Northwestern University
Evanston, IL, USA

Reviews

Northwestern University
4.26 Average Rating

Aurora from Madison, WI

accepted here and planning to attend soon
4 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
In three sentences
Northwestern is an extraordinary university with incredible opportunities across many fields.

Northwestern's location is excellent, with Chicago just an L ride away, and all of the culture and metropolis close, but not abrasive.

Northwestern campus creates a beautiful environment that fosters creativity.
Tips for prospective students
Start your essays as early as possible, and have as many people read them as possible. Do not take the SAT/ACT more than twice. Northwestern is really looking for an excellent person aside from simple a 36 or 1600 on one standardized test.
Academic Rigor
Northwestern has a very rigorous environment.
Dorm Life
I have not yet stayed in a dorm, but my friends at Northwestern say that the dorms are very comfortable and community-oriented.
Food and Dining
I have only eaten in the student center, but I presume that the food in the dining halls is also nutritious and tasty.
What to do for fun
I am not yet sure, but I assume you should go to sporting events and join clubs.
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jeremy from naperville, il

researching this school
4 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
In three sentences
the campus is absolutely gorgeous, and all of the professors, secretaries, and students i had met on the trip were wonderful, driven people. hearing about the opportunity that this school gives to it's students allows me to feel a sense of how much each student in northwestern is cared for. everyone at northwestern would not want to be anywhere else, and neither did i.
Tips for prospective students
get involved in something that will make your academic narrative exceptionally unique. the students who are the most open minded and well rounded will gain perspective on many levels and a gain in perspective is a new way to seek knowledge and creativity.
Academic Rigor
the students and professors at northwestern understand hunger for knowledge and desire for creation. they want to see success in all of the students, but that means that they will receive an amazing, rigorous education.
Dorm Life
from what i had the chance to see, the dorms seemed nice. there were no complaints about them.
Food and Dining
i have heard time and time again that the dining at northwestern is unbelievably great. for a university, that is absolutely outstanding. very few universities have great dining with great variety of foods. northwestern university is one of those schools.
What to do for fun
the city is right there! chicago is a wonderful city full of culture and excitement. as someone who has lived nearby and been many times, i love chicago more and more with every visit.
on campus there are many clubs and sports to be a part of.
Bang for the buck
rated #2 in illinois for best value, northwestern gives a ridiculously amazing educational experience that a price tag could not be placed on.
Share any unusual traditions or locations on campus
there is a rock that often gets spray painted by various clubs that was once a fountain but since has become an object of expression and spirit. also, it has become a tradition to tape fliers to the ground in order to advertise events because where else do we tend to look while we walk but the ground in front of us?
Great for these types of students
students who crave a fantastic academic experience and only allow excellence are fit for northwestern. but, of course, they should not take themselves too seriously, because northwestern offers a friendly and supportive environment.
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Naomi from Chicago, IL

a current student here
4 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
In three sentences
This is a very academically rigorous school and the quarter system doesn't make it any less challenging, if anything it makes it more difficult. However, this doesn't take away from the school. Everyone here is so passionate and welcoming, no one wants to see their classmates do poorly and people are always willing to help one another out.
Tips for prospective students
Take advantage of free time to get ahead on school work. Quarters go by fast and before you know it you have three midterms in one week and not enough time to properly study. While stressful, with the quarter system you get through classes you may not like faster.
Academic Rigor
Classes here are fast paced and difficult. The professors are super helpful if you are willing to seek out help and there are many places to get assistance if you need it.
Dorm Life
Some of the dorms are super nice, new, and clean. Others not so much, but the community in all of them is great and makes even the bad parts of dorm life fun!
Food and Dining
Overall the food is awesome! Way better than most colleges (we're ranked #4). There is always a wide range of foods to choose from and you can usually go a whole week without having the same thing twice.
What to do for fun
There is always a play, show, or event going on around campus. Weekends are always fun as after a week of stress people want to cut loose! Never a dull moment here.
Share any unusual traditions or locations on campus
Burger King is open 24 hours, you can imagine how amazing this is.
Great for these types of students
Any type of person can be happy here. If you're a hardcore studier you can do that, if you like to go out you can do that too. There are so many different types of people here and everyone is so accepting of whoever you are and whatever you want to do.
Clubs and Activities
There is a club for anything you could possibly want to do or learn how to do. While some clubs are hard to get into, most are very accepting and want new people to join.
Greek Life
Very big here, not your typical kind of greek life though. It's more lowkey and accepting of people, but it is a very big deal here.
Campus Safety
Between cops, NU security, and saferide you will always feel safe here.
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Allison from Port Barrington, IL

a current student here
64 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
Am learning a lot
If you can to learn, you will. The professors don't spoon-feed information - instead, they give you the tools to learn the subjects yourself. Also, just hanging out with people (students, and sometimes students hang out with professors) helps you learn; generally, the students here are smart, and so casual conversation topics sometimes teach just as much as a class lecture.
Am enjoying being here
Northwestern offers so much to students that it seems like too much. There's plenty of different social scenes (Greek life is a big one, but you don't have to be in a frat or sorority to be social), plenty of arts and entertainment, hundreds of student groups, opportunities for work, research and internships, volunteer groups, easy transportation, great dorm life... The professors I've had were generally really accessible, too. Again, the problem with all the NU offers is that it's hard for someone to have a job, be in a sport, be in ten extracurriculars, double major, volunteer, do research *and* have a normal social life without getting three hours of sleep and having no time to eat or relax.

