Northwestern University Top Questions

What should every freshman at your school know before they start?


In order to find the school that is right for you, you need to figure out what you want and what schools can offer that.


Choose a place you are comfortable living in first and foremost. Four years is a long time to be in a place you can't stand and makes you miserable. Once you find a place look at the achademics and take a few classes. When you get to college find a good circle of friends and don't party too much. Get involved with a few groups you really love, for it helps break up the repetition of life and provides life experience with the traditional college experience.


I would suggest that parents and students spend time on the campus. Get to know a few students. Ask the questions you are really concerned about and ask someone who is NOT paid to tell you how great the campus is. But overall, the most important piece of advice I could give is choose something that fits with your lifestyle, not the lifestyle you think you should have. College is an opportunity to express yourself, not an opportunity to recreate Animal House or any other "college"movie. Pursue your interests. Discover what is really important to you on your own schedule.


There is a college that is right for you. Starting off the process of finding the right one by knowing that. Choose a school based on those things that you really think will make all the difference about your experience - for me, I needed a place near a city, that was big, that allowed me to study what I wanted to study, that let me take initiative and find my own path. The truth about college is that everyone will start out with expectations, and within the first week you'll find them already changing. And after four years, you'll be able to map out where you started to where you've ended up and see how much your expectations have grown. College is an adventure, and you will have one no matter where you end up - remember this when the process of finding the right place gets difficult. Follow the facts... and your instinct; and wherever that leads you is sure to provide you not only the education, but also the experience to make you ready to face the world.


The admission process is very time-consuming and competitive; while trying to "please" all of these schools, keep in mind that not only should you have what they're looking for, but the school should have (nearly) everything that you're looking for, too. When touring a school, ask yourself, "Could I see myself being a student here?" Evaluate the students you meet - would you want to be friends with them? When you sit in on a class, determine if this is a good learning environment for you. Ask an admission counselor straight-forward, important questions like, "How will this school prepare me for a job in ___ industry?" Inquire about internship opportunities and pre-professional organizations. The best thing you can do is take a weekend to do an overnight visit at the schools that top your list. Go to class with a student host in the morning, hang out with students on campus in the afternoon -- just get to know what it's like to go to school there. Once you make it through the admission process and enroll in (hopefully) your first-choice school, work hard, but take a step back and thoroughly enjoy the experience.


I believe the right way to choose a college is look for a place where your interests could grow. Students, don't do whatever your parents want you to do - do what YOU want to do. That is the true way to success because you will enjoy your career in the future, and that is what will bring you success. In college, I suggest that you do not only take courses that follow along with your major or minor. Go and look at what is out there. Your goal in college is to get as much knowledge as you can about the world we live in so go and learn!!!


Do your research. Start Early. See schools if possibile. More applications the better off you are. It's ok to be undecided. Gre and Act/Sat do not mean everything!


Think about everyday things. Does the school offer the courses you like? Is it big or small? Will you be stranded on campus without a car or can you get around through other means? Are the people at the campus enough like the people you grew up with in order for you to get comfortable with them? Is the cafeteria food good? Remember, you're going to be eating it daily most likely, so it is an important consideration. Do you like to socialize in a place where alcohol is allowed? Where will most of your classes be held? Is it far from your living quarters? Are any of your friends attending that school? Do the professors have many homework assignments or just a test or two? Can you afford it and do you want to pay that much? If you are sick, can you see a doctor you trust? What challenges will the college you choose present to you and will these challenges help you grow as a person?


Find a balance between academics, extracurriculars, and partying.


I think finding the right school is about finding a place where you can live, study, and enjoy yourself. It is crucial that you are in an environment in which you feel comfortable and can have the balance between your social life and your academic life. When you first arrive at school, you may want to join every student group but it is easy to become overly involved and not be alotting enough time for your studies. College classes involve much more flexible schedules but require more time devoted to them outside of the classroom. It takes a little bit of time, but you will rapidly learn how much time certain classes require. Just be sure to make your college choice based on what you want and the school that best fits your personality and don't let factors like ranking and what your family expects dictate your selection.


When looking for a college, look past the academics. The key to your college experience isn't just your classes, but also the clubs you join, the work-study job you have, and simply the people you meet in dorms. You should really visit a college before deciding it. It might sound cliche, but simply how you feel standing on campus may be the key to where you belong. Try to stay overnight in a dorm to get a feel of how students interact at the college. Also, don't underestimate the importance of financial aid. You may want to take an additional session or study abroad, things that are options when you have some financial flexibility. Once you get to college, make sure you try new classes and clubs, because most students find themselves in different majors or clubs than they originally thought. Don't overwhelm yourself, but don't close yourself off either. College is an exciting time and just being open to new things can make the experience better.


