Question about Northwestern

I know Northwestern is a great school, but can anyone with personal experience speak to whether it is a good school for someone who does not know what they want to do after graduation? My son is smart, very good at math, but does not have a clear direction. I’m worried that Northwestern is a school that doesn’t do a lot of hand-holding, less nurturing than a smaller school. Are there advisors? Someone to help with course selection, or if a student needs help with time management? Are professors accessible and do they take an interest in students? Or are most students so pre-professional that there isn’t a lot of chance for students to find themselves academically. Also, are students more competitive than collaborative?

Northwestern University is an outstanding school. Professors care. Advising available for those who ask.

No hand-holding.

Most–or, at least, many-- students probably do not have a specific career in mind.

In my view, the main concern should be in getting admitted to Northwestern University as the rate of admission is in the eight (8%) percent to nine (9%) percent area.

If an applicant needs–to use OP’s words–“hand-holding” then Northwestern University is probably not the best option even if admitted. But “hand-holding” is very different than being undecided as to one’s career or major.

P.S. If interested in a math & physics LAC, consider Harvey Mudd College or Williams College in Massachusetts.

The current President of Northwestern University–Morty Shapiro–was a long term President of #1 ranked LAC Williams College prior to accepting the position at Northwestern University.

P.P.S. If your son needs help with time management, then NU is not the right school, in my opinion.

Your concerns raise the issue of Why Northwestern ?

The state of Maine has three highly respected LACs–Colby College, Bates College, and Bowdoin College.

The Claremont Consortium in California offers Pomona College and Harvey Mudd College and three other schools.

After further thought, Haverford College in Pennsylvania may be the perfect school for your son. Small, intimate, tight-knit community. Strong in both math & physics.
@doschicos can help as this poster has a current student there.

P.S. Have you considered Carleton College in Minnesota ?

My daughter is an NU freshman STEM major. Publisher’s advice above is 100% spot on.

If a student needs a lot of hand-holding/time management support, NU is probably not the best place for them. IMO the admitted NU student is very independent, organized, and self driven.

The majority of support my daughter has gotten has been from her assigned peer group of other NU students in her major. The collaboration and support between these students has been outstanding.

She does have assigned academic counselors (who have been great), but when she has questions, she first reaches out to her peer group or peer mentor, who is an upperclassman in her college. She talks to her peer group often RE: selecting courses/professors, clubs, social activities, etc. and they have been so helpful.

As far as time management, she is using the same organizational skills that got her into Northwestern - skills she gained in high school. With a quarter system, you hit the ground running at NU, so not much time to retool your time management skills.

My daughter chose NU for its great flexibility in switching majors/adding double majors. In that regard, it is great for someone who wants to explore different majors/paths. However, the student needs to be pretty self-directed in exploring the various options through research, communications, class selection, clubs, internship, volunteering, etc. There are many counselors to advise on all this, but the student must be organized and self-driven in pursuing these opportunities.

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