Northwestern University and University of Chicago Panel
Want to go to school in the windy city? Join CollegeAdvisor.com Advisors and Alums from Northwestern and University of Chicago as they share their stories! Northwestern alum Kevin and UChicago alum Kiara will share their application process and campus experiences during a 60-minute webinar and Q&A session. In this webinar, you’ll have all your questions answered, including: – What are the academic expectations? – What extracurricular activities can I participate in? – What is life like on campus? -Perks of attending school in a big city Come ready to learn and bring your questions!
2022-10-19 – Northwestern University and University of Chicago Panel
Hi everyone. Welcome to CollegeAdvisor’s College panel on Northwestern University and the University of Chicago. To orient everyone with the webinar timing, we’ll start up with a presentation, then answer your questions in a live Q&A on the sidebar. You can download our slides and you can start to many your questions in the Q&A tab.
Uh, also, I am McKenzie and I’ll be your moderator tonight. So if you have any tech issues, you can message me and I will be adding some additional information about each school and different links, um, in the public chat if you would like to check those out. Um, but now, uh, let’s meet our panelists.
Hi everyone. Um, I’m Kiara Jackson. I went to the University of Chicago. Here at School of Public Policy for my Master’s in Public Policy. I graduated in 2019. I’m also a Senior CollegeAdvisor, um, at CollegeAdvisor. I love to help students figure out their personal branding, help them curate amazing essays that help them shine through, and then also to help them with any other kinds of things that they have around anxiety around the college um, the college application process.
So it’s something that I’m really passionate about, um, as I was a College Advisor for two years before getting my Masters. Um, so I look forward to helping students any way that I can. Hey everyone. I’m Kevin and I’m currently a PoliSci and Econ major at Northwestern University, and I’m actually a current sophomore, so I haven’t graduated yet, but I’m also working with CollegeAdvisor as an advisor too.
And yeah, I’m excited to get to know, present with you guys and work with anybody now after this webinar. Great. Uh, and real quick, we’re just gonna do a post. What grade are you currently in? Eighth, ninth, 10th, 11th, 12th or other. And other can be if you’re a transfer student or if you’re taking a gap year.
Uh, and if you’re a parent on the call, you can select the grade that your student is in. And while we wait for those, um, uh, Kevin and Kiara, can you tell us what was your favorite course that you have taken or are taking at your, your respective schools? Um, yeah, I can go ahead and answer that question first.
I would have to say one of my poli sci classes. It’s called globalization and basically it looks at the manufacturing and the shipping process of how we get our goods and basically the interconnectedness of, you know, money essentially. And that class was really interesting, interesting to me because it really combined economics with poli sci kind of showed me a clear way of how, you know, money is related in politics and how.
Politics is related in terms of the economy, nationally or globally.
Nice. Kevin, I wanna take that course. That sounds fun. Um, one of my favorite classes, um, I took a data analysis class at the social work school. So I took a similar class as part of my core curriculum at Harris, but then I took the social, uh, the same data analysis class at the social work school, um, because they were able to explain it for, um, people that had a social science background.
And so I studied sociology and undergrad. Um, and so my background was not, um, math, any type of like, stats, econ, et cetera. And so the way that they were able to explain it, um, made more sense to me than it did at the Harris School. And then it really helped, um, me to be able to further understand how policies and data, how they interact.
together, definitely. I felt the same way about my steps class. Um, and it’s looking like we have 25%, our 10th graders, 42%, um, our 11th graders making up the majority, and 33% are 12th graders. And, um, y’all can control the slides. And I think it’s Kevin, first, I wanna say
Yeah, so I guess like I can provide like kind of a timeline of how my, you know, college applications went. But essentially in August, I didn’t really do much to be honest. Um, I just went to my teachers at the start of school and just asked for letters of recommendation. And for all my sophomores or juniors, I would suggest that you ask your teachers about your rec letters pretty early too, because, um, if you have, if you go to a like larger.
Like I did, you know, a lot of teachers ran out of time. And so for the kids that asked at the later period, like November or December, they couldn’t write rec letters for them. And so I would say that it’s important to give your teachers a lot of time to like mentally and physically prepare themselves for, you know, writing your letters of rec.
So I would say, yeah, um, make sure you ask them first thing at the beginning of the year, your senior year. And yeah, that was basically it. And it’s September. I took a month long break, not gonna lie. Um, yeah, I asked for my rec letter. I probably shouldn’t have. But yeah, took a long unwarranted break. And then, and then basically in October, I was kind of in a rush, but I finalized my college list and I started writing my supplemental and common app essays in late October too.
And then in November I finished my common app essay. And then that was essentially that like November was just like a month. I rewrote my common essays so many times that like, you know, I was just doing that for an entire month. I was finally finished with it in November. And then, like, the bad part about taking September off, you know, was that I essentially, during December and during winter break, like, um, I had no free time because I was applying to all the colleges.
I was writing my supplemental essays, changing my college list again and editing my common app essay. And so I would feel like 80, I feel like 80% of the work for me was done during December. And I would encourage everyone else to not do that because my winter break was very stressful and I was writing college essays on Christmas, and that’s never fun.
And so, yeah, I would say that’s my, that’s what the overall application process was like.
And yeah, so in terms of any other schools that I were, that I was kind of considering was, I would say the big four are probably Emory Wash U, Chapel Hill and USC. And the biggest reason why I chose n u was kind of the weather at first, because I thought I would be acclimated to cold weather because I was, you know, I’m from Colorado.
Um, but yeah, it turns out I’m not really prepared for the Chicago winter. Very different than Colorado. And so, yeah, I just wanted to let everyone know it’s very cold here, like extremely cold. And, but other than that, I chose Northwestern because they’re a really research focused school, so our undergrad research program, A lot of the advisors there are practically begging us to conduct research because they tell us that they have like millions of dollars just sitting around with, and they don’t have anything to do with like, they don’t know what to do with it.
And so, yeah, they’re always going around like from class to class, you know, essentially like begging us to do research. And so I feel like that’s a really cool part about Northwestern is that, you know, if you wanna conduct research, you won’t face as many obstacles, I would say, when you wanna conduct research.
