Family Weekend will return to an in-person format for the first time in three years, starting Friday.
Events will be largely in-person with several remote options and take place from Nov. 11 to 13. As of Friday, Nov. 4, 1,500 families had registered to attend Family Weekend, per the Office of Student Affairs. The actual number of families will likely be substantially higher, the Office said, as attendees are not required to register to attend and more registrations were submitted after Nov. 4.
The 2021 Family Weekend, while initially planned to be in-person, was moved to a virtual format in early October, a few weeks before it was scheduled to occur. When Family Weekend was previously held in person, it averaged approximately 1,000 to 1,200 registrations — indicating a significant increase this year.
Associate Director of the Office of Student Affairs Gabe Marenco-Garcia is in charge of major events and programs on campus, including Family Weekend. He attributed the increased attendance this year to the three years without holding it in person.
“Some folks think this might be their last chance [to attend], or their first time [attending], so I think that’s contributing to the higher numbers,” he said.
Similarly, Associate Director of Advising in the School of Nursing Alyssa Davella said that it appears the families of many older students plan to attend this year.
“Historically, we get a lot of first-year students and their guests,” Davella said. “But we are seeing more junior and senior students registering this time around, probably because they haven’t had the chance to do this in person in years.”
While Family Weekend will not be limited by pandemic-related constraints, Marenco-Garcia said, some components from virtual years will remain.
“Throughout our event process that I manage, I’ve asked folks to let us know if they will record sessions or offer them virtually, and families will have the option to either see recordings after the weekend or access a livestream of some of our events,” said Marenco-Garcia. “That’s something we did not really offer in 2019 when we were last in person, and we will permanently make it a part of Family Weekend in the future.”
Director of Administration for the College of Arts and Sciences Judith McKee agreed that the recordings could be helpful, adding that the two larger panels will be recorded and posted to the website afterward.
Friday’s events will mainly consist of general events for all families, while most school-specific events are taking place on Saturday.
At 4:00 p.m. on Friday, Penn President Liz Magill will speak in Irvine Auditorium at an event designed to inform families on current initiatives around Penn and Magill’s role in them.
There will be many opportunities for families to experience campus life this weekend aside from school-specific events. With a Family Weekend program or pin, families will have free access to the Penn Museum, as well as special access to several of Penn’s workout facilities. Religious groups, performing arts groups, and Penn Dining will also host events throughout the weekend.
Wharton junior Dylan Jansky said that he is looking forward to his first in-person Family Weekend.
“I don’t get many opportunities to show my parents what I do at Penn, so it’s a great opportunity for them to see what it’s like to be a student here,” he said. “I didn’t know that we had a Family Weekend when it wasn’t in person, so this is really their first time, and they’re looking forward to it.”
According to McKee and Davella, Family Weekend’s main purpose is to reconnect students with their families while providing a glimpse into their college lives.
“Family Weekend is a reassurance that there are people around to help their students,” said McKee.
College first-year Juliet O’Shea agreed with McKee and Davella.
“I’m just really excited to see my family, and I think they’re really excited to see Penn through my eyes,” she said. “We don’t have much of a plan for the weekend, it’s mostly just to tour campus and explore Philly.”