Northwestern University Top Questions

What is the stereotype of students at your school? Is this stereotype accurate?

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Here are a few: 1. The quarter system makes the workload absolutely crushing and it's difficult to get a good GPA. In my experience, totally false. People seem to think that universities with quarter systems are very fast-paced because they cover 'just as much as a college with a semester system would'. I just don't think this is true; classes only run 10 weeks, but I've found even with the more difficult 300-level courses, and even taking an extra class a couple of quarters, that it's a totally reasonable amount of work and I had plenty of time to pursue activities and friendships outside of class. Some days I even wish I had more work (but I'm weird that way...) 2. It's all about sports and Greek life. Well, "all about" is a tad much, but...for the most part, both are pretty big. 3. Everyone is totally preprofessional and more focused on their career after college than the college experience itself. TRUE, TRUE, TRUE. If you get anything out of this review, please take away this bit of information. It's not necessarily a good or bad thing, depending on what you're looking for (For me, though, it was bad). The majority of students come to Northwestern knowing their career track and exact plan of attack, and there is little deviation from this plan. I have had a couple of conversations with students who didn't even give much thought to their true passion or consider that they might change their mind. (Exact quote: "I don't really like math, but I'm majoring in it because I know it'll eventually get me a good and high-paying job"). If this is your kind of philosophy, you will fit in nicely here and you will get exactly what you're looking for. Someone more concerned with having four years of self-discovery, broadening their knowledge and open to changing their mind along the way, may find themselves suffocated by NU's pre-professional system.

Robb

There are really two extremes when dealing with stereotypes at NU. On one side you have a lot of hard working kids focused on performing well in school. These honestly range from engineers to american literature majors and are about 90% of the students on campus. The other side of the spectrum are a bunch of kids who just like to party. Hard. And this is about 60% of campus (Of which, probably 1/2 is greek). SO, 90% study hard and 60% party. Notice the overlap? The great thing about NU is everyone there is involved in a lot of things and still has a chance to have a good time. With events like Dance Marathon (a 30 hour dance in late March) or Dillon Day (an all day music festival in early June), its hard not to party at NU and still be a part of what makes Northwestern University #12 academically in the country. *Almost all of the stats are complete speculation based on my perception of life at NU. But hey, thats a students perception. But the #12 ranking is from U.S. News and Report.

Madalyn

From the outside, it might seem like Northwestern is full of nerds. However, the community is actually very vibrant. It's true that we all care about doing well here, but many student's passions lay outside the academic sphere. Once you start to get to know people here, you'll find that most students have a lot more to talk about than just their schoolwork. As for other stereotypes, Greek life is prominent on campus, but not overwhelming. When it comes to partying, I some have friends who go out every weekend(and several weekdays), and other friends who never go out. It's impossible to describe all Northwestern students with one label(except, you know, Northwestern students) because we come from so many different backgrounds and have such different dreams.

Danial

You know, I don't know that there is a definitive stereo type of students here at Northwestern. But if there were one, it'd be about the Engineering students at McCormick. We've got brilliant students, and our undergraduate engineering program is stellar, which is why people seem to think Engineering students study all day. NOT the case. Sure, the campus culture is pretty academics-focused, but the engineering student body can have its own share of slackers, just like any other. As far as Greek life is concerned, we're pretty big on it, but you'll hardly ever feel like you need to be a part of it in order to be a part of campus. If you want to "go Greek," great. If not, great too. It won't really matter; you'll have plenty of friends anyways.

Eric

The stereotypical Northwestern student would include someone who is highly focused on academics, who's social life most likely revolves around our Greek system. They aren't into college athletics, but rather choose to focus on networking, schoolwork, and keep a decent social life through their fraternity or sorority. I would say that, on the whole, this stereotype is fairly accurate, but it is not hard to find people who do not fit this mold. Many students do choose to go Greek, but many of my friends are also not Greek, and we all maintain a strong social life. Also, athletics has been growing quickly at Northwestern, with our football and basketball programs improving over the past few years, so it is becoming more and more common that students with social lives will attend most, if not all, of these sporting events.

Deeya

Northwestern students get a bad rep for erring on the side of nerdy and anti-social. However, this is a pretty big and academically diverse school. True, a lot of the more rigid academic programs (i.e. Pre-Med, Engineering) leave less room for socialization, many Northwestern students maintain relationships with people they meet through classes and the robust selection of extra-curricular activities.

