Skip to main content

CATalyst Participants

Welcome! We're excited for you to participate in CATalyst. Important information is included below regarding your participation, so be sure to read through it all, complete action items, and note dates for travel.  Still have questions after reading through? Contact New Student & Family Programs at 847-467-3988 or


CATalyst Checklist

All CATalyst participants must complete the below items by the respective due date before your registration is considered complete.

To Do

Due Date

  • Complete payment or accept your fee waiver 
    • Before you complete this, make sure you read the information below on submitting your ropes course waiver.
  • Complete and submit your Ropes Course Waiver  
    • Follow these instructions to complete and submit your waiver:
      1. Download the waiver to your computer if you plan to fill it out electronically. If you do not download it to your computer, you will not be able to save your information and upload the file correctly. Please do not fill it out in the browser window.
      2. Fill out the waiver either electronically or print the waiver out and clearly print the required information and sign. If you will be under 18 by September 12, you will need a parent/guardian signature.
      3. Save the document as LastName-FirstName-Waiver.pdf
      4. Upload it on your registration confirmation page above.
      5. If for any reason you need to opt out of this activity please contact to let us know! The ropes course is a portion of CATalyst, but by no means a central part of the program. We have had participants in the past opt out due to ability status, injury, illness, or other reasons . If you're not sure right now whether you want to participate, go ahead and upload your waiver just in case, you can always opt out of participating at any time on the trip.

July 1 at 11:59 p.m. CDT

September 1 at 11:59 p.m. CDT

Summer Communication to Expect from CATalyst

Arrival Day Info


Check-in for CATalyst  between 10 a.m. - 12 p.m. CDT on Thursday, September 12 in the Great Room located at 600 Haven Street, Evanston, IL 60201

Getting to Campus

Most students travel to campus on September 12 for POP by themselves or will have family members or friends drop them off (we cannot provide you on-campus parking while you're out on CATalyst, so do not drive to campus alone).

If you're arriving to Chicago by plane, below are a few transportation options from the airport:

What to Pack

Due to the nature of CATalyst Trips, all participants must pack light as you will only be able to bring one luggage item with you (think a small carry on bag like a duffel or larger backpack). Please try not to bring a rolling suitcase as we will be traveling to Camp Hickory by school bus and space is limited.

Storage While on CATalyst and Planning for Move-In Day

You can bring an additional suitcase/bag that we can store for you on campus for move-in. This one item will be locked so that your belongings are safe and secure. You are not able to bring all of your items for move-in day until that day on September 16.  All POP participants will move-in on Monday, September 16, regardless of residence hall location. Most participants will work with family or friends to have them bring items for their room on September 16, or will ship their items in advance using USS Ship-To-School Program (listed in Purple Prep).

If your family is planning to help you move into your residence hall on September 16, you can plan to meet them as early as 11 a.m. on Monday, September 16. Residential Services will provide you with an opportunity to select your unloading time later in the summer if you need to pull up a car to your residence for unloading; we suggest you choose a time no earlier than 11:30 a.m. so you have a bit of time between CATalyst and moving.

What to Expect on CATalyst

Leadership Activities and Campus Life

During CATalyst you'll reflect on your own personal ideas about leadership and develop a greater understanding of leadership in the context of Northwestern. You'll participate in ropes courses, reflect on how you can become leaders at Northwestern (and what that even really means), collaborate with other students, and learn about different resources at Northwestern. CATalyst uses a challenge-by-choice mentality, asking students to push themselves to be open while still knowing their limits.

Connection and Reflection

Two student leaders, known as facilitators, will be leading your small group and they will be able to answer questions you have about life at Northwestern. Facilitators will serve as mentors on the trip and throughout your time at Northwestern. Your facilitators will guide you through personal reflection and activities to help you think about what you want out of your Northