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Ask Me Anything!

cowboycliche022cowboycliche022 Posts: 224Registered User Junior Member
edited January 2013 in Northwestern University
Hey, guys!

As a seasoned CC veteran and a freshman at Northwestern, I thought I would reciprocate the support I received during my college search and application cycle by offering you guys the opportunity to ask me questions about the application process, life at NU, etc.

Keep in mind that I'm only a freshman, and we're also only JUST wrapping up first quarter. Regardless, I will do my best to answer your questions, and I'm sure that if I'm not able to personally provide you with a satisfactory answer, someone else on this site will.

Good luck with everything this year (and next, if you aren't a senior)!
Post edited by cowboycliche022 on
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Replies to: Ask Me Anything!

  • shoveldogshoveldog Posts: 19Registered User New Member
    Thank you!! Wow... Glad to see a post like this :)
    You could've already seen my post, but anyway I'm international senior from Korea, and have ED'ed for WCAS Business major (intended). I have a few questions in mind. Does Northwestern University have AAC members in South Korea? I have sent an admission interview email to the undergraduate admission site, and they replied that the deadline has passed. I browsed the net thoroughly and checked all publications from NU (at least those I have) and did not see any deadline for ED admission interview... strange...

    Also, some people say quarter system is pretty cool and provides students with myriad of opportunities, and others say that it is academically demanding and frustrating compared to normal two-semester programs. I personally believe in the former, but what's your opinion, as a freshman at NU this year?

    Oh and for intermural sports (basketball) do they have separate tryouts? I haven't seen them on the intermural/club sports website. It only showed me how to register a team as a team captain..

    Again, thank you so much for your effort!!!
  • jrparjrpar Posts: 2,083Registered User Senior Member
    Cowboycliche is the best source for your questions but I just wanted to point out that WCAS does not have a Business major.
  • shoveldogshoveldog Posts: 19Registered User New Member
    Oops my bad. I mentioned my academic interest in my commonapp future plans sectinon :P thank you for your clarification jrpar. I applied as Economics major then.
  • wildcatalumwildcatalum Posts: 349Registered User Member
    There's an Alumni Admission Council in Korea, but I'm not sure if it even does interviews (not all countries do it): Alumni and Admissions, Global Wildcats - Northwestern University Office of Undergraduate Admission

    Here's information on the NU Club of Korea NU Club of Korea | Northwestern Alumni Association. I'm not surprised there's an active presence there because there are a lot of Korean internationals who study at Northwestern.

    Not a current student but a recent alum. To answer your question about the quarter system, it's definitely intense because professors often pack a semester's worth of material into a quarter (except maybe the sciences). However, the upside is you get to take so many more courses. You are forced to learn the material as you go and not delay everything to the last minute. If you're bored with a class, it's done in 10 weeks. You definitely get your money's worth.
  • chinabluechinablue Posts: 742Registered User Member
    Here is a question for OP. What do you find unique about Northwestern? How is it different from any other top notch college?
  • cowboycliche022cowboycliche022 Posts: 224Registered User Junior Member
    @shoveldog

    No problem! I'm glad I can (attempt) to help. :)

    As jrpar said, there is no "business" major in the WCAS but rather an "economics" major. Basically, the administration doesn't want people to think that NU grads have experienced the same trite business education present at other schools. Rather, they'd like to convince the public that NU students have an in-depth knowledge of the inner- and outer-workings of markets, firms, corporations, etc. through their intense econ classes. Is the curriculum substantially different from that of other schools' undergraduate business programs? I doubt it, though I won't address this too much, as I'm not an econ major (I am in intro to macro, though, so if you have any specific questions about that, ask away!).

    As far as the AAC in South Korea goes, I really can't provide you with more information than wildcatalum has. Wildcat is certainly correct in proposing that perhaps the South Korean AAC doesn't even grant interviews. Regardless, I wouldn't worry about it; the fact that you've made the effort to secure an interview says a lot about your interest in the school, and honestly, I think interviews have a negligible effect on admission (that is, unless a SERIOUS red flag pops up during the interview, i.e. you start talking about how you have to leave in 20 minutes because you can't be late to meet with your weekly cocaine distributor). I never had an interview, and I was fine. The NU admission committee even states that interviews do not affect an applicant's admission decision: Admission Interviews: Office of Undergraduate Admission - Northwestern University.

