meet new people and acclimate to the new environment. All students must live on campus for the first two years. Northwestern prioritizes community spaces. Although, its community spaces are not very big, because of the close proximity everyone hangs out together and gets to know each other.
Northwestern has $3.5 million set aside for undergraduate research. This means you will not be competing with graduate students or other faculty for that money. The funds go to a variety of studies, including one research project conducted by a group of students that hid in bushes with a boombox and blasted music when a squirrel came by to see which way it ran. Northwestern is a university in which you will work hands on and get exposed to different experiences. As in many other schools, study abroad is popular at Northwestern. There are opportunities to study on 6 different continents andin 55 different countries.
When applying to Northwestern, you apply to one of the six schools: Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, School of Communication, School of Education and Social Policy, McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications, or the Bienen School of Music. Northwestern offers over 190 academic programs spread out amongst the six schools. The university also offers career help for various majors to help you figure out which path is right for you. This aid is extremely important, especially considering that most of their students apply as undecided. Ambitious students can even triple major if they so choose; however, this can be a daunting task as the school runs on a quarter system. This means that instead of having two semesters per year, there are three quarters. This allows students to take eight to 10 classes more per year and allows for studying abroad, taking experimental classes, or even taking a quarter off for an internship. Northwestern is also flexible with the completion of credits to fit your interests. For example, a math credit can be received without taking a straightforward math class like calculus, and instead with a class that focuses on logic.
Applicants to Northwestern University use the Common Application. After completing the basic application, students are asked to write 350 words answering a “Why Northwestern” prompt. There are many aspects of choosing a college, so it is recommended to just be as honest as possible, and as the Northwestern representative said, “go beyond location.” This year, students are also asked to explain their most important extracurricular activity in addition to the “Why Northwestern” statement. There are two ways to apply to Northwestern. The first is early decision. Applications are due Nov. 1. In the case of acceptance, students are considered “binded” to the university. Early decision applicants were notified of a decision around Dec. 15. The other option is regular decision. The deadline for regular decision was Jan. 1, and applicants should hear from Northwestern before April 1.
When reviewing applications, admissions counselors at Northwestern compare the rigor of your schedule to the courses offered at your high school and do not compare across other schools. Those at the informational meeting were also cautioned not to try to say too much in their college essays and to really cut it down to the most important essence. Other important factors include the way extracurricular activities are presented and the teachers you ask for a recommendation because those are the realest and most trustworthy accounts admissions representatives receive. Letters of recommendation tell the reps about your character, whether you ask for help, work well with other people, and whether you would be a good candidate who would contribute to the culture being built at Northwestern.
Northwestern only offers need based aid, but is very generous, having given $174 milion in need based aid this year alone. There is a chart on the Northwestern financial aid website where students can see how many students around their same income received aid in previous years as a general indicator of what they can expect to receive.
Northwestern University is a great school with a beautiful campus, school spirit, and many opportunities both on and off campus. The admissions representative stressed that there is more to admittance than a perfect GPA and perfect test scores and revealed that he rejects such applications every day. So even if you’re not perfect, you should certainly consider applying. You never know what may happen.
Undergrad Population: 8,278
Male to Female Ratio: 49.5:50.5
Student to Teacher Ratio: 7:1
Percent of Financial Aid: 61%
Endowment: $10.46 billion
Location: Evanston, Illinois
Acceptance Rate: 13%
Graduation Rate: 93%