Friday, June 17, 2011

Kelly Xi: First Impressions of Northwestern

First impressions are everything.

And what I got out of my first taste of Northwestern University from Wednesday’s presentation was invaluable. Northwestern is a school especially equipped for their students to discover what they want to do with their lives, then as soon as they figure that out, to immerse themselves into learning everything they need: gaining real work-force experience and accessing resources found nowhere else, all the while enjoying the amazing social activities of college life and the amenities that Evanston and Chicago offer. 

Okay, so it wasn’t exactly my first exposure to the school. Let’s just say I’ve been encouraged from a young age, but my desire to learn more about Northwestern also comes largely from all the wonderful feedback I’ve heard from family friends proud to call themselves Wildcats.

I’ve spent a lot of time reading up on their HPME program (Honors Program in Medical Education), which particularly interests me not because some consider it a fast track to medical school. It’s a rare, hard-to-earn opportunity which once accepted to, opens up doors for research, internships, and other opportunities to explore and gain that solid foundation in medicine as an undergrad, without having to juggle it all with separately applying to med school. No distractions :) 

While I’m somewhat familiar with background information about Northwestern University, I had a lot to learn from Wednesday’s information session. Mr. Daniel Fleishman, our presenter, was absolutely incredible. He had me sold on Northwestern, and I could tell some of the other audience members felt the same way.

Prior to his presentations, I had always had this focused plan (extremely narrow-minded now that I look back on it): I was definitely going to be a Biochemistry major, unquestioningly work my hardest to get straight into medical school to become a radiologist.
That all changed, because now I understand that at Northwestern, there is no single, direct route I would be limited to; I’d be free to choose my own path, to explore. At Northwestern, I can get what I need while enjoying everything that I want to do.

Part of this magic is Northwestern’s quarter system. Compared to the semester system, (which offers up to 8-10 classes per school year) that most colleges have, Northwestern University’s unique quarter system of up to 12 classes per year is a huge boon for students. The quarter system allows more time for students to take the classes they need, and in turn, more time to study what they want, to delve into other areas of interest.

This flexibility brings us to the Rule of Three, in which Northwestern students can manage to major in a subject and pick up two minors, double-major and take on another minor, or even triple major.

Open registration and access to all the amazing schools at Northwestern University along with their one-of-a-kind programs and world-class professors add to the endless possibilities; it’s as if Northwestern students have the world at their fingertips.
Not only does Northwestern have so much available to explore academically, all of its schools seem to have a wide range of opportunities to hone students’ skills for the work force. Countless off-campus (even abroad) work-study programs, internships, research and service opportunities, etc are available for students to gain hands-on experience in the real world. Northwestern prepares its students with the resources and networks they’ll need in the professional field.

Mr. Daniel Fleishman’s presentation of Northwestern academics was an eye-opener and I thoroughly enjoyed grilling him afterwards, but I was also impressed hearing about the social scene at Northwestern from him and the Bay Area alumni. However, I’ll save that for when we actually get to experience Evanston and Chicago first-hand next week.

So stay tuned! You’re all in for some of my nervous, anxious ramblings as I start to realize that this is all really happening, and that we really are going to have dinner with Mr. Aaron Zdawyczk, Associate Director of Admissions at Northwestern University.

Because first impressions are everything, haha.

P.S. Before I go, I have to express endless thanks to the ILC for opening these doors for me to acquaint myself with these prestigious schools of my dreams.

I can’t believe that in less than a week, I will know if I truly am meant to be a Northwestern Wildcat!  


  1. Kelly,

    Beware falling in love with the quarter system. The advantages you wrote about are all well and good but with a 10 week quarter it seems that just about the time you figure out what the instructor wants it's midterm time and after you get over the shock of the score on that exam they're throwing the Final Exam in your face. There just isn't much time to react. If you fall even the least bit behind there's no time to catch up.

    Other than that, though, it's all cool.

    And never forget--as you alluded to in one of your statements--these presenters are salesmen. They're trying to sell you on their product: their university. It may be a great product but you need to hit the research sources to learn the things they don't tell you about in the presentation.

    For instance, of all of the photos they showed you, how much snow was on the ground? Did he mention that this last winter was just about the coldest in recorded history and they even had to cancel classes several days?

    As Ronald Reagan used to say: Trust but verify.

    Glad you had the chance to check it out, though. It's presentations like these that can set you heading in a different direction.

  2. Don,
    Thank you for posting this for me and for adding in those photos!
    I should have put in the blog that I deeply regret not taking a group photo with Mr. Daniel Fleishman and the bay area alums haha.
    I did get one photo on the presentation though. It's really bad because of the dim auditorium, and I didn't want to be rude by using flash. I'll try my best to photo edit it and then upload it via medifire to you, the professional.

  3. Oops, I didn't see your comment, Don.
    I will head that advice and load up on my research!
    And haha, I was already going in the direction anyway... since like 7th grade.
    But yeah, I've been warned many times about the snow since then.

  4. I went to the presentation as well and one point that Mr. Fleishman made when asked about the weather is that if cold/snow is an issue for you, then all schools in the midwest/east will be issues. Only the west coast and southern schools will satisfy.
    Cathy (Taylor's mom)