University of Chicago and Northwestern University: College Panel

Join us for an illuminating webinar featuring University of Chicago and Northwestern University alumni. Tailored for both students and their parents, this event is designed to guide you through the intricate college application process and provide a comprehensive understanding of what it takes to thrive in an elite academic environment.

In this engaging and informative session, you can anticipate:

  • Crafting Your Unique Narrative: Learn how to effectively showcase your personality, passions, and experiences through your application essays and extracurricular involvement.
  • Insider Tips from Alumni: Hear directly from alumni about their personal application journeys, campus life, and the opportunities that await you.
  • Balancing Academics and Campus Life: Gain insights into the rigorous academic environment and learn about the diverse range of extracurricular activities, clubs, and organizations available to students.
  • Q&A Session: Engage directly with our panelists and get answers to your burning questions about University of Chicago and Northwestern University.

Join us for this illuminating webinar and set yourself on the path towards a successful college application journey!

Date 01/22/2024
Duration 1:03:15

Webinar Transcription

2024-01-22 – University of Chicago + Northwestern University/ College Panel

Hi, everyone, and welcome to tonight’s webinar. My name is Anesha Grant. I am a senior advisor at CollegeAdvisor, and I will be your moderator today. Today’s webinar is the “University of Chicago and Northwestern University College Panel.” Before we get started, I just want to orient everyone with the webinar timing, so our presenters will introduce themselves, share a bit about their experiences at their respective institutions, and then we will open up the floor to respond to your questions in a live Q&A.

On the sidebar, you can download our slides under the handouts tab, and you can start submitting questions whenever you get ready in the Q&A tab. Just one quick disclaimer, we cannot give you an admissions assessment, so please do not share your profile in the questions. We cannot summarize your chances of getting into Northwestern or UChicago.

Um, we can just have our panelists share their experiences, so try to keep your questions within that framework. All right, so first we’re going to meet our presenters. Uh, Kelly, can you kick us off with a brief introduction about yourself and your background? Totally. Hi, everybody. I’m Kelly. Um, she her pronouns.

Um, I majored in theater at Northwestern and I’ve been with CollegeAdvisor since this past July.

Madeline? Yeah, go for it. Didn’t want to cut you off, Anesha. Um, hi, everybody. I’m Madeline. I use she her pronouns. I also graduated with Kelly from Northwestern with a major in theater. I also double majored in psychology and I joined CollegeAdvisor this past October.

Natalie, can you introduce yourself? Absolutely. Hi everyone. Um, my name’s Natalie and I graduated from the university of Chicago in 2020 with my major in comparative human development. And I’ve been with the college advisor for a few years now, started off as a senior advisor, and now I work mostly with the essay review team.

Psalm, take us home. Hey everyone. I’m Psalm Brown. He, him pronouns, uh, graduated from university of Chicago in 2017. We’re on major in anthropology. And that they would call the advisors and say,

All right, we are excited to hear from y’all. But before we get started, we’re going to do a quick poll. So please let us know what grade level you are in. If you are a parent or a teacher, we are happy to have you. You don’t have to pretend to be a student. You can go ahead and select other. And as we’re waiting for folks to fill out the profile, I normally ask people about food while we’re waiting for the profile, waiting for the poll to take down.

So if folks want to share your favorite kind of food spot on campus or in Chicago, we are all ears.

I know there’s good food in Chicago. I, I was gonna say, I was like, I have many thoughts. I also grew up in Chicago, um, and so my thoughts predate my time at Northwestern. Clearly deep dish pizza is very wonderful, also highly debated in Chicago. I am a big fan of Giordano’s pizza, which is one of the three competing chains.

Some people find that awesome. Some people really, really hate Giordano’s pizza. I love it. I disagree. I, my favorite is Luminati’s. So we’re, we’re rivals, actually. That’s interesting. I used to be big on Giordano’s, but I recently got put on to Pequod’s. Um, and I might say that that’s my favorite deep dish now.

And I’ll just cut the slander. I don’t like deep dish and I don’t feel bad saying it cause I’m not from Chicago. Me and my partner fight over this all the time, but no, I’ll give a non deep dish love, which is Au Cheval in West Loo. And there’s a small Cheval, which opened in Hyde park. After I left, which I was very sad about, but the bacon there is unstoppable.

Yeah. I was salty about that too. It moved right next to where I used to live and I’m like, wow, that’s crazy. There was also a small Cheval on the North side for anyone who’s here for Northwestern. There’s one closer to us, not Evanston, but a pretty quick subway. Also, I mean, I do like, I like deep dish pizza, but I do have to agree that I think Thin Crust is where it’s at personally.

I like it better. And Bob’s Pizza in Evanston is really good. There’s also other locations of Bob’s, I think. Yeah. Pilsen style. Controversial takes on the pizza. I appreciate the bold stance, Natalie, of just rejecting Deep Dish entirely. I’m from New York, so obviously I have some bias as well. Um, but we are going out, we will stop talking about food and pizza and go ahead and close our poll just so you know, um, as an FYI folks.

So we have about 3 percent in 9th grade, 25 percent in 10th grade, 40 percent in 11th grade, that’s our biggest group, 3 percent in the 12th grade, and then about 26 percent others. So we’re looking at largely 10th and 11th grade and maybe some parents and teachers out there. So again, for folks who are in the audience, feel free to start dropping in your questions.

You can get them ready for our panelists to answer, and then we will kick it off with Kelly sharing a little bit about her experience. And then we’ll hear from other folks as well. Great. So, um, I absolutely loved going to Northwestern. I’ll start with that. I was, um, admitted in the regular decision pool.

Um, I think I submitted my application like in December. Um, and I think I heard back like in March, I was a long time ago now, but you know, um, so that’s my story there. Um, yeah, I majored in theater. Studies. That was a bit of a journey for me. I was starting out as I wanted to double in biology and then, um, over time discovered that wasn’t my path.

Um, yeah, we’ll just leave that there. But then I also started. Uh, did the certificate in musical theater and the acting for the screen module. Um, if you are interested in the School of Communication, um, modules are, um, little extra kind of programs that you can do, um, which are great. Um, and I also almost minored in math, but, so as you can tell, Northwestern students have a lot of different interests.

