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Ours at Northwestern University: admission, features, atmosphere


Ours at Northwestern University: admission, features, atmosphere

Northwestern University is one of the best research universities in the USA with a long history. How to enroll in it, and what its features were told by students from Kazakhstan.

Islam Suleiman, 20 years old, city — Doha, Qatar, student at Northwestern University, @islam_suleimen

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About choosing a university

I received an invitation from 17 universities around the world. Among them were top universities in Qatar, the UK, South Korea, the USA, Japan, Lithuania and Hong Kong.

It was important for me that the educational institution was successful not only in the academic field, but also in social life and the development of extracurricular skills. Northwestern University fit the criteria.

This is a leading university in my field — communications, journalism and media, with modern equipment and great opportunities for the comprehensive development of students.

About admission

You need to take into account which system you plan to study in when you are applying. In my case, the admissions committee considered not only academic performance and scores of international exams like IELTS. They paid a lot of attention to the motivational essay. There were also Supplemental questions — additional questions in which you need to list your actions in a particular situation. Such moments reveal the identity of the applicant.

It is important for students being socially active and participating in various activities, working in a team.

It is desirable if you already have work experience in the field where you are applying. I have been interested in communications since the eighth grade. I participated in school clubs on mass media, attended republican forums of young correspondents, live broadcasts of TV channels, published in the magazine of the Air Astana airline. I was a presenter on the Ertis TV channel, participated in international competitions and conferences in Kazakhstan, Germany, Turkey.

About the features of training

Northwestern University in Qatar is the first international campus, the main branch of which is located in the state of Illinois. In Qatar, students can get a degree in journalism and communication.

There is also an opportunity to choose additional programs, such as: Strategic Communication, Film and Design, Media and Politics, Middle East Studies.

Thanks to the funding, you can travel around the world, study various aspects of science

Classes are based on discussions. Information is shared not only by the teacher, students can also freely express their opinions and thoughts. Professors are experienced specialists in their field.

Northwestern University has a Liberal Arts program. It gives you the opportunity to take additional items. Such courses can also be taken at neighboring universities, which are located in Education City, a campus founded by the Qatar Foundation. In addition to my university, there are campuses of Georgetown University, Carnegie Mellon University, HEC Paris, Texas A&M University, Virginia Commonwealth University and Cornell University. This helps to effectively develop skills in different areas.

Thanks to the funding, you can travel around the world, study various aspects of science. In my case, the flagship Global Media Experience program provides an opportunity to visit major media holdings and see how they work. Northwestern University cooperates with Doha Film Institute, Al Jazeera Media Network, The Guardian, CNN and others.

About the atmosphere

There are many student clubs at the university. I participate in the Association of Central Asian Students, perform the duties of a UNICEF volunteer, participate in environmental initiatives and pet protection programs.

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Education City provides opportunities to participate in educational, cultural and social events.

If you haven't found an organization based on your interests, you can create one — university provides all the resources.

It's a multicultural environment here. Students from more than 50 countries study at the university. This is a unique opportunity to develop communication and adaptation skills, broaden your horizons.

What the university has taught

University taught us to be open to the study. Here is a non-standard training format that gives global knowledge.

In the media, every word is important. Here I learned how to structure thoughts correctly, present ideas, and identify my audience. ​

If you are interested in communications and social sciences in general, then I recommend enrolling at Northwestern University. This is an ideal option with a large number of directions, high-quality education and the opportunity to study what you like.

Alnur Akchurin, 20 years old, city — Evanston, student at Northwestern University, @alnurchique


About choosing a university

I have dreamed of studying abroad since I was a child. In the ninth grade, school sent me as the best student to the University of Columbia for a summer program. Then I saw how studying in the USA is arranged. But I think I didn't use all the available resources then.

I consciously thought about entering only in the tenth grade. The USA attracted me the most, since I had already been there. I was also interested in the Liberal Arts program — within its framework, you can independently choose subjects and change your profession during training. Since that time, I have been engaged in research and startups.

In the process of choosing a university, an important criterion for me was the financial component. In the USA, such a system works — universities that are in higher ratings provide assistance, since they have the resources for this.

I entered seven universities, from which I chose Northwestern University. There is a cool business school Kellogg School of Management, which is in the top 3 best in the world. While studying here, you can get acquainted with graduates and making good networking.

About admission

In the USA there is such a thing as Holistic Admission. It implies that the profile of the applicant is considered in the context of its resources. It is difficult to compare students from the capital and the village by one metric, so during the selection process, the admissions committee looks at what opportunities the student had and how he used them. I advise you to decide as soon as possible what you like and create interesting projects taking into account the available resources.

American universities receive 44,000 applications each year, of which only 2,000 are selected. The selection is complicated. Focus on what will help you stand out from the crowd.

The main element of admission to the USA is extracurricular activity. There are also understandable things, such as SAT exams. Here it is desirable to score at least 1500 points and IELTS, where a passing grade is enough.

Focus on what will help you stand out from the crowd

There is a Common App platform. You need to fill it out by attaching letters of recommendation, transcripts and other documents related to your studies. Here you will also need family documents, like diplomas of parents. Income documents, bank accounts and real estate declarations must be attached to the CSS profile. This is necessary so that you can then apply for financial assistance.

I do not recommend choosing universities based only on prestige. Here it is better to go from the opposite. Let's say I like journalism, and I went to Harvard, Stanford and Northwestern. Considering that the latter takes the first place in my field, I will choose him, despite the fact that the other two are higher in the overall rating.

Be sure to submit documents not only in the USA. It is better to prepare spare options in Europe and Asia.

About the features of training

According to the Liberal Arts system, I can take any course, freely compose a Curriculum. Advisors help to determine the required subjects and suggest which places are available.

In many universities in the USA, the specialty can not be called until the end of the second year. Students often change their profession during their studies. My friend changed it six times in two years.

Teachers have all the resources. Lectures are recorded in 4K format, and in the courses, they are assisted by Teaching Assistant — students who have already passed this class.

There is also a format such as Office Hours. Teachers have six hours a week when everyone can sign up and ask questions to them.

In my university, training is not in semesters, but in quarters, in which you need to take four classes. I have three of them, each for ten weeks. This format involves more exams, but the training goes faster.

About the atmosphere

Greek Life, a system of fraternities and sisterhoods, has been developed in US universities. They can be large and spread to thousands of universities. Participants hold meetings, various hangouts.

I'm a member of a business fraternity. Here we are preparing for work in the areas of investment banking and consulting.


For the first two years, students are required to live on campus, it is not allowed to rent an apartment. The territory of the university is divided into southern and northern parts. In the first there are guys who study humanities, and in the second there are more representatives of engineering specialties.

Each hostel makes its own schedule of events. There are many of them in different spheres. All with free food and drinks.

Dillo Day is held annually at the university — a big music festival, where famous DJs come.

What the university has taught

University has given me a lot of cool contacts, and I'm sure there will be more.

Northwestern University helped me to see the scale of the market in the USA, this is important for me, since I am interested in a career related to business and finance.

There was an understanding that each person has his own approach, regardless of mentality.

I recommend enrolling in this educational institution. The grant system is built in such a way that, if necessary, you will receive financial assistance. There are few Kazakhstanis here, although the programs are strong, and the university offers many opportunities.

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