Northwestern University - Comments and Student Experiences|
While I do think that Northwestern exposed me to different perspectives and helped me develop more (and even realize my flaws to work on) as a person, I thought the computer department (think computer engineering, computer science) curriculum was not structured well. The first year of introduction classes (with the exception of some concepts CS 211) were largely a waste of time (who teaches functional programming in the CS 111 class as an "equal playing field for all", how about we teach actual rigorous computer science and programming concepts instead) with few applications to actual work. Furthermore, software recruitment resources are few unless you're interested in working on IT at Allstate or a defense contractor (think Boeing, Northtrop Grumman), so you're largely on your own if you want a shot at the bigger Internet/chip giants unless you form a big inter-school network(U of M has great resources I once leveraged), network outside school events, or go to conferences.
Outside of class, it's easy to fall into the trap as a prospective student that Northwestern is a social school. While campus is mostly pretty and I did feel lucky to be a part of it, the weather is only great the first 2 weeks of fall quarter and the last 2 weeks of spring quarter. Anytime else, the weather absolutely sucks - it's cold, windy, gloomy (which you CAN get used to and I did) but the gloominess takes its toll on students, who largely become closed and fall into seasonal depression. Additionally, while there are many student groups, most will use recruitment events to weed out the candidates they like and harbor exclusivity. While I recruited and found my groups on campus, I don't think finding a place in student life should require interviews and favoritism. I don't think there's a good solution without drastically changing the student life environment, but believe that this problem is necessary to surface. There's always the option to go Greek which I considered due to Greek life having more of an influence than I wanted (there's a clear split between Greek/non-Greek your first two years), but I ultimately didn't choose to do so (dues are expensive, not to mention the school doesn't do enough to combat sexual misconduct - just look at how many frats are banned but resurface months later). Overall, I don't think this school and its brand was worth the tuition, frustration, and existential crises that I had to endure over 4 years, but you have to make bad decisions to learn, and my time did teach me a good amount about myself. Go 'Cats!
The university library, online speeds and buildings are all great quality. Northwestern has a beautiful old campus right next to the 1970's landfill campus that stretches along Lake Michigan. It's just beautiful.Campus social life is very busy, largely because Evanston, while a nice suburb, it is hostile to students' partying, and Evanston residents resent that the University occupies many acres of lakefront property, but pays no property taxes (even though the university was here before Evanston existed). For the most fun, we'd go into Chicago, which is just a 45 minute ride on the el.
Something that's worth noting about selective universities is that they are very competitive, and you are being pitted against other students of similar ability. Freshman courses are curved at a B or B- in order to weed out those who can't "cut it", which is bizarre considering how competitive it is to get in in the first place. From what I saw this seemed to select for students who hailed from quality post-secondary institutions, there's no way you can digest all that material in the time allotted, unless you plan to never sleep. I think this is organized on the basis of some bizarre neoliberal principle that competition always produces better results; as in the financial economy, it seemed to have skewed outcomes & unintended results.
As other posters have mentioned you're most likely better off attending a cheaper state school as the educations are comparable, your GPA will thank you too.
Much to my parents' chagrin I had to drop out anyway; I think something about the experience either at NU or UChicago traumatized me because I've had this irrational phobia of academia ever since. I'm in building trades now, I like it, although, amusingly, the guys I work under seem convinced that I should really be an engineer.Generic and possibly obvious education advice, but community college is a much better place to figure out what you really want to do, don't go to one of these top-ranked universities unless you have at least a ballpark idea (or you have pushy parents who won't pay your tuition otherwise).
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