Um, and that is a very, very common thing, and we’ll get in more into that later . Um, I lived in South campus. Um, freshman, sophomore years and then off campus and an apartment, um, a common Northwestern thing is that there’s a divide between South campus and North campus. This is partly true, but, you know, to each their own.

Um, and I was in a lot of different student groups, like my dance group, steam, heat, dance company, the premier musical theater group, um, I was in chapel choir. Which, um, we rehearsed and performed at Alice Millar Chapel. That was my favorite building on campus, so gorgeous. Um, and also involved with, um, TYA, um, a theater group called Purple Crayon Players.

Madeline knows what I’m talking about. Um, it’s, um, audiences, theater group. Um, and one summer I studied in, um, Prague with, uh, Prague Shakespeare Company, which was really fun. And I kind of got that opportunity through a professor I had worked with at Northwestern. But yeah, that’s a little about me and my experience with, uh, Northwestern overall.

Really, really valuable and lovely experience that shaped me into who I am today.

And I was on mute. Hi! Now I get to talk about Northwestern. Um, so I was an early decision, um, an admitted, I guess, to Northwestern. I applied in November, heard back in December. I was also an international student, which meant I got my letter at 2 o’clock in the morning, which was super helpful. not the most fun, but something I got to deal with.

Um, and it was a great way to be awake at two o’clock in the morning to get into Northwestern. I also loved my time there. I was a double major in theater and psychology. I also minored in dance and then had two modules, one in arts administration and one in theater for young audiences. Hopping off of Kelly, a module is basically a baby minor.

It’s only half the credits, and you can take them from any school at Northwestern, not just School of Communication. There’s a lot of very cool ones. We have Game Design, which is something I could never do, but always found very interesting. I also got halfway through a History minor. In just classes I took for fun.

Never intended to finish, uh, but it was very cool to learn whenever I graduated that I was halfway there. On campus, I lived in a residential college. We have two types of dorms on campus. We have residential halls, which is what you think of when you think of a college dorm, and then a res college, which is more like a Hogwarts house.

So it’s themed around something specific. You have faculty advisors, as well as programming programming. four or five days a week based on that theme. I lived in the international studies residential college. So every week I got food handmade by our executive board of upperclassmen based on a different country’s cuisine, which was awesome.

I was also in various performing arts student organizations, obviously as a theater major. I was involved in research. I did research for our department for the last two quarters of my senior year, which is a really valuable experience and also really popular one at Northwestern. And I also worked at our undergraduate admissions office first as a tour guide and then as a senior admissions counselor.

Off campus, I did three internships over my time at Northwestern. I worked at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Chicago Summer Opera, and also the Metropolis Performing Arts Center. And obviously if you’re here talking about UChicago Northwestern, you’re also very interested in what people are able to do after graduation, because I always was.

So other than working for College Advisor, I’m currently producing a show that is going to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, which is the largest theater festival in the world. And I also work at the Kennedy Center, which is one of the nation’s largest performing arts organizations. So you can’t have a job in theater, regardless or not, if you go to Northwestern, but Northwestern definitely helps you out with that a lot.

Off to Natalie. Off to me. Yes, so, uh, I was admitted regular decision to UChicago. Uh, when I applied, I really, it was in the mix. It wasn’t my top school. Uh, but I should have known better because it was the most fun essay to write. I had the most fun working on that application, which is always a good sign when it comes to college applications.

I was admitted as an Odyssey scholar. And that gave me access to a lot of resources on campus, especially the first year. There’s a lot of designated program for Odyssey scholars, especially around not just educational development, but also career development, which tunneled into my first summer internship and on campus job, which was a big piece of my college experience.

Uh, but first backing up to the most important part of college studies. Uh, I also showed up not knowing what I wanted to study. I told everybody during orientation week that I was going to be an astrophysics major. And that was a lie. That was a sham. I was not into STEM and I discovered that very quickly because of the Chicago core system, I was taking classes in everything.

And so I could very quickly realize, okay, this is what I like and this is what is not for me. So through that and through meeting some other students, I discovered comparative human development. Which is a program entirely made up at UChicago, which is also entirely made up by the students taking it. And what I mean by that is, there’s not really a set curriculum for this major.

You get to choose between interdisciplinary department classes. What you want to study. And so I love that freedom, love the creativity of it. And basically took classes in anything and everything I found interesting. And that also led me to take classes outside of my major. Instead of minoring, I studied languages and I studied Italian and American sign language and the Italian started when.

You know, I love pizza. I don’t love deep dish, but I do love pizza. So I went to the land of pizza and ended up studying Roman civilization and Italian history way before it was even Italy and loved it so much that made that my whole personality and my whole interest for after graduation and ended up applying and going on a Fulbright scholarship to teach English in southern Italy.

And then now, these days, in addition to college advisor, I work for an Italian company based in Milan. So UChicago study abroad was very fundamental to my college experience. And that, plus what you’ll see there under Hyde Park, the Collegiate Scholars Program, that was my on campus job working with students in CPS, in the Chicago Public School System, helping them move through the program to gain experiences that they normally wouldn’t have access to in their high schools, and then also preparing them for college admissions to be competitive applicants.

And that was just a really great experience, and that’s what got me into college admissions, and that’s why I’m here talking to you all today. Um, in terms of housing, I have a twin sister, and I did not want to share a room with anybody when I went to college. Some people are really excited to meet their college roommate.

I was not. And so I was really excited that UChicago had multiple dorms, multiple houses, with just single rooms. So I only ranked those when I was interested, and I ended up in International House, in Thompson House, which was awesome. Great for me. Uh, all these, all these serendipitous things ended up becoming huge foundations for my college experience.

Things I didn’t really expect to happen, but then ended up happening because of all the opportunities going on around UChicago’s campus. My twin went to Northwestern and was a theater major. So I’m, I’m hearing a lot of buzzwords that I’m used to hearing for over my life. So I spent a lot of time commuting up on the red line, purple line up to Evanston.

So beautiful campuses, one in the same, but also very different personalities. So if anybody. It’s, it’s a twin like difference, I’d say, because there’s a lot in common but at the core of something a little different too. I’ve already told you about Bacon Al Shavall and made it onto my slide too. And my college essential was.

