What are the academics like at your school?
Your professors always teach the class, and there are so many opportunities to get to know them. Many of my journalism professors are really strong mentors and always willing to help (and stay up really late responding to emails). My professors in my non-journalism classes have also been really accessible and almost always passionate about what they teach. Students definitely have intellectual conversations outside of class, but it certainly doesn't feel pretentious or overbearingly academic.
I think Medill is pretty competitive, but I choose for it to be that way by being in extracurriculars or surrounding myself with peers who are as crazy about journalism as I am. It can definitely feel pre-professional at times, but the distribution requirements also allow you to just learn for the sake of learning. One of my favourite classes here was about 70s feminism, and I took another class on International Development where we had the chance to have dinner with awesome speakers from the field every week.
Journalism classes are very intimate and you really get to know your class and professor. The professors are always willing to take extra time talking about your articles/multimedia packages and do everything they can to help you publish or pushing yourself to go after the story you want.