Saturday, July 12, 2014

Northwestern University, the Omni, and Spiaggia

We’re officially in Chicago!!! We woke up at around 6:30 AM and left Holiday Inn at 7:05 AM to go to the Reagan International airport. At around 11, we finally, finally arrived in Chicago! I felt the same rush of excitement I felt when I first boarded the shuttle to SFO.

We went straight for our hotel, the Omni. It’s insanely nice. It’s definitely one of the best hotels I’ve been to.

Two TVs in one hotel room!
A flat-screen TV is right across the couch
After getting a quick lunch, we went to Northwestern University for our info session and campus tour. Tory, the speaker, told us about the six undergrad schools you can apply to: the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences (which Tory basically said is which school you apply to if you’re undecided), the School of Communication (which includes majors and programs like speech, audiology, dance [auditions not needed to get into school], and theater [auditions not needed]), School of Education and Social Policy, School of Engineering and Applied Science (where seniors are required to invent something people can actually use in real life), School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications (which includes internships as part of its program), and the Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music (which you do have to audition for).

Tory also explained that Northwestern works on a quarter system, is need-blind and need-based, and how pre-med, pre-law, and business are tracks only. She told us about the free intercampus shuttle, the Happiness club that gives people hugs, how sophomores can have a half work, half study program, and how easy it is for people to get around campus (which is a mile long and half a mile wide).

Touch-screen TVs 
She told us about the application process (which is common app with a supplement). They accept either SAT/ACT scores, have Early Decision (which is binding) or Regular Decision options, and have a writing supplement in which you explain why you chose Northwestern.

Much like the other top universities, they have many, many courses (4,000, with Russian Literature being their top class due to the amazing professor) and majors/minors/concentrations (180+) to choose from, a great student to teacher ratio (7:1), and tons of study abroad programs (130+) and student organizations (480+). Now that I see the same pattern top schools have, I’ll know what to look for in the future.

What I loved the most is how they hold more than 80 student performances each year, and how most everyone in each school gets involved.

Afterwards, we took our campus tour with Marie. Again, we saw really beautiful buildings, both traditional and modern. We saw the Rock, which students can paint on whatever slogan or announcement as long as they guard it for 24 hours prior to painting it. We passed a library shaped like books being pulled out of shelves, passed the beautiful lake, passed multiple emergency blue light poles (though Marie has never once felt unsafe on campus), and entered the large Norris Student Center. I did hear something interesting about those emergency blue light poles, however—if you push the button without an actual reason, you’ll get a $200 fine (with good reason, you don’t play around with that). I like how she explained that graduate programs have said they like more well-rounded students, which is what caused pre-med, pre-law, and business to be tracks.
The Rock
Marie said she picked Northwestern because she fell in love with it and its accessibility, there’s great school spirit, and there’s a great sense of community.
Norris Student Center
After rushing to the hotel, getting dressed, and heading to Spiaggia (which is considered the best Italian place in Chicago that President Obama has been to), we met the alums. Andrew Choi, Viral Patel, Vernon Smith, Monte Nelson, and Chris Keeve were there, as well as Jamie, the admissions officer. I sat between Viral and Jamie, with Chris and Jimmy across from me.

Viral told me how she started college as a Bio major, but switched to Environmental engineering. She told me how easy it is to change majors—it takes as little as three signatures. Chris and Jamie told me stories of friends who had changed majors multiple times (as frequently as twice in a day), which showed me how open and encouraging Northwestern is about letting students explore different subjects.
The cheese platter with honey we all tried. We'll definitely be doing this at home.
When I asked Viral, Chris, and Jamie why they chose Northwestern, they all said how they all felt it was the right fit for them. Also, they explained that the size of the school was perfect—it’s big enough that you can meet new people, yet the classes are small and professors are dedicated and more than willing to help.

Delicious steak
I asked Viral what she learned in the four years she’s gone to Northwestern, and she said she realized that success (academically and socially) aren’t going to come to you if you don’t search for it. This is great advice, one I’ll keep in mind as I go through school.

When I asked Jamie what they love most about Northwestern, she responded by saying how she loves how she could just go to the Student Center and approach a stranger and end up discussing an obscure topic until 2 in the morning. I love that sense of community, one we don’t really have in CA, and will add that to the qualities I’m looking for when applying to schools. Viral said that one thing I should know about Northwestern is that it will open up a lot of doors of opportunity. There are opportunities presented both on campus and in Chicago.

Earl Grey tea and Italian doughnuts
What I loved most about the night was our conversation. For example, we could be talking about studying abroad (which you don’t have to spend more than the regular tuition for), dorm life (which is fun, though you can move out after freshman year), traditions (music festivals all day [2 Chainz was there, apparently], painting the Rock), secret tunnels (they keep you warm during winter!), clubs (there are so many, people usually head two or three of them), how people are at Northwestern (there are both friendly and snooty people), professors (who keep in contact with students for a long time), or weather in Chicago (can get really heavy snow [but I like that, since I’ve never lived in snow before]), and end up talking about fraternities, breakup fights, headlamps, unlikely best friends, or strange school fly-ins. I think it just proves what Jamie said—you could literally talk to people about anything. And I like that.
Jamie on far left
Alie, Andrew, Oyin, Chris, Monte, Vernon, Alexa, Jimmy, Viral, me, and Vicky
Northwestern wasn’t super duper amazing like I thought it would be, but it wasn’t disappointing, either. I’ll definitely make sure to apply when the time comes.


  1. Once again, I see that our young ILCers are eating pretty well while the ILC adminisitrators--me--are eating leftover Costco chicken. Not to worry, though--I'm sure you're all worth it, right? That steak looks pretty good right now.

    Just curious--who checks on whether the graffiti artists stand guard over the rock?

  2. I like how you are thinking so critically about each of the schools to get a feel for which you think will be the best for you! That's definitely important to keep in mind as you visit, research and get ready to apply.