I actually visited five of the six schools in Chicago back in November.
Northwestern was by far the best. When I first walked into the school it felt right. It has a very warm atmosphere, and the students and staff are friendly. I know that this isn’t important, but I kind of like the color scheme in the main area. They have some touch-screen information kiosks in the lobby. I was playing with the kiosk while waiting for a tour guide and some guy actually stopped to ask if I had any questions. When I sat in on a class the students around me were very friendly and personable. People were actually smiling and seemed happy. People looked at me in the face. I was extremely impressed with the atmosphere.
I absolutely hated University of Chicago. The admissions staff was EXTREMELY RUDE to me. They do not give tours to prospective students, but instead give you a cheap-@ss photocopy of a “self-guided tour.” I stopped in the cafeteria for a snack and got sneered at by a student. The students in the main area were not approachable. The building is very sterile and cold feeling-–there’s no color and very big open spaces. The admissions people were rude about giving directions. I got lost on the way there and had to walk through a frightening neighborhood; although on the way back I went through North Campus and it was an absolutely beautiful neighborhood. The best thing about my visit was that they have terrific food in the cafeteria.
I got admitted to both schools and then some. Right now I’m struggling to decide between Northwestern and Michigan. I would take Northwestern over Chicago in a heartbeat. However, there is an element of personal taste to this choice and really my impressions about the schools are just impressions. There are other factors to consider, as I’m sure you are aware.
As for DePaul, Loyola, and Kent–they all seemed pretty much the same. They seem like good schools with good students, but they are clearly not in the same league as Northwestern/Chicago. I couldn’t tell what would make someone prefer one of them over another. But I wouldn’t mind trying to describe each one if anyone is interested.