My winter jacket because I’m from Tucson, Arizona and Chicago is cold and you got to be prepared.

Um, so yeah, I started my Chicago journey as a QuestBridge scholar. Um, for those of you don’t know, QuestBridge is a scholarship program, um, geared towards oftentimes students are the first in their families to go to college. So first gen college students or students from low income backgrounds, um, which is the background that I came from.

And so I applied through QuestBridge. It’s a bit more of. An earlier timeline when you’re applying to school. So I applied and I think it was October of that year. Um, and, you know, I ranked you Chicago’s like my number one school and the list was matched and worked out really well. I knew very early on where I was going.

So that was, um, that was great. I did, um, a pre college summer program at U Chicago called cap, which which they still do, um, to my knowledge. And so it’s a group of, I think, 30 or 40 students go for a few weeks, you know, during the summer before college, you take some classes and, you know, you kind of get adjusted to the campus.

Um, it’s another program geared towards underrepresented students, but it was really, really helpful for me in terms of getting my bearings. And, um, I think one of the one of the many ways in which U Chicago is working to make a more inclusive, um, school setting. I lived in South Campus for my first year, so in the bigger dorms.

Um, and then I lived in apartments in Hyde Park for the, the next three years. Um, I studied cultural anthropology, has definitely some overlap with comparative human development. Um, you know, and in some ways there’s like the department, but you just have a ton of flexibility in terms of picking your classes, which was really the best fit for me.

Um, I studied abroad in Oaxaca in Mexico, and I had a homestay there, so I stayed with the family. I was taking classes in Latin American civilization, so art history, politics, all sorts of stuff, and then also learning Spanish as well. One of the things I enjoyed about being in Chicago, too, was that I had some ability to take classes at the graduate school, so I took a few classes at the graduate school.

The social work school and I really enjoyed those. Um, let me see. I’ll say one internship that released it out is the Chicago is a human rights center and their human rights center hosts internships for students. And so essentially what you can do, uh, but I know they still do this program to each year is, is for undergraduates.

Um, you have the opportunity to do a human rights, um, focused internship. It can be really around any social justice issues you might be interested in. So basically you find like an organization that you can work with, um, and that could be in the United States. I also know people who worked internationally as well.

Um, and then the Human Rights Center would give you some funding to make that happen. And so, um, it’s a really cool opportunity. I did that at the UCLA Labor Center, um, the summer after my third year. Apart from all that stuff, you know, I think, um, there’s a, there’s a lot to really enjoy both on campus and around the city.

I spent a ton of time with the Logan Center for the Arts, um, playing a lot of music. They have, you know, theaters there. You can go to performances. Um, you know, there’s really just so much to do there. I’m going around the city. I love the live music. I love the food. Um, and then, you know, the point, which is just an amazing spot down in Hyde Park.

It’s right there by the lake. And so for the little bit of time during the year when it’s warm, it’s a, it’s a great place to go.

All right, back to me. Um, so Northwestern going back to that, that pit, uh, Place. Um, it’s funny when you brought up the point, I was like thinking about the lake fill on Northwestern. That’s kind of probably a parallel we have. Um, that is a really cute spot on Northwestern that is on the lake. Gorgeous views of the city.

I’ll get into advice I have for students who want to apply to Northwestern. So I brought up earlier about how many, many students at Northwestern have multiple interests. It’s just so common to see students who are double majoring or, um, A thing that people bring up a lot is like a rule of three. So they might be a double majoring and minoring or doing things.

And as you can see, some people do four things. Um, so basically, um, I just want to bring that to your attention. Um, and so if you are a student who does have multiple interests, lean into that, um, you know, bring that up in your application at least somewhere. And I would say if it’s a really strong part of your, um, You know, person, then, um, you know, let that shine through your essays, um, wherever you can.

Um, maybe in your supplemental essays, you might write about how, oh, I can see myself double majoring in these things and, you know, taking a theater class in the morning and a, you know, research lab in the evening, like something like that. I will say that’s literally what I did in my why Northwestern essay.

Um, So and research the classes be specific that leads me to my second bullet point. Um, do your research so like what, what classes does Northwestern have, who are our professors like who can you see, you know, I’m working with. You know, learning from, um, how do you want to grow here? Um, that I’m kind of jumping around, but, you know, going back to the multiple interest thing.

Um, you know, if that doesn’t resonate with you, that’s okay. You’re not gonna, that’s not going to be like, Oh, I’m not going to get into Northwestern. Um, but you know, as long as you know who you are. Um, know what you want on your education. I think that makes a really strong application and, um, is my advice.

I didn’t even say the, and is in our DNA, but I just want to mention that in case you were looking at that quote and you were like, what does that even mean? It’s kind of like a slogan that Northwestern uses a lot. I think in recent years, they’re kind of starting to shift away from it, but I would say that it’s still kind of in the, The culture at Northwestern.

So, um, so yeah, I hope that helps and Madeline, what you got, Madeline? I hit it again. Yeah, I mean, I echo a lot of the same things as Kelly. I think the first thing I’ll say, not really about the application, Northwestern, but about going to Northwestern, also any college experience, is to keep yourself open to what opportunities there are.

I didn’t change my major paths, but I completely changed what I was going to do after college and over my time at Northwestern. And I also mentioned a lot of specific, specific courses, specific professors, specific student organizations in my comment at Bessé. I was part of one student organization out of the seven specifics that I mentioned in my Common App essay.

So be ready for things to change and go with the flow and be excited about the things you learn about the school when you’re there, because as much as you research, you can’t know everything. One thing you should research about before going to Northwestern, though, I will say is the quarter system. The quarter system is beloved or hated, and it is how we structure our timeline, which is instead of two semesters, like most students.

High schools. We have four quarters. In truth, it’s really three. We have an optional summer quarter that only about 5% of students take classes in, and most people who are getting credit over that is because they’re studying abroad. We have our fall quarter, which is from late September to the middle of December.

We have winter quarter from the beginning of January to the middle of March and then spring quarter from the end of March to the middle of June. So that offset does make it a little bit difficult to find internships, but in Chicago, everyone knows about North Austin and the quarter system and other schools on the quarter system.

