Upenn or Northwestern?

Hi Everyone,

I am beyond shocked and humbled to say I have to decide between Northwestern, where I committed, and UPenn, where I just got in off the waitlist. I’m utterly confused and lost.

I am interested in becoming a journalist when I grow up, but that may change, so I want flexibility. I got into Medill at Northwestern (the journalism school) and the college of arts and sciences at UPenn. I am the first person in my high school to get into NU in over 7 years, and about 15 at UPenn.

I know both places are amazing academically, and I will receive a great education no matter what. At the same time, I recognize that UPenn is an “ivy league,” and Northwestern is not, but that won’t impact my final decision too much.

Anyways, my number #1 priority in a college is most certainly … the people. I want to be around really kind, friendly, and intellectual people who love to learn. I’m not too into greek life or partying. I just want to be around people who are down to Earth, hard working, and humble. I want a lot of friends and a strong sense of community.

As of now, I feel like the people at Northwestern seem kinder, but I don’t want to make snap judgements about entire school populations. I also know UPenn has an AMAZING newspaper, so I’m sure the community is good.

Any thoughts?

For journalism, Northwestern Medill is the easy choice. Medill encourages students to double major in Weinberg (Arts & Sciences). Easy to switch majors & schools at Northwestern.

Northwestern has a fairly spectacular setting in a Chicago suburb on Lake Michigan, while Penn has Philadelphia.

Penn’s overlap schools: Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Harvard, Stanford, Yale, Georgetown, & Northwestern.

Northwestern’s overlaps: Yale, Stanford, Harvard, Michigan, UPenn, Princeton, WashUStL, & Duke.

Intellectually & academically, both are powerhouses.

For down to earth, humble, hard-working, kind, friendly & intellectual people, I would lean toward Northwestern University, but both are full of bright, driven, hard-working students.

If you need or crave the Ivy League label, then UPenn is the choice; but, for Ivy League academic quality, students & endowment, both are fine.

For academic flexibility, Northwestern is clearly the better choice.

P.S. If you find UPenn’s newspaper to be amazing, then try to implement changes / adjustments to Northwestern’s newspaper to match those aspects which you most enjoy.

Overall, UPenn and Northwestern are, for all intents and purposes, equivalent in prestige, ranking, and admitted student stats.

Medill is one of Northwestern’s most prestigious programs, whereas at Penn, Wharton overshadows the rest.

They both tilt pre-professional, but I think you’re right that the “learning for its own sake” demographic may be a little better represented at NU.

Membership in the Ivy athletic league doesn’t automatically make a school better or confer more opportunities. Northwestern most likely has more clout to launch a journalism career.

If you really have reasons to like Penn better (like, for example, you strongly prefer the Mid-Atlantic region to Chicago), it’s a great choice too. But don’t choose it a) because it’s an Ivy or b) because they amped up the excitement of the acceptance by playing hard to get. Northwestern is every bit as much of a score and very likely a better fit for all the reasons Publisher described.

Thanks so much for your thoughtful response.

NU does have the best undergrad journalism program in the country, which is great because I am very, very interested in pursuing a career in media. However, I don’t know if I want to stay confined to journalism to such a strong extent. Like you said, Northwestern does encourage cross disciplinary studying, and I could envision myself pursuing a major/minor in Weinberg too, but I would still be housed in Medill.

Also, what I just learned tonight is that Penn has a journalistic writing minor, which, while it does not provide the same sense of community as Medill, which is 180 kids a year, it covers some of the same topics I would imagine.

And, thirdly, I would be lying if I said I don’t crave the ivy league label, but I am mature enough to know experiences are more than titles. Four years is a long time, and most of all, I want to be happy.

@aquapt Thanks for your response.

Yes - Medill certainly has “clout” so to speak.

I think the way you phrased it is exactly what I am looking for (“I think you’re right that the “learning for its own sake” demographic may be a little better represented at NU,” is.") THAT is what I am looking for in college: people who love to learn and are motivated.

I would also like to point out that my older sister goes to UPenn; she is going to be a senior in the Fall, so it may be nice to be close to a family member, especially since college, like life, can be hard at times.

Penn is also much closer my house and parents, but these are only considerations, not strong reasons to go to one school or another.

Another vote for Northwestern. In journalism, it just has deeper training and network (e.g., Matt Murray - WSJ editor in chief, Dave Weigel - one of the top political journalists in country, and Derek Thompson). Can easily double major in Weinberg too.

It’s akin to someone wanting to go into business having been admitted to Wharton.

It’s not like Annenberg is a slouch communications program at Penn. I think the main thing is whether you want to be in Chicago or Philadelphia. Both great cities and both awesome schools. Congrats.

Please let us know what path you choose. Best wishes!

Hi everyone! It was an agonizing decision, but I ultimately decided on Northwestern. It seemed to fit me better as a person, and I could easily double minor or double major in Weinberg too due to the quarter system, which I LOVE. The vibe at NU just seemed to fit me as a person perfectly. I understand it’s not an ivy-league school, but I don’t really care about that! I just want to be at the place that suits me best, that I know I will have the academics I seek, and the people I want to meet. My heart and journalist inside me told me NU all the way! So … go 'cats!

@Threedegrees - there is your answer!

I am glad to hear that you chose NU. My nephew is going back to school in a few weeks after studying online for the fall quarter. He’s very excited. NU has a strong combination of academics/professional network/Division 1 sport/nice college town with proximity to major metropolis. Congratulations!

I wanted to add that NU offers many certificates across colleges - The Kellogg School, which is top rated globally, offers a certificate after you take a few business courses which will come in handy in any career. Definitely take advantage of that!