9 things students wrote on their “Why Northwestern?” essays…and what they really meant

By Chronicle Staff

Do you remember that essay they made you write, way back before you got in to NU? The one that asks you why, out of the hundreds of schools offering cheap booze and expensive educations, would you want to go to this one? Have you ever actually found anyone who meant what they wrote on it? We know we haven’t.

We also know that, after being forced by society to pour your heart and soul into dozens of feverish responses, each recounting why they—and only they—were the school for you, the vast majority turned into only so many beautiful, floofy words. It’s okay, we’ve all been there. And now, brought to you by a joint conference of Chronicle staff, are the ten most popular things students wrote on their supplement essays…and what they really meant.

1. “After visiting Northwestern, I envisioned myself as a student partaking in all the classic traditions, including painting The Rock.”

I literally Googled “Northwestern traditions” and this was the first thing that showed up. I’d actually never seen The Rock myself, and now that I think about it, I don’t think I visited campus before being accepted. Now that I’m here, I don’t even know if I’m gonna paint it. You want me to stand outside in sub-zero temperatures just to get paint all over my new UGGs? Ain’t nobody got time for that.

2. “Northwestern’s academic rigor is well known throughout the country and will help me learn to solve real-world problems long after I leave.”

U.S. News lists NU in its top 15, and that Wikipedia page with all the famous alumni is pretty sweet. Or I assume it is, anyway. I didn’t really read it, because I was focusing too hard on my senior year valedictorian speech. Wait, no, I’m lying to impress you again. Is that Hugh Heffner on this list? What??

Also, I can’t get into any of the other schools on this list. MIT? Harvard? Stanford? Hahahahahaha.

3. “Growing up, Northwestern has always been a large part of my life.

My (insert family member here) went to NU for his degree and inspired me to do the same.” Thank GOODNESS my parents/siblings went here because otherwise I’d have no chance of getting in. How about finally repaying all those alumni donations through some “merit” scholarships…eh? *nudge nudge*

4. “I am looking for a college experience that will be challenging and rewarding, pushing me to reach my highest potential.”

I didn’t take all those AP’s in high school to end up going to Ohio State. I want to have something to show for myself when I enter the workforce other than than having the word “The” printed before my Alma Mater.

5. “Being a Northwestern student would mean being close to the diversity and cultural richness of Chicago.”

I’ve gone to Chicago before, but I want you to think that I haven’t.Now that I’m a student, I know that all those brochures were a LIE. No, brochure, I can’t just hop on a train to Chicago whenever I want. It’s cold, and I live in Evanston, a completely different city. Besides that, Chicago is scaaary. Suburban life is so much safer. If I had wanted to get mugged, I would have gone to UChicago.

6, “Once I visited campus, I was struck by the inviting and welcoming environment that everyone had to offer.”

Actually, I was struck by arctic gale-force winds, and I’m pretty sure I spent most of my time in my hotel room.

But I noticed NU’s Yik Yak game is pretty awesome. The people seemed chill when I posted one of my many go-to witticisms. Of course, now that I’m here the extent of my social interactions mostly consist of nodding to people as I pass by them on Sheridan.

7. “Northwestern stands by its belief of “Whole-Brain Engineering” which will allow me to refine my thinking skills in a world that is rapidly changing.”

When I visited campus you guys said “Whole-Brain Engineering” like fifty times, so it must be important.

8. “The diversity will allow me to be exposed to new perspectives, experiences and values and allow me to synthesize those new ideas with my own.”

There’s a 90% chance that : A) I went to a private school or B) I’m from a middle class, mostly white suburban neighborhood. I need to write this so I seem like I’m culturally aware because my skin color isn’t gonna do that trick for me.

9. “Once becoming a student, I will have the opportunity to take classes in many different fields, allowing me to broaden my horizons and have a more holistic learning experience.”

Literally every college in the world allows me to take classes in disciplines other than my own. I just want to flatter you guys. Is it working? It totally worked. You guys just made a huge mistake.

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