And I would say, um, this is, this might be a little misleading, but Northwestern has like a really pretty campus with pri with beaches that you can go to. I’d say it’s misleading. Um, you can really only enjoy like the beaches for like two months here, like max during the school year because like, you know, at the beginning of the month when you start school and near the end, like if it’s not those periods, it’s just so cold that, you know, no one’s gonna be at the beaches.
But when the weather is nice, it’s rare, but when it’s nice, you know, we have, we essentially have like two beaches that we can go to, and it’s really fun during the summer or during the fall when we play, you know, like, um, beach volleyball. And so I would say that’s another thing. And yeah, another, another aspect I was considering was like the proximity to Chicago.
Um, Evanston is like maybe 40 minutes away by car, but there’s also a lot of good public transportation, um, that connects Evanston to Chicago. And so I, I wanted to, you know, on like weekends I wanted to go, like partying in Chicago or maybe, you know, go to nice restaurants in Chicago without. Actually being in Chicago.
And so yeah, that’s why I kind of chose, uh, Northwestern. I thought the proximity to Chicago was great. And other than that, the poli sci programs here are very nice too. Um, a lot of my profs are, uh, willing to talk to me during office hours. They really, this sounds generic, but they really want me to succeed.
And I feel as if the political science professors here really want to get to know you as a person. And they’re always welcoming in terms of if you have questions or if you just wanna talk. And, yeah. Um, the, the research aspect of Northwestern applies for the poli science, the, the political science programs here too.
It’s really easy to conduct political science, like research papers and thesis papers. And yeah. And I would say other than that, Northwestern also appealed to me because of like the medium sized class. I didn’t want a super big school, like for example, like a uc school where there’s like, Uh, like millions of people.
Um, but I also didn’t want a very rural school with like, or a small size class with very few people. And so Northwestern was really the perfect medium for me. I feel as if, um, the school doesn’t feel too big, but it’s not too small to the point where you know, everybody. And so that’s, that’s the good part about Northwestern.
Um, I would say based off of that too. Another thing I forgot to mention was that the walking distance for Northwestern is really nice. What I mean by that is the furthest you would have to go for a class, let’s say you’re like on the opposite side of that class is 10 minutes max. So the, the longest distance ever you’ll ever have to walk is 10 minutes just by walking.
So I think that’s a very like, great aspect of Northwestern too. The campus isn’t that big, which. Because, um, you know, I always have ample time to get to class. And then, yeah, like the last reason is because of like the debate program we have here. I did debate throughout high school and so I would’ve preferred to join a school that had a pretty good debate program and I feel like Northwestern, um, or technically considered first place right now.
Like historically we’ve won the most amount of like national tournaments. So yeah, we are number one. Maybe not this year, but yeah, historically we are number one. And so we just have a great program. A lot of great coaches that actually help us too. The coach to debater ratio is really nice too. Um, I think it’s like one coach per team, which is really insane to me.
And yeah, I would say those were the biggest things for me for, for why I chose Northwestern. And in terms of why I wanted to do political science was first kind of the interdisciplinary field of study. No matter what you study, I feel as if PoliSci is a great means into understanding more. So for example, like economics, political sciences involved, even for things like environmental environment, like, uh, any environmental classes you take, you need to consider like the political science, like aspects behind that.
I would say like even math and STEM related stuff to, in order for those things, um, in order for like inventions or these things to be implemented, you also need to work through law or like the government in order to apply. So I felt that political science was kind of a gateway to where I could study multiple field fields of study.
And yeah, also it’s like I feel as if political science is the best way to understanding like, phenomenon in this world. So, um, when you look at phenomenon and explain like, and wonder why this thing is happening, usually I can. Pinpoint like concepts in political science or, uh, political science philosophy, political philosophy to which I can pinpoint, pinpoint and say, Oh, this is kind of why this is happening.
And also I’m planning on going, going to law school. And so I feel as if political science is a good pathway into law school. You don’t have to be a poly sci major to do law, but I feel as if I need some background knowledge. And the best major for that would be political science. Yeah. And other than that, um, I chose, the biggest reason is because I just like, don’t like stem.
And so I feel for a lot of you high schoolers too, the best way to figure out what you wanna do is to figure out the stuff that you don’t like to do. Like that’s, I kind of eliminated the stuff that I didn’t wanna do first and then kind of arrived at my major. So yeah, I would suggest the same for yeah.
Everyone else too. And kind of the benefits of political science, I would say, is it that it. Is that improves your writing skills, research and an analytical reading skills. And those skills are important no matter what major you’re in. And I feel as if political science really give, builds that foundation and these skills that can help you, you know, when you’re in, when you’re doing internships or when you’re going into the job market.
Yes. So, um, now we’re just gonna do another quick pulse. So where are you in the application process? Having started? I’m researching schools, I’m working on my essays. I’m getting my application materials together. Or if you’re really lucky, I’m almost done. I wanna wait for that. Uh, can y’all tell us what was your favorite or what has been your favorite, uh, tradition, uh, at your school?
Yeah. Um, I could, I definitely know this one for sure. I would say it’s di day and di day is the biggest student run festival like in the world, I think. But I. I heard it from a friend. Don’t quote me on this, but yeah, it’s a pretty big festival and it’s student run and what happens is we bring in a bunch of famous artists and essentially these artists perform from like 12:00 PM to like 9:00 PM So it’s like a huge it’s like it’s a very long day on a Saturday where, you know, we just have concerts 24/7.
And in the past, or historically we’ve had Kanye West Chance the rapper, um, Sean Kingston. We had Dominic Fight last year and we had Remi Wolf too last year. And so we, surprisingly, like we were able to bring in a lot of popular artists and yeah, my favorite tradition would hands down be do day.
I had a great time and it was free for Northwestern students too, so it was really cool. Um, yeah, going to a lot of concerts like on campus. Yeah. That sounds like fun. Um, for me as a grad student, we would have different, um, galas that we could go to. So I wanna say, I think twice a year, um, the Harris School put on galas for us to attend.
