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Prepare and Go

After acceptance to Northwestern, complete the following steps.

Step 1: Activate your Northwestern NetID and email account

Your acceptance letter will include a NetID and activation code. Go to NU Validate to change your password and set security questions. Using your NetID and password, activate your email account at

Step 2: Obtain your J-1 visa

If you do not carry a U.S. passport, you will need to submit a DS-2019 request to the Northwestern Office of International Student and Scholar Services (OISS). For more information about the requirements for your DS-2019 visa request, as well as additional steps for obtaining a visa, refer to Steps for New Students on the OISS website.

Step 3: Plan housing and living arrangements

Shortly after your admission, you will be able to access and submit the on-campus housing application. Remember: only students who will be at Northwestern for a full academic year (fall, winter and spring quarters) are guaranteed on-campus housing.

If you do not intend to live in on-campus housing, and will instead pursue housing off-campus, consult off-campus life resources for housing options.

Consult these additional resources for information about obtaining items for your room:

Step 4: View your student account

At Northwestern, students use our online system called CAESAR for class registration, course information, grades, billing, etc. Once you activate your NetID, you can log in to CAESAR to view your student account and browse classes.

Step 5: Choose courses and prepare for registration

Although you provide a preliminary course plan in your application, you will not be able to register for courses online until shortly before your arrival on campus. Consult the Course Planning section for more information about credit requirements, choosing courses, and registration.

Step 6: Complete the admission health record form

Fill out the admission health record form and submit by email. You must either have a medical doctor complete page 2 of the form, or you can submit a copy of your immunization records. You will receive information from the Northwestern Health Service after you submit this form if additional immunizations will be required once you arrive on campus.

Step 7: Plan your trip

J-1 students may not arrive to the U.S. more than 30 days before the start date on your DS-2019. If you decide to come earlier than this, you will need to enter as a tourist and later leave the United States so that you may enter in the correct J-1 status no more than 30 days before the start date listed on your document. Also, if you are living on campus, make sure to coordinate your travel planning with the move-in and move-out dates of the residence halls. Refer to the after arrival section for additional guidelines regarding your entry to the U.S., transportation to campus, and other arrival information.