And so I found it really easy to get work everywhere I worked over college was in Chicago. Um, and it wasn’t ever an issue for me. I personally loved the quarter system. I am its biggest offender. I loved having finals that were only of 10 weeks worth of information instead of 17. Uh, when I was a graduating senior giving tour guide speeches about the quarter system, I actually couldn’t even think about doing a high school final again.

I think I would fail and not know how to solve it. I also loved having true breaks. So our spring break, we literally had no classwork or homework assignments because we were in between quarters, which I really appreciated, especially because I was often traveling abroad. And so anything that I was doing was a lot more time consuming in terms of travel.

So I appreciated just my focus being on travel. But also some people felt really rushed if you’re someone that doesn’t really get into the swing of a concept for four or five weeks. The quarter system might not be for you because four or five weeks is already past a midterm. Um, so you get a little stuck into your courses, but just really do the research and see if it’s the best fit.

Talk to as many people with as many differing perspectives as you can. Also from a college application standpoint, I’ll kind of talk about what you can do in high school. The biggest advice I can give is your passion project. So what can you do in high school to show what you would bring specifically to Northwestern?

And it doesn’t have to be something you entirely do on your own. My passion project was definitely directing my high school play. I think a part that added to the coolness of that was that I moved schools my senior year. So I started directing this play as I was a new student. I’d literally been there for a month and a half when I was told I was directing, was doing auditions three months into being at a new school.

And so I could literally show Northwestern how I was going to adapt as a freshman and still be contributing a lot to the community. One of my friends in the STEM field created a medical device to redo a breast reconstruction after double mastectomy and was working on patenting it. It was presenting it at conferences and that was his passion project, which is crazy.

And the coolest one of anyone I’ve ever met. I’m not saying you have to go invent a world changing medical device, but there’s a lot of different ways that you can do that. I had another friend who wrote an album and produced it over their senior year, but doing something that shows. Who you are outside of school and also kind of what you do for yourself and how you bring that to others.

It shows a lot about how you are as a leader, what you value in terms of impacting your community, which is all things that Northwestern and a lot of other colleges love. So especially if you’re a junior, think about what you can be doing over the summer or over your senior year. It doesn’t need to be done by the time you’re applying, especially if you’re applying early but saying that you’re working on this.

is always a really cool thing to add to your application.

On to you, Chicago. So, I might be biased, but I do work on the essay review team. I write for work, so I feel very strongly about college essays as I think the backbone of any college application. Because all things equal, that’s the way that admissions reader gets to know you in five minutes. By hearing your voice come off the page.

And I think that’s what I loved so much about the UChicago application, because they got a weird essay prompt and it’s weird. Everybody knows it. It turns some people off and then other people realize, yes, this is for me. I discovered UChicago’s essay prompts because my older sister was applying to college.

She took one look at where’s Waldo and said, no, I do not want to go there. This is not for me. Versus I heard that as a freshman in high school. And I thought, Hey, that’s, that’s kind of fun. Kind of silly. Yeah, okay, great. And so then years later when I was applying, I already had this thought in my mind of, okay, UChicago’s something.

And so my recommendation is about the essay prompts for that uncommon essay, where students and alumni get to submit quirky essay prompts, and then students just like you can choose not just from the ones for that year, just like the Common App, there are five or six, a handful of application prompts for you to choose from, but the seventh prompt is always Either make something up, or go look at all the past essay prompts you’ve ever had for Uncommon Essays, and you can choose whichever one you want.

So that’s what I did. And I picked out the single one that I felt I really would enjoy writing. Because I’m a firm believer that this essay is best if you are having fun writing it. If you are not having fun writing it, then it’s, it’s not gonna land with an admissions counselor. Because it’s not gonna have That exciting passion, that interest, the kind of thing that leads to a passion project that you write about in your application, the kind of thing that keeps you up at night or wakes you up in the morning.

And when that comes out, that lands in an application that gives richness and life to everything else that’s just 2d on the paper. So my recommendation is go look at all those prompts. Go look at all the previous prompts and really look for one that’s gonna resonate for you. And if you’re not sure, pick a couple and start writing because I, I think while I write.

So sometimes I’m thinking, Oh, let me plan out my entire college essay. Let me put bullet points. I tried that for this essay. It didn’t work. I had to just hands on keyboard, pen to paper, get it out and then find the one that started flowing. So that’s my recommendation for the essay. And then on this quirky UChicago branding, it’s there because it’s real.

Everything that’s mentioned in all of the marketing materials, the promos, the meetings, it’s at UChicago. The scavenger hunt, it’s real. The quirky house cultures, it’s real. However, I would also say that there is an entire spectrum of experiences to be had at UChicago that don’t fit into This one image of what a student life there is, and I encourage you, if you’re interested in UChicago, to try to talk to people, students who are in different majors, students who live in different houses, students who chose to move off campus, students who studied abroad in different programs, students who had different relationships with the college and all of its extracurricular activities in the community.

The more data you can get, the more you can decide. For yourself, whether it seems like a good fit for you, whether this feels like the community you want to be a part of. And I think that’s true for any school, but I definitely wanted to give that advice for UChicago in particular, because that external image is really strong and gives a really strong flavor, but I think there’s a lot more underneath the surface if you Get looking.

Yeah, so I guess I’ll probably just echo some of the things that Natalie said, especially related to the essays. Um, the Chicago essays are definitely unique. So I think it can be helpful to just start thinking about them early. The application process and, you know, really just keep an open mind because there’s a lot of different directions you can go with it and it’s.

You know, a lot of ways different than some of the other essays you might be writing in your applications. So I think just, you know, dedicating some time to, to think about it. And I also found that approach helpful, just sitting down, writing, see what, see what comes out and then going back and editing and revising.

So that can be helpful, especially if you’ve got like any type of writer’s block or just sitting down and going through it. Um, I put the Waldo picture there because I did write my essay on Where’s Waldo. Um, that was a very fun essay and I agree that was also a sign. I was like, okay, maybe Chicago is a good fit.

I had a great time writing that essay. Um, another point I would say is just like, UChicago and I know Northwestern as well meets full financial need for students. Um, and so, you know, I know like, you know, seeing the sticker price of the schools, like they’re really expensive. Um, and just know that, you know, like a lot of times students don’t end up paying that full price.