So like one was, um, in the museum, the Museum of Science and Industry, which is on the south side. Um, and it’s just like a really good time to like reconnect with your peers outside of classes, like not all the time. So you get to see them, um, cuz you guys are taking different classes. You guys are maybe doing internships, working, et cetera, have like a family, um, whatever the case may be.
So to see them, um, usually all in one room, um, was really exciting just to like catch up with every. Definitely. And um, if you’re interested in another school, Cornell, we had a mean last semester at our concert. So, and we had those cats some years ago. But anyhow, uh, we have 20 per 25% haven’t started. 39% are researching schools, 16% are working on their essays.
14% are getting their application materials together and 7% the lucky if you are almost done, you can control the slides now. Nice. Well, good luck to everyone as you guys work through the process. Um, so for me again, um, this is me as applying as a graduate student, so. Similar but a little different.
So in August, uh, slash September, this is when I wrote my personal statement, I really based it off of, um, the personal statement that I wrote for undergrad. And I just tweaked it, um, to incorporate some of my lived experiences post undergrad, working as a College Advisor, and then to really hone in on and explain, um, why I wanted to go to public policy school, why I was really interested in education policy.
Um, so that’s how I framed my personal statement. And then in October, um, I did my FAFSA, my GRE, um, and I also started my application process. So what I mean by that is like, I literally went onto the Harris website and click, you know, begin application. Um, and so I did like a lot of the like technical pieces, like the FAFSA and GRE all in October, um, and starting the application.
Um, and then towards the end of October and November, um, this is when I had asked and received for letters of recommendation. So to piggyback off of what Kevin was saying, um, it’s really important to like ask your teachers or your professors for your letters of recommendation and enough time, um, because they are really busy, they’re doing things too, um, outside of teaching.
Um, they have, you know, life outside of teaching. So to be really cognizant, um, of when you’re asking for letters of recommendation. Um, and I would say for those, as you all think. You know, going to college as an undergrad and then graduating, it’s important to keep in touch with your, um, undergraduate professors and also your, um, to have a good standing and a relationship with your, uh, supervisors if you happen to have one.
So for me, I took two years off, um, in between undergrad and applying for a graduate school. So I was working, um, as a College Advisor for two years. Um, and so I was able to get a letter of recommendation from my supervisor. Um, she also doubles as my principal. So when I was in middle high school, she was my principal.
Um, and then she became my supervisor when I worked as a College Advisor. Right. So she had literally like 20 years of knowing me, like as. As a kid, but also as an adult. Um, and so it was in as a student and then also as, um, a direct report. So it was really heartwarming to like read her letter of recommendation that she wrote for me.
Um, and then I kept in touch with my professors, um, my undergraduate professors. Um, and these were also the professors that I did internships with. Um, So I didn’t feel like, you know, weird reaching out to them because we already had an established relationship. And so it was really easy for me to like, reach out to them and they wrote an amazing letters of recommendations for me.
Um, and then in January I submitted my application. So I submitted mine in round one. Um, and then I was able to get my, um, acceptance or. You know, admitted letter in February. Um, and then another important piece for me, and, uh, I think for those who are applying for undergrad, I would suggest if you, if you can, to either like do the virtual tour that they have online.
Um, but if you really can, I highly recommend and suggest that you all go to the schools, um, that you’re like super excited to go to where like at least your top school. Um, and that way you are able to like, get a feel for the campus. Um, I did that when I, um, went to uc, Santa Barbara as an undergraduate. I went to their campus first, um, did some of the activities that they had for some of the prospective students.
Um, and that really helped me to make my decision. And so I remembered how I felt, um, you know, going to the campus for the first time, um, before I was, before I even accepted. And so I did the same thing with, um, New Chicago Harris, which was. Super helpful for me. Cause again, I’m from California. I did not know cold like Chicago.
The coldest I had been before Chicago was in Manchester, England. I stayed abroad for a year in undergrad. And so it was cold there. But in retrospect, I, I mean like a less, you’re from like Serbia or somewhere that is like near one of the poles. It is so cold. Chicago is so cold. like, I just wanna reiterate it is very cold.
Um, and so I would say, Make sure you have long, you know, long sleeves, your pants, your thermals underneath your pants, um, a super well insulated jacket or coat. Um, and around the times that I, uh, started school, we also had different, like polar vortexes happening. And so it was freezing temperatures, like literally negative 20.
Um, and so again, because I have never experienced super cold like that, um, it was an eyeopening experience, um, to be in cold and to see people throw boiling water in the air and watch it freeze in real time. So, um, it was really like insightful for me to like go to them in a student’s day. I got to tour.
The, you know, the UChicago Harris School, but also I got to walk around all the other campuses as well. And I got to meet some of, um, my colleagues who would eventually become my friends. Um, and we’re still friends to this day. Um, and a lot of us live in Chicago, so like that was a great starting point for me.
Cause I feel like sometimes as you get older, it’s difficult to make friends, um, outside of like the workplace, um, or just like in general. And so this was like one of those times in which I was able to meet people that I still have like long lasting relationships with. Um, and then in April I submitted my deposit and then I confirmed my acceptance.
Um, and then I’ll talk about why, uh, you know, I want to go to the University of Chicago and the other schools that I applied to. So I applied to Harvard, Rutgers, and usc. They each had a public policy school. Um, I did not get into Harvard. Um, and like to me, that was like a dream school. I was like, you know, I’ll apply, I’ll see what happens.
But like, I had a feeling I wouldn’t, which was fine. Uh, I was being very realistic, right? So when we think about safety, target and reach, Harvard was my reach. Um, my safety was Rutgers in USC. Um, my target, uh, slash a reach. , uh, which usually like doesn’t happen sometimes. It’s like very clear like this is your target.
Um, what’s you, Chicago. And so why I chose u uh, U Chicago. So they honestly gave me the best financial aid package. Um, I did not pay for, I didn’t have any student loans as an undergraduate. Um, I only pay for Ruben board. And so I knew that like I would inevitably have to pay for a student. I would have to have student loans, um, as a graduate student, which I was okay with cause I hadn’t had them before.
