Family Weekend

Family Weekend 2014: November 7-9

Your son/daughter spends a terrific four years on campus at Northwestern taking advantage of educational lectures, painting the the Rock, enjoying performances from peers, walking through the Arch and enjoying the cultural benefits of Chicago and Evanston. We do not want you to miss out on sharing some of those experiences with your son/daughter; this is the very reason we host Family Weekend each fall. A time to partake in the spirit that embraces our campus. This weekend gives you a snapshot of the campus culture, the community's academic excellence and the energy that moves from the seats of Ryan Field down through the Arch, a campus staple. We ask you to join us as we celebrate our campus and welcoming family members to our illustrious community.

About Family Weekend, from a fellow parent

Family Weekend was the first of many lasts as our daughter embarks on her senior year at Northwestern. As we pulled out of the driveway to take that familiar seven-hour trip to the big city, we were filled with excitement and a little sadness—to be spending our last Family Weekend with our daughter, her friends, and the lifelong friends we have made at Northwestern.

The word “friends” includes not just the people but the familiar experiences and events we have made into tradition in the past four years. Oh, yes—this includes familiar faces, such as the hotel clerk who knows us by name now, and the waiter at Clarke’s, where we eat the best breakfast in town. It includes dinner with the parents of our daughter’s best friend and her family as well. I can’t forget the “sons and daughters” we’ve adopted along the way through our daughter’s friendships, who have become like family not just to her, but to us, too.

The experiences have become tradition and make us feel at home: Hopping on the El and enjoying conversation on the way to our favorite shopping spots on Michigan Avenue, and ending the day with the sunset view from the top of the John Hancock Center; cheering on the Wildcats from our end-zone seats, sipping hot chocolate, and humming the tune to the Fight Song (because I still don’t know the words); taking a walk along the lake and viewing the beauty of the campus in the full color of fall, then walking past the Rock on the way back to see how crazy it has been painted; crossing through the Arch just to say you did; buying a new sweatshirt at the campus bookstore—or maybe two or three this time because it’s our last year here; and seeing your child have the time of her life and living it through her eyes.

These are just a few of the things we will miss when our daughter takes her final walk in her cap and gown next spring. As we dropped her off before the long trip home, we said out loud—and know it for sure—what we had hoped four years ago, when we left her with tears in our eyes for the first time: “Northwestern is a great place! Thanks for the memories!”

Rene A., mother of Jessica A.
(letter first appeared on