Thursday, July 9, 2015

Northwestern for the Best Learn

It was refreshing to wake up this morning, look outside my hotel window, and see the city of Chicago above and below me. I woke up earlier than intended due to my funky internal clock, but thankfully I don't feel tired. A quick trip to the hotel gym also helped to energize me for the day ahead.

Our day started midmorning today, which was beneficial due to the late night we had yesterday. After a late breakfast at the hotel, we headed out to face the city. Chicago reminds me of a cleaner, less crowded version of New York, and so far I really like it. To get to Northwestern we took the L, which is the Chicago equivalent to BART. Navigating public transportation systems is not one of my strengths, but thankfully Alana figured it out well. I was impressed with how clean the stations and trains were, and also appreciated the map inside the train that indicated our travel on the rail line. 

Beautiful view of the Chicago skyline and
Lake Michigan from Northwestern
Walking to Northwestern, we got a peek into Evanston, the small suburb in which Northwestern's campus is located. I really liked Evanston; it was cute but not mundane and full of little shops. Location in general is one of the highlights of Northwestern to me, because it also is right next to Lake Michigan and conveniently close to Chicago.

Today we had the info session before the tour, and there were a lot more other people touring as well. The presentation was led by Chad, an admissions officer, and Connie, a Northwestern student from New Jersey. I thought they did an excellent job explaining the academic assets of Northwestern. I liked that they brought up the advantages the quarter system offers in terms of taking more classes, because I think I will be the type of student who would benefit from the ability to take extra classes. Connie was involved in the Bienen School of Music, which also stood out to me. Music seems to have a larger presence on Northwestern than at WashU; this is a plus from my perspective. I still think I would most likely be in the College of Arts and Sciences if I were to attend Northwestern, but their Medill School of Journalism greatly impressed me. Journalism is a career I have briefly considered but not seriously thought about pursuing. If I were to get invested in being a Journalism major, Northwestern would be a superb choice because the have "journalism residency" programs that sound like fantastic job experience and preparation.

Ehana explaining the lake fill to us
For our tour, we were lead by Ehana, a rising senior. The Northwestern campus is a mixture of modern buildings with some older buildings as well, and though I liked it, it wasn't that special to me. Throughout the tour Ehana mentioned many Northwestern traditions, and this helped make the tour more unique beyond the basics of each building's function. I was surprised to learn that about 40% of students are involved in Greek life. This seems like a fair amount to me, and since currently I am not interested in joining a sorority, I know I don't want Greek life to be a prominent focus in colleges I apply to.

The Rock, a very cool Northwestern art/social piece
The site visit to Northwestern was informative and engaging, and I would definitely consider applying there. Yet, I didn’t fall in love with the school and I would say that it isn’t on my must-apply list. I think the most eye opening aspect of the site visits for me is less about whether or not I’m interested in the prospective school, and more about realizing all the various factors to judge colleges on and the admissions process in general.

In the evening we had our dinner at Gibson’s Steakhouse with Northwestern admission officers Sue Kwan, Robert Ellis, alumni Andrew Choi and Viral Patel, and rising Northwestern senior Monte Nelson. 
Outside Gibson's with Sue Kwan!
I sat next to Andrew and Robert and had great conversations with both of them. I got some questions I had about scholarships and research answered by Robert, and the more I learn about research the more I think I would enjoy pursuing some sort of research project as part of my undergraduate experience. I was also satisfied that I was able to talk with Andrew about being an Asian American and how that affected his Northwestern experience. Growing up in an Asian family in the Asian populated Bay Area has been a huge factor in shaping my identity, and I still want to have access to that community in college. Sue Kwan was also very informative in telling us about work study, abroad programs, and the details of admission at Northwestern. The dinner was certainly a highlight of the day, and it is incredibly special that we have the opportunity to have substantial conversations with these people. Hearing firsthand accounts of student life and being able to ask as many questions as I want, as well as talking about totally unrelated to college topics, helps me to see colleges as a real place I could be attending instead of just a reputation or facts and statistics. That we get the chance to gain a deeper understanding of the college beyond what books, info sessions, and tours have to say is the beauty of these dinners, and this opportunity is a big reason I am grateful that the ILC exists.  

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