Look at colleges of various sizes, and decide what size is right for you. Sit in on a class or two - definitely visit the campus while classes are in session. If possible, go on a beautiful day - it can really change your opinion. Look for a college that has many strengths, in case you change your mind in terms of your major/club/etc. once you arrive at school. Step out of your comfort zone while you're at college. I don't mean do something bad or illegal, but recognize that you have many opportunities in front of you that you may not have later in life. Only in college do you have the chance to be a student in another country, or perform independent research in a developing country (paid for by the university). Try a new hobby or sport, because there will most likely be a club or IM sport group that will support you. Also, this is your opportunity to be yourself in a new setting where people don't have preconceived notions about you - make the most of it and make new friends!


Choose a college that is geared toward your personal AND career interests. And choose one that offers you the best financial aid package because it will help you in the long run.




Do your research and pick schools that fit you where you can do what you LOVE. Visit the schools, and when you step on one particular campus, it will feel right. Go there.


Don't underestimate your social needs. Make sure that your school and the surrounding neighborhood offers a sufficient number distractions to keep you happy. Three years ago, I chose my school soley on my academic desires and completely ignored everything else. Needless to say, it has been a very excruciating three years.


Visit each one, talk to people and see if you can see yourself at that college.


The college you go to doesn't define who you are. It's up to you what you make out of your college experience. Some students prefer to be irresponsible and inconsiderate and there are others who are focused and ambitious. The best thing to do is to always be yourself, no matter what and deal with any challenges that come your way in a mature fashion.


Think of what you hold most dear and what you want more than anything. Then think of how far you would go to get what you want. Finally, look about you--at the people you're with--and compare how you're goal or your wish or your philosophy compares to others. If you find yourself unable to engage in introspection or non-material things, then maybe you should work on that first.


Financial aid is certainly a huge factor. You shouldn't go to a college that will be impossible to pay for/will leave you in neck-deep in debt. But you should also go with what you think will make you happy, but will also help you in your long-term goals. If a big state school will make your college career memorable (but in a good way!), and has available the options that you want open for your future then go for it. If a small private campus feel good to you then go for that. In the end the name, or the prestige, etc doesn't matter. That stuff only matters for the first job or two, but after that it's all about work experience. You only get your bachelor's degree once, so do yourself a favor and do the best you can, but enjoy it while you're at it!


Make sure you understand the expectations of a school and perhaps try to take a class or too before enrolling. Also, visit the school and talk to some current students to determine if the school is a good match with your beliefs and ideals.


As a student who has already transferred once and is thinking of doing so again, I implore all future college students to choose a major they will enjoy and to pick a college that excels, if not specializes, in that field. Factors of location, financial aid, and religious affiliation are important, but none are so crucial as adequately preparing the student for his or her "life after college". If your college does not offer a challenging curriculum for the major you choose, or if you "settle" for a major you don't really want because your true passion won't make you any money, then believe me! - you will be unhappy and want to leave. Finally, I would advise incoming freshmen to get involved in as many activities as possible that will allow them to gain practice in their chosen field - without overloading their schedules or tiring them out. In sum: pick a major you love, pick a college that loves it too, and then immerse yourself in related activities as you train to enjoy your passion for the rest of your life. What could be better?


You absolutely need to go visit the school and talk to current students outside of the usual tour to get their honest thoughts. Look up students on Facebook with your planned major and ask them about their experiences to see if it sounds like something you want to do. If you're not from the midwest or the Northeast but considering going to a school there, go visit during January to see if you can handle the winters. Find out about what off-campus life is like in addition to oncampus activities, because no one will stay oncampus all the time. Look into on and off campus jobs if you need to work to help finance your education, and look into what kind of cultural and entertainment activities are in the area. Definitely see if you feel safe and secure in the area, and at what type of shuttles and public transportation the area offers. If you don't want to live in the dorms all 4 years, check out apartment prices, because the cost may surprise you. If you know someone at the school and can arrange to stay for a weekend, do it to get the full experience.


It is not the things you do that you will regret, but the things that you do not do. Enjoy choosing how you want to spend your time; whether studying, sleeping, or staying in with friends. You will end up where you need to be: college like life is what you make of it.


