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Freshman answering questions

Crimsonstained7Crimsonstained7 Registered User Posts: 1,300 Senior Member
edited October 2013 in Northwestern University
So, I've got some free time this weekend, and despite our busy schedules, I still time find to just sit and do some stuff on my computer. I was wondering if anyone had any questions that they needed/wanted answers to about whatever. I'm only a freshman, but I've been here for over 6 weeks, and I'm kind of known for knowing random stuff about things I'm not even involved with. Also, if I really don't know and I can get the answer easily I'll ask.
Post edited by Crimsonstained7 on

Replies to: Freshman answering questions

  • CE527MCE527M Registered User Posts: 4,989 Senior Member
    Is Northwestern what you expected?
    What's your favorite/least favorite stuff about NU so far?
    Is there anything you wish you would've known beforehand?
    Are you happy with your decision to attend NU?
  • Crimsonstained7Crimsonstained7 Registered User Posts: 1,300 Senior Member
    Is it what I expected? I wouldn't say that. It's different than what I expected it to be in a lot of ways, but that's more college expectations in general than Northwestern expectations. Campus is different than I imagined it would look, classes are different than I pictured classes. I have one HUGE class (it's super popular for a good reason), and then three under 40 people. Definitely not what I expected in that sense. But did I get a good idea of what Northwestern life was like? I'd say so

    My favorite/least favorite? That's tough, because there's a lot of favorites and not a lot of least favorites. I guess my absolute favorite thing is how involved people are and how much stuff there is to do. You can ask an upperclassman what they do and you'll get a seemingly impossible list of an engineer who's a student government official, leader in a cultural club, and still seems to have all the free time in the world. It's really cool to see what people truly enjoy. The least favorite (discounting the weather since I'm from SC and it's already getting to our winter levels) might be the course load although, that's to be expected at a great school, so... I guess it's actually also that busy culture. It's much harder to find time to do a study group, hang out, or do anything simple because during the week people are busy (and even during the weekend). If I think of something else I'll definitely mention it.

    Anything I wish I knew beforehand? I think Wildcat Welcome prepares you pretty well for everything, but there are some things that no one can teach you. 1) Classes start pretty much right when they say they do. You don't have a "Oh lets get to know each other class" all the time. The first class might just be the syllabus and an intro to the class, but you will probably have homework. 2) When someone invites you to something, you can, in fact, say no. 3) Northwestern's campus doesn't feel big until you're walking it in 50 degree weather, and it starts raining a little bit which wasn't forecasted because nobody gets Chicago weather. 4) In a similar topic, the lake is pretty. It also means campus is windy. 5) Despite the fact that you could procrastinate in High School, you can not here.

    Am I happy? Beyond belief. NU is honestly one of, if not the, best decision I've made. Campus is beautiful (and winter will be a bonding experience), people are mostly friendly, there's clubs for everyone, academics are top notch, our football was good... For 4 games. Never mind, disregard that last point haha. Evanston is a really cool city, and Chicago's nearby (I'm probably going to Wicked with a friend, hopefully going to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at some point, among other amazing concerts. We saw Aloe Blacc for free in Millennium Park). The food here is actually decent quality (and sometimes actually very good). I don't have a bad professor, although I've only had 4, and I haven't heard many people complain about one. Honestly, I wouldn't hesitate to say it's the best school ever, but I am a little biased, and I've only been to one school :-D

    Hope that answered your questions, feel free to ask more, or rephrase if you didn't get what you wanted.
  • CherryleeCherrylee Registered User Posts: 25 New Member
    What dorm are you in? Was it your first choice/do you like it? And how easy is it to make friends?
  • oshay17oshay17 Registered User Posts: 15 New Member
    Does the quarter system make school more stressful? Do you always have a test or big project due because there is less time per class? Do people still have the time to do everything they want? How overwhelming is the workload?
  • AiwfcDCIAiwfcDCI Registered User Posts: 5 New Member
    Is there a large "competitive" feel on campus?
  • Crimsonstained7Crimsonstained7 Registered User Posts: 1,300 Senior Member
    I'm in Hinman, and it was my first choice. I still really like it; in my mind it's the best underclassmen dorm for me. We've got food Monday-Friday and it's one of (if not the best) dining halls. We have a C-store that's open on the weekends too, so you can use some other parts of the meal plan (equivalency meals and wildcat points) to eat on the weekends in your room if you want. The rooms are smaller than some, but honestly it's not something that I would worry about when picking a room. It's not a big deal if your room's a little smaller. We've got 8-10 to a bathroom of 2 of each (sink, shower, toilet, etc.) which is a much better amount than a whole hall to one bathroom. As for making friends, it's not hard at all. Wildcat Welcome is built to introduce you to a ton of people. You meet your PA group, your hall, random other people, etc. People are all pretty friendly. I'm pretty sure even at the end of Freshman year I could sit next to a random person at dinner and we'd just start talking.

