On February 2, 2018, I toured Northwestern for the second time. As I approached the Segal Visitor’s Center, I thought back to my first tour in 2014. Over the past year and-a-half, I’ve realized how quickly the University was able to thrill me about the idea of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars over four years, so I decided it was time to see how much this place tries to scam sweet, innocent prospies and their parents.
When the tour guides introduced themselves, I panicked a little because I knew almost all of them – it’s not like anyone in the room was my best friend, but I’d definitely had classes with most people, and was worried about them noticing me and disrupting my mission. I eventually settled on the two theater majors giving a joint tour and introduced myself as my younger sister, Sarah. Nobody could possibly suspect me.
We began with a jaunt to Norris, and along the way they both emphasized how great it is to have an unlimited meal plan during your first year. Neither said anything about the dining hall food, which probably means they are just as disappointed in it as I am. Everything they said about dorms “residential spaces” was accurate, but they never mentioned the huge differences that exist in the vibes of res halls on North Campus vs. South. TBH, it would have been helpful to know that I would make approximately three friends in Allison my freshman year as opposed to 30 if I’d chosen Elder or Bobb.
In the middle of my tour, I realized how truly stupid it was to take a campus tour on a 15-degree day in Chicagoland. If someone you know says they want to visit NU in February, please tell them no.
I found it particularly funny how my guides described Dillo Day as we walked past the Lakefill. One mom in my group asked where the name originated (which the guides correctly answered), but nobody realized their kid would probably love Dillo so much mostly because of the gluttonous day- drinking. Morty might close the libraries so everyone can participate in tradition, but I don’t think any parent in my group realized that their kid might just show up to the headliner in a hospital gown after projectile vomiting onto a car on Sheridan Road.
The tour also convinced me that half of Northwestern’s culture is created by perceptions prospies pick up during their visits and dream about fulfilling once they get their acceptance letters. It seems like everyone and their mother has two majors, a minor, five certificates and does undergrad research simply to capitalize on “the beauty of the quarter system.” This also applies to Dance Marathon. By the end of my tour, I realized that the only reason so many people sign up to dance their freshman year is that it’s the only club they know anything about before getting to campus.
Above all, my tour was entertaining. Who knew that the area between Annenberg and new Kellogg was called “The Research Quad” and Kresge, Harris and University Hall join together to form “The Humanities Quad” around the Rock? I laughed to myself when anxious parents asked the same questions my mom and dad did a few years ago and was surprised that I walked away learning some new stuff: nobody had told me SIGP existed. I also had no clue that Tech is the second largest low-rise building in the country after the Pentagon.
Would I still apply to Northwestern? Yes. Do I still feel like I have to do DM to have a genuine Northwestern experience? Hell no. I would rather take organic chem AND a math class than enter that tent again.