Academics at Northwestern are what you make of them. The key is to take advantage of the multitude of resources available to you. Northwestern is known to have top-rated professors who are experts in their fields. NU chemistry and economics professors are Nobel laureates, the theatre and film departments made up of actors and directors, and the journalism school boasts professors who have written for some of the most prominent publications in the country. No matter what you study, though, you will be learning from the best of the best. Most of the professors do research and teach, so you know that they are very invested in their subjects, and for the most part, in you, as well. Go to office hours and engage with your professors. They will be more than happy to help, and they usually make an effort to know your name, something that can make a 100-plus lecture class feel a bit more personal.
Don’t be fooled, though: Northwestern is an extremely fast-paced academic environment. Because the University operates on the quarter system, students have three sets of classes each year: fall quarter, which is from September to December, winter quarter from January to March, and spring quarter from March to June. Classes are only 10 weeks long, which means that midterms sometimes come around before you even know what the class is about! If you stay on top of your work, though, the quarter system opens up possibilities for you to take more classes each year and have more flexibility for study abroad or internships. And if you just hate a distro (distribution) class, it's over before you know it!