Meredith

Theatre kids/Rich North Shore Chicago kids/future corporate America kids/Nerdwestern

Allison

The stereotype that I've heard most is that Northwestern students are pretentious and privileged. Now, I will admit that I hadn't heard of any actual stereotypes for Northwestern students before coming here. Being from Texas meant that a fair number of people who I talked to had no idea where or what Northwestern was. Since then I have gathered this impression of the Northwestern student body from friends I have at various other Chicago and midwest institutions. While there is certainly some validity to this (with a tuition as high and a equally lofty national ranking, it's almost inevitable), I have never found the negative connotations of such a stereotype to be true. For example, while I have met people who certainly come from more affluent backgrounds than I do, I have also met the opposite and have found both to be equally approachable and welcoming. The same goes for the implications of pretentiousness.

Allison

Now, I will admit that I hadn't heard of any actual stereotypes for Northwestern students before coming here. Being from Texas meant that a fair number of people who I talked to had no idea where or what Northwestern was. Since then I have gathered this impression of the Northwestern student body from friends I have at various other Chicago and midwest institutions. While there is certainly some validity to this (with a tuition as high and a equally lofty national ranking, it's almost inevitable), I have never found the negative connotations of such a stereotype to be true. For example, while I have met people who certainly come from more affluent backgrounds than I do, I have also met the opposite and have found both to be equally approachable and welcoming. The same goes for the implications of pretentiousness.

Rose

There are two stereotypes that I think people associate with Northwestern--that we're total nerds or that we just really like to party. As a matter of fact, the slogans "Nerdwestern" and "Northwasted" are both purchasable on tee shirts in the Evanston area. I don't think either of them is necessarily accurate, though. Sure, there are some people here who go crazy on weekends, but I also have a LOT of friends who don't drink. Lots of people here are "nerds," in a sense, but not traditionally so--everyone is just really interested and passionate about the things that they're studying and the activities they're involved in. It might sound cliched, but I think Northwestern is a little undefinable. We have theater, dance, and music programs, but we also have a prominent engineering school. We have future journalists and teachers and doctors, but everyone is more than that. So many people have multiple (and sometimes seemingly unlikely combinations of) passions. We really do have all types here, and I think that makes Northwestern an un-stereotypable campus.

Jasmyne

Northwestern students are stereotyped as being busy-bodies. This stereotype is somewhat true. We are often very busy, but that is because Northwestern breeds an environment that encourages students to try new things and develop leadership skills. We have over 300 students groups not including collaborations between faculty and students or projects that aren't official student organizations. We are busy-bodies, but believe through our crazy schedules we are developing ourselves and using the resources we have to create change. Due to our busy schedules, you'll never run out of new things to try or passionate people who care about the same things you do.

Allison

Now, I will admit that I hadn't heard of any actual stereotypes for Northwestern students before coming here. Being from Texas meant that a fair number of people who I talked to had no idea where or what Northwestern was. Since then I have gathered this impression of the Northwestern student body from friends I have at various other Chicago and midwest institutions. While there is certainly some validity to this (with a tuition as high and a equally lofty national ranking, it's almost inevitable), I have never found the negative connotations of such a stereotype to be true. For example, while I have met people who certainly come from more affluent backgrounds than I do, I have also met the opposite and have found both to be equally approachable and welcoming. The same goes for the implications of pretentiousness.

Allison

Now, I will admit that I hadn't heard of any actual stereotypes for Northwestern students before coming here. Being from Texas meant that a fair number of people who I talked to had no idea where or what Northwestern was. Since then I have gathered this impression of the Northwestern student body from friends I have at various other Chicago and midwest institutions. While there is certainly some validity to this (with a tuition as high and a equally lofty national ranking, it's almost inevitable), I have never found the negative connotations of such a stereotype to be true. For example, while I have met people who certainly come from more affluent backgrounds than I do, I have also met the opposite and have found both to be equally approachable and welcoming. The same goes for the implications of pretentiousness.

Gabrielle

Northwestern is known as a pretty "nerdy" school. The school has a well-known reputation and is constantly competing for a spot in the top ten colleges in the nation. The students here earn stereotypes as nerds obsessed with homework and grades because of the reputation of the school. While many students here are extremely devoted to schoolwork, everyone still has fun on campus. There are concerts, parties, events, football games, and all of the exciting activities that take place on other college campuses. We don't give up any of the fun of college in exchange for our hard work.

Amber

Northwestern has so many outstanding schools that we get a nice mix of talented kids on campus. Students I've met and am friends with are really intelligent and friendly but still very humble. I think the stereotype of Northwestern students as smart but not pretentious is very true. We work hard but play hard too.