Um, but they were able to give me some financing for my degree. So that was super helpful as well. I also had a work study, um, which was part of my financial aid package. Um, and then out of all the schools I did get into, so Rutgers and USC, um, in my opinion, uh, U Chicago had like the most prestige, right?
And I felt like it wasn’t geographically fixed. So like for instance, I really. Boiled it down to like USC and U Chicago, and I thought about, um, like one of the pros and cons that I had. Prestige. Um, and to me, USC is geographically fixed with prestige. Like a lot of people they know about USC in California.
Um, whereas I really sat down and I thought, Okay, like with, uh, with you Chicago, it’s world known, like it’s world renowned. Um, and I’m, I would be able to like leverage, um, my. Better. Um, and also like the name of the school that I went to, right? Um, and then Harris, they had, they were one of the top schools that had a data focus curriculum, right?
So even if, you know, I were to get into Harvard, Harvard did not have a, a data focus curriculum. There was, theirs was more social science based. Um, and one of the top reasons why I wanted to go back, um, to school and get my MPP was that I wanted to attend a school that had a data focus curriculum out of all the schools that I applied to.
Um, so like for instance, my core classes, they were stats and econ. Um, and then in my second year I had the opportunity to take courses like coding and programming and um, program evaluation. Um, and then I also had access to the other U Chicago school. So I took classes after business school, which is a really world renowned school as well, U Chicago booth.
Um, and I was able to take, um, Classes at their social work school as well. Um, and then I also, I wanted to learn how data could effectively explain and elaborate on policies, right? So policies and as well as law, they all govern, um, the ways in which we operate, the way in which we behave, consequences, et cetera.
Um, and so I really wanted to understand how does data in real time, how do you take a data set? How do you clean it? Um, and then how do you use that data to narrate a story, right? Cause when you boil it down, data is really just numbers, but it’s biased based on what the person that’s telling that story and the, and the narrative that they’re sharing and how they’re doing the storytelling, right?
So to me, data is all about storytelling. And I wanted to be able to effectively communicate that. And then I want to live in a new city, in a state. I don’t think I’ve ever shied away from living, um, in a different city, state, or country. Um, my parents always like joke and they’re like, you know, Kira probably will not be back in Oakland anytime soon, which is where I’m from, my hometown.
Um, and they’re probably right. Um, you know, even though it’s super cold out here, I know Kevin and I, we live in Chicago. We are getting ready for the winter. Um, the winter is coming, but to know Chicago is to know that the real winter starts in January. And so, and it will last until April, until March or April.
So, um, but I still, I want to live in like a big city, um, where I’m from, it’s not big at all. And so, you know, Chicago is a huge, huge city. Um, it, you know, on the east there’s the lake. Um, but then like as I, like, you know, got more familiar with Chicago and that happened like after I graduated, um, there are.
over, I think there’s like 77 neighborhoods in Chicago and they are all uniquely different. Um, and they all have something different to bring. And so, um, you know, sometimes if I’m like, I really wanna go to like my favorite taco joint, I’m going to Pilsen, right? Um, or. Uh, if I wanna like, walk around in my neighborhood, I’m staying in Lakeview and I’m walking around to like the little shopping area that they have.
Um, or if I wanna like hang out, um, with friends. Some of our friends still live on the south side, They still live in Hyde Park or the Woodlawn area, which is where, um, you, Chicago is situated. Then, you know, I’ll drive down there. Um, and so every um, neighborhood has its own unique identity and that’s something that I feel like is really unique to Chicago.
Um, which is why, one of the reasons why, um, I’m really happy to still be in Chicago and also they call it the food city. Chicago’s a big food city. Um, there’s a lot of great food here and also the skyline is actually incredible. Um, I just left the south side earlier today and I was coming back home. The view that you get of the complete skyline from Lake Shore Drive is incredible.
Um, and then why did I wanna pursue a Master’s in public policy? Um, so I knew that I wanted to have an, I knew I wanted to go back to school for an advanced degree, and I thought it would always be law. Um, I think just growing up, um, you know, like that’s all the stuff that I heard, like either like you become a lawyer or you become a doctor and then you watch law in order, you watch all these like law and like, uh, doctor based shows.
Um, and, you know, I also had, um, people in my life who, you know, I had like a, a black dentist and I had a black orthodontist. Um, and so I did have some, some representation of, um, black people who were doctors and who were lawyers. And so I had something to look up to and I always just thought it would be, You know, in law.
And then I remember talking to one of my good friends, we went to Santa Barbara together and he went to Hines, um, which is a school, um, at Carnegie Mellon for, for his MPP. And I was like telling him like, you know, I wanna pursue law cause I wanna like understand how policies, how they govern people and behaviors.
And also like really wanted to help, um, historically marginalize, disinvested and unprotected communities. Um, and I remember telling him this. He was like, It’s, he was like, you know, it sounds like you wanna get a Master’s in public policy. At that time I had no idea what he was talking about. I was like, what?
Like, I thought it was just law that that does that. Um, and so I did my research on and MPP I learned, um, you know, like what type of like work. You know, graduates can do, uh, what the program looked like in the curriculum around it. So similar to those who are, um, applying for undergrad. You know, if you’re interested in a certain, um, field or study, it’s al it’s crucial that like you research it, right?
So when you’re going onto the websites, you’re looking to see what type of courses they offer, um, you know, what type of services that they provide for first year students. Um, and also like for your time at that school, right? So for your four years or if you’re transferring for your two years, what type of services and supports are they gonna give you, um, within your major.
And then also just holistically, um, as a student at their school. Um, and so I did some of my research, um, and then I really. Focusing on that, I wanted to learn data. So again, as I explained before, um, I wanted to understand data, but I also wanted to do data analysis. Um, cause I wanted to be able to translate, um, data for various audience, for various audiences.
I think sometimes it’s really difficult to try to understand data, especially when you’re reading like a report and you see like, you know, the p significance is like 0.05. It’s like, what does that actually mean? Um, or why is this significant? Why this data and why isn’t like this result, uh, not significant?
