Freshmen and transfer students reflect on initial transition to Northwestern


Daily file photo by Colin Boyle

Northwestern joined 18 other prominent U.S. colleges and universities in an amicus brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to protect DACA, a Tuesday University release announced.

Kalen Luciano, Reporter

Freshmen and transfer students finally arrived last week for Wildcat Welcome after months of waiting, and now the incoming class — some of whom had watched their friends leave for school weeks earlier — felt a mix of nerves and excitement before the first day of class Tuesday.

The Class of 2023, made up of 2,010 students from 67 countries, filled Northwestern’s classrooms with one of the most diverse groups of students. The student body is 12.6 percent Latinx, 1.1 percent American Indian, 22.7 percent Asian, 10.2 percent black and 54.2 percent white.

More than 10 percent of the class have international citizenship, more than 250 students are the first in their family to attend college and 20 percent are Pell Grant recipients.

Communication freshman Samantha Noeth Lewis said she is excited to meet more people in a class much larger than that of her high school. Coming from an all-girls high school with a class size of 60 students, she said she had a small social circle and feels excited to have a larger circle of college friends in the coming year.

Though Noeth Lewis said she is looking forward to new possibilities with her social life, she was worried about academics. WithNorthwestern’s late September start on the quarter system, she had been out of school for so long that she felt out of her academic rhythm.

“I don’t even think I remember how to take notes,” Noeth Lewis said. “How am I supposed to be a student? I forgot all that.”

But with the new environment comes new perks, Communication freshman Maggie Grond said, including experiencing more freedom during her first week at Northwestern. She chooses when she gets to go to bed, do her homework or call home.

This newfound freedom kept Grond busy, she said, and having to manage everything during Wildcat Welcome made her forget about home at times.

“I should think of home more often than I think of home,” Grond said. “That will change as I start to get into a routine with my classes.”

For Communication freshman Clay Lawhead, Northwestern is very different from his home state of Georgia. Aside from the temperature difference, he said people seem more respectful on campus.

“(Students here) don’t have any judgment, whereas back home in high school everyone has judgment of people’s character,” Lawhead said. “I think of home once every day, and then I think about the South, and I’m like ‘No.’”

On the other hand, Medill freshman Harrison Larner said he thinks of home about 10 times a day. Even though home is often on his mind, he said his transition to Northwestern went smoothly. It seemed overwhelming to him at first, but with his PA group and dorm, he had a support system that made the transition smooth.

Larner said he already met a lot of people, but he’s excited to get to know and spend time with more of them as the year goes on. Academically, he enrolled in new subjects — including the highly-rated Introduction to Russian Literature — for his first quarter, allowing him to study topics he didn’t have the opportunity to learn at home.

“There’s a lot of interesting people on campus who have interesting stories and backgrounds,” Larner said. “I’m excited to take classes with them and learn from them.”

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @kalenluciano