Finding Your Best Fit School: Spotlight on Northeastern
Even though it has a reputation as a college town, I fell in love with Boston as a 3-year-old. The way my family tells the story over two decades later, Boston was all I talked about for months after the weekend we spent there—the Italian meal we ate in the North End, the dollhouses at the Children’s Museum, even the bell hop at our hotel. I was a child obsessed. At a bookstore on Newbury Street, my parents bought a copy of The Trumpet of the Swan, the children’s classic about a trumpeter swan with no voice, who eventually finds work on the swan boats in the Boston Common. Back in New York, I demanded several chapters read to me on a nightly basis. Our Boston trip took on mythic proportions, and at the time, my family joked that I would find my way back there as a college student.
My first glimpse of Northeastern University was on a freezing cold, gray day in February of my junior year of high school. The weather didn’t do much to recommend the campus, but walking around Huntington Avenue, I felt like I was home. It was definitely more than just the long-running joke about how much I had loved Boston as a 3-year-old.
By the time I toured Northeastern, I had visited a number of very different schools, but everything up to that point felt like Goldilocks and the Three Bears—too rural, or too big, or too much like my high school. I had narrowed down my search to a couple basic criteria: urban, large, co-ed, and a strong psychology department. Northeastern, on paper, covered all of those (as did many, many other schools). It was only on the campus tour that I saw how important the nuances were.
Sure, Northeastern was right in the center of a city, but it also had conventional quads and green areas. It felt like a college campus, despite being in Fenway Park’s shadow and next door to the Museum of Fine Arts and Symphony Hall. The psychology department was strong, but also interdisciplinary, which would allow me to take elective courses outside my major and make it easy should I choose to switch majors (which I eventually did. Twice.)
And co-op! I had a basic understanding of how Northeastern’s co-operative education program worked; after freshman year, students were given the option to alternate six months of study with six months of work experience. But I didn’t realize the huge number of opportunities; everything from DNA labs to Disney World, everywhere from Dubai to Dublin to my own hometown. I was sold. I could see myself on campus; in the dorms, in the dining hall, on co-op, all of it. I just had to get in.
Eventually, I did. I did my research, and I was able to communicate my enthusiasm through my application. At Northeastern, I shared my enthusiasm with other potential incoming students as a tour guide and an admissions assistant. I completed two successful co-ops, studied aboard, and took advantage of everything Northeastern (and Boston) had to offer. Years after my epic first trip, I made new Boston memories as a college student and young adult. And I no longer demand to be read to from The Trumpet of the Swan.