Right? So being able to like explain that not only for myself, but also to be able, able to explain that to other people was something that I was really, um, really sold on, um, about wanting to go back to school. Um, and then I felt like I had, like, I understood like the anecdotal experiences, so I did sociology, um, An undergrad, um, you know, I have family members, I have friends, you know, you learn things on tv, media, et cetera.
And so I felt like I had the anecdotal experiences, right, of understanding, um, you know, not everything, but a large amount of, uh, why things were, they were, they were in terms of like for historically, um, unprotected, marginalized, and disinvested communities. Um, but I wanted to be able, um, to understand and explain how data, um, can explain and better support those anecdotal experiences because those experiences, they do have real life implications.
They do have real impact. And I wanted to be able to explain that to, again, various different audiences. Um, and then lastly, I wanted to learn more about education policy. So before, um, I started my master’s in public policy. I was a College Advisor for two years. Um, and I love the students that I worked with, but I knew I wanted to have an impact outside of the classroom so I can be able to help more than just the students that I saw each year.
Um, and so I wanted to be able to explain, again, the anecdotal experiences, why things were they, were they, why things were the way that they are, um, and then be able to like explain how we can increase life, face, pregnancy outcomes, um, for different communities. And then again, explaining the different systems and conditions that contribute to the investment and disinvestment in communities.
Yes. So that is the end of the webinar. I hope you found this information helpful. And remember, again, that you can download the slide from the link in the hand house tab. And this webinar is being recorded if you would like to view it again later on our website. Moving on to live Q&A. I’ll read through questions you submitted in the Q&A tab, um, and read them a lot before our panelist gives you an answer.
As a heads up, if your Q&A tab isn’t letting you submit questions, just make sure that you join the webinar through the custom link sent to your email and not from the webinar landing page. Also, notice the website or else you won’t get all the fu up. Big marker. Uh, so yeah, but real quick, uh, just again, I have been putting some information in the public chat if you would like to get it.
Um, it does not get saved after the webinar, so you will have to copy and paste, but there’s just some general information about the admissions process and different sites for or CollegeAdvisor, um, that you can find here. And then also this, um, We won’t be answering specific questions about whether or not you’ll be able to get into a school based on what your resume is saying.
Um, but you can check out some of the Lincoln links in the public chat that take you to where the school’s, um, you, Chicago and Northwestern are listing, um, what they’re looking for in applicants. What do the application requirements, There’s some information on financial aid and also, um, different things.
Both schools are focused on needs-based financial aid and meet a hundred percent of need. And then also they both require the FAFSA and CSS profile and they do, both schools do offer, um, aid for international students. Yeah, there’s just some more information in the, um, chat and then also with sports. I haven’t been able to find anything on Northwestern yet that you, Chicago is D three.
And they don’t offer, but they don’t offer any athletic scholarships. So, yeah. So now moving on to the Q&A, uh, a student is asking, um, should we ask for letter for recommendation letters in May during junior year so that, um, teachers will still re still remember? She will. Well,
um, yeah, I would say, I would say that’s a good idea. So what I would say is you go to your junior teacher near the end of May and just tell them, Hey, um, I’m potentially thinking of, you know, having you as my recommender for my college app, for my college applications. Would you be okay with that? And they don’t have to write it, you know, there when you’re a junior, when you’re only a junior.
But just kind of remind, like let them know that you’re planning to ask them. And then once summer break is over and you go back to school, like on the first day of class, you should ask them. So I would say yeah, like asking in May wouldn’t hurt, but yeah, it’s just important that you ask, you know, right away when school starts senior year.
Mm-hmm. , uh, also I recommend asking in person and then also sending an email with just some additional information like, um, your brag sheet or your resume or activities list, whatever you wanna call it. Um, and then also what schools you’re applying to when you’re applying to them. And then also if you’re considering applying early decision or any early time, um, enrollment time, um, you have to, um, let them know even sooner and let them know of that you’re applying early so that they can meet the deadline.
If you’re applying regular, they have a bit more time. So, um, yeah, just keep that in mind. But going on to the next question, um, what do y’all think was the most important part of your application and how did your overall application help you get into use Chicago and then also know Northwestern?
Um, um, yeah, I can, Oh, sorry. Yeah, no, go. Sorry. Oh, okay. Uh, yeah, I would say I think in terms of like GPA and s a t score, once you pass like a threshold, I think everybody’s fine. So, you know, for example, the difference between a 1530 or a 1540 and like a 1600 isn’t that huge. And same for like a 3.9 and a 4.0 unweighted gpa.
What sets you apart once you pass these, like academic thresholds is your extracurriculars and your essay. And so basically your extracurriculars and your essays are supposed to show what type of student you are, kind of like, aside from just the numbers and, uh, it kind of shows you have to like kinda show the admission officers that you’re a likable person and that you are somebody that would fit well in that campus.
And so to answer the. I would say, um, I don’t think any of my extracurriculars were spectacular, so I’m gonna just assume that it was my essays that were great and what got me into Northwestern. I would agree. Um, I tell my students to this day, um, like, you know, you, you can split it and you have your numbers and then you have everything else that like, uh, that can’t describe you based on like your numbers.
And so I tell ’em to think of it as, you know, someone is trying, the admissions officer is trying to get to know who you are and have like a holistic picture of you. And so the numbers can only tell you so much. Um, but what really like can like, swing where I feel like can swing like the pendulum, um, is like your essay, right?
Your supplemental essays or like your main essay. Um, and I feel like that’s just like coming from you, just being authentic and talking about something that’s important to you. Something that’s had like a great impact. Um, on you as a person and or on other people. Um, and so I would agree with, um, Kevin. I also think, like, and I always thought of it for myself as an applying for undergrad and then also as a graduate student that like my GPA and my essays saved me.
Like I was not, I’m not a great super, I’m not a great standardized test taker at all. Um, so my SAT scores and my GRE scores were not the greatest. Um, but my GPA was super high. Um, and then also I really thought that my essays were pretty great. . Mm-hmm. And kind of going off of that, both schools are test optional.