The most important thing to keep in mind when picking a college is picking the right place for you. You have to pick a college where you feel safe, and comfortable. Some colleges look really good on paper, ranked number one in the US, etc., but if you aren't comfortable there, you will not enjoy it. Find the college that has exactly what you want to study, find the college that has the student groups you want to be a part of, find the college you enjoy. Right after stepping on campus for the first time you will know whether you can see yourself there or not. Sometimes our first gut reaction is the most important, and sometimes we can't explain why we like or dislike a place. Just go where you want to, and then when you get there make the most of everything. Make the most of your classes, the groups you join, the events you attend, everything. You only get to go to college once so don't go to the place other people tell you to attend, go to the school that YOU want to attend and have the time of your life.


Choose a school with many options and opportunities in a variety of fields because it is very likely you will change your mind or discover something you didnt know you were interested in before graduation.


First of all, think about the size of a school, and whether you would be comfortable in a very small, an incredibly large or a midsize school. Also consider the location of the school and the campus environment. Nearly every school you will apply to will be a good school where you would receive a good education, but you absolutly must feel comfortable and happy in your environment in order to be productive and do good work. Be open minded and listen to your family's advice.


Nobody hands you the perfect college and says "go here." There is a lot of hype and pressure when applying to college. Try to stay out of the hype and the "picture-perfect" representations universities present. Talk to studens and faculty from the colleges and universities as much as possible in order to get a more accurate feel for the campus culture at each university and college you are considering. Try to ask yourself, "can I see myself going here?" If the answer is no, don't apply. Make sure to consider all factors closely. Don't ignore something that you think you won't like, and more importantly, apply to places where you feel like you''ll fit into the campus culture and be happy. No school is perfect, and each school has its own feel. There are a lot of good universities out there. Visit schools, find the ones where you fit in best, and apply to those schools.


Follow your heart and do your research. Go where you really want to go. And do NOT use someone like a boyfriend, girlfriend, best friend, or any significant other as a reason for picking a college. In the case of a boyfriend/girlfriend, your relationship will not end if they really care about you. And if they don't, then you're wasting a great chance on someone who isn't worth it. And your best friend? When I came home for the summer and saw her again, I felt like I had never left. Nothing had changed between us, and we're still as close as ever. When deciding which college is the best for you, look at the college, the people, the location and if you think you'd be happy there, don't let anything stop you. You'll love it, if it's what you want.


While the overall academic standards of a University are important to consider, make sure you don't get caught up in factors like class size, number of classes taught by tenured professors, &c. Ultimately, these things won't affect your academic experience as much as your fellow students and the overall environemt on campus. Your ability to interact with your peers socially and academically is one of the most important aspects of college life. To get a sense of what each scbool has to offer in this regard, it's important to visit the places you're applying to.


To students, I would recommend making your own decisions. Do not let anyone tell you where you should go. Schools that have a lot of options are a good bet, because you will probably change your mind about what you want to do. Probably you will change your mind more than once. Once you get to school, be yourself. The people who you should be friends with will naturally find you. Don't change to fit in, because you will not be happy as someone else. At any school out there, there will be people that you will grow to love and that will become your best friends in the world. Be patient, and look for them, because they are out there. Be open to new experiences and new opinions, everyone has had different experiences to shape their perspectives and they are worth considering, at least.


As a high school student, it?s nearly impossible to know exactly what you want from a college; and once you finally get there, your needs and expectations will continue to evolve as you grow. After my first year at Northwestern, learning to forgo the search for concrete advice may be the best advice I?ve ever received. Despite my frenzied dabbling in many subjects, I?ve come to terms with the fact that life decisions do not run like clockwork. Choosing the right major, like choosing the right school, takes time. But college is about learning and experimentation, and above all, embracing change. As students adapt to the changes in lifestyle, parents will have to learn to do so, too. The sheer number of options can be daunting, but after weighing in factors of programs, location, diversity and financial aid, the deciding factor won't be a numerical breakdown of student loans, or the ratio of whites to minorities, but rather a gut feeling about the place where you see yourself happiest. Students, study what you love and don't forget to call your parents. Parents, please be patient and leave the decisions of our callings up to us.


Know what you are interested in and make sure that your college has what you love. This goes for academics, sports, clubs, the Greek system, school size, location, and social events. What one must not worry about is being alone at college. Everyone finds friends that they fall in love with and will know for the rest of their lives. The difference between high school and college is that there are no "popular" groups, only people who share similar interests. To make the most of the college experience it is important to place academics very high, yet to balance it withother things, such as being with friends, or going to the gym, or playing sports. Only attending to one of these areas will severely limit overall growth and unltimetly prevent you from being who you want to be.


