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Northwestern vs Barnard: A Side-by-Side Comparison

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Two students talking on the stairs.

Northwestern vs Barnard: A Side-by-Side Comparison

Are you a high school student looking for a college that suits your interests and preferences? Or are you a parent who wants to help your child make a wise decision about their higher education journey? If so, you might be considering Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, and Barnard College in Manhattan, New York as potential options. Both institutions have a lot to offer, so it can be tough to make a decision. In this article, we’ll be comparing Northwestern vs Barnard, examining all the critical aspects of student life, from location to academics.

Location and Campus Atmosphere: Which One Wins?

Northwestern and Barnard are both located within a bustling metropolis – Evanston and New York, respectively – but their campus atmospheres are quite different. Northwestern is situated in a suburban residential area, providing a serene and peaceful environment, while Barnard is situated in an urban setting, surrounded by skyscrapers and city hustle and bustle.

Northwestern’s location is ideal if you’re looking for a traditional campus environment with ample green spaces and a smaller community feel, while Barnard’s location provides easy access to all New York City has to offer. It all depends on what you’re looking for, really.

However, the campus atmosphere is not solely determined by the location. Northwestern has a strong focus on sports and athletics, with state-of-the-art facilities and a highly competitive Division I program. On the other hand, Barnard has a strong emphasis on the arts and humanities, with numerous cultural events and performances throughout the year. This creates a unique and vibrant atmosphere on campus, with students pursuing their passions and interests in various fields.

Additionally, both universities have a strong commitment to community service and social justice. Northwestern has a variety of service organizations and programs, including Alternative Spring Break and Global Engagement Studies Institute, while Barnard has a Center for Engaged Pedagogy and a Social Justice Institute. Students at both universities are encouraged to engage with their communities and make a positive impact on the world around them.

Academics: Northwestern vs Barnard

Both Northwestern and Barnard offer excellent academic programs, but they have different strengths. Northwestern has a reputation for its strong STEM fields, including engineering, computer science, and the natural sciences, while Barnard is an all-woman college that emphasizes liberal arts and social sciences. Northwestern has over 200 majors and minors to choose from, while Barnard has about 50 different majors and minors for students. Both schools offer a challenging and robust academic experience, but the focus and depth differ.

Liberal arts carved into a stone window

Northwestern University has a quarter system, which means that students take three to four courses per quarter, and there are three quarters in an academic year. This system allows students to take a wide range of courses and explore different fields of study. On the other hand, Barnard College follows a semester system, where students take four to five courses per semester, and there are two semesters in an academic year. This system provides students with a more structured and focused academic experience.

In addition to their regular academic programs, both Northwestern and Barnard offer various study-abroad opportunities. Northwestern has partnerships with over 100 universities around the world, and students can choose from over 50 study-abroad programs. Barnard has its own study abroad program, which offers students the chance to study in over 20 countries. These programs allow students to gain a global perspective and enhance their academic experience.

Student Body: Diversity and Extracurricular Activities at Northwestern vs Barnard

Barnard’s student body is all women while Northwestern is a coeducational institution. Barnard attracts students from all over the US and beyond, emphasizing diversity and multiculturalism. Northwestern also draws students from a different range of backgrounds, but not as diverse as Barnard’s. Both universities offer a wide variety of extracurricular activities to their students, ranging from arts organizations to social justice clubs to sports clubs.

At Barnard, there is a strong emphasis on women’s leadership and empowerment. The college offers various programs and resources to support women in their academic and professional pursuits. Northwestern, on the other hand, has a larger emphasis on research and innovation, with many opportunities for students to engage in cutting-edge research projects.

Despite their differences, both universities prioritize creating a vibrant and inclusive campus community. They offer numerous events and activities throughout the year to foster a sense of belonging and connection among students. From cultural festivals to guest speaker series, there is always something happening on campus to engage and inspire students.

Admission Requirements: Northwestern vs Barnard

Northwestern and Barnard are both selective institutions, so they have rigorous admissions standards. Northwestern’s admission process is highly competitive, requiring high grades and test scores, essay writing, and extracurricular activities, sticking to the common application.

Barnard, on the other hand, requires writing skills as a requirement for their admissions, with essays being a key part of their application. The college also accepts test scores but has been known to praise other traits, such as community service and leadership abilities, in their admission process.

Scholarship document, admission paper or letter on table.

It is important to note that both Northwestern and Barnard have holistic admissions processes, meaning that they consider a variety of factors beyond just grades and test scores. This includes factors such as personal background, life experiences, and demonstrated interest in the school.

Additionally, both institutions offer opportunities for prospective students to connect with current students and faculty through campus visits, information sessions, and interviews. These interactions can also play a role in the admissions decision-making process.

Cost of Attendance: Tuition Fees, Financial Aid, and Scholarships

College education can be expensive, and both Northwestern and Barnard are no exception. Northwestern’s annual tuition fees are approximately $60,000, while Barnard’s fees are approximately $58,000. However, both universities offer financial aid and scholarships for deserving students.

Northwestern meets the full demonstrated financial need of all its domestic undergraduate students, while Barnard offers a wide range of financial aid packages ensuring that all students can attend regardless of their financial situation. Overall, both universities are costly ventures, but you can get assistance if you show financial need.

It is important to note that the cost of attendance goes beyond just tuition fees. Students also need to consider the cost of textbooks, housing, meals, transportation, and other miscellaneous expenses. At Northwestern, the estimated cost of attendance for the 2021-2022 academic year is $78,654, while at Barnard, it is $78,536. These figures may vary depending on the student’s individual circumstances and choices.

