McCormick introduces Wildcat Welcome overhaul

David Lee, Reporter

The McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science’s incoming freshman class will be the first to take part in a revamped Wildcat Welcome program for the school, which will extend well into the academic year.

The new initiative, aimed at providing McCormick students a more individualized experience, started with the hiring of four new faculty advisers and includes a pass/no credit seminar course.

The seminar will be categorized as a “personal development” course and will continue many of the discussions started during Wildcat Welcome on topics such as mental health, diversity and inclusion. However, the class will also focus on new topics such as campus involvement, financial literacy and stress management.

The course will serve to promote engagement and a sense of community, communicate the University’s expectations to students and “help students continue to clarify their purpose, identity, and direction,” said Joshua McKenzie, director of First Year Experience at NU.

The course, which peer adviser groups will take together, will be co-taught by the PA that the group had during Wildcat Welcome, as well as one of the McCormick advisers. The groups will hold six sessions during Fall Quarter and an unspecified additional number of sessions in Winter Quarter.

Stephanie Caldwell, a McCormick junior and returning PA, said McCormick advising was too focused on funneling people into different majors.

“With the new program you are making it more so that you are not just gearing each freshman towards a major,” Caldwell said. “It is emphasizing the community of Northwestern along with your transition.”

McKenzie said he has heard similar feedback and that students felt rushed into choosing a major. He said many students from the class of 2017 told him it was difficult to figure out which major to choose because they didn’t know what those majors looked like.

“I want to make sure that we are supporting our first-year students as best we can,” McKenzie said. “Of course, for this upcoming year what that looks like is how we are really tailoring that support for McCormick students.”

The process of specializing the program will require substantial effort from the PAs who, in addition to co-instructing the seminar course, will craft lesson plans and undergo additional training, McKenzie said.

Even though the initiative is still in its early stages, Caldwell said she is excited for the changes.

“McCormick has the stereotype of being an anti-social place; all we do is we study and we’re shy and anti-social,” Caldwell said. “We’re breaking that barrier and saying that we’re a lot more than that and Northwestern is a lot more than that.”

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