CM’s Guide to Northwestern University

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 Northwestern University—Evanston, IL

Northwestern’s Instagram


Greek-lectic theater

Basically three things take over the school personality-wise: Greek life (around 1/3 of students are involved), general nerdiness and those theater kids. While our nerdiness brings us all together, many of us fit into more than one of those categories, like a huge science nerd that’s head of his fraternity and performs in musicals on the weekends.


Cold. Students refer this current winter as “mild,” meaning you might get a few consecutive days of sunny 30-degree weather intermingled in those months filled with snowstorms. Also, you never understand the term “variety” until you’ve attended Northwestern. You’ll see everything from girls wearing the same worn-through black leggings to those guys showing up to your English class in a suit (always a yummy treat). Northwestern also has something for everyone in the extracurricular department, like that sorority girl who just wants to socialize or that frat boy who’s secretly into theater. You may think that your school’s Quidditch club has other schools beat with the unique factor, but there’s a new club invented at NU every minute. The newest one creating waves? The NU Kink Education Society. What do you have to say about that, Quidditch club?


Northwestern has famous alumni coming out the wazoo. George R. R. Martin (the still-living author of Game of Thrones, thank God) earned not only a bachelor’s, but also a master’s in journalism at Northwestern. Let’s not forget about multiple Emmy-, Golden Globe- and a million-other-awards-winner, Julia Louis-Dreyfus. She met her husband at the school (too cute). Although she didn’t graduate, her son can carry on the NU tradition now that he’s a student. Your mom’s first crush, Warren Beatty, also spent his undergrad years at Northwestern, and his son with Annette Bening can be found on campus studying for his own classes. Last but not least, the new girl Zooey Deschanel attended for a solid nine months, but obviously that didn’t harm her acting career at all.


Students can check out concerts anywhere from smaller venues like SPACE in downtown Evanston to historic Chicago venues like the Aragon Ballroom or the Riviera. Students often hole up in the Norris University Center to get that perfect balance of studying and socializing. Evanston also has countless hotspots downtown, from The Unicorn Café where grad students work on their theses at 10 in the morning, to World of Beer where students, well, you know. The best annual event by far is Dillo Day, the annual concert in May that has drawn artists ranging from Kendrick Lamar to Walk the Moon in past years.


1. How much are students partying?

On this great campus, you can either find a group of friends who will hold your hair back after a long night roaming the frat quad, or a more chill crowd who just wants to watch Netflix on a Saturday night. “I would say the average person probably goes out once a week, to balance out the frat and srat stars who go out all the time and the people who never go out like me,” junior Rosalie Chan said.

2. What will you get in trouble for at your school?

Having a microwave in your room. Keurigs are also illegal (not kidding), however those are much easier to hide. “I think that although those items are necessary for daily life, the administration ultimately reduces the risk of fire in the dorms,” Chan said.  True, and some rules are made to be broken, aren’t they?

3. How much sex are students having?

Add Northwestern to your list of hookup schools. Ain’t nobody got time for a relationship when we’re all busy applying to internships and maintaining our 3.9 GPAs. Secretly, though, people often resent the couples who come out of the woodwork in the spring, holding hands after a long winter’s hibernation. “I think students are having as much or as little sex as they’re comfortable with,” sophomore Erin Gregory said. You heard it here, folks. Anything goes at Northwestern.

4. What would you tell incoming freshmen about your school?

“I guess I’d say that it’s a challenging academic environment but it’s really rewarding to be around such talented, smart individuals who really care about what they’re studying,” freshman Meredith Falk said.

5. What does a typical day at Northwestern look like?

“The typical day goes something like this: wake up, drink coffee, beat head into wall,” sophomore Jason Mast said. While Northwestern does pose its academic challenges, it can be hard to find free time in your schedule, but any Northwestern student knows a vent sesh in one of the late-night cafes around campus contributes to mental health.


“One thing that really surprised me about Northwestern was the diversity and how well people from different backgrounds can work and collaborate with each other. Studying is definitely the thing that has most challenged me.” – Anelia Kudin, Linguistics major, Class of 2018

“What surprised me the most about NU was the walking, even though it’s a relatively small campus. Most days I walk at least three miles, sometimes as much as six or more. I don’t mind it, though, because I can get to any point on campus within 10-15 minutes, and the break between classes is a nice refresher.” – Olyvia Chinchilla, Economics major, Class of 2018

“I was surprised at how many opportunities there are to get involved with extracurriculars. I also feel like I’ve been academically challenged here.” – Erin Gregory, RTVF (Radio, Television & Film) major, Class of 2018

“Something that challenged me at Northwestern is keeping up with everything. The quarter system makes it easier to double major, but it’s still a lot of work and it can be hard to balance that with extracurriculars. I’ve met so many different people through classes, student groups, etc. There are lots of interesting people and it’s great to get to know as many as possible.” – Rachel Traisman, Psychology and Dance major, Class of 2018

“I was really surprised by how great sorority life is, but classes and trying to balance everything is always hard.” – Kat Foley, RTVF (Radio, Television & Film) major, Class of 2018


1. Economics

2. Psychology

3. Journalism


1. A&O, the largest student organization on campus, offers guest speakers (such as Bill Nye and Orange is the New Black’s Laverne Cox), film presentations of movies still in theaters and concerts every quarter. “My personal favorite event is B-Fest. We put on a 24-hour bad movie marathon, and a lot of the people drive in or fly in to watch,” said sophomore finance committee member Aditya Jain.

2.The members of NUMB, otherwise known as the Northwestern University Marching Band, makes themselves known on campus by walking in large groups with their instruments and bright purple jackets. Their enthusiasm for sports and companionship never fails. “To me, NUMB is always going to be a sort of constant presence in my life at NU which sounds overwhelming (and, yes, it can be at times) but is also really comforting,” sophomore Jayden Zvonar said.

3. Northwestern boasts 12 badass acapella groups each group has their own personality. “When you spend six hours a week singing with a collection of people, you bond. I guess you could say that about any kind of group, but I think singing is supremely honest. There’s no room for bullshit. At least, that’s how I’ve experienced it,” sophomore Liz McLaughlin said. And whether it’s the Treblemakers or Freshman Fifteen, you can always find a show to attend.


If I’m keeping it real, getting in is tough. But about half of students like to increase their chances with the early decision option. Although binding, it shows your passion for the school and ups your chances of acceptance. While it kind of sucked to work through my birthday in October to get my application in, I felt relieved to know before first-semester finals that I was going to my dream school. Tip: Try to have at least one leadership position in an extracurricular activity. Northwestern wants to know you’re open-minded and courageous.


Location: Evanston, IL

Tuition & Fees: $49,047

Total Cost on Campus: $68,095

Undergraduate Students Enrolled: 9001

Graduate Students Enrolled: 12641

Total Enrolled: 21642

Acceptance Percentage: 10.7%

Percent Admitted Who Enroll: 41%

Percentage of Male Students: 49%

Percentage of Female Students: 51%

Percentage Receiving Financial Aid: 63%

Percentage Receiving Federal Grants: 14%

Percentage Receiving Federal Loans: 36%


*Updated April 11, 2016, with updated information and media.

Hi, my name is Meghan and I'm a sophomore at Northwestern University. I've had a passion for creative writing ever since I was creative editor of my high school paper, and now I'm pursuing the creative writing major at the college level. I love writing in my own voice to help other people get through tough times.

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