Um, so def definitely look into their financial aid programs. It can definitely make it affordable. Um. The other thing I would say is, you know, look into the core curriculum, see if it might be a good fit for you. At UChicago, you know, you’ve got the core, which is basically, um, you’ve got a set of classes across a broad, different range of areas that you’ll take, you know, related to math, physical sciences, um, you know, um, social studies, humanities, arts, um, civilizations, um, which does overall make up a pretty big part of what you’ll be doing.

The classes you’ll be taking in Chicago. Um, and you know, I personally enjoyed it a lot. It got me taking a lot of different types of things that normally probably wouldn’t have taken, um, you might actually, Natalie, you might be interested to hear that. I took like a baby astrophysics class, um, during my time in the core, which was a lot of fun, but also the math was crazy.

The numbers were way too big. Um, but, you know, I’m glad I got a little taste of it. So it’s good for that. Um, but yeah, look into those things, you know, and see if it might be a good fit for you.

Thanks so much, y’all for sharing your experiences. So that is the end of the presentation portion of the webinar. I hope you found the information helpful. And again, as a reminder, you can download the slides from the links in the handouts tab if you want to keep some of the great information that Our panelist shared if you’re having any challenges with submitting questions to the Q and a tab, just know that you might have to log out, log back in and make sure you’re logging in through the link that you received via your email and not through our webinar landing page.

And a quick reminder again, we cannot give you an admissions assessment. So please do not tell us your grades your SAT scores and see what your check. We can’t tell you. Um, all right, but one quick thing I wanted to say response. I guess three things that people shared one. I felt the collective like tension when, um, Madeline was talking about passion projects and people just being stressed out across the world.

So I just want to say one. That passion projects are nice to have, not a requirement, especially for folks who may have limited resources. If you can’t do it, definitely pursue it. And I actually love Madeline’s, um, example of directing a school play. It’s something within the context of your school, taking on leadership and demonstrating your passion in that space.

So I think I just wanted to, like I said, address attention that I felt might’ve come across from that comment. And then also, um, I was very passionate about UChicago. It was my first choice when I was applying to college. I did not end up going there, but I visited. And so I just also want to encourage folks to take up the opportunity to do that.

UChicago was one of the campuses that made it very affordable for me to do so. They gave me vouchers, help with transportation. So again, I think especially if you are not from a northern or a place where it snows, you should definitely go visit. Um, and then the other thing I wanted to share was around the quirkiness of essays.

And I am going to ask the UChicago folks to kind of expand on that. But with the uncommon essay, the one thing I super want to encourage students to think about is writing in your own voice. I think sometimes with that uncommon essay question, they feel like they have to write a certain kind of way, and it becomes a super convoluted, really complex essay, um, that it doesn’t have to be.

Have fun with the essay question, and I think to the point that both Natalie and Psalm Um, and If you’re not having fun with it, write something else. If you’re writing it and if it’s a struggle, I may not be going in the direction that you want it to be. So those are my two, three cents added on to the back of our panelists comments.

But I will stop talking because you did not come to hear from me and go into the questions. So my first question for y’all, um, actually wanted to, um, pose it to, um, Madeline, first, what is early decision and how does it affect the process and what other processes are there outside of early decision? Very true.

Okay, so early decision is one of the multiple ways you can apply to college. Most colleges offer early decision, but not all of them. Early decision is where you tell a college that they are your top choice. Um, as you submit your common or coalition app or whatever application that college uses, you also submit a contract saying that if you get into that school, you are going.

Um, so there is an option for you to look over all the decisions you get, whether looking into, I have three schools that I really love. I want to see which ones I get. Financial aid packages are also really important in being able to. look over between schools, so it’s definitely not something for everyone, but I knew I was going to kick myself in the foot forever if I didn’t do everything I possibly could to get into Northwestern, which is why I applied early decision.

There’s also early action, which is You apply early, you apply in November rather than January 2nd, but it isn’t binding. So if you get in, you can say, yes, I’m going, I’m not going to apply to any other college, or you can say, that’s so cool to know, I’m still going to apply to these schools, regular decision.

And then Regular Decision is the general time when most people apply to most of their schools. Um, it’s a little bit of an overview. I would love some other things about RD though, as someone who did not go through the Regular Decision process. I was a very easy one and done. Are you saying I should talk about it?

A little bit. Well, I mean, basically, yeah, it’s just your regular process of, you know, flying in the Common App and, you know, you get your admissions decision and, um, you can respond by the decision day. Um, I think, right. Yeah. Um, so, so yeah, that’s, That’s what happened with me. I did have a bit of a, of a unique application experience.

Um, cause I also did auditioning for musical theater programs, but you probably don’t want to hear about that. So, um, but yeah, that was my, my RD experience and Madeline, I did want to just. I don’t think Northwestern has early action. It’s just regular decision and early decision. But, yeah. So, that’s just to throw that out there.

But, yeah. Thank you. Um, Natalie, I wanted to ask you a specific question. Psalm explained what Quest Bridge was. Can you explain what Odyssey Scholars were? Because I didn’t, I’m not, I’m not familiar with that program. So I’m going to assume students aren’t either. Absolutely. It would be my pleasure. And it’s a perfect segue because, Odyssey Scholar, the Odyssey Scholarship is primarily for first generation and low income students, and I was a low income student, so I applied regular decision, I was waiting on that financial aid package, it wasn’t coming, it was two days before decision day, it was a whole stressful experience, and then UChicago rolled through and dropped the Odyssey Scholarship message.

Excellent, let’s do this. So, it’s not something that you have to separately apply for. All of UChicago’s aid programs are, you’re automatically considered, so there’s not an external application. When you apply for financial aid, if you are, if you can enter one of their scholarship programs, they are considering you and then will let you know when they give you that financial aid package in the springtime after admission.

So, the Odyssey Scholarship in particular is that combo. It’s not just money. For school to pay for school. It’s also the programming that comes with it, which is the support from career advisors, which is the events geared, especially during your first year towards creating community on campus, understanding the resources that are available on campus, and then helping propel you through your first year into that first internship experience in the summer.