    Wildcat has already provided you with some information on the quarter system, but I'll give you my own take. Honestly, even though most people say that the 10-week trimesters (fall, winter, and spring) force you to stay on your toes, almost everyone I know here procrastinates. Furthermore, these procrastinators don't necessarily do poorly in their classes; some get failing grades, while others end up 10 to 20 points above the curve. It all depends on your learning style. That is not to say, however, that the quarters move slowly; we started school over a month later than most other universities in the US, and we've already almost finished our second set of midterms, along with these other early-starters.

    Basically (and I know you'll probably hate to hear this), it comes down to the individual. I love the quarter system; it moves just quickly enough for me to retain the material I'm learning for my midterms, but it moves slowly enough so that I can afford to have "off-days" where I can hang out with friends or watch Mad Men on Netflix. I'll leave you with this, though: if you can't handle not finishing ALL of the work that is assigned to you, you will have a very stressful time here. Northwestern students (and college students in general, I suppose) learn to prioritize what needs to be done NOW, and what can be finished later, or skipped entirely. You'll get the hang of it when you get here, but it truly is an invaluable skill.

    Unfortunately, I can't answer your question on intramural sports, as I'm not involved with them. Hopefully someone else can step in here and give you the information for which you're looking.
  • cowboycliche022cowboycliche022 Posts: 224Registered User Junior Member
    @chinablue

    Northwestern was my first-choice college for a couple of reasons, which have been validated by my short time here thus far.

    First of all, the proximity to Chicago is fantastic and an opportunity that I urge you all to take advantage of, if you come here. Getting to the city (and by that I mean the Loop, i.e. the central business district with which people are most familiar) takes about half an hour on the Metra train, and it only costs $4.25. If you have more time to spare, the elevated railway system (known as the 'L' in Chicagoland) will get you to the Loop in about 45 minutes, but for only $2.25. My girlfriend goes to UChicago, so that's partially why I'm in the city so much, but there are a myriad of other happenings to check out; for instance, this past Friday, I was fortunate enough to see Louis CK's live stand-up tour (which I HIGHLY recommend to everyone on planet Earth, by the way). On top of that, there are hundreds of restaurants to check out, and a variety of unique neighborhoods to explore! I'm a little bit biased when I say this (I grew up in a Western suburb), but Chicago is my favorite city in the US, and I think that, if you come here, it will become one of your favorites as well.

    That's NOT to discredit Evanston, which is a unique city in itself! For those of you who don't know, Evanston is the first city north of Chicago (Chicago extends all the way up to the Rogers Park neighborhood, which is directly south of Evanston). Evanston is definitely a food mecca, and you'll always find students studying at the local Barnes & Noble, Panera, or Starbuck's. Furthermore, Evanston is extremely safe, despite any rumors you may or may not have heard. People only start running into trouble when they go west of the railroad tracks that run through the city, and even then, only if it's insanely early in the morning and/or they're acting stupidly.

    Another thing I love about NU is the intensity. Since that's a little vague, let me clarify: as far as academics are concerned (for me, at least), things are "just right." If you are admitted, the admissions committee thinks that you have the ability to succeed here; that is ABSOLUTELY true. Northwestern has its difficulties, but if you put in the time and effort, you will be rewarded greatly.

    Finally, I want to mention the student body here, as I perceive it. Northwestern has a reputation for being a "preppier" school, and you will find your fair share of that here. Honestly, though, if I had to describe my peers in a few words, they would be "laid-back" and "intelligent." I love the fact that, although academics are the main issue here, people don't dwell on them 24/7. Almost everyone I've met exudes a calmer vibe, and it really helps ease the nerves that result from starting college. Furthermore, people here are honest; when things are difficult, they ADMIT to their difficulty! It's almost sort of a bonding experience, whereas at other colleges (or so I've heard), arrogance gets in the way, and people refuse to admit to the difficulty of the material/assessments.