A problem I've encountered is that the course listing is difficult for freshmen. Upperclassmen and declared majors get class registration priority, so freshmen and undeclared majors have slim pickings when it comes to classes. I haven't met anyone who got into all the classes they wanted to.

I'm ambivalent about the quarter system - it's nice that you only have to take four classes at a time, but when you take a class you like, it's upsetting because it's over so quickly. It's also nice that you get to go back to school in September, but on the other hand, you have to stay around until June.

It's really easy to get distracted with all of Nortwestern's small faults when you get used to all it has to offer.
Bang for the buck
It's an expensive school. My financial aid was great, but I imagine that the people who pay five times as much as I do still enjoy it here. It costs a lot to go here, but there are plenty of perks, like the shuttle services that go to Chicago, shopping centers in Evanston, and across the big campus (the Evanston campus is like almost mile long), the meal plans and fairly decent dining halls (there are six dining halls, but there are a lot of retail locations like Starbucks where you can use your meal plan), the nice dorm life (rooms can be small, but the buildings are nice and generally have a lot of social events)... A lot of people rationalize the price by saying that they're paying for the Northwestern name on their diplomas, but the school would probably be worth it even if it wasn't so prestigious.
Tips for prospective students
Push yourself if you can, but do it for the right reasons. The people who enjoy their time the most here aren't the ones who just got straight A's to get into college - they did well because they enjoy doing well. Try to be well-rounded, but maybe concentrate your interests on whatever college you're interested in (for example, those going for the theater program should participate in high school productions if possible, those in engineering should get good grades in math, etc.) Don't limit yourself because you think you can't do it all!
Great for these types of students
'Type A' students who like people and aren't shy fit in best here, but plenty of people that I've met here are happily aloof, or they're are average students. If you're great at sports, even better because we have talented teams, but most of the people I know don't play on any teams. Really, there are too many different types of people to generalize all of them; I think most people have found their niche at NU.
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Lynne from Cincinnati, OH

a current student here
20 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
Am learning a lot
Classes at NU require a lot of hard work, but it is completely worth it. You can get a lot out of most classes as long as you put in the time and the effort. Also, the professors WANT you to do well, and most of them will take the time to help you if you ask.
Am enjoying being here
Northwestern has a really eclectic mix of students in attendance, so everyone can find a niche. Of course, the weather in Evanston is terrible--but what can you do?
Bang for the buck
Okay, so Northwestern is ridiculously expensive. That said, once you get an education here, you'll eventually even out the difference. Really, though, NU isn't the best at giving out financial aid, especially for people who are middle-of-the-road when it comes to finances. Unless you are really rich, really poor, or an athlete, attending here WILL put strain on your bank account. (NU doesn't give out academic scholarships.)
Tips for prospective students
1. Buy a heavy parka. You won't care about the fact that it is bulky and unfashionable when it's -30 degrees and everybody else is wearing one.
2. Expect to work really hard. There are very few classes that do not require at least significant effort for you to get an A or a B.
3. Say goodbye to straight As. Once you come here, those are a thing of the past.
Great for these types of students
Students who work hard is really my only criteria. There are all types of people at Northwestern--pretty much all personality types can attend here and fit in.
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Claudia from Park Ridge, NJ