Because it’s not required. When you go to college, you don’t have to do something over the summer, but many students at UChicago, and I know also at Northwestern, do end up doing something during their summers, whether it’s taking classes, Doing internships, getting other jobs. It can be anything in the case of the Odyssey scholarship.

They specifically have funded internship programs that summer. So that I was really looking forward to that because I didn’t, I didn’t know what I was going to do with my summer. And then when I got that scholarship, I said, okay, I’m going to work towards this. I’m going to apply to a list of internships that they had already selected.

That they had insured funding for and so I knew that I wouldn’t have to do an unpaid internship that summer I was going to have funding and I wouldn’t have to worry. So yeah, that’s a little bit about the Odyssey scholarship and I think the it’s grown over the years in terms of the community aspect of it.

I think they were really tight when I was there on. The support systems and the career, um, advising, but the community aspect as well, I think has grown, grew over the years when I was there. So by the end, there were meetups, a lot of friendships that spawned in the various free food, getting carbone in the basement of one of the on campus buildings.

So there’s a lot to be had from that particular scholarship that I’m really grateful for. Thank you, Natalie. Um, I wanted to pose this question to some because of you, Chicago, but everyone feel free to jump in afterwards. Initially, I wanted to ask if you’re comfortable with talking about what topics did you write about for your essays?

Um, and how did you go about deciding those topics? Yeah, so I, I wrote for my, the creative essay, Where is Waldo? You know how I chose that? Uh, that’s a good question. I think, I think it seemed, it seemed fun. It seemed like an open ended essay, and I kind of like creative writing too, you know, and so I think I kind of just took that and ran with it.

Um, I probably went through Four or five different versions of what that look like, because, like, especially with those, there’s no clear way in which to answer it. But I think even just generally my biggest advice to students sometimes it’s just to, you know, be open to writing and rewriting and, you know, Going through different versions.

And so for me, I think I probably had, yeah, a few different versions and pick the one that felt the best and tweak that more. But I think that’s an okay approach to especially again, that’s the benefit of starting early in the process. And you have some time to work on some of the different ones. Um, you know, and then there’s also the why UChicago, um, and you’ll see that, like, is, you know, a why us essay prompt at a lot of different colleges you apply to.

I think that’s a good opportunity to really just show them that you’ve done your research and you can, um, there’s specific things on their campus that, um, you can identify, um, that interest you and things that you’d like to be involved in. Now that can be, um, the majors, the classes. You know, if there’s certain professors whose work really excites you, there’s like certain like campus traditions or like there’s extracurricular, um, you know, or just different community or student organizations on campus that you’d like to be involved in.

I think though, like being able to think through those things and name them, um, in your essays can be really helpful. So yeah, I don’t know if anyone else had any other thoughts on the essays. Always. I’ll just share really quick so we close our UChicago loop and we can scooch over to the Northwestern essays.

But, um, my UChicago essay, I defined art. I, I chose to define a phenomenon and they had a list and then I chose art. Um, I did a cop out essay because of course I ended that art is undefinable, but I had my reason for it. I made my case for it and so I think it was okay. And I also played with the format as well because I was taking creative writing classes and I had written so many other college essays that were just dun and I thought, okay.

I’m gonna mess around with this a little bit. So I actually didn’t write, it didn’t actually look like an essay. It looked like a line and then a blurb and a line and then a blurb. And I was describing different people in my life and how they were artists in an, I guess a non typical way, and then ending up in myself.

Because, of course, at the end of the day, they want to learn something about you, not just your mom and your boyfriend and whoever else is around. And that worked for me. I only, actually, that was the easiest essay for me to write because I wrote it in an English class where we all had to write Common App essays.

And I did not want to write my Common App essay because I wasn’t jazzed about it. So I got to choose a different prompt and ended up with that one. So when I applied to Chicago, I already had the essay. I just kind of cleaned it up and did another round of revision and that was it. So, that one was art, and then the Why Chicago essay, I think for all why essays across the board for any university, they want specificity, as Psalm’s saying, and I think the best essays also capture a little bit of that invisible, indescribable quality of a school.

The kind of thing that you can’t just read off of a pamphlet and then Something about the, the, the vibes, basically, I’ll say it, the vibes of that school. And I think it goes to show how much you’ve been thinking about it, not just as, a place where you will get to take advantage of all of these opportunities, but it’s a place where you will show up as a human being and interact with other human beings and create community and live your days, your mornings and your nights.

And my, so my recommendation for the why essay for UChicago or for any school is to definitely be specific. And then also a little bit of that. intangible quality of the school, that thing that really they value or that you value about it, that can come out as well. Final comments on essays? I’ll add one, not about actually specific essays, but about the general common app essay, um, is really don’t be afraid to be yourself and like have your voice, make it funny.

My mom told me what my first line of my college app essay should be seven months before I finally. decided to put it in because I was like, no, that’s way too informal. And that’s weird. Why would I put that on there? And then I kept rewriting my essay and I just kept hating the first sentence. I was like, no, what my mom said to do was right.

And it got me into Northwestern. And actually, whenever I started working at admissions, met my reader and he said he still remembered my essay because of my first sentence. Um, and it fully, my first sentence was about how, because I have a very sensitive nose, I refused to pee for 36 hours, um, when I was in Tibet, um, because there was literally no bathroom around.

And I said how that was the hardest thing I’d ever done. And then ended my general common app essay, talking about how. My next hardest thing I’d done was trying to define where home was in a very typical international student essay, but making it specific to me and showing that voice and being brave enough to literally talk about not peeing.

on a vacation, I think is something that like is hard to do and I didn’t want to do it, but I really do think helped me. So be yourself, be bold, be funny, be whatever kind of voice you want to be. Thanks. Um, one question I want to ask and I’ll, I’ll direct it at, um, Kelly and Psalm just to switch up voices.

Uh, what other colleges did you apply to and what do you, what helped make your decision in attending Northwestern and Chicago? We’ll start with Kelly and then kick it over to Psalm. Sure. So, um, I applied to like, like 20 colleges. I, because I did musical theater, um, that process is a really different process.

Um, because, you know, there’s auditions and everything, and it’s smart to apply to a lot of schools, but other schools I applied to are like University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, um, NYU, Um, and, um, I decided on Northwestern because it was the best school that I got into, to be honest. And I was really happy.