Um, you can check out more information on their websites, but both schools are test optional for this admission cycle. Um, they, that may change in the future for anyone that’s a junior or a sophomore, but for current seniors, they, both schools are test optional and both say that it won’t affect your admissions chance if you don’t submit, but if you think that it will add to your application, then they recommend submitting it.
Uh, but going on to the next question, kind of going off of what y’all mentioned, how difficult were the supplemental essays for your respective schools and how many did you have also? So, yeah. Um, for like supplemental essays, I think it, like the difficulty depends on what type of writer you are, but for me, Northwestern’s supplemental essay was super easy.
Like it’s a 250 word response of like, why do you wanna go to Northwestern? You know, it’s like you still have to spend a lot of time and thought like writing that essay, but it’s only two 50 words, so, you know, it’s not too bad. I would say some other supplemental essays are much harder, like use Chicago for undergrad.
Like I thought, like, you know, they had like one of the more difficult essays just because it required you to use a lot of your creativity, like your creative writing skills and stuff. I don’t know about grad school, but undergrad applications like U Chicago had some very like quirky essay prompts, which made it a lot harder for me just because I’m not much of a creative type of person.
But yeah, I would say the difficulty like depends on like what type of writer you are, but I would say like Northwestern supplemental essay, you only have one and it’s only 250 words. So I don’t think, you know, it’s too much work compared to the other schools. Um, as a grad student, I don’t recall having to do supplemental essays.
For my program, but I would, you know, agree with Kevin. I think, you know, the difficulty of your supplemental essays really depends on like your comfortability as a writer and like the fluidity and how you write. So if you’re more like technical in your writing, then like a very standard question of, you know, why are you interested in attending the school may be easier versus, versus if it’s like a more creative type of prompt and you are a very technical writer, then like that could be difficult cuz then you have to like, think outside of the box for your, um, for your answer.
Um, and then like how to like structure your essay and stuff like that. So I think it just depends on like your comfort, your comfortable ability as a. Uh, and Northwestern’s, uh, supplement is the same this year. Um, now every school keeps their supplement the same, every single year. U Chicago usually changes it to something new every year.
Um, but, um, U Chicago has two of them, and then one of them, you get to pick which option you wanna do. Uh, and then they vary in word count. Theirs are a bit longer than other schools. I’ve seen them go up to like 800 words, which is a bit longer for supplements. Northwestern is still two 50 and it’s just the why Northwestern question.
Uh, and you can find those in the public chat and they’re listed on their websites. Um, what else? And then they’re also, when you fill out the common app, you should be able to see them. Uh, but going on to the next question, does you, Chicago and Northwestern offer, do they offer, uh, good scholarships, good financial aid?
Is it an affordable option?
Hmm. I feel like I have to be honest with, um, you all here compared to the other schools that I’ve gotten into, like USC, UVA, Chapel Hill and all those other schools, and WashU I’ve comparatively got less financial aid from Northwestern. And um, you know, like I say this because Northwestern, like all the other schools that I got in into, I got the similar, like, I got pretty identical like financial aid and like money in terms of like scholarships, but for some reason like Northwestern didn’t give me as much.
And so based on my personal anecdotes still apply to Northwestern. Like I love it here, but like, you know, just based on myself, I feel like it’s not the best just because I didn’t get as much as the other schools, which I thought was weird, but yeah, that’s the honest answer. Yeah. Uh, yes. And then there’s also.
Some additional information in the public chat on, um, financial aid. Both schools are private, so they do offer, um, they do offer financial aid, uh, to outta state and international students. Um, what else? And then they also are both, again, a hundred percent, um, needs based. And then, um, so they meet, Sorry I said that wrong.
They meet a hundred percent a demonstrated need. And then also, um, they do not have loans in their financial aid package for undergrads at least. Uh, and so they, um, they, that’s what they say on their websites, so, yeah. But, uh, Kiara, did you have anything you want to add? Um, so as a grad student, um, my financial aid package came with, um, you know, financing from, from Harris, but then I also have student loans.
Um, out of all the schools, they gave me the most money, but it wasn’t like a substantial amount of money. So most of my, um, , my schooling was covered from my student loans. Mm-hmm. Uh, okay. Going on to the next question. Where is you, Chicago? Where are you? Chicago and Northwestern located? Um, what are the areas like how big is the campus and is it safe?
Yeah. Um, Evanston is where Northwestern’s located. It’s about 40 minutes by car from Chicago. Realistically, I would say an hour with traffic. And in terms of like the location, Northwestern’s right next to the lake, um, it’s a very, I think it’s a pretty small campus, like comparatively, as I’ve mentioned earlier, you can walk, you know, the longest, the furthest you would have to walk is maybe like a mile or something like that to get to your classes.
So not a very big campus, but I feel like that’s advantageous just because, you know, unless you like walking, I don’t, um, it’s really easy to get to class. And in terms of like the city, Evanston is pretty like safe, I would say. And there’s a lot of nice local restaurants near, um, in Evanston too. So, and they’re all within like 10 minutes walking distance too.
And I would say that’s the biggest advantage of Evanston. We also have Whole Foods, a Target, a CVS, all six to seven minutes within walking distance of campus. So yeah, I would say, um, Evanston’s a pretty nice city to be in and it’s not that populated either, so it’s really quiet too.
Um, UChicago is situated in Hyde Park. Um, I like, I enjoyed it. Like, especially like I remember like my first, um, snowfall there and. I think made like my sickest snowfall. I was walking back from the library to my place. Um, and because I lived in Woodlawn from the library, I think it was like maybe a 20, 25 minute walk.
Um, but like the snow was falling slowly. It was just, it was beautiful. Um, I would say in terms of like safety, um, I would say like, it’s reasonably safe. I think, you know, um, I, I’ll say this one, they do have shuttles after like a certain hour, um, you, Chicago has free shuttles to um, shuttle you to like your, um, to different like areas like within Hyde Park.
So if you live like in the dorms, um, they’ll shuttle you there. They even shuttled me like near, um, the Woodlawn area. Um, and then they have, um, those security, I don’t know what they’re called, but they’re like the blue light and like you tap it. Okay. Um, so they have that like. Almost every corner. They usually have security guards standing, um, at random corners as well.