Daniel

There are several Northwestern stereotypes: the quirky, gay, male theater major, the beautiful, untouchable, female theater major, the overworked, Asian engineer, the business focused, pampered economics major who never wants to go to class, the artsy south, the fraty north, and so much more. But I can tell you from knowing tons of people on campus, there are so many students who don't fit this mold. We are all unique and even those who fit the mold still are there own person. You just need to get to know the person, hear their story, and then no mold can fit them. Because we at Northwestern are complex and weird--just sometimes were too afraid to show it.

Rose

There are two stereotypes that I think people associate with Northwestern--that we're total nerds or that we just really like to party. As a matter of fact, the slogans from the caption above are both purchasable on tee shirts in the Evanston area. I don't think either of them is necessarily accurate, though. Sure, there are people here who go crazy on weekends, but I also have a LOT of friends who don't drink. Lots of people here are "nerds," in a sense, but not traditionally so--everyone is really interested and passionate about the things that they're studying and the activities they're involved in. It might sound cliched, but I think Northwestern is a little undefinable. We have theater, dance, and music programs, but we also have a prominent engineering school. We have future journalists and teachers and doctors, but everyone is more than that. So many people have multiple (and sometimes seemingly unlikely combinations of) passions. We really do have all types here, and I think that makes Northwestern an un-stereotypable campus.

Grace

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine came to visit me at school, and the first words out of her mouth were "This is such a rich kid school." To some extent, this is true; we do have a lot of students from fancy prep schools who have had life handed to them on a silver platter, and tuition is steep. However, most of us come from perfectly common middle class families, and have found reasonable ways to pay our way through. And that tuition money? It goes straight to the students. You see it everywhere in free t-shirts, free speakers, free food, free concerts, SafeRide taxis, automatic free admission to all university sporting events, TONS of student organizations and other cool things around campus just for students. This is especially true if you are a member of an athletic organization (including the marching band!). So while this is an affluent area, we're really just a bunch of regular college students, making fun of the stereotype by affectionately referring to ourselves as the Northwestern Bourgeoisie. Being a highly-ranked university, there is also a stereotype that we would be more aptly named "Nerdwestern." This is a label we wear proudly. Really. We have t-shirts. The truth is that at Northwestern, we work hard and we play hard. We have a vibrant Greek life and tons of social events both university-sponsored and externally run. You won't be stuck in your dorm studying all day. Your friends probably wouldn't even let you if you tried. There's just too much going on. You learn how to balance social life and grades over time.

Ellyn

The stereotype of a typical Northwestern student is an affluent white person usually from the Midwest, the East Coast, or California.

Patrick

The student culture at Northwestern University was more dominated by Greek life than I originally understood going in, at least at first glance. When I first arrived on campus, it seemed like the only thing there was for us to do was head up to North campus to try and get into crowded fraternity parties. My experience of Greek life at other Big Ten schools also showed me that the culture is slightly different at Northwestern. The kids in fraternities and sororities seem as focused on doing well come exam time as they do trying to put on a good party, which is not a bad thing. Personally, it makes for a very intense atmosphere that was not for me. As a result of this very dominating culture, other student groups, like the campus radio station, do their best to try and give people like me an alternative place to meet, make, and keep friends.

Karen

There's a running identity battle between the nerds and the partiers (and we have t-shirts for both sides in our bookstore) but really, almost everyone I've met here is both. On Sundays, the library gets pretty full and almost everyone cares about at least getting their assignment done, and many about getting it done well. And on Mondays, there's The Keg. It really runs the gamut here but what I've learned to treasure is that everyone has a secret talent that they've been hiding because in high school, most likely they were the super talented athlete who sang and did musicals and aced everything and really likes learning Arabic.

Katherine

Only 33% of the students are involved in Greek life.

Lauren

Northwestern is definitely known for being nerdy. This is pretty accurate. Academics are intense here, and on a Monday of Midterms week, the local bar will be empty because everyone is in the library. At the same time, there is definitely the stereotype that the Greek kids are selective and partiers. It's hard to distinguish between Greeks and non-Greeks here: we're all nerds. We all study and worry about GPA, but students in sororities or fraternities tend to have more social opportunities and networks. I personally find it easier to do well in classes when girls in my sorority take classes with me and study with me. And despite the fact that everyone here "bleeds purple," if there is any sporting event during any exam time, half of your friends are staying home to do work. It's just the way it is.

Benison

Northwestern University has one of the most eclectic and varied student bodies that I have ever been exposed to. Everyone is already pretty smart, so apart from the scholars that so very much love books and the library, we have your average Frat bros, jocks, chess club captains, sorority girls, hipsters, theater majors, pioneers and future rulers of the world! Regardless of where you are from or what background you have, you are BOUND to find groups upon groups of people that have shared interests and passions. 100% guarantee!

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