a current student here
18 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
In three sentences
Northwestern is very good at challenging its students with a variety of academic courses and sequences. The faculty are very attentive to students' needs, and it is easy to meet with professors to discuss any questions or comments related to coursework. The social atmosphere is vast; there are dozens of student groups and organizations, and although it may seem overwhelming, everyone finds their niche.
Tips for prospective students
-Don't have too set of a plan of attack in terms of classes you want to take, major you want to declare, or clubs you want to join; everything is new freshman year, and you should allow yourself an adjustment period where you're not restricting yourself in any way.
-Identify your boundaries from the beginning. Lots of freshman say they're not going to drink, or they're comfortable having people in their room at any hour, etc. and then feel uncomfortable or regret things later. Establish your comfort levels and boundaries from the get-go so the friends you make can respect them.
-Specific to NU, don't be intimidated. It's stressful at first because the quarters go by very quickly, and you're at an academically acclaimed school where you may feel at times that you don't deserve to be. Admissions does not make mistakes; you are bright and have the school a lot to offer if you're there.
Academic Rigor
Northwestern has an academic reputation and it stands by it. Courses at Northwestern are manageable but still challenging. Full time students typically take 3-5 classes per quarter, so it's relatively manageable. Students in the sciences or journalism have it a bit harder, because in addition to regular class time, they need to spend extra time in lab sessions. The tough part is managing the quarter system; quarters are 10 weeks long, which means that the pace is much faster than it would be at a school on semesters. It just takes some getting used to, especially since exams tend to sneak up on you.
Dorm Life
This is a biased answer, because dorm life is entirely dependent on which dormitory you're in. If you're on South Campus, you are going to rate it 5/5 stars because South Campus is calmer, more open, warm, and bubbly, and it makes you want to come home every night. North Campus is more individualized, housing athletes, fraternities, and the more 'rowdy' bunches of the student body. Smaller dorms have the ability to bring its residents a tighter-knit sense of community, which is something that is really nice to have. In bigger dorms, you can still get that feeling, but you have to seek it out in smaller groups of residents rather than the dorm as a whole.
Food and Dining
I'm vegan, which means I can't eat a lot of the food a typical dining hall serves. Luckily, Northwestern is pretty good with accommodating individuals with dietary restrictions. Every dining hall has a salad bar that is open for lunch and dinner, and it has plenty of different sources of greens, fiber, and protein (there's hummus, tofu, beans, etc. for vegetarians and vegans). There are also many different stations at the dining halls, and some of them are vegan stations.
However, if the dining halls can't get you what you need, there are several cafes and eateries on campus, including a milkshake cafe (Fran's), Subway, a stir fry/sushi eatery, and more. Those are open longer than dining halls which is also good because after a later class or club meeting, you can still grab a bite to eat.
And, if none of that pleases you, Evanston is right at your fingertips! There are dozens of delicious sit-down, take-out, fast-food, and ethnic cuisine restaurants in Evanston a short distance from the dormitories, and a lot of places deliver to campus.
What to do for fun
NU Nights is a great student-run organization that organizes fun on-campus events most weekends. The Greek life scene is also huge on campus, so if that's your thing, you can definitely hit up parties on weekends. Evanston is also great, as there are a lot of restaurants to go out to eat at, a movie theatre, and lots of boutiques to shop. And of course, the city of Chicago is a mere shuttle or train ride away. Chicago has a lot to offer college students, and should you choose Northwestern, it really benefits you to get exposure to the city.
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James from Jacksonville, FL

a current student here
13 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
Am learning a lot
There are so many things to do here that one of your biggest worries is finding the time and avoiding schedule conflicts. Of course, you can expect to learn a great deal from one of the best schools on campus. The classes aren't easy by any means, and the professors really know their stuff (many have to; they do research on their respective subjects). You can expect them to know the answer to your question, provided that they understand it. The work is rigorous.

But college isn't all about the classes; you will learn quite a bit from your peers as well, who come from all different parts of the country and, indeed, the world. I have learned much just from my peers, international and domestic. As long as you're not afraid to talk and ask questions, then you will surely learn a lot here.
Am enjoying being here
Definitely, but so far, I don't know about the weather. Being a Southerner, I am used to warmer weather, so this is going to be an eye-opening experience. The campus is pretty nice too, with a variety of architecture (from brutalist to Gothic cathedral)

All superficial aspects aside, the people here are quite varied. There are many types of intellectuals, and they can all be found here. The problem is finding the people, but once again, if you're not afraid to talk, then you will have no problem testing the waters to find the perfect set of friends. Friends make any situation bearable.
Bang for the buck
Northwestern is definitely very expensive, and they're not extremely generous on their financial aid, either. While (most) professors here are great and the facilities amazing, they do overcharge on a lot of things, especially books (don't buy from Norris; everything's overpriced) and food (but what can you do?)

But, the food's not TOO bad, and it's all-you-can-eat.

What really matters, however, is the academics. Like I've said before, the professors here know their stuff. While they may not necessarily know how to teach well, you can always ask them questions and they can clarify. The facilities, especially the Technological Institute, are just amazing (once you figure out the maze-like layout)
Tips for prospective students
I am the only person from my high school who got into this school, so I don't know advice to give, seeing that I am the only person I know well enough to compare.

Load up on AP/IB classes if your school offers or requires them, don't slack off. Ever. Bad habits will form and transfer to college.

Continue your extracurriculars, and build on your longer-running ones. Blah blah blah yadda yadda yadda (all the usual advice that everyone already knows about when applying to colleges).

