Continuing from our previous article regarding the wonderful state of Minnesota, I would like to introduce a few more great areas of the Midwest for graduating students to consider when choosing their universities. There are some unique and prestigious institutions that can be found around the Lake Michigan area, some of which you have likely heard of, and some that might pleasantly surprise you!
The first place that comes to mind when talking about Illinois is the city of Chicago. Locally known as the Windy City, this metropolitan area is home to some amazing museums, including the Art Institute of Chicago. If you’ve ever walked through Namba Walk in Osaka, you’ve most likely seen a few replicas of the famous paintings hosted in this museum. Located right by Lake Michigan, you can enjoy the summers as if you were living in a coastal city. Chicago is not only an exciting city to visit as a tourist, but it’s also home to some of America’s most well-known universities:
University of Chicago
Ranked #6 in the U.S. News National Universities ranking (tied with Stanford) and #10 in the Times World University rankings, the University of Chicago is undoubtedly the best university in the Midwest. One of the aspects that make this university stand out is its sole undergraduate establishment, known as “the College,” and its core curriculum. All undergraduate students are required to take a set of classes in different disciplines, regardless of the student’s intended area of study. By having all students take the same foundational courses, they are creating well-rounded individuals that can connect and grow from the same base level.
If you’d rather not live in the hustle and bustle of the city, you can take a short drive over to the town of Evanston, home of Northwestern University. Multiple distinguished alumni have called Northwestern their home, such as the Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle, Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin, and multiple heads of state. Northwestern currently ranks #9 in the U.S. News National Universities ranking and #24 in the Times World University rankings (tied with the next university explored in this article). Northwestern is also a leading university in the fields of economics, business, materials engineering, and chemistry.
Crossing Lake Michigan from Illinois, you will find the state of Michigan. This state is filled with natural beauty, as it borders four of the five great lakes of the United States. In the early 20th century, it was known as the center of the American automotive industry, and the city of Detroit, or “Motor City,” was its epicenter. Today, you can visit the many museums that commemorate this era of American history. If you drive about an hour out from Detroit, you will find one of the best public universities in the United States:
University of Michigan Ann Harbor
Considered a “public-ivy” and currently ranked #3 in the U.S. News Top Public Schools ranking, #23 in the U.S. News National Universities ranking, and sharing the #24 spot in the Times World University ranking (tied with Northwestern University above), the main campus of the University of Michigan has a lot to offer! You can choose from over 280 different majors within the 14 schools and programs available. Its undergraduate engineering and business programs are well-renowned in the country. Being a public institution, U-M has a very large student body (as of 2021, there are around 31,000 undergraduate students) and as such, has many scholarship opportunities available. There are also many opportunities to explore multiple areas of study outside of your major. U-M has over 1,400 registered student organizations on campus where you are bound to meet people from different backgrounds and experiences.
Last but not least, we arrive to the state of Indiana. It is located east of Illinois and south of Michigan, with a small stretch bordering Lake Michigan. Most of Indiana’s territory is very flat, which makes it a perfect place for agriculture and manufacturing. Indianapolis, its centrally located capital city, is widely known for its sports, as it is the host of the Indy 500 and the Indiana Pacers. However, for our highlighted university, we are heading to the north of the state to Notre Dame, Indiana:
University of Notre Dame
Although a private Catholic University, all faiths are welcomed at the University of Notre Dame. It currently ranks #19 in the U.S. News National Universities ranking and is also one of the more affordable private universities in the country. Unlike many universities, there is a distinct lack of Greek life on campus. For perspective, the University of Michigan has over 60 fraternities and sororities. However, Notre Dame has found a different way to foster a strong and academically focused student community. Undergraduates are required to live on campus for three years (and many decide to stay all four years in their dorms!). The gender-separated dorm rooms at Notre Dame are a combination of the house system of the U.K. and the traditional American residence hall system, which give students a one-of-a-kind campus experience.
This is by no means a comprehensive list of all the great options available in the Midwest, but the next time you make a list of universities to visit or even apply for, don’t forget about these great contenders!