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Wildcat Welcome

New undergraduate students participate in a robust orientation process, with each component preparing students for their time as a Wildcat. The new student orientation components are designed to help you transition to your first quarter at Northwestern by providing you with opportunities to:

2024 New Student Orientation Experience

New student orientation consists of three parts to successfully launch students into their first year at Northwestern:

Purple Prep

Foundational orientation tasks to mark your start as a Wildcat.

Running from May through September, Purple Prep provides foundational information and involves a variety of summer tasks to complete and virtual programs to attend with a new set of deadlines each month. The tasks range from submitting your housing contract to immunizations form to virtual orientation modules. The Purple Prep Checklist and Purple Prep emails will guide you through this phase of your orientation.

Note: All portions of Purple Prep are virtual. Students are not required to travel to campus prior to Wildcat Welcome.

Before the Arch

Virtual opportunities to learn about the social and emotional aspects of transition to Northwestern.

Starting in July, you will have weekly opportunities to learn from and engage with current Northwestern students on a wide range of topics on preparing for your Northwestern transition. The series also encourages and enables meeting and connecting with other incoming students. Programs are announced and hosted on the Class of 2028 + Transfers Canvas Course and promoted on Wildcat Welcome social media accounts.

Note: All portions of Before the Arch are virtual. Students are not required to travel to campus prior to Wildcat Welcome.

Wildcat Welcome

Take part in campus traditions, build connections, learn to navigate campus, & register for fall classes.

Wildcat Welcome is the on-campus orientation hosted for you over the week immediately preceding the start of Fall Quarter classes, starting with your move to campus. Wildcat Welcome introduces you to Northwestern's campus traditions, highlights what it means to be a community member, and includes time for Peer Adviser group meetings and social programs that connect you with classmates as well as returning students. 

Timeline for Announcing 2024 Orientation Dates

  • February 2024: Dates associated with Wildcat Welcome
    • International Wildcat Welcome dates announced
    • Parent and Family Orientation dates announced
    • New student move-in day announced
    • Wildcat Welcome dates announced
  • May 2024: Summer tasks announced via Purple Prep
  • July 2024: Before the Arch schedule announced
  • August 2024: Students receive housing assignment and select move-in date/time
    • Wildcat Welcome programmatic overview released
  • September 2024: Personalized, detailed Wildcat Welcome schedule released

Orientation Guiding Notes

Wildcat Welcome Schedule

Each day of Wildcat Welcome includes activities that connect you with other students and help you acclimate to life at Northwestern. Wildcat Welcome will include meetings and events hosted for the entire class and others by your school, each existing to support and enrich your student experience. Your days will be very full—but not without downtimes for fun, relaxation, and self-care.

Wildcat Welcome time blocks are shared in early summer to help you plan; however, a programmatic overview of the Wildcat Welcome schedule is shared in August. One reason we can’t share your detailed schedule earlier: it is personalized to you and your Peer Adviser group!

You should make plans to be on campus for the duration of Wildcat Welcome. Those absent from required events will participate in alternative programming/essays during the fall quarter in order to be granted access to winter quarter course registration.

Academic Advising and Course Registration

Purple Prep includes tasks that help to provide starting guidance in how to browse classes and understand requirements. However, based on your academic school, students may meet with their academic advisor virtually over the summer or during Wildcat Welcome to discuss requirements and classes in detail. After meeting with their academic advisor, students then register for fall quarter courses during Wildcat Welcome.

This timeline of advising and registration is likely different than what friends going to other institutions are experiencing. Not to worry, Wildcat Welcome has you covered!

Coming to Campus

Students arrive to campus for the first time when they participate in the Wildcat Welcome portion of the orientation process; students do not come to campus for any other portion of the new student orientation process during the summer months.

Your Peer Adviser

Your Peer Adviser is an upper-level student who has been carefully trained to guide you in your transition to Northwestern this summer and during Wildcat Welcome. With academic interests similar to yours and firsthand knowledge of the orientation experience, your PA is an outstanding source of advice and answers to many of your questions. Your PA leads your PA Group, a small group of other incoming students you will begin connecting with over the summer. 

Students hear from their PA in late July/early August.

Parent and Family Orientation

Families who hope to learn about how to serve as a support system for their Northwestern student are invited to attend Parent and Family Orientation. The series of programs occurs once a student has moved to campus and is a 1.5 days of events while new students are participating in separate Wildcat Welcome programs. The detailed schedule is released in summer 2024 along with event registration. Learn more about this program on the Family Engagement website

March Through the Arch & Kiss’n’Bye

March Through the Arch is one of Northwestern's richest traditions, symbolically marking a student’s start to the University. Though the Wildcat Welcome schedule overview is released in August, the date and time of March Through the Arch is released in May 2024 to allow families to make informed travel plans.

While not all families choose to remain on campus for this event, those who choose to do so will see the program is included within the Parent and Family Orientation schedule immediately followed by Kiss’n’Bye, a brief time period for families and students to say their goodbyes.

Tasks to complete before arriving

Undergraduate Admission provides you with information on tasks you must complete immediately upon choosing to attend Northwestern, such as submitting your tuition deposit and housing deposit and reviewing financial aid information, if applicable.

All other tasks are organized for students within Purple Prep -launching in early May- with deadlines throughout the summer. Students, and families, are notified via email when this first phase of orientation launches.

A Note About Health and Safety

The safety of our students is our priority. The dates and details above are subject to change as Northwestern follows local, state, and federal health directives and guidelines. Students will be notified of changes via Purple Prep emails throughout the summer.