Um, when I, I did a call, I did a campus tour, um, when I was, I think a summer before my junior year or something like that, which, um, really, really helped me. Um, You know, learn about the campus and I really do recommend touring, um, campus if you can. Um, I mean, it’s beautiful, but any college you apply to, I would recommend touring if you can.

Um, and Yeah, just overall felt like it was a really great place for me. I mean, again, I, Madeline, you were bringing up like, or no, it was, um, sorry, it was Natalie. You were bringing up about like that, like intangible quality of campus. And I definitely felt that doing a tour and like going to campus itself gave me that kind of sense of like, okay, I kind of vibe with this place, um, which is really nice.

And yeah, so I, I was happy. It worked out also the financial aid package I received from Northwestern helped me make my decision as well. Um, so I mean, yeah, that a hundred percent demonstrated need very nice. Um, yeah. Yeah. So I applied, like I said, through QuestBridge process. And so that was like a pretty early thing.

I think, you know, I finished like the final app in probably like October. And with QuestBridge, what you can do is you could rank choices. I don’t know how many choices they give you now. I know it’s like more and more each year. Um, I think back then it was probably like eight that you could list. And so, it’s almost like early decision where, you know, if you get into one of the schools that you rank, that’s where you’re going.

So you’re committed to going there. So I was a little more selective about where my schools were. I think I only had UChicago and Yale on there. Um, I didn’t have many, but my, my thinking behind that was like, I, you know, I really, um, I never visited UChicago. I never been to Chicago. I’m from Knoxville, Tennessee, like a mid size, size ish town.

I wanted to go to a big city. I also wanted a liberal arts type environment. And, you know, a lot of times you don’t really get that at as many places that aren’t, um, that, that aren’t, you know, in big cities. And so I think that was, that combination was something I liked. Um, you know, I knew that UChicago at the time had the largest class participation organization.

And so for me, that was like a sign that, you know, that I could go somewhere that I would feel more supported. Um, you know, I liked the idea of like the, you know, the UChicago, like the quirkiness and just the vibes, right? Like, I like the idea of reading marks all day, you know, and then like going out into the city and seeing concerts and, you know, exploring different neighborhoods.

So, yeah, those are some of the things that spoke to me. And then, of course, with QuestBridge, you know, it’s a full scholarship in terms of like tuition and room and board. So, um, that also, you know, made it made it very easy. Thanks. I’m going to do a quick PSA. So, for any folks who are in the room and not currently working with CollegeAdvisor, all the folks on our panel are college advisors with us, I think, with the exception of Emily. Um, but, uh, we have a group, uh, a team of over 300 folks who are prepared and interested in helping you all. So you can take the next step in your college admissions journey by using the QR code that is on the screen and sign up for a free 45 to 60 minute strategy session.

During that call, you will connect with admission specialists, and they will talk about your extracurriculars, your college list, and help you develop a career. An application strategy in order to help you stand out in the competitive admissions world. So you can take that opportunity if you’d like, if you are not already working with one of our amazing advisors.

Um, and we will get back to our, our Q and A, but we will leave that QR code up there on the screen for any folks who are interested. Um, quick question anyone can answer. Are there opportunities to cross register or collaborate between these institutions?

That is such a good question. Um, I don’t know about undergrad, but I do know that a friend of mine who is a medical student at UChicago, um, had access to the libraries and like all of that at Northwestern, um, so that’s something to look into. Um, I’m not so sure, but I know for for med students. Can confirm for med students, the, the ones who do residency do a residency in part of their, um, rotations in third year in Evanston.

Um, so they’re actually up there by campus for a couple of weeks. And you would think the twin at Northwestern, I would know this, but that is definitely something to look into. Cause there’s a lot of, In terms of the student experience, I think there’s a long standing, uh, BEEF, which is, you know, classic, a classic collegiate BEEF between UChicago and Northwestern.

So in terms of student orgs and student experiences, probably less so. Um, but in terms of the academic programs, that is a beautiful thing to research. And you’re, the best people to ask in that case are going to be the admissions reps. from both schools because they are going to know about all of the program offerings across all the departments.

Whereas we know about the programs that we had contact with when we were at those schools. So if you can’t get a response from an alumni or current student, best to go direct to admissions. Uh, this is a question again, opened for the group. Someone said Chicago has a reputation for having safety issues.

How are these concerns mitigated for students at these institutions? I also have a question of if that is true, because I feel like Chicago gets a bad rap, but um, what was your experience of Chicago as a city and were there safety issues that you’ve experienced on campus? I’ll talk a little bit about Chicago as a city as someone from Chicago and then touch on Northwestern safety.

Um, I really do think Chicago has a bad rap. I currently live in New York. It is just as, if not more dangerous. a lot of the parts of Chicago that I’m around a lot. Um, and also just to be honest, like it’s kind of everywhere in America. There is a gun violence epidemic of, I don’t think it’s any worse or better in Chicago.

Um, so a couple of systems I’m going to highlight for Northwestern that I, I’m pretty sure are echoed in at UChicago would be the blue light system. Which is a safety system across campus where you are always going to see two blue lights. And there, there is an alarm that will have university police to you in less than a minute.

And it also, whenever it’s activated, if whenever you press that alarm button. There is a, like, speaker system, there’s a microphone, as well as a video camera that gets turned on so that you’re then under surveillance for anything that might happen to you, as well as preventing someone from doing anything to you because they know they’re on surveillance.

We also have SafeRide, which is basically a free Uber system. For people that don’t want to be walking alone from one location to others, particularly later at night. I will say I never felt unsafe in Evanston. The public transit is the public transit. The place where you have to transfer, um, to get from Northwestern subway line to the subway line to the rest of the city is honestly one of my least favorite subway stations in the whole city.

Um, so doing that with friends was always something I did, particularly as someone who is. Like a teeny woman. Um, but I also lived in Chicago all summer. I lived in Chicago alone for months at a time and never felt so unsafe that I was like, I don’t want to go out. I don’t want to go to this part of the city.

Um, it’s really just, you know, being as aware as you would at night and around strangers as you, as you wouldn’t any other metropolitan area. Any other thoughts there on Chicago safety or campus safety?