Northwestern is expensive! APPLY FOR SCHOLARSHIPS!!! That's one of my biggest regrets; not applying for enough money. Aim for the ones that are delivered to you personally, with no record that Northwestern can find out about (if Northwestern finds out you got a scholarship, they will deduct that amount from your financial aid)
Great for these types of students
Intellectual, hard-working, driven, focused, social, curious
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William from Smithfield, VA

a current student here
9 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
In three sentences
This is a wonderful environment with excellent faculty. Good food, great people, and an awesome lakeview! I cannot recommend this school highly enough.
Tips for prospective students
Go ahead and apply, even if you think you can't get in. This may be perfect for you after all. Above all, don't sweat it.

Also, don't fret about the weather. You adjust.
Academic Rigor
Good stuff. Fun stuff.
Dorm Life
The rooms aren't always the largest, nor are the dorms the newest. But NU is renovating them all the time. As far as I can tell, everywhere on campus is a pleasant place to live.
Food and Dining
It's very good. No complaints over here.
What to do for fun
Head to Chicago and explore EVERYTHING: art, culture, shopping, the works. Also, there's great stuff in Evanston.
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Melissa from Florida

accepted here and planning to attend soon
6 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
In three sentences
Northwestern University is a top-tier university and is sometimes considered the ivy of the Midwest. It has a beautiful, lakeside campus and is just a train ride away from Chicago, providing endless opportunities and adventures. The university also
Tips for prospective students
Take as many honors and advanced classes you can and get good grades. Take the SAT and SAT subject tests or ACT and make sure you fall at least in the average range. Also get involved with your school and participate in extra curriculars that you enjoy so you can talk about it in your application and show Northwestern what you can bring to the table.
Academic Rigor
Yes, classes are hard and the quarter system makes them even harder. The quarters are shorter than semesters so before you know it you have mid terms and then finals! There is a lot of studying, reading, and writing papers so be prepared.
Dorm Life
There are two types of on-campus living: Residential Halls and Residential Colleges. The halls are like normal dorms and the colleges have academic themes (for example performing arts or engineering) and social events where you earn points. The housing is very old and most of the buildings are outdated inside but a couple have been recently renovated.
Food and Dining
The dining halls are nice and provide a lot of healthy options. It has also been ranked to be the most friendly to vegetarians and vegans.
What to do for fun
There are so many student organizations and groups on campus and if there isn't one you like you can make one. There always recitals and operas put on by the music school and plays by the drama department.
Bang for the buck
Northwestern has an awesome financial aid department and will make sure you can afford going to school there. They are quick with your paperwork and reply in lightning speed to your emails. They offer many scholarships and grants, federal loans, work study, and their own NU loan.
Share any unusual traditions or locations on campus
There are so many traditions such as Dillo Day (a huge music festival), guarding the rock, Dance marathon, or painting a rock on the lakefill. You can also play hide and seek in the library, look through the University archives, or explore the steam tunnels.
Great for these types of students
There are so many passionate people. Some love science and engineering or english and drama or then a combination of bassoon and economics.
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B from RVA

a current student here
6 people found this review useful
Categories Comments
Am learning a lot
I learned more fall quarter--yes quarter (one of the few downsides of my school is that everyone is gone in mid-August!)--than I ever thought I would during my freshman year. Once I became a radio-television-film major (RTVF), I knew that Northwestern was where I was always meant to be, after a rough first 2 quarters. I press buttons, I make movies, I carry ridiculously large and expensive equipment on occasion, and I have never been happier. I would say that most Northwestern students with similarly pre-professional courses of study would agree that Northwestern not only teaches you what you need to know in the real world, but fosters an environment in which you feel that your education IS your future.
Am enjoying being here
The four stars are only because I didn't find my way until spring quarter. Before I became an RTVF major, I wasn't sure which classes would interest me and ended up taking a few that were wastes of time. However, this could happen at any college and reflects more on my experience than at the school. The people I have met are so interesting--one of my friends, G., is totally the next Perez Hilton (with more class), and another, A., is a brilliant engineer who is getting a business certificate for fun. As for me, I think film is pretty interesting as far as majors go. Who else gets to say I have a three hour lab, then spend those three hours on lighting and improv?
Bang for the buck
Northwestern is expensive, I will be honest. Paying for this school is a struggle for my family, but they are willing to make the sacrifices because they know how much I love my education. It makes me sad to say that financial aid has not been great so far, but our policies seem similar to those of other private universities, so I don't know that negative financial aid experiences are unique to Northwestern.
Tips for prospective students
Jump in as soon as you get here! Never sailed? Try out for sailing team. Never thought you'd go Greek? RUSH. The greatest thing about my school is how open-minded and diverse the students are. I know fraternity guys who love their letters, but also work on film sets on the weekend or have been backpacking through Europe with nothing but a Kodak. Even people who seem like college stereotypes (and trust me, I have yet to meet one) are some of the most interesting people you will ever know once you get to know them.
Great for these types of students
Open minded, outgoing, quirky, proactive, ambitious.
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