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Boston College vs Northwestern vs Wesleyan

Transplanted2002Transplanted2002 6 replies1 threads New Member
My son got into his top 3 choices - Northwestern, BC, and Wesleyan. Financial aid was similar at all. He wants to have access to a city and a school with school spirit around sports, which puts NU and BC more in the lead. He's a laid back and somewhat shy kid, looking for a strong chemistry department, participation in intramural or club sports, interesting social life, and a place where he can make friends for life. He's not particularly interested in Greek life. Any thoughts from alums, parents of kids who go to these schools or current students at these schools on which might be a better fit?
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Replies to: Boston College vs Northwestern vs Wesleyan

  • carshoes227carshoes227 68 replies3 threads Junior Member
    Congrats to him! I am currently a student at BC and this is just my personal opinion based on what I have experienced. BC definitely has school spirit as the sports are D1. There is lots of turnout for football games and especially hockey games. There is no greek life, as you probably know; I have found that even for those who are excited at this idea of a lack of Greek life, it does have an impact on the social life. Most of the social life, especially for freshman year, is dorm room hangouts, which is a plus and minus for different people, but they are often shut down. Because of this many BC students choose to venture to other Boston schools as it is not easy for younger students to find things to do on campus (but gets easier as you get older). I do find there is a bit of a "BC bubble" of kids wanting to stay on campus but as you say he wants a city there is a T Stop right near by and lots of fun things in Boston to do not far away. I have family and many friends who have gone to NU and love it. Obviously I have not been there so I do not know as much but I do know from what I have heard they have great school spirit and you do not need to join Greek Life to have a social life. The people that have gone there that I know have had fabulous experiences. As mentioned before this is just my personal knowledge and opinion but hope it can help him get closer to a decision!
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  • PublisherPublisher 11193 replies146 threads Senior Member
    edited March 30
    Northwestern University is on the quarter system. Little down time, but opportunity to take more courses. Serious, but fun & intellectually curious student body. Has a beach or two on campus on Lake Michigan.

    Northwestern University is more like an Ivy League school than it is a Big Ten school.

    Possible negative: Due to quarter system, it lets out a bit later in the summer. Not sure if any effect on internships.

    My first reaction: Northwestern University at the same price as the other two options is a steal. But, life is not so simple.

    NU has a healthy Greek community.

    Different level of student at Northwestern University than at BC or Wesleyan. Could be good or bad depending upon how much one wants to kick-back & enjoy college life.

    Northwestern is more diverse than BC, and more moderate than Wesleyan with respect to political correctness.

    Northwestern University's overlap schools are: Yale, Stanford, Michigan, UPenn, Princeton, WashUStL, & Duke.

    Boston College overlaps are: Harvard, BU, UPenn, Virginia, Northeastern (Boston), Notre Dame, Villanova, & Georgetown.

    Wesleyan University's overlap schools are: Brown, Tufts, Vassar, Yale, UChicago, Swarthmore, NYU, & UCal-Berkeley.

    No Greek life at BC, minimal Greek life at Wesleyan, substantial Greek presence at Northwestern.

    P.S. FWIW I do not see the typical BC student being comfortable at Wesleyan as BC leans conservative & Wesleyan is quite liberal. Northwestern students are just hardworking, busy, & brilliant.

    For an interesting social life & making friends for life: Really depends upon the person as different types will fit in at each school.
    edited March 30
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  • Transplanted2002Transplanted2002 6 replies1 threads New Member
    @carshoes227 @Publisher - thank you so much for your insights and thoughtful responses! Much appreciated!!
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  • circuitridercircuitrider 3728 replies181 threads Senior Member
    No notes. Your son will be very happy at NU.
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  • Ali2343Ali2343 29 replies2 threads Junior Member
    Hello! I am a current NU student. I had NU and BC as my top two choices not once but twice! I applied to tranfer out of NU my first year and got into BC a second time but ultimately decided to stay. I think this puts be in an interesting postion because I know what (for me at least) I like and dont like about NU because I have thought about it extensively. I despise the quarter system. It is the worst thing for me at NU and I would probably wholeheartedly love NU if it were semesters. Be aware that the NU quarter is crazy. 10 weeks long and most students take 4 (sometimes more) credits. As a chem major, your son will have a pretty tough course load. For example, past two quarters I have taken "4 credits" of class but 6 actual classes, three "normal" full credit classes (like orgo/math/spanish/etc) and three 1/3 credit classes (two labs and a dance class). This can lead to a deceptive courseload. The chem department is a little rough around the edges and later classes I know can be hard to deal with. I am not a chem major but I have some friends who graduated/ will be graduating with chem majors or minors so this info is from them. Depending on AP credit or placement from the placement exams for NU, your son will either be in gen chem (two quarters of class with lab) or in orgo (three quarters of class and two quarters of lab) in his freshman year. Overall academically, if your son is extremely motivated, prepared, and has good time management/study skills, he should be fine. The quarter system is not for everyone and I personally think it is the bigest thing to consider about these schools when deciding.

    NU has a pretty active social scene both in and outside of greeklife (less than a state school but more than most T20 universities). I am in greek life myself and I have enjoyed it. It is not as crazy intense as other schools, and it really is what you make of it. I have friends not in greek life that go to parties for various clubs or sports so greek is not the only way to be social, bit I would say it is pretty big on campus.

