Sunday, October 11, 2009

Northwestern University

“The sky is the limit.” Once I read this promising message inscribed on Northwestern’s Rock, I felt an immediate, unbreakable connection to the school. And when my two day stay in Evanston ended, several distinct factors helped me assuredly conclude Northwestern was something different—something mere rankings could not unveil.

Northwestern’s avant-garde traditions define its student body. The mischievous freshmen the school oversaw in the 1950s had daring motives. They layered the school’s frozen fountain—now known as the Rock—with distasteful messages and paid their expenses in toothbrush labor. But Northwestern guided those freshmen; it refined them into decorous seniors who returned to the Rock, and who ornamented it with a fresh series of encouraging words. Northwestern allowed this act to evolve into a tradition that has come to illustrate its students—and I love the school because of this sense of spirit and optimism it has instilled in its community. As a maturing young adult, I want a taste of energy and positivism, and Northwestern is the only school who can provide that for me.

I fell even more in love with the school when I saw the ground flyering. At Northwestern, I must “look down to see what’s up,” as many say. And while the advertisements are eventually washed away or removed, the tape remains to showcase the university’s novel feature. Such creativity mirrors the personality of the community—an innovative, imaginative, and animated family of scholars. At Northwestern, I’m courageous. I have no need to fear the possibility of being judged for my own outrageous ideas because the school instructs a diverse set of creative minds. At Northwestern, stereotypes do not exist; they are lost in the pot of diversity.

I appreciate Northwestern’s flexible schedule system as well as its devotion to undergraduate education. Through its policy of no core curriculum, I am given the freedom to choose my classes and am guaranteed the largest variety of courses possible. I admire that the school realizes how important it is for students to explore their options before making a commitment to a major; the school wants students to discover who they are and what they want to be before making a choice. I’ve been convinced to enter college with an undeclared major because of such emphasis on freedom and flexibility.

The flexible schedules that Northwestern provides are incomplete without proper teaching. Almost all of the classes are taught by professors, and the student to faculty ratio is a small seven-to-one. Northwestern also emphasizes the importance of undergraduate research and experience: while students work out of the textbook, a great deal of the learning is done by experience. The McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, for example, begins engineering classes immediately. Other schools do not have this feature. Similarly, the Medill School of Journalism sends its students into Chicago for interviews almost immediately after beginning the course. Seeing as I learn much better through experience rather than textbooks, I find that Northwestern’s focus on experience-based education fits me very well.

Northwestern’s environment is one other colleges should envy. Residing along the glorious Lake Michigan, the school features several garden-like paths, with trees, bushes, and flowers at every corner. Friendly squirrels may be found along these walkways as well as small birds and, on occasion, bunnies. These creatures and gardens sublimely complement Northwestern’s buildings and community.

When my two days came to an end, I already thought Northwestern was my home. I didn’t want to leave; I wanted to stay forever. I’m now applying to the institution using the Early Decision option—and I can only hope that Northwestern will accept my passion and commitment.

Other pictures:

Chicago deep-dish pizza!

Katie Kim - she spent two hours with me. Thanks to her, I was able to see some dorms and eat in the dining hall.

Medill's broadcasting room! Amazing!

Rotary International World Headquarters! I love Interact Club - this was a huge plus for me.