Despite the high cost of attendance, both Northwestern and Barnard provide excellent academic and extracurricular opportunities. Northwestern is known for its strong programs in journalism, engineering, and performing arts, while Barnard is renowned for its liberal arts education and commitment to women’s leadership. Both universities have a diverse student body and offer a range of clubs, organizations, and events to enhance the student experience.

Athletics and Sports Programs: Which School Has a Better Athletic Culture?

Northwestern has an extensive athletic program, with over 19 Division I athletic teams. They are known for their football and basketball teams, which attract a considerable fan base and are heavily supported by the university. Barnard, on the other hand, has a small athletic program and is not known for its sports. Both universities offer various opportunities for students interested in fitness, including fitness centers and workout classes.

Despite Northwestern’s strong athletic program, Barnard offers unique opportunities for students interested in sports. Barnard has a partnership with Columbia University, which allows Barnard students to participate in Columbia’s Division I athletic teams. This partnership provides Barnard students with access to a wider range of sports and a more competitive athletic environment.

Additionally, Barnard has a strong emphasis on intramural sports, which allows students of all skill levels to participate in sports and compete against each other. This creates a sense of community and camaraderie among students, regardless of their athletic abilities.

Faculty Quality and Reputation: Research Output, Teaching Philosophy, and Awards

Faculty quality and reputation are significant factors that determine the quality of education in institutions of higher learning. Northwestern has a world-renowned faculty, with many professors being leaders in their respective fields. Barnard also attracts top faculty, with an emphasis on women’s studies and gender equality.

Both universities offer research opportunities for students, with faculty often involving undergraduate students in their research projects. Northwestern has more Nobel laureates in its faculty than any other private American university, providing stellar research opportunities for its students.

In addition to research opportunities, faculty at both Northwestern and Barnard prioritize their teaching philosophy, emphasizing the importance of critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration in the classroom. Northwestern’s faculty is known for its innovative teaching methods, such as the use of technology and experiential learning.

Barnard’s faculty is committed to creating a supportive and inclusive learning environment, with a focus on empowering women and marginalized communities. Both universities have received numerous awards for their faculty’s teaching excellence, including recognition from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the National Science Foundation.

Student Life: Northwestern vs Barnard

The social scene and nightlife differ at Northwestern and Barnard. Northwestern has a vibrant social scene, with more than 500 student-led organizations, Greek life, and numerous campus events and traditions. Evanston provides excellent opportunities for students looking for off-campus nightlife options. Barnard, being in New York City, offers students easy access to concerts, museums, and the city’s nightlife. Both universities encourage students to get involved in community service projects and volunteering opportunities.

Three students looking at each other.

Northwestern’s social scene is not just limited to on-campus activities. The university is located near Chicago, which offers students a wide range of cultural and entertainment options. Students can attend concerts, visit museums, and explore the city’s diverse neighborhoods. Additionally, Northwestern has a strong athletic culture, with many students attending sporting events and participating in intramural sports.

Barnard’s location in New York City also provides unique opportunities for students. The city is home to a thriving arts scene, with Broadway shows, off-Broadway productions, and independent theaters. Students can also take advantage of the city’s many parks and outdoor spaces, such as Central Park and the High Line. Barnard also has a strong commitment to community involvement, with many students participating in service projects and internships with local organizations.

Rankings and Accolades: How Do the Two Schools Compare Nationally?

Northwestern and Barnard are both renowned colleges, with an impressive track record of academic excellence and research. Northwestern University is typically ranked highly by national and international ranking bodies, with a current ranking of #9 in U.S. News & World Report’s annual ranking of top national universities. Barnard is continuously ranked among the top women’s colleges in the nation and features in many rankings of the best liberal arts colleges. Academic excellence and national rankings are subjective, however, so it’s important to consider your academic needs and objectives when choosing a college.

In addition to their national rankings, both Northwestern and Barnard have received numerous accolades for their specific programs and departments. Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management is consistently ranked as one of the top business schools in the country, while Barnard’s psychology department is highly regarded for its research and faculty.

Furthermore, both schools have a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion. Northwestern has been recognized for its efforts to increase diversity among its student body and faculty, while Barnard has a long history of promoting women’s education and empowerment. These values are reflected in the vibrant and inclusive communities that both schools foster.

Unique Features of Each College: What Makes Northwestern/Barnard Stand Out?

Each university has its unique features that distinguish them from others. Northwestern University is known for its high-quality academic programs and its emphasis on hands-on learning.

From its numerous research opportunities, specialized centers, and student-led projects, Northwestern is an excellent university for students who want to become innovators in their fields. Barnard College, on the other hand, is an all-woman college with a unique focus on leadership and empowering women to become leaders in their respective fields. Their Women’s Center and Athena Scholars Program are some of the unique programs they offer.

Additionally, Northwestern University is located in Evanston, Illinois, a vibrant college town just north of Chicago. The campus is situated on the shores of Lake Michigan, providing students with beautiful views and access to water activities. Barnard College, on the other hand, is located in the heart of New York City, providing students with endless opportunities to explore the city and gain real-world experience through internships and networking events.

Final Verdict: Which School is the Better Fit for You?

Choosing between Northwestern vs Barnard may seem like a daunting task, but it all depends on what you’re looking for. Northwestern may be an excellent choice if you’re interested in a traditional suburban campus, a wide variety of majors, and a renowned STEM program. Barnard may be more suitable if you’re looking for an all-woman’s college with a focus on women’s studies, leadership, and social justice. Whatever you decide, it’s important to visit both campuses, attend information sessions, and talk to current students to make the most informed decision.

Want to learn more about getting into College? You’ve come to the right place. At AdmissionSight, we have over 10 years of experience guiding students through the competitive admissions process.

AdmissionSight can help you put your best foot forward when applying to college this fall. Contact us today for more information on our services.

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