Hi! I was recently admitted to Northwestern as a transfer student from the University of Michigan, and am seriously considering whether to transfer or not. I would be entering as a sophomore. The problem is, I am scared to transfer and start all over. It would be great if people could give me reasons Why (or Why Not) Northwestern? My main problems with UM are that it feels too big; classes are too big, and there is no sense of school-wide community outside sports. I felt like a number there, and I just didn't love the school. I'd also like to be nearer a big city (like Chicago). Help me out!
I know both NU and Tufts well. Both are great schools, as is UM.
Clearly, both will have a more intimate feel than UM (Tufts, which has the intimate feel of a liberal arts college, even more than NU), if that's what you're looking for.
Both have great school spirit and community feel, but in different ways.
NU's school spirit is a bit more typical than what you'll find at Tufts, in part due to the fact that NU is a Big Ten, Division I school, which i personally think has a big impact. Tufts' school spirit is less about competitive athletics (attendance at football games, for example, is really low), and more about a sense of it being "cool" to be smart and into education and a lot about community service, with an eye on what it will take to improve the world.
Tufts is a quick walk and T ride into Cambridge, or even Boston. Boston (as in greater Boston) is one of the great college towns in the country, but it is much more provincial than Chicago.
Chicago is much more cosmopolitan, like NYC, but much more manageable and less intense. And Evanston is a great college town too.
I suspect much will depend on what you are studying too. Tufts is a very strong school; i would give most of its academic areas A or A-. Its Int'l Relations and pre-med curricula are among the very tops in the country.
I would probably give NU marginally higher "grades" - probably As in most areas (although Tufts is better for IR).
Okay. I considered NU and Tufts this spring as a first-timer, and here's what I thought:
NU is a half hour to an hour and a half outside of Chicago (take the Metra in, it's waaaaaay faster than the El). It also has excellent academics, and you can take internships for credit during the regular school year. There's a ton of school spirit (even if they aren't exactly top-notch across the board), and it's a nice size. Not too big, not too small. And the campus isn't ridiculously spread out, which is nice. I also liked the vibe there-- most of the students seem to be pretty relaxed, and there's a lot of variety. It didn't seem really high-pressure in the same way that east-coast elite schools seemed when I visited. There's definitely a ton of ambition at NU, but it isn't to the point where everyone's pulling a Hermione and camping out in the library -every- night.
Tufts is suuuuuuuuper quirky. The people are cool, nice, laid-back... and a bit odd. Not a bad thing, but it's definitely noticeable. The experimental college is a very cool idea, I don't see many colleges that have quite the same set-up on the same scale. Medford is a decent place to be. Not grand, but not too bad. Boston is a great city, too, but do keep in mind that it's not the midwest--there's definitely a difference, and some people might be drawn more to one or the other. Tufts has great academics as well, especially for international relations--they have a full in-house exchange program set up in... Switzerland, I think, which means you can intern at, say, Swiss watchmaking companies for business, or study whatever courses... in Switzerland. Very seamless, if I recall the admissions bit correctly. Tufts isn't 'elite,' for purposes of describing the experience. I heard a bit from someone attending, and they told me that the student body really isn't crazy or cut-throat or busy jumping off of bridges because there's so much pressure. It's very open and friendly. And quirky.
>> NU's school spirit is a bit more typical than what you'll find at Tufts, in part due to the fact that NU is a Big Ten, Division I school, which i personally think has a big impact. Tufts' school spirit is less about competitive athletics (attendance at football games, for example, is really low), and more about a sense of it being "cool" to be smart and into education and a lot about community service, with an eye on what it will take to improve the world.
Compared to UMich, at least for D and her NU friends (many are Theatre and Music majors), competitive sports are barely on the radar, while her Theatre and Music friends at UMich find the culture there is VERY focused on sports. I can't compare NU to Tufts, but I might have said the school spirit at NU is more about more about "a sense of it being "cool" to be smart and into education and a lot about community service, with an eye on what it will take to improve the world." ;-D