Just finished visiting six colleges in the Midwest. Here is my “aha moment” from Northwestern University.
It was no surprise that Northwestern, ranked #13 by US News, is strong academically. The engineering school (McCormick School of Engineering) is particularly strong as is their journalism school (Medill School of Journalism). Students are academically motivated. No surprise.
The aha…what had not struck me before visiting, is that Northwestern’s campus location has it all - small town, urban, beach. Northwestern is in Evanston, IL a picture-perfect college town. It is 12 miles or 20 minutes by metro from downtown Chicago. It is literally on a lake big enough to feel like the Pacific Ocean. This is not what comes to mind when one considers going to college in the Midwest (however no mountains is consistent). Northwestern is a great place to spend four years if not beyond. As incredible as the location is, Northwestern is not a particularly beautiful campus, so don’t come looking for great vistas of the lake from dorms or classrooms.
Another benefit of Northwestern is that it is on the quarter system. Students never have to go back to finals. Every quarter ends with exams and students come back from vacation to a fresh start and new classes.
Consider Northwestern if you are academically motivated and a person who is not particularly concerned about campus feel but for whom location matters.