Hey ILC students!
I’m Stephanie Ny, and I recently concluded my first year at Northwestern University. It was, by far, one of the most challenging school years of my life. I’m here to provide you prospective students with advice that I’ve come up with after my freshman year.
First of all, where you live greatly affects the people you meet and become friends with. At Northwestern, residential colleges and dorms have certain themes which tend to characterize those who live in them (though not necessarily). I’m not entirely sure of the living situation at other schools, but here, if you choose a themed dorm to live in based on your interests, you’ll be bound to meet people like you. Last year, I lived in a residential college with a communications theme, where I met many people with interests in communications, film, and journalism. Choosing the right place to live facilitates the friend-making process, which can turn out to be quite difficult when you choose to attend a school that none of your friends attend.
Also, be open to how different college is probably going to be from high school. Expect surprises and drastic changes in your surroundings: new people, new weather (if applicable), and new teaching styles.
I went from living in the incredibly diverse WCCUSD to living among an over 50% Caucasian student body. While there is a healthy mix of other races represented, it’s definitely much different from WCCUSD. And even so, some students say Northwestern is the most diverse place they’ve ever lived at. It’s amazing how people of completely different backgrounds from you come together to live in one community. Just realize that the entire student body at your school isn’t going to be from the same place you came from. Begin your college career with an open mind.
There isn’t much more to say in regards to weather other than this: if you know you can’t handle it, you’re going to hate attending that school. I know a few students who didn’t apply to certain places because they knew they couldn’t deal with the weather. I know a few students who knew they wouldn’t be able to handle the weather but decided to apply and, later, attend anyway – and they hated it. While education is probably your top priority, being unhappy and unable to handle the conditions under which you will be living will not help you much.
Teaching styles may be painful to adjust to in college. Some professors lecture all period and you have to either bring a voice recorder or take notes yourself. Others use power points to assist their lectures and post them online, making it much easier for you to catch up if you miss a class or get ahead if you plan to miss a class to study for a midterm or something of the like. Some professors simply assign you reading and facilitate discussions amongst students during class time, encouraging oral speaking and critical thinking skills. It’s likely that you’re going to study under these several types of teaching styles, so be prepared to adjust accordingly.
Lastly, look up professors before signing up for a class. Professors absolutely make a difference in the classes you take. Northwestern has a system called CTECs in which students rate and give feedback on the classes they take along with the professors that taught those classes. You can see the reviews for various classes each professor taught. If your school provides such a system or you know of a similar system elsewhere, take full advantage of it. I failed to do this my first quarter at school and the consequences were onerous. While there are classes that may interest you, the professor teaching it may completely destroy that interest if he or she isn’t a good one.
These pieces of advice may sound cliché, but they have turned out to be absolutely useful, and I hope you’ll take them to heart as well.
If you have any questions about Northwestern, don’t be afraid to ask me! Good luck!