    Quarter System... It's a love/hate thing. We get more classes than most people so it's easier to double major, we can get rid of a bad professor within 10 weeks, we start later etc. But more stressful, definitely. It's mostly just the fact that we have midterms... Like a lot. We've been in classes for less than a month and I have a midterm tomorrow. Honestly though, I'm not easily stressed out so even though it's stressFUL, I'm not stressed. People are involved in a lot of clubs (I'd say 3 is average) and still have time to get out. The workload is a lot, but you've just got to get used to time management. Do homework when you aren't doing anything else so when someone wants to do something you're free.

    Competitive. No, not at all. Whatsoever. I'm not pre-med so I can't speak to that (I've heard it's a little competitive, but not much), but everyone here works together. Everyone is friendly, like I said
  • CE527MCE527M Registered User Posts: 4,989 Senior Member
    Thanks for the detailed answers, Crimsonstained! So, how much time do you have to go into Chicago? My mom went to Northwestern and said she didn't have a lot of time to go until senior year, but that Evanston had a lot to do too. Still true?
  • Crimsonstained7Crimsonstained7 Registered User Posts: 1,300 Senior Member
    People actually go on the weekend to Chicago a decent amount, depending on the person, but I'm still kind of just feeling out Evanston. I'd say that if you want to do some things downtown it's not too hard to find a few people and just go out for some of saturday. During the week though, it's harder to make time for it, just because it can be an hour to get in with traffic. I'm planning on going in to the city to see some concerts and such, so I'll definitely be in Chicago some. The easiest way to get there (the free intercampus shuttle) doesn't run on the weekend haha. Definitely Evanston has a lot to do, especially in terms of restaurants. Between what Northwestern and Evanston offer, it's not like you're missing out if you don't go to Chicago that often. I'm making it a plan to get to Chicago during fall and spring quarter some so I don't feel bad when I'm too cold to go during winter haha.
  • nymomof3boysnymomof3boys Registered User Posts: 18 New Member
    Thank you Crimsonstained7 for all your insight. I am a mom of a child who applied early decision. The other schools he applied to all send a "checklist" of what may not be received in his application, for example teacher recommendation, or high school transcript, but NU only states, "we received your application and will let you know by end of November if anything is missing" This is particularly stressful since this year there are common app glitches, and he wants to make sure his application is complete (for example, ask a teacher to resend a recommendation) Just wanted to know if he should call NU admissions office and ask if it is complete, or does that sound desperate? And just wait? Thanks!
  • Crimsonstained7Crimsonstained7 Registered User Posts: 1,300 Senior Member
    I would just wait. You can go over the stuff that's required on the site, like the common app/supplement, transcript, teacher and counselor recommendation, test scores, and whatever other stuff there might be and think over if you did it or not, but if, as far as you know, everything's complete then you're all good. My counselor report was submitted late last year, and NU emailed me, I checked with my counselor, and she said she sent it the day before so it wasn't there yet. Everything worked out even though it was technically late. They're pretty accommodating about everything (other than obviously the common app and supplement being on time since that's the bulk of it)
  • afroalabamaafroalabama Registered User Posts: 35 Junior Member
    I have a question about the student culture of Northwestern. I go to a school brimming with a hodgepodge of different cultures, races, lifestyles and religions and I wouldn’t be surprised if Northwestern had a similar build considering the fact that the university has a lot more people than my 2-300 person high school. However, I’m very concerned about how people tend to divvy themselves up, if they even do it at all.

    I’m an African American student who is interested in being around all sorts of people at Northwestern. But I’ve heard the stories about the racist Olympics, the black face, the complaints about diversity courses, the eggs being thrown at Asian students and other negative anecdotes, and I worry if these incidents impact the way NU students interact with each other on a larger scale.

    Have you noticed the minority students segregating themselves into their own groups? Is interracial dating rare despite being near a diverse Chicago? (Actually I heard any dating at NU is rare. Ha.) Can I step on campus without being accused of getting accepted just because I’m black? I’ve had friends who got into Columbia and Yale get bullied over accusations like that.

    I’ve been very nervous about this for a while. When my mother tells stories about her days at Northwestern the people she mentions are usually, (if not always) black.
    I want to be involved in the African American scene but I don’t want to be confined to it. I would like to be a part of a melting pot culture in college, not a socially compartmentalized institution.

    So if you can give me some insight on this issue it would be appreciated.
  • amtcamtc Registered User Posts: 2,864 Senior Member
    I'm a mom of a graduate but I can answer some questions here - but of course it's different for each student.