    Of course, all of the above is simply my opinion, but if I could leave you with a final thought, it would be this: if you already love Northwestern, chances are you'll probably only grow to like it even more upon arriving.
  • shasha101shasha101 Posts: 20Registered User New Member
    Thank you so much for taking out time to answer our questions! I was wondering how the difficulty of getting into WCAS and McCormick compares to the other NU schools. So which is the hardest to get into and the easiest. Also, I was wondering how stressful academics are at NU. Do you dedicate a lot of time to studying?
  • cowboycliche022cowboycliche022 Posts: 224Registered User Junior Member
    @shasha101

    Great questions!

    I'm most familiar with the WCAS (as I'm enrolled in it) and McCormick, but I really can't offer you any specific knowledge regarding the acceptance rate across the individual colleges. The WCAS is the largest college here, enrolling over half the NU student body, and my guess is that it's easier to get into than McCormick or Medill. I really have no information on SESP, SoC, or Bienen. However, one thing I'd like to point out is that if you are accepted to NU, it isn't particularly difficult to transfer to the other colleges, save for Medill and Bienen.

    One might ask, then, is it easier to just apply to the WCAS and transfer to McCormick if you're a prospective engineer? Maybe. Is it a hassle? Probably. But again, keep in mind that this is all pure speculation on my part; I really have no specific knowledge as to how the admission process works.

    As I stated before, I find the academics here challenging but definitely doable. Currently, I probably spend most of my time working on lab reports (they're due 24 hours after you finish the lab, which is a pain, but it forces you to get them done, which is nice). I usually don't start studying material for midterms until a few days before the actual exam, and that's worked out well for me thus far. I guess I just learn better all at once versus over the course of a couple of weeks. But again, the time you dedicate to studying is a personal choice. Here's the way I look at it: if I studied every single day, I would get burnt out and not learn the material as well. It's just something that I've never been able to do. I would much rather spend two or three nights before an exam studying A LOT than spread that work over a 7+ day period. Furthermore, those days that are not spent studying allow me to keep my sanity, and they also help me prepare to put in the work right before exams. I wouldn't go so far as to say that spending only ONE night before a midterm is sufficient enough to do well on it, but if you put in the work for a few nights, you should be fine. Keep in mind that I'm in mostly introductory courses, and this may change as you get older (upperclassmen/alumni can chime in here).

    If that didn't answer your question or you want to know something more specific about the workload, please, don't hesitate to ask; I want to make sure that I give you the information you're looking for.
  • Murphy600Murphy600 Posts: 473Registered User Member
    Hi cowboy, what about fun? What do you do in your free time in addition to going to the city?
    What is the frat scene like? Not sure I'm in to that. How is it with freshmen spread all over campus? I.e. no frosh quad
  • cowboycliche022cowboycliche022 Posts: 224Registered User Junior Member
    @Murphy600

    To be frank, I don't have much time for "fun." I devote most of my free time to talking with my girlfriend and/or visiting the city, which is my personal choice. The party scene here, however, is quite large. If you really want to meet people, be prepared to wander off-campus to the frat parties, where there is a lot of underage drinking and sweaty dancing going on.

    That being said, you can definitely find people who aren't into that and would rather watch a movie or go into Evanston on Friday nights. However, I'll repeat that frat parties/drinking dominate the social scene here, and the majority of students choose to engage in that behavior.

    Having freshmen on literally every corner of campus is kind of interesting. You will, of course, make friends with your floormates. However, you'll find that a lot of friends will also come from your classes, and they'll be spread out all over campus. This forces you to visit the other dorms, which I definitely think is a GOOD thing. Not only does it provide you with some much-needed exercise, but it also gives you an opportunity to connect with the people in the other dorms. It's almost like having a second (or third, or fourth, etc...) dorm to call home.
  • cowboycliche022cowboycliche022 Posts: 224Registered User Junior Member
    I feel that I should clarify something; although I have stated that I don't really study until a few days before each midterm, that's not to say that I'm not busy throughout the week. The reason I don't have much time for "fun," as I mentioned above, is because I'm either doing problem sets for calc, finishing up labs, reading for my freshman seminar, looking over that econ homework...you WILL have a lot of work to do, should you come here. That's not to say that the work is incredibly difficult (sometimes it is; mostly, it's not); you'll just probably have a lot of it.
  • NBCbyNatureNBCbyNature Posts: 19Registered User New Member
    Thanks so much for answering questions! I have a few:

    1) One of the reasons I love NU so much is the myriad of clubs and extracurriculars - I'm interested in so many, from the Daily and North by NU to different sketch/improv comedy teams (Mee-Ow, Titanic Players, NSTV). But most of the clubs seem very large and a bit competitive. Have you found any of the clubs hard to join, too much work to join, or too competitive to join? Do you have time for all the clubs you want to join in your schedule?