    The campus is pretty nice, and dorms are ok (half are very nice half are old) and I have made a lot of friends pretty easily. I have a pretty good knowlege of a few different things when in comes to NU (STEM classes, distros, requirements, clubs, resources, advising, greek life, etc) so feel free to reach out with any questions.

    Hope this helped!
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  • Transplanted2002Transplanted2002 6 replies1 threads New Member
    edited April 1
    @Ali2343 - This is incredibly helpful! Thank you so much for taking the time to help us figure all this out! If you have time, I do have some additional questions for you. Ultimately, why did you decide both times to stay at NU? Was something lacking at BC? What about the Chemistry dept is rough around the edges?
    edited April 1
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  • Ali2343Ali2343 29 replies2 threads Junior Member
    @Transplanted2002 Of course! np school hasnt started back up for me yet so I'm free to help. The first time it was mostly for the prestige of the school to be completely honest, My older sister goes to an Ivy Leauge school and I was rejected/waitlisted to all that I applied to so I felt I needed to "prove my worth" which is possible the WORST way to decide where to go to school haha I am not very proud of it. The second time around, it was a decision I made talking with my dad (I am actually Legacy at BC which may be the only reason they accepted me twice). At the time I made the decision the second time, I was in a better place mentally and academically at NU so I was less "anti-NU" as I was when I applied to transfer. In addition, not all my credits would transfer. Additionally, one of my fears with BC is that it is a Jesuit school and I am not a very religious person, which is slighty intimidating. From my understanding, there are a lot of people at BC who are not religious and there are some facinating theology classes you can use to fill that requirement. In the end, I dont think I personally "fit in" very well at either of these two schools and thats OK because no matter where you go there are always people that are off the norm or standard of the school. I think BC is a wonderful school, and I LOVE the boston area (I applied to almost every school in Boston and didnt go haha) the campus is gorgeous and those I have met are extremely nice. I have never taken class there and the last time I visited was as a senior in HS so its been like 3 years. Trying to find a BC student could be helpful if you know anyone but I hope that helped at all haha.

    As for Chem at NU I cannot fully speak to the program, I am a Bio/ Math pre med (I used to be in the Integrated Science Program but I dropped out of that), so I am taking my last quarter of Chem at NU this spring. Chem classes are just genuinely very hard and for grad school/PhD chem programs, you are expected to do research fairly early on. The struggle comes with trying to balance the classes with the labs with life. I did take the "Organic Chemistry for Chem majors/minors" class, which is nice because it generally separates out the mass of pre med students who take the other course offered. I appreciated that because I had better access and relationships with my professors and TAs. I know that a few of the courses have "god awful professors" but I will be honest with you in saying EVERY major at EVERY school has a least one "god awful professor" and thats just someting you deal with in college. I will say the prof for the first quarter of Orgo this fall was AMAZING and I actually wrote him a letter of rec for a teaching award because he helped me improve so much (i got a 47% on the first quiz but rose my grade up to an A-). So there are definately good professors too!

    Let me know if you need clarification on anything else!
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  • Transplanted2002Transplanted2002 6 replies1 threads New Member
    @Ali2343 - thank you so, so much!
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  • Ali2343Ali2343 29 replies2 threads Junior Member
    edited April 1
    @Transplanted2002 my pleasure! good luck to your son wherever he ends up! All are great schools and he will have a great time anywhere!
    edited April 1
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  • Bill MarshBill Marsh 502 replies5 threads Member
    I live near Wesleyan and know kids who’ve gone there, so I’ll try to fill in the gap. I’ve been to Northwestern but don’t really have any other first hand knowledge of it otherwise. I have a daughter and a niece who went to BC and have nothing but good things to say about it. But I’ll focus on Wesleyan since others have spoken about BC.

    Science is one of the things that Wesleyan does really well. Research opportunities are not just available. Students WILL be engaged in research with a faculty mentor. Although Wesleyan is a small LA college, it’s on the larger side for these schools (3000 undergrads) AND it has a graduate school in science. A student can spend 5 years there and graduate with a BA/MA in Chemistry. There is also a PhD program in Chemistry. The point is that there is research going on at Wes. On a related note, they have an entire College of the Evironment.

    As for student life, there are D III sports at Wesleyan, the football field is a hub around which the rest of the campus is built, Bill Belichick went here, and they have great athletic facilities. But there is not a rah rah sports culture here. They certainly have intramural and club sports.

    The student body is definitely liberal. The school is not in or near a big city although Middletown has a great restaurant scene and some live music. Hartford isn’t far and big music acts play there. New Haven is also easily accessible. It’s half way between NYC and Boston, so they are accessible for day trips.

    Have you visited the 3 schools? Admissions at any of the 3 will probably make faculty and students available to answer questions and just tell you about the place.
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  • 3sonsmom3sonsmom 364 replies0 threads Member
    My son is a sophomore Biochem major at BC. He plays club soccer (started sophomore year) goes to football, hockey and basketball games. The science classes are challenging with class and lab work. So definitely his share of homework! That is the only school of the three I am familiar with. Congrats on great choices.
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  • Transplanted2002Transplanted2002 6 replies1 threads New Member
    Thank you! Great info. We did visit all of them, but we were hoping to visit one more time to make the final decision. One tricky thing is that we live very close to Northwestern.
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  • Bill MarshBill Marsh 502 replies5 threads Member
    Thank you! Great info. We did visit all of them, but we were hoping to visit one more time to make the final decision. One tricky thing is that we live very close to Northwestern.

    In this corona virus world, when you have a great option close to home, I’d stay close to home every time.
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