NU siblings talk college experience

Lauren Caruba

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When Brandon and Mitch Johnston began the college admissions process, they did not talk to each other at all about where they wanted to apply, despite being twins with the same intended major.

Yet both of them applied to Northwestern, were accepted and ultimately decided to come to NU’s School of Communication for theatre.

“Everything just kind of fit together with the school and with our interests,” Brandon, who is now a sophomore, said.

While Mitch and Brandon share an apartment this year, last year they lived with random roommates so they could get a “true” college experience. Mitch said they find living together more convenient in terms of grocery shopping and other expenses.

“Northwestern is a big siblings school. It seems to happen a lot,” said Medill senior Katherine Perry, whose brother, Communication sophomore Jack Perry, is on the golf team.

As a recruited athlete, Jack said he did not come to NU because his sister went here or because his father was a Kellogg School of Management graduate. However, Katherine’s presence was an additional perk that made NU even more appealing, he said.

Katherine was able to give her brother advice about classes and dorms and introduce him to her friends, which made his transition from their home in Santa Barbara, Calif., to college smoother, Jack said.

“She introduced me to a lot of the guys that I’m now fraternity brothers with, and it’s nice to be a long way from home and have a family member be there close,” Jack said.

Although Jack found his sister to be helpful, she was abroad the first quarter of his freshman year, so he had to navigate school on his own, Katherine said.

The same goes for Weinberg freshman Max Offsay, whose sister, Weinberg junior Sam Offsay, is studying abroad in Denmark this quarter. Max, a water polo player, will be seeing a lot of his sister once she returns, he said, as she is the only female player on the team.

“That should be funny. I think it’ll be fun,” Offsay said. “We get along great.”

While Max does look forward to having his sister back on campus, he said he has to deal with being automatically associated with her. As twins, the Johnstons said they have the same problem.

Brandon said going to college with a sibling can be a problem if a sibling is relying too heavily on the other as a crutch to fall back on.

“It depends on your relationship and how you are as a person,” he said. “If you were very clingy with your sibling, then I think that would be negative because you wouldn’t go meet new people.”

But for the most part, Brandon said, going to college with a sibling is more of a small bonus than a game-changer.

“It’s been good for the most part, but I don’t think it’s drastically changed my experience,” he said.