Um, and I feel like, I feel like it’s like relatively safe. I think like no matter where you go, that’s always gonna be a question of safety. Um, and I will say like when incidents did happen, um, on the campus, uh, the campus security, they would send out like a mass email out to everybody so that everyone was alert about it.
But I would again, re uh, reiterate that no matter where you go, small town, big town, big city, metropolitan city, um, you know, safety is always going to be, um, an unpredictable variable. Um, so, but yeah, I would just say it’s, it’s something to like think about, but, um, I, I personally think it’s relatively. Mm.
Uh, okay. And another student is asking, I have already chosen my career, um, but I don’t know which, um, major to choose. How do I know, um, which one to choose, um, when I go to college or, And can y’all talk about a bit how y’all came to choose your, um, majors as well?
Yeah. Um, I guess it depends on what you want your career to be, I think. Yeah. Um, I would have to know that first, but other than that, um, I can speak in terms of like, if, like if you wanna be a doctor, you wanna go to med school, I heard there’s not a lot of flexibility, especially for Northwestern. Like you have to take a set of standardized classes in order to prepare yourself for med school.
And I think that’s pretty standard for all colleges across the nation. But in terms of law school, it’s like very flexible. You can be a chem major and go into law, so, you know, I don’t know if you wanna go into law, but if you do, you know, you can really major in. What helped me decide? I think the biggest thing is just like figuring out what you don’t like first, I would say, um, through either high school or freshman year of college too, I took a lot of like diverse classes.
I took computer science, math, I took like an art class as a poly sci major too. And through kind of like experimenting and taking a different, a diverse load of classes, I kind of got to figure out what I didn’t like. And after, oh, I kind of eliminated some of the majors that I did not have an interest in.
I was able to arrive at like political science. Yeah.
Um, I was big on. So, uh, when I applied to UC Santa Barbara as an undergrad, I, uh, submitted my college major as PoliSci. Um, and then when I went to school, oddly enough, I, in my first. Semester. I mean, my first quarter I did not take any poly sci classes. Um, that whole year. I didn’t take any poly sci classes.
I took only sociology classes. Um, cause I was reading through, um, and I don’t know if they still do this, but they would give you like, um, a course description booklet and so you could read through all the different descriptions of the different courses. Um, and like, even though like my heart was set on poli sci, because like I knew what it offered, I was like, yeah, like I wanna understand like politics and like learn more about like political science more broadly.
Um, when I was reading over the course descriptions for sociology, I was like, Oh, this actually like fits my interests more. And so I just took all those type of classes. Um, so that’s like how I came. And then I changed my major, so I changed it from PoliSci to sociology. Um, and I think like speaking, like piggybacking off of what Kevin said, I think it would depend.
Um, and at UC Santa Barbara, I know like there were a couple of. People that I went to school with, um, they were pre-med, um, but they majored in like humanities. Uh, so like, I like sociology or political science, anthropology, but like, they took all of like the standard recommended, uh, and required courses to get into med school.
Um, but their major was just different and like they decided to do that because they wanted to be more well rounded. Instead of doing like, you know, a major in biology, they decided to do a major in like sociology. But then they still took all of their required classes for, um, uh, to get into med school.
And like they worked extremely hard with their CollegeAdvisor to make sure that they were continuously on track. You do get a CollegeAdvisor when you are, um, in undergrad or in grad school. And so they just made sure that like they were on top of things. Um, but I think it just depends. And like sometimes schools may be more rigorous in terms of, um, telling you that you can’t really.
you don’t have an outside major like that, but I think a lot of schools, they’re okay with it as long as like you do your required, um, classes for, um, the professional school that you’re trying to go to. Yes. And for all pre-professional tracks, and we do have more webinars on this, um, it is the same way being pre-med, pre-law, pre-vet doesn’t meet, that is not your major.
You pick an a, an actual major, and then the pre-professional track is just the set of courses and other outside activities that you do in order to meet your, um, graduate school requirements to be able to get in. Uh, so yeah, so that is a common theme amongst schools. But a lot of Stu I’m seeing a lot of students asking about writing essays and how to stand out with that.
So can y’all talk about your personal statements and how y’all think that made y’all stand out for y’all schools?
Yeah, so I think the biggest thing when it comes to personal. Or common up essays, like their personal statement is, it doesn’t really matter what you write about. It depends on, it matters, like how you write about it and what unique perspectives and insights and values that you can write about. So my topic, my topic was very generic.
I feel like, like the thing I talked about was very generic, which was, um, which was, I essentially talked about debate, but I spun it into a way where I could give my own insight into it and my own perspective where, sure, there’s a millions of students that do debate, you know, throughout the United States, but, um, uh, it’s important for me you to like, provide your own unique perspective that other debaters like wouldn’t have on the topic.
And yeah, so that’s, I, a lot of questions I get from students is like, is this topic unique enough? You know, like I didn’t start a business with when I was two years old. Like, how, how could I write about anything? You know? But the answer is, is. Like most admission officers, they’ve practically seen everything.
So no accomplishment that you have or no award or extracurricular that you did is gonna like, you know, you’re not gonna be the only one who did that in their whole career. So really the only way to stand out is by, um, providing unique perspectives and writing about a generic topic in a unique way.
Um, I would definitely agree with Kevin. Um, similarly, um, I wrote about, I think for, uh, use Santa Barbara. It was similar to that essay that I did for, uh, U Chicago. Um, it was around like, right about like who inspires you. Um, and so I wrote about like my favorite big cousin and how like she was going to be the first, um, generation, um, college student within our family.
Um, you know, some things happened to her, uh, like different life circumstances happened. Um, And to which like changed her life’s trajectory when she decided, um, not to finish school. And then I became, um, the first generation college student within our family. And so I talked about that, how like, you know, she really inspired me, but also like I felt let down, um, because I, I, you know, I looked up to her and, uh, the, the torch that I thought that like, she would continue to light and, you know, I would continue to have a guiding post was no longer there.