    2) This is a more personal question that I asked in a separate thread but it got no responses - I don't know if you'll be able to answer this, but: I applied ED to WCAS (wish me luck!), but I'm really interested in transferring to SoC's RTVF major and then picking up a double major in polisci at WCAS as soon as I get to NU (knock on wood). Then, I learned that RTVF maxes out at 90 students per class. Do you know how competitive it is to get into the RTVF major through transferring from WCAS? Also, have you heard of anyone transferring to another school within NU within the first or second quarter of the school year?

    3) I know you talked about frat parties and drinking dominating the social scene...that's not my social vibe really, so I was wondering if it was still easy to find other things to do on weekends/at night that don't involve binge drinking and frat parties. Did you find it easy to make friends at NU without going to giant frat parties?

    4) What's your opinion of the advising system at NU?

    Thanks again, this is super helpful :)
  • cowboycliche022cowboycliche022 Posts: 224Registered User Junior Member
    @NBCbyNature

    I like the numerical format!

    1. You're correct in that there are literally SO MANY clubs here to join. It's almost overwhelming, and I definitely recommend going to the activities fair during orientation week, should you attend NU. Currently, I have a work-study job at a lab and I'm in Peer Health Exchange, a program where NU students travel to Chicago Public Schools and teach 9th graders about health-related topics. That alone is a lot for me to handle, almost too much. So, to answer your question, I am unfortunately unable to fit all of the clubs I would like to into my schedule. Hopefully, as I become better at managing my time, I'll be able to fit some more extracurriculars in; it's just difficult, especially as a pre-med student. On a side note, my roommate is in Titanic, and he LOVES it! They do meet at some insane times (I'm talking 9:30pm-12:30am), but I guess it's necessary. I haven't experienced the competitive nature of clubs yet, though I'm sure that comes with the various a capella and improv groups. I can ask my roommate about it more, if you'd like.

    2. Good luck, and I really mean that!!!! Unfortunately, I'm not sure how difficult it is to get into the RTVF program from the WCAS. However, I do know a fair number of people who have transferred schools, even BEFORE arriving for orientation this year. Again, unless it's Bienen (or Medill, in some cases) you really shouldn't have too much difficulty transferring. That's not to say that you would be guaranteed the RTVF major, as it's contingent upon the number of people who have already been accepted. I suggest that, if you're accepted, you email the Dean of WCAS, Lane Fenrich, who is an awesome faculty member to get to know.

    3. I haven't been to a frat party yet, and I've made tons of friends, so don't worry about it! I live in Willard, and even just on my floor, there are a decent number of people who don't party. A lot of my floormates spend their free time going to shows on the weekend, and a few more still venture into Evanston and Chicago. Again, I don't have a lot of time to dedicate to recreational activities, but when I do, there's always someone willing to do something non-party-related.

    4. In WCAS, our advisors are our freshman seminar teachers. Because of this, I recommend that when picking your seminars, you choose based both on the comments regarding the class itself and the comments regarding the professor's ability to advise. Obviously, almost all of these professors have been trained to be advisors, but nevertheless, some are better than others. I happen to have an absolutely FANTASTIC advisor, and he has already helped me through a number of issues that have arisen this quarter. I obviously can't speak for everyone, but from what I've heard, all of the advisors are, at a minimum, competent; most rise above that.
  • NBCbyNatureNBCbyNature Posts: 19Registered User New Member
    Thanks, these answers are super helpful. If it's not too much of a bother, it'd be great if you could ask your friend what it's like to be in Titanic Players/how hard it was to get in. I'm super into improv and comedy so it'd be great to get some insight into that scene at NU.
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