    Chicago - My daughter went into Chicago three to five times a month and almost always by the El. She has a friend from home who's lived there for the past 6 years so she would go in to visit him and she also was very involved in the improv scene and so was often taking classes or performing in Chicago. It's very doable but certainly not necessary.

    afroalabama - The student body is very accepting at NU; you can be as segregated or intergregated as you wish. My daughter's roommate Freshman year was from Asia (but attended an American school there) and even though they are still really good friends and see each other frequently, she did join an Asian sorority and they stopped being roommates after Freshman year. Often when my daughter goes out with her old roommate and friends, she is the only Caucasian in the group. On the other hand, in her apartment junior and senior year there was a total intergration of roommates and friends. White, Hispanic, Asian, and Black. It's a liberal, northern school, you'll find whatever you choose to find.
  • Crimsonstained7Crimsonstained7 Registered User Posts: 1,300 Senior Member
    AfroAlabama, First of all, you are totally correct when talking about how diverse NU is. It might be less so than your high school, but it's one of the top in the US I believe (colleges on average are less diverse than high schools, as far as I know). I think that the statistic is 52% minority and international, but that's off the top of my head. I've got a guy from Pakistan, girls from Ghana and Brazil, and an Albanian-American (and maybe more people I'm forgetting) just on my floor of 50-ish people.

    Second, you are also absolutely right that there have been some unfortunate things happening on campus although I haven't heard what you're talking about with the diversity classes and the eggs, but know some other anecdotes beyond those. Some of the incidents were ignorant teenagers/young adults who were sheltered and don't really grasp how stupid what they did was (racist Olympics/black face). Others were obviously malicious. However, these are small subsets of the population. When you take 8000 students from all over the place, there's bound to be a few jerks, and some kids who are ignorant.

    Some students self-segregate to a certain degree, but from what I've experienced the majority do not. Even the ones who do don't view it as a little exclusive group, it's more just a natural social thing for people to hang out with people who presumably have a similar background. Like you said, dating isn't common, so I'm not sure on that one. I think I've seen less than 5 couples total so far and 1 was interracial, so it exists (small aside: people tend to want to date people with similar values, and people with similar values tend to view dating the same. I would say that you're more likely to date if your values reflect dating over hookups if that makes any sense). I don't think any students would object if they saw it. I don't think anyone would say you only got in because you're black. A small minority might think it, but I can't even see thinking it being common. I'm a Latino/legacy from a state that NU doesn't get a lot of, so if anything, I probably didn't deserve it, not other people haha.

    I came here for a multiethnic early program so I have quite a few black friends, but I think it's too early to say whether or not it's compartmentalized. It doesn't seem like it to me, but that's one view, and there's 8000 other views out there this year alone haha. One thing I can say is if you become too involved in the "African American scene" you might segregate yourself just because there's a lot of that scene to go around. Black frats, the "Black House" which is the African American student affairs office, many African American exclusive groups (I.e. Law groups, pre med groups, etc.) are all things here so I think you need to think about what you get involved in if you truly want that melting pot culture. I'm not saying it's a definite, but it's definitely possible to have your mom's experience if you aren't intentional.

    This is a tough issue, and one that I don't think any single person can answer (especially a freshman haha), but NU mostly seems very melting pot-ish to me so far, and I think if you hang out with the right people it will be exactly what you want. There's going to be ignorant people, and there will be some scum (look at the comments on the Daily Northwestern's article about the State of the Black Union event) but they are a tiny minority as far as I know. Don't let it dissuade you from applying; I have friends from every continent but Australia, pretty much every conceivable minority group, a lot of religions, etc. Also, AMTC's summation seems pretty accurate of what I've seen.

    As for Chicago, as AMTC said, Chicago is what you do with it. I'd make it a goal to go at the absolute minimum once a quarter, but there are some people that seem to go all the time.
  • AnonMom13AnonMom13 Registered User Posts: 87 Junior Member
    You mentioned your PA group (Peer Advisor group). How did that work for you? My friends daughter's PA group had about 8 people and she felt like these were the only 8 people she ever did anything with her first week and she wanted opportunities to do things with other people. Plus there was one person in the group who was somewhat divisive which didn't help. What was your experience?
  • Crimsonstained7Crimsonstained7 Registered User Posts: 1,300 Senior Member
    Well, PA groups are who you do the ENUs (the giant lectures on safety, alcohol, etc.) with, and you often eat with them, but I think that all the free time we had was enough to do stuff with other people. It really depended on the PA. Her PA might have made them do more stuff together, whereas ours was mostly just meals, and then the mandatory events. So I would say that the PAs should be told in training that the only things they can make mandatory are the mandatory events like advising, ENUs, etc. and some meals, because then everyone would be guaranteed the other free time. In terms of divisive people, we didn't have anyone in our group that was bad, but this one kid irritated me. In Weinberg your PA group is your Freshman seminar, so I now have a class with him for the rest of the quarter. Cool enough person, but he talks way too much. Just be glad she wasn't stuck with the divisive person for a whole quarter :-D
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