Um, and so I wrote about that. And then for UC Santa Barbara, there was another essay, um, and I can’t remember the prompt, but I remember re uh, writing about, Um, my school, um, I went to a chartered school and it was, uh, pretty strict. And so I remember like writing about that and because I taught at the same school, I shared my essays with the students, like I had it up on the projector.
Um, and they were like, Oh, really? Like you went to a very strict school. Right. And so, you know, it was a, it was an interesting parallel cuz they also went to the same school that, you know, I had graduated from. And, um, but it was really just to show them like how I decided to develop my essays. But similar to what Kevin was saying, I think it really just depends on how you write about it.
Like, I tell my students all the time, you can write about a dog eating your homework. Um, but it’s How was that experience unique to you, right? Like what did you learn from it? What led to it? What could you have done differently? What impacted you? What impacted other people? Um, you know, how, like how does this story like elevate.
Um, you as a person, um, how, how’s, how did it like, make you grow? Were there consequences? Right? So really being able, um, to like, answer some of those questions cause like those would be unique to you, right? So being able to like, try to answer those, um, as authentically as possible. And I think honestly, like just being authentic.
Um, you know, I think, and I tell students this all the time, um, like I think anyone can read, I think most people like when they read and essay, like they can tell if it’s authentic to you. Um, cause of like how passionate you are behind the words that you’re saying, um, and how you make your essay flow. Um, and then honestly like by the words that you’re saying.
Um, and so, you know, if you’re talking about a dog eating your homework, um, you know, how passionate can you be with writing it, um, and delivering that message to show how you shine from that. Mm-hmm, definitely. And, um, for those in the room who are already working with us, we know how overwhelming the admissions process is for parents and students alike, especially when trying to figure out what’s read in your essays, figuring out which schools are the best for you, figuring out, um, what major you should even be doing.
Um, our team of over 300 former admissions officers and admissions experts, such as Kevin and Kiara are here, are ready to help you and your family. Navigate it on one on one advising sessions. Take charge of your family’s college admissions journey by signing up for a free strategy session, um, with an admissions expert by scanning the QR code on the screen.
It’ll take you to another link and you’ll be able to fill out the form for like a time and other information. And you can also go to our website at, uh, app.CollegeAdvisor.com, um, where you can figure out more about our packages and plans and what services we. Um, some highlights are, um, our financial aid team who can help with figuring out which schools, um, and what sort of, uh, aid packages your family can get.
Uh, our college list building team who can help figure out if Northwestern and U Chicago will be a good fit for you. And then also our essay review team who can help really, um, pull together your essay, um, get additional edits and additional eyes on it, so that is the strongest that it can be. And then also our wonderful advisors who really get to know you throughout the admissions process and can help guide you, um, in a very niche and personalized way, um, to, uh, ensure that you are submitting the best application that is most representative of, of you.
Uh, so yeah, so just scan the QR code on the screen, but now back to the Q&A. And since we are coming up on time, we’ll just do one more question. So would you say that you, Chicago and Northwestern are cutthroat? And how would you describe the vibe of the school and its community?
Northwestern’s pretty work hard, play hard. And so I feel like even it might be depending on the major, I know economics here is very cutthroat econ here. I think same for you, Chicago undergrad for econ too, cuz they’re both pretty high up there in um, rankings. But I would say even though, you know, a lot of people study a lot and it’s kind of like a kind of a little bit of a try hard environment, like, um, it’s way more collaborative than I thought it would’ve been, which is nice.
Um, people are willing to help each other. There’s a lot of like group project assignments too, which foster collaboration. And so it was very contrary to what I thought Northwestern would be and that, um, it’s very collaborative. There’s a pretty good like work hard and play hard culture. And so, you know, not everybody’s just studying 24/7.
Um, people know how to enjoy themselves too and like, you know, no one to relax. And so, yeah, I would say. cutthroat? Not really. Um, Is it hard? Yes, but I think it’s, you would still have, you know, a lot of fun attending Northwestern. Um, you, Chicago has, uh, like an unofficial motto, which is where fun comes to die , so that, that speaks volumes.
Um, I will say, I don’t know much about like you, Chicago undergrads, like student life in terms of like partying and stuff like that. Um, but I do remember, uh, I would always see like undergrads studying at like different hours of the day. And I remember once I was like in the library, super, super late, um, and there were like so many undergrads there and they were all in like their own different groups, collaborating with each other, helping each other solve different problems.
And like we were, as like a few of the graduate students, we were stuck on a problem. And so we like ran over. , a group of undergrads. We were like, Oh, can you help us with this? And like, they were like, Yeah, sure. Like they came over, um, helped us like solve this problem. Um, and so I would say like, you know, piggybacking off of what Kevin said, um, it seems to be collaborative, like from what I’ve seen, like in the library.
Um, but I will say just, you know, like there, that is their unofficial model. Um, and a lot of people know about like teacher, uh, professors, but also students as well. Um, they, for you, Chicago Harris, they gave us swag. Um, and one of the shirts is, has like you Chicago and like the emblem there, but on the back it says where fun comes to die.
Um, so it’s, it’s definitely, it’s well known. Mm. Yeah. So that is the end of the webinar. I hope you found this information helpful. And remember, again, that you can download the slide from the link in the handouts tab. And this webinar is being recorded if you’d like to view it again later on our [email protected]/webinars.
Thank you to our wonderful panelist, Kevin and Kiara, for all this great information about Northwestern and U Chicago. Uh, here’s the rest of our October series where we’ll have other, um, college panels that you can check out, especially for those who are looking, um, to build their college list right now, as well as other webinars on, um, various.
Topics throughout the admissions process. If your question did not get answered tonight, I highly recommend coming to future webinars or checking out our past webinars, um, that are more related to your questions. So if you had specific questions about essays or activities, lists, or letters of recommendation, I highly recommend checking out our other webinars where you can get more detailed information.
We also have webinars, um, featuring admissions officers if you’re looking for specifics about how to get into a school, what the admissions officers are looking for, and more information on that. So thank you everyone for coming out tonight and, and goodnight.