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Advice for the Class of 2019

Northwestern community welcomes new students with words of wisdom

Northwestern welcomes more than 2,000 new students this week. Members of the University community -- including Joel Solari (pictured) of the Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts -- share helpful tips and words of wisdom for making the most of college life and a new home away from home. The comments below have been lightly edited for clarity. Photo by Jim Prisching

first things first

Before classes start, walk to each classroom and look for shortcuts. - David Lynch, Office for Sponsored Research

Universities are complex organizations. Learn by asking questions — lots of questions. - Bruce Lindvall, McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science

Find the inspiring professors and do what you can to get into their classes. Don't worry so much about the title of the class. - David Catlin, School of Communication

Go to class. Calculate how many class hours you have per year, and divide your tuition cost by that number. That's how much money you throw away every time you skip a lecture. - Kasey Evans, Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences

Find the tranquil, hidden gem in the middle of the Evanston campus: the Shakespeare Garden. - Ald. Jane Grover, Evanston 7th Ward

Dive into the Northwestern arts scene. - Joel Solari, Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts


Don't be afraid to embrace the fact that nobody knows you. Embrace that chance to create a new you. - Peter Civetta, Office of Undergraduate Research

Take time to build deep friendships and stare off into the horizon of Lake Michigan. - Nathan Zaporski, McCormick, Bienen 2016

Focus on doing you. You can't get caught up in how awesome everyone else is (because they will be). Trust yourself and your instincts, find where you fit in and give it your all. Well, give it your most. Save a little to enjoy yourself. - Omar Jimenez, Medill 2015

Even after you settle into life at Northwestern, never stop stepping out of your social comfort zone to make valuable connections because you never know when you'll need their help later. - Abigail Turay, McCormick 2016

Never say no to an opportunity, no matter how ridiculous. - Jack McHugh, Bienen School of Music 2014

It’s important to understand that not everyone will agree with you or hand you what you want on a silver platter. Manage your expectations, but don’t let anyone define you. - Aidan Manaligod, Weinberg, Bienen 2017

Take chances. This is your only shot at college. Don’t waste it by sticking to some preconceived plan. - Lane Fenrich, Weinberg

Don't do anything because everyone else is doing it. Do it because you want to. Be mindful of what you commit to, and commit wholeheartedly. - Raymond Chan, McCormick 2010 

Try new things and identify what you enjoy doing and are good at. - Matt Formica, Northwestern Career Advancement


Talk to your professors after a lecture or seminar. Go to office hours. People who teach freshmen often would like to know how you are doing. - Julia Stern, Weinberg

Peer pressure comes in all forms; be strong. Stand up for those that need a little of your strength. And ask for help when you need it, too. - Tammie Stewart, Center for Talent Development

Some classes, situations, decisions and days are going to be difficult. The best way to work through them is to surround yourself with people you care about who also care about you and your happiness. - Ryan Kenney, Weinberg 2016

Learn from your peers in an academic sense, but also let your interactions with them — positive and negative — help you discover qualities about yourself you hadn't recognized before, like compassion, patience, humility and strength. - Kali Maginity, School of Education and Social Policy 2014

Keep in contact with your loved ones at home to let them know how you’re doing. - Carol Rose, Kellogg Executive Education



Engage and embrace the amazing diversity of ideas, cultures, ethnicities and activities available to you in Evanston. - Alan Anderson, Office of Neighborhood and Community Relations

Get on the CTA Purple Line and go to Chicago at least a few times a year. It’s one of the greatest cities in the world, and almost everyone leaves Northwestern saying, “I should have gone to Chicago more.” - Amy Weiss, Medill 2009

Have your parents take you out for a meal in Evanston. It might be the only time you get to eat at that place while you’re here. - Michelle Yamada, Communication

Get involved in the local community. Northwestern and Evanston Township High School work together in countless ways, and there’s always something you can do to inspire the young students who are considering college now. - Kristen Perkins, Office of STEM Education Partnerships

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