It's important to visit schools before deciding which place is right for you, but when you do, try not just to think in terms of "can I picture myself here?" but more in terms of "When I imagine myself in 2 or 3 or 4 years, is this somewhere I'd want to be?" Also, when arriving at a new school, don't spread yourself to thin out of the gates, get involved in a couple of things and then try more rather than killing yourself too early. When selecting classes, ask upperclassmen who've been around who the best professors are, and then take classes from them, no matter what they teach, because you'll learn more from the better teachers than you will from less talented or enthusiastic teachers teaching a subject you love, and you might discover something you never knew of before. Learn how to balance work and fun, because you need both or you'll go out of your mind.


The most important thing is to sit down and determine what is important to you> Size is significant because if your school is too small you feel you know everyone after a year and your bored. If its too big you never get the attention you need from advisors or teachers. Location is crucial too not just for social life, but for career opportunities. If your ina city you can feel overwhelmed but if your in the middle of nowhere you feel isolated. Suburbs are amazing because you can feel like ur campus is connected but you also have access to a city with museums, movies and potential internships.


Instinct is key. Your instinct, your gut feeling, you internal sense of "this works, that doesn't" should be your trusted companion throughout the college research process. Use it to judge academics, campus activities, financial aid, studying abroad and socioeconomic factors - a sometimes overwhelming quantity of information. Remember: there is no universal guide to the perfect college - don't let somebody else write yours for you. Try to visit campus at least once. The visit will offer a reality that admissions packets don't readily share. Pay particular attention to the students that you see and interact with - their happiness, their energy, their feelings about the college experience. Sit in on a lecture to decide if you could see yourself experiencing this one or two years later. Most importantly, let life give you a few friendly surprises before and after you arrive on campus. Don't be afraid to venture far from home, or to change your major until you find one that works. Attend class. Play in the sunshine. Do your homework. Make dear friends. No matter where you come from, you make your own success the moment you set foot on campus, so be strong and trust yourself.


The advice I would give to parents and students, especially Latinos, is that college is FOR them. I would say that college is for everyone and there should be nothing holding them back. I would just relate back to my experiences as a Latina who didn't have the money to go to college but with good grades and dedication, I was able to come to Northwestern. Lastly, I would tell students that college is where most people find themselves, who they are and where they are going in life. This means that they need to make the most of their time at college and always have a plan


It depends on what your student wants from his/her college experience. From the parent's perspective, assuming that education is priority, I would focus heavily on a number of things. Faculty - how well suited are faculty members for teaching? What kind of reviews have they gotten? Is the school more research based or education based? Atmosphere - is the atmosphere conducive to studying and learning? Is it a healthy growing environment? Parents - let your students be there to learn. Not to party, get drunk, flunk out, and let your money be a poor investment. Students - if you want the "best 4 years of your life", know what's important to you. If partying and having a great time and meeting tons of people is what's important, then by all means, party your heart out. But if you want to learn and to meet people who'll have an impact on you, you'll have to be strong and not succumb to the pressures of "college" life. It takes time and effort to find the kinds of people you'll want to have in your life forever, but it's completely worth it.


Do whatever you feel you want to achieve, live life in college to the fullest.


Think about the size of the school/surrounding areas. Talk to people who went to that school. Think about your post college plans. Go where you WANT to go, not where you SHOULD go.


I believe that the right college will find you, although it may be a school where you never expected you'd go. It is really important to get standardized tests out of the way as soon as possible, and to make sure that there is something on your resume that sets you apart. Select a school that has a lot of majors that interest you, so that if you attend and decide you don't like your intended major, you have options that please you.


Take your not rush, it ruins the process. Go with what feels right


Although finding the right college is difficult, discovering it will change you life completely. When searching for prospective colleges, I think that students should find the college that fits them. This is difficult because coming out of high school you don't know really who you are, but you should decide by keeping in mind your career goals, finances, and academic motivation. Once you decide on your correct college, your experiences becomes critical. I think that you should explore different things and don't be afraid to do the unknown. I also think college students should just have fun. Academics are important but you should also have some relaxing times.


Take a tour. I took a tour and things just clicked. Save all your important questions for students walking by. They'll tell you the truth. The tour guide will not.