I would say the biggest shift for me. Was just the shift from a small town to the big city of Chicago. And I think that’s true for any student who’s going to be going from a more rural or small town, hometown to a school that’s located in a larger city. That transition comes with its own fears, its own worries.

That just they’re normal. There is totally normal to be, to be spooked by the big city. I was spooked by the big city. I’d never been to Chicago. I heard all of the stereotypes. All of the headlines. It was also 2016. So we were on, you know, the poll circuit getting Oh, Chicago is the most dangerous place.

We’re sitting in our dorms eating popcorn watching that. So there’s something to be balanced about the realities of living in a metropolitan area. And then the reality that universe, the university systems that exist in those metropolitan areas, particularly these two Chicago Northwestern know about that and do everything that they can to ensure that students are safe.

are feeling safe and secure while they’re moving about on campus. And I lived in Chicago for many years, still living on and off in Chicago now, in other parts outside of Hyde Park. And I’ve also only had really positive experiences in all the different neighborhoods that I’ve lived in. So, um, love Chicago.

The Red Line, me and the Red Line have had moments, uh, but other than that, It’s been manageable in terms of that sensation that just comes with living in a big city. Uh, so we’ve all, we’ve, you, we’ve all, I haven’t spoken, but you, you all have talked about the intangible, um, aspects of campus. And so I’m wondering, one student asked, what does student culture look like at both of these schools?

What would you say is the typical personality of a student at both schools? So can we start with Kelly and then maybe head over to Psalm, and then other folks can chime in. Yeah. Um, so of course, like at any college, there’s a very like diverse array of like personalities, but I would say that generally, I mean, again, that everyone is kind of, um, high achieving and have a lot of different interests.

And I think, um, on the whole, it’s also a big 10 school about Northwestern, which is something that I really was attracted to that there is that, you know, um, sport culture, you know, football games, tailgating, um, Those sorts of things. So you get a lot of students who are really, um, you know, extroverted and outgoing, um, which I, I really loved.

Um, but then of course, you know, there’s also like quieter students who maybe don’t want to do those things. I mean, really it’s a, it’s an array of, of all of that, but that is something to highlight that it is also a big 10 school, so that is really great. I mean, our sports aren’t always like the best, but, um, still fun to participate in, um, that like side of Northwestern.

Um, yeah, so I would say high achieving and outgoing overall. Yeah, I think we’re definitely less of a, UChicago is definitely less of a sports school, I would say. Um, but you know, I, I think a big part of the personality for UChicago people, I think a common thing is like very, very intellectual. You know, like loves having intellectual conversations.

I think that the core curriculum, you know, really fosters that to where you’ve got, you know, required to me in these classes and social science classes where you’re reading, you know, a lot of primary texts, um, and, you know, debating them in class and like small discussion based classes. And those conversations oftentimes carry outside the classrooms.

Um, so I think, you know, they. They say it’s like where fun goes to die. That’s like one of the slogans, but I think, you know, I had a good experience, but I also say, like, it is for people who think school is fun, you know, and so, like, if you’re that, if, like, learning excites you in that way, I think it can be a really good fit.

Um, yeah, you know, and I think there were, there were a lot of, you know, students who were very socially active on campus, too. I think that was a, that was a big part of it. Um, you know, and people who, you know, were excited to, yeah, explore the city as well. I don’t know if that answers the question. Thank you.

We’re gonna go rapid fire on our last question. Um, if we can, and we’ll start just because in the order of my screen, it’s Madeline, Kelly, Natalie, then Psalm. So are there any resources or opportunities that you wish you had taken advantage of at your institution? Is there anything you didn’t get a chance to do?

I should have done more student organizations not related to theater. I entered saying like, I’m doing theater for my job. I can only do this. I was so wrong. I regret it all the time. Um, something I actually really did regret, um, not trying for was being a peer advisor. So Northwestern has this Wildcat Welcome Week, which is orientation week for new students and, you know, upperclassmen students get the opportunity to apply for and then be a peer advisor for small groups of freshmen, incoming students.

Um, so I really was, Disappointed that I just didn’t try for that because I do really like working with students and helping people, you know, adjust to that transition, I think would have been really rewarding, but that’s why I love my job being an advisor with college advisor because I’m kind of getting to do that.

Now, I mean, it’s a different setting, but I’m getting to like, you know, help people through a process and that, which I really love. So,

uh, for me, I wish I had gotten more involved with all the arts opportunities on campus because UChicago with the arts. The Logan center and just students who are really into whatever they’re into, which that’s my TM for everyone at UChicago. They’re just really into whatever they’re into. And I wish I met, I had so many friends who were so deeply invested in the arts on campus that I got to see into that world, but I never really got the chance or made the time to take my own leap into that.

So that’s what I wish I had taken advantage of. Yeah. I’d say for me, there’s just a lot of opportunities. For, you know, travel and international travel. I didn’t study abroad, but I think, you know, there could have been more ways in which I took advantage of those. I think 1 was like career tracks where, you know, they’ve got through the career center.

You can, you know, based on whatever, like, career area of interest you have, they have like tracks where you can, you know, travel to different places in the US and around the world to help pay for those trips. And you just go there and you meet with different people. People in the industry. Um, you know, just like learn a lot.

I think that, you know, in retrospect of my father, a lot of cooperatives to travel that I kind of wish I was more keyed into, um, at the time. So just to put that on y’all’s radar. All right. Thank you all. Thanks for hanging out with us a little bit later. Thanks for our panelists for coming in. Thank you, Kelly.

Thank you, Madeline. Thank you, Natalie. Thank you, Psalm. Uh, thanks for all of your questions. Apologies that we could not get to all of them tonight, but thanks for those who submitted some really, really great ones. We hope you enjoyed the opportunity to hear from our panelists, and we hope that you’ll join us from our future webinars.

So we’re gonna end up the month. Tomorrow we have a session on picking your perfect college and advice on building your college list. We will also end the month with a session on talking about summer. So for folks who are interested in passion projects, that might be a good opportunity to check in there.

With us on January 28th, we will kick off February with a session for pre med BSMD programs on the 1st, and we’ll also have a follow up session on February 6th with exploring extracurricular activities and their impact on college admissions. So please stop by and join us in the future, but until next time, take care and have a great evening.