A Student Review of Northwestern University

The tutors behind Varsity Tutors are not just here to teach – they’re sharing their college experiences as well. Haley is a 2014 graduate of Northwestern University where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Asian Studies. She specializes in ACT prep tutoring and Mandarin Chinese tutoring in Chicago. Check out her review of her time at Northwestern University:

VT: Describe the campus setting and transportation options. How urban or safe is the campus? Are there buses or do you need a car/bike?

Haley: Northwestern University’s campus runs north to south along Sheridan Road in Evanston, a suburb about 45 minutes north of Chicago. Most students walk from class to class, but others choose to take the shuttles or to bike. It is about one mile from one end of the campus to the other.

If you are interested in going to Chicago, the purple line of the El goes right into the city from Evanston, and it is really easy to use. There is also an inter-campus shuttle that takes you from the Evanston campus to the Chicago campus (and drops you right by Michigan Avenue).

VT: How available are the professors, academic advisers, and teaching assistants?

Haley: In general, the professors, academic advisers, and teaching assistants are very accessible. In the larger introductory classes it can sometimes be hard to schedule one-on-one time with a professor, but if you are proactive, you can make it happen. Otherwise, teaching assistants are happy to help.

VT: How would you describe the dorm life – rooms, dining options, location, socialization opportunities with other students?

Haley: I lived in the all-freshman dorm my first year, and I loved it. There was such a great community feel, as well as a lot of activities and support to make the transition to college as easy as possible.

The dining halls are good, and most freshman start with a 13-meal-per-week plan. You can raise or lower the number of meals you have per week, but 13 ended up being perfect for me. I would eat breakfast in my room before class and eat lunch and dinner in the cafeterias!

There are also options for meals on the fly at different cafes and convenience stores throughout campus for when you do not have time to sit down to a full meal.

VT: Which majors/programs are best represented and supported? What did you study and why? Did the university do a good job supporting your particular area of study?

Haley: I think economics and journalism are very well represented and supported. There are a lot of students in these majors, and their needs are well met.

I studied Chinese, International Studies, and Global Health because I chose to follow my passions and interests. I loved the classes I took, especially in the Global Health department. I felt as though the faculty were extremely accessible and helpful to me—whether for questions about class or advice on networking.

VT: How easy or difficult was it for you to meet people and make friends as a freshman? Does Greek life play a significant role in the campus social life?

Haley: I found it very easy to make friends freshman year. You are put in a peer advising group for the first week with an upper classman adviser, which is great. You essentially have a go-to group of friends for the first few weeks.

I also lived in the freshman dorm, so I met a lot of my friends through living with them or near them.

Greek life plays a big part of social life at Northwestern University, but it is not the only way to make friends or join a group. You do not join houses until January, so there is plenty of time to make solid friendships before then. Choosing a house introduces you to more friends instead of cutting you off from old ones.

VT: How helpful is the Career Center and other student support services? Do many reputable companies recruit on campus? 

Haley: The Career Center is very helpful if you choose to utilize it. In my experience,the more I went and the more I reached out for help, the more I got it. You have to be willing to put in the effort. Reputable companies from a wide variety of fields recruit on campus.

VT: How are the various study areas such as libraries, the student union, and dorm lounges? Are they over-crowded, easily available, spacious?

Haley: There are several libraries on campus, as well as study lounges in the dorms, a large student center, and different cafes throughout campus.

I chose to most often study in the main library, which has several large main rooms to study in, as well as group study rooms and completely silent towers. During finals the library gets pretty crowded, but I have always been able to find somewhere to sit and study.

VT: Describe the surrounding town. What kinds of outside establishments / things to do are there that make it fun, boring, or somewhere in between? To what extent do students go to the downtown area of the city versus staying near campus? 

Haley: Evanston is a great town for a college to be in. There are a lot of great restaurants, a movie theater, beaches, and stores to shop at. My first few years I rarely ventured into Chicago because I was so content staying on campus and in Evanston. However, my junior and senior years I spent more time in downtown Chicago, and I loved that as well. Northwestern University is in a cool location because you have the college town atmosphere, but you also have the resources of a major city only 30 minutes away.

VT: How big or small is the student body? Were you generally pleased or displeased with the typical class sizes?

Haley: There are approximately 9,000 undergraduate students at Northwestern University, which I found to be the perfect size. This meant that every day walking between classes, I would see familiar faces. At the same time, I never ran out of new people to meet.

I was generally pleased with the class sizes, but some of the introductory classes can be very large.

VT: Describe one memorable experience with a professor and/or class. Perhaps one you loved the most or one you regret the most.

Haley: The best class I took at Northwestern University was Campus Catalyst, a business class that pairs you with a local non-profit for a consulting project. The class met twice a week to learn non-profit management, and then we worked on a project with a real client. It was challenging but rewarding, and the end result of providing our non-profit client with solutions to its real problems made all the challenges well worth it! 

Check out Haley’s tutoring profile.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.