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SAW is happy to answer any questions you may have about the program. Below are some FAQs that may address the answers you are looking for. If not, feel free to email SAW at


Do I have to be FGLI to participate in SAW?

SAW participants must be eligible for the Pell Grant or have most of their financial needs met via Financial Aid. Email Mayra Garces, SES Associate Director and SAW Director to confirm eligibility. First-generation status is not mandatory.

Can international students participate in SAW?

Not at this time. SAW participants must reside in the United States.  Alternatively, you can consider other pre-enrollment programs found here or join another SES program called Compass, a cohort-based, year-long peer mentorship program that connects incoming first-generation, lower-income, and/or undocumented/DACA (FGLI) students with trained 2nd, 3rd, 4th year student mentors.

Can I apply for SAW if I'm interested/committed to another Northwestern FGLI summer program (i.e. Bio&ChemEXCEL, HODGE Excel) that doesn’t overlap with SAW program dates?

Yes, you can apply. However, in order for all incoming FGLI students to have the opportunity to participate in at least one of the FGLI summer programs at Northwestern SAW will prioritize applicants who are not already committed to another FGLI summer program. 

SAW Application

Are applications reviewed on a rolling basis?

No, all applicants will receive a decision on the same day.

SAW Program

How much freedom do I have during off hours/weekends?

Depends! Some weekends will be more packed than others, and we want to encourage SAW participants to use their off hours to rest, catch up on assignments, or explore Northwestern’s campus, Evanston, and Chicago. Activities, excursions to Chicago, and community events are typically scheduled for the weekend so you can expect the weekend to be filled with options.

Can I commute to SAW rather than living in the residence halls?

No, SAW participants are required to live in the residence hall. This is because days are filled with classes, workshops, meals, and community events that are essential to the program.

Can I bring a car to campus/can I purchase a permit for my car?

No. First year (and second year) students are required to live on campus. Per the Parking Office, persons who are not eligible for main campus permits include all freshman, sophomores, and juniors who reside on campus.

How will the writing course help me in my classes at Northwestern?

 The writing course aims to provide students with an introduction to the types of writing assignments that are common in college and to the types of evaluative comments they are likely to receive on those assignments. This instruction will help students to hone their existing writing skills so that they are ready for success once the Fall Quarter begins.

How will the School of Communication component relate to my studies at Northwestern?

The School of Comm sessions offer ways of approaching any number of situations where ideas are being formed and exchanged. Academic life on Northwestern’s campus is certainly among those situations, but this part of the SAW curriculum also aims to develop skills that students will find useful in their social, professional, and civic lives.

What kind of activities/excursion are typical in SAW?

Typically SAW plans 2 excursions, one each weekend during the first 2 weekends. In the past SAW participants spent the day at Six Flags and boarded a boat on the Chicago River for an architecture tour. The School of Communication also plans an excursion connected to their course. Last year, SAW students got to eat at Time Out Market and explore the WNDR Museum. Additional activities are planned by the SAW Student Leadership team and are facilitated in the residence hall/Evanston during the evening hours and on Sundays.

On Campus Living during SAW

Will my dorm room in SAW be the same one I stay in throughout the academic year?

No. During weeks 1 and 2 of SAW students live together in a Residence Hall along with the SAW Counselors, SAW Counselor Coordinators and SAW Graduate Assistant. During week 3, all SAW students will transition to their Fall housing assignments. More information about the latter will be shared in advance with SAW participants.

Will I have a roommate during the first 2 weeks of SAW?

Yes. SAW participants should expect to have a roommate(s). The number of roommates will be contingent on the residence hall SAW is assigned.  If you require housing accommodation, documentation will be required from a certified medical/mental health professional who has worked with the student.