I liked that it had a good amount of students (20,000 or so) but everything was within walking distance. I've visited friends at schools where you need
to take a bus to get across campus if you don't want to be walking for an hour. Also, because it's a state school it was cheaper than other schools, but NIU is also a state school so that doesn't really matter for you. I like(d) B-N because it's a pretty busy place but you can still see cornfields if you drive 5-10 miles in any direction. And there is a cool Orthodox parish
I stayed because this is where I found a job.