Affordable and Diverse: A student’s perspective on why she chose NEIU


Cecilia G. Hernandez

News Editor Nicole F. Anderson smiles as she shows off her artwork and sells her creative writing mini-series during an art show on Aug. 21.

Nicole F. Anderson, News and Co-Managing Editor

Choosing which college or university to attend is never an easy decision and is always stressful. It took me three tries before I found a university that worked for me. In the end, NEIU ended up being the right choice as it met all the requirements I was looking for in a school. It took some trial and error but eventually I found myself at our campus.

I started at University of Illinois at Chicago, but affording the high-priced tuition became an issue; it was too expensive for me and my family. It took four years to pay off a two-semester loan I took out.

In 2014, I transferred to Wilbur Wright College because of their tuition-waiver program with full-time faculty members. Through my father’s position at one of the City Colleges of Chicago, so I was fortunate enough to receive the tuition waiver. Unfortunately, the highest degree you can receive at City Colleges of Chicago is an associate’s degree.

Once I graduated from Wilbur Wright College, I was convinced I was going to move to New York City to finish my bachelor’s degree at one of their schools; however, life doesn’t always go as planned.

After taking time off for one year, I began to panic. I needed to finish school and receive a bachelor’s degree in order for professional news organizations to take me seriously as a journalist.

I knew the longer I was out of school, the harder it was going to be to get back into the swing of things. I had to act fast, but I had to stick to my requirements.

I couldn’t leave Chicago because I don’t fare well in non-urban environments. I also needed a school with a reputable name and semi-affordable tuition. I anxiously “shopped around” for schools, but once I saw NEIU’s price tag, I was sold.

NEIU is in Chicago, has affordable tuition, and is a reputable institution. It is also only a fifteen minute commute from where I live which is a nice bonus.

While I don’t mind large lectures, I’ve definitely found that I prefer a smaller classroom setting, which NEIU offers. The smaller setting has helped me get to know my professors on a more personal level, which has made me become more comfortable asking for help when needed and given me opportunities I wouldn’t have otherwise had.

I’ve only been here since January 2018, but I’ve met so many kind, intelligent and inspiring people on campus. NEIU’s diverse student body is amazing; its diversity reaches past racial demographics. I’ve had classes with people who grew up in different neighborhoods, towns and suburbs. There are people of varying ages, sexual identities, majors and passions.

We’re a school of both conventional and unconventional students, it’s inspiring to meet people who have a family, multiple jobs and go to school full-time.

When I was in high school, I applied to schools such as University of California – Los Angeles, University of California – Irvine, Southern Illinois University and University of Illinois at Chicago. I was a foreign language major and my line of thinking during that time in my life was that I “needed” to go to a big-name school with a popular language department.

NEIU wasn’t even on my radar as an option because I didn’t know about it. Perhaps it was the lack of dorms (at the time), lack of sports or just an overall lack of knowledge about the university. Now that NEIU has the Nest and is doing extensive advertising, perhaps more prospective students will choose NEIU and it can start getting the credit and reputation amongst Chicago universities that it deserves.