IGNITE: The First-Year Experience

The first year at Northwestern can be an incredible one; we're here to make sure you have the entire community readily at your fingertips so your first year is successful. There is a great deal that happens during Wildcat Welcome to prepare you for Northwestern, but we understand that what you are worried about most at that time is simply the introduction of everything and getting settled into your new environment. IGNITE was created to continue that community and dialogue that occurs during Wildcat Welcome throughout the entire year. We have a few tricks up our sleeve for IGNITE participants, so get ready for the best year ever. 

Who is participating?

Approximately a quarter of the incoming class was selected to take part in the IGNITE pilot program; students were notified in the beginning of September via email regarding participation. These students will be connected directly with a Peer Adviser and faculty/staff member throughout the year to provide a great resource and support system. Students selected to participate will have the opportunity to participate in a myriad of events; failure to participate in certain events will result in an alteration of registration time for the following quarter.

First-Year Student Task Force

Students applied to serve on the First-Year Student Task force for 2013-2014. Learn more about the Task Force.

What is IGNITE?

IGNITE is a multi-layered approach to aiding in the successful transition of very high-achieving students to the Northwestern University community. IGNITE includes:

  • Communication: Students will have a more knowledgeable understanding of what is occuring throughout the year, whether that include campus events or better understanding timely challenges related to transition. This communication will aid in better understanding the University rather than relying on "guess work."
  • IGNITEgroups: Students will meet bi-monthly (every other week) with a group of approximately 15 peers from all six undergraduate schools. You will work directly with a Peer Adviser and faculty/staff member as you participate in continued dialogue regarding the community and various issues. Small groups provide a safe space for support.
  • IGNITEevents: Wildcat Welcome should not be the last time you see all of the students in your class. All IGNITE students will participate in two IGNITEevents each quarter; think free trips to Chicago, food, service, etc.
  • Explore NU: There are a number of events, lectures, and activities that occur throughout the year, hosted by departments, offices, and your talented friends. We not only encourage you to expand your NU scope by attending a diverse range of events, but you can even receive prizes for attending. The more events you attend that are part of the Explore NU program, the more likely you are to win prizes (given away at the end of each quarter). 

Important Dates for IGNITE Students

  • September 23; 3-4 p.m.: IGNITE Social (Ice Cream & Shirts provided)
  • September 29; 5-6:30 p.m.: IGNITE Kick-Off
  • October 7: IGNITE: Small Group Session 1 begins
  • October 21: IGNITE: Small Group Session 2 begins
  • November 11: IGNITE: Small Group Session 3 begins
  • November (TBA): Cultural Day Trip: Downtown Chicago and the Art Institute
  • December 5: Experience NU prize winners announced for Fall Quarter


If you have questions, contact Joshua N. McKenzie, Director of the First Year Experience. You can also contact the Office of New Student and Family Programs at 847-467-6100. 

A mid-quarter report on the first year experience program was made on October 30, 2013 regarding the fall 2013 quarter. View the mid-quarter progress report.