Northwestern University Residential Colleges
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Why choose a residential college?

A Sense of Community

A residential college is more than just a place to live. Students promote the academic and social activities of their college, participate in philanthropic activities, and enjoy informal contact with the faculty, staff members, and visiting scholars who volunteer to serve as fellows. Residential college members are involved both in the life of their college and the larger University. Lifelong friendships - among students and between students and college masters and fellows - frequently develop in the close-knit atmosphere of the colleges. Students who participate in the activities of their college earn the right to return the following year.

Exploring Common Interests

Most residential colleges are structured around a theme that provides a focus for academic and social programming. The colleges are not extensions of academic departments; rather, the colleges provide a place where students can explore common interests with a college master and fellows. Membership in the colleges is open to students in all schools of the University; there is no requirement that members of a college pursue a degree in an area related to the college's theme. Engineering majors are members of the fine and performing arts residential college just as students in the arts are associated with the Residential College of Science and Engineering.

Informal Contact with Faculty

A senior faculty or staff member - the college master - guides the intellectual and programmatic life of each residential college. The master's title is deeply rooted in tradition. In ancient Rome, any teacher was a magister. When the first residential colleges were organized (by students, for protection from medieval landlords) at universities such as Cambridge and Oxford, they were headed by masters and included resident fellows or tutors.

Today, the college master is a dedicated and enthusiastic faculty member who provides intellectual leadership for the college and serves as an adviser to the college residents. Students, college masters, and fellows enjoy many opportunities to get to know each other in contexts beyond the classroom - at firesides, over meals, or on excursions to Chicago.

Opportunities for Leadership and Fun

Through participation in the activities of a college or the intercollege Residential College Board, students have the opportunity to work with faculty and administrators to help shape the social and academic programming of the residential college system. Many colleges support philanthropic and volunteer programs that give students opportunities for contact with the community beyond the University.

Along with academic programming, residential colleges offer abundant opportunities for fun. Among the social activities offered in various colleges are student performance hours and art exhibits, weekly munchies (group study breaks), parties, "Frivolous Readings" featuring poems not generally taught in literature courses, a student-organized Investment Club, and special event dinners.

Special Academic Programs

Each college offers a program of firesides - informal presentations, generally by faculty members, on a wide variety of subjects of interest to residents. Firesides give students opportunities to learn about and discuss subjects without the pressure of grades or papers. Attendance at activities such as firesides is voluntary; firesides do not yield academic credit.

Academic credit may be earned, however, by students who choose to enroll in residental college seminars. Seminars are intimate academic seminars reserved for college members; enrollment limited to ten students. Seminars allow students and professors to explore mutual interests in far greater depth than is generally possible in first and second year classes.


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See Also:

What is a residential college?

Why choose a residential college?

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Office of Residential Academic Initiatives: 2122 Sheridan | Room 120 | Evanston, IL 60208
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