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What's the difference between UChicago and Northwestern?

MarinozaiMarinozai 517 replies44 threads Member
edited December 2013 in University of Chicago
So I've heard that the two schools are completely different. How are they different - what types of students go to UChicago? Northwestern? And why?
edited December 2013
8 replies
Post edited by Marinozai on
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Replies to: What's the difference between UChicago and Northwestern?

  • chigogglechigoggle 18 replies5 threads New Member
    The difference is that those who don't get into UChicago go to Northwestern.
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  • JazzedJazzed 251 replies10 threads Junior Member
    The above comment is of course absurd and I've never even known anyone who has applied to both schools because they are so different. The only thing they really have in common is their proximity to Chicago. UChicago is very intellectual, liberal artsy, quirky, writing intensive, etc. Northwestern is more pre-professional and seems larger and more impersonal, aided in part by the fact that there are specific undergraduate schools. It also has a large sports/frat scene, which is virtually nonexistent at UChicago.
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  • TheBankerTheBanker 262 replies8 threads Junior Member
    Suggest you visit both schools if you are seriously considering them, as they are complete opposites as Jazzed stated above. Go to NU if you are more interested in a traditional college experience and a more "practical" education; go to UofC if you are more interested in a liberal arts curriculum and intellectual experience. Though to be honest, the UofC experience has gone more mainstream in recent years. The Core is just as intense but I believe the grading has become easier, and the student body is definitely more "normal" than you would expect. If you don't care either way, then you might decide based on your field of study.
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  • JHSJHS 18503 replies72 threads Senior Member
    What Jazzed said is what I thought for a long time, too. And that line of thought was aided by the experience of two kids I knew pretty well who went to Northwestern and were disappointed by what they felt was an anti-intellectual atmosphere. One was a junior at Northwestern when my daughter was applying to college, and told her that under no circumstances should she consider Northwestern.

    After college (at Chicago), the same daughter was in a training program for a job, and she was randomly paired with a coworker who had gone to Northwestern, and who could have been her twin. Same major, very similar interests, same approach to things. They grew up and went to high schools about five miles apart. They had actually been in the same highly selective summer program at the same time, but different parts. It turned out they knew dozens of people in common, and had very similar personalities.

    This "twin" had loved Northwestern and felt completely satisfied with his education there, and he had done some very cool things. He had never even thought to apply to the University of Chicago, and in many ways he was as surprised as my daughter to meet someone from the University of Chicago who shared his intellectual and social interests.

    My point: As with most high-quality private universities, people are always emphasizing the differences, but the areas of similarity are enormous, and in the end probably far more important. Yes, Northwestern has a sportsy, fratty feel, and Chicago doesn't, and Chicago has a more uniform culture of intellectualism. But there are plenty of intellectual kids at Northwestern, and there are certainly sporty/fratty options at Chicago. It's really a question of how much it bothers or energizes you to be in a subculture rather than the dominant culture.
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  • empiricalempirical 95 replies6 threads Junior Member
    Maybe things have changed a bit. I personally applied to and was accepted to both schools, and know a surprising number of kids at UChicago who were also admitted to Northwestern. That being said, I've also met quite a few people who were admitted to both Northwestern and UChicago, and chose to go to Northwestern instead. I'd echo the sentiments that UChicago has gone more mainstream lately, but there's still certainly a more intellectual bent to the student body here. I'd say Northwestern gives a pretty cool state-school vibe while still being an elite institution (much like Duke and Stanford). If I had to separate the difference on a macro-scale (on average, and of course, not for everyone), I'd say that UChicago is more rewarding intellectually whereas Northwestern is more rewarding socially.
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  • uchicagoalumuchicagoalum 439 replies1 threads Member
    Normally I stress the commonalities between elite schools but NU alongside GT and Duke pretty much have a lock on the elite yet traditional college experience. Took ug courses during the regular term time at NU while doing internship nearby and found it to be a pretty stark contrast to Chicago. If I had to pin it down, there were more bright, well rounded types and a noticeable absence of students whose personalities and habits reflected an intense focus on intellectual persuits. The scale of the frat scene is also on par with a state school whereas Chicago's is smallish beyond the first year. There are many students at Chicago when I was there that had only experienced fraternity life - if at all - by way if a visit to a has friend at another school.
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  • rlmmailrlmmail 92 replies2 threads Junior Member
    I can only give anecdotal evidence, but my son was also accepted at both UChicago and Northwestern. UChicago had been his first choice all along, and he wanted to escape the Northeast, so he decided to visit Northwestern and just "rule it out" before accepting UChicago's offer. Virtually everyone who knew him saw UChicago as the perfect place for him, and for that matter so did he. But he surprised everyone when he re-visited Northwestern and UChicago by saying that he couldn't decide. Even though he is rather introverted and intellectual, he nonetheless enjoys spectator sports and college athletics and enjoyed the classes he visited there a lot. So for a full week, he simply could not make up his mind about two very different schools. He ended up choosing UChicago and has been very happy there, but this and the examples other people note here suggest that the decision between them, for some people at least, is not necessarily that clear cut.
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  • DGDzDadDGDzDad 479 replies23 threads Member
    I tend to think that "fit" is a bit overrated. Most kids are pretty adaptable. If they are bright and ambitious they will likely succeed wherever they are planted. Presumably, if they are in a position to be considering schools like N'Western and UChicago, they have done pretty well so far, and probably without much thought as to where they were going to attend high school. My D was planning to apply to both N'Western and UChicago and I feel she would have been happy at either place. But since she was accepted EA at UChicago, her preferred choice, she has decided not to bother applying to N'Western.
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