The DeKalb Community
Most NIU students make their homes in the city of DeKalb and surrounding communities in DeKalb County. The area is a unique blend of peaceful suburbs, rich farmland and big-city resources.
Much of DeKalb County is rural, full of cornfields lined with two-lane roads dotted with stop signs. But DeKalb (population 43,849) and nearby Sycamore (population 17,600) are the sites of bustling commercial and residential growth. The highway that connects them, Route 23, is also the site of many new retailers and restaurants, providing options for a variety of tastes. The county's health care corridor also lies along Route 23.
DeKalb's and Sycamore's downtown areas feature charming shops, one-of-a-kind eateries and vibrant cultural venues. Each town also hosts a fall festival. At the end of August, the DeKalb Corn Fest attracts more than 50,000 visitors, while the Sycamore Pumpkin Festival offers Halloween fun to the community in late October.
Fans of high school football have another reason to visit DeKalb: NIU is the site of the Illinois High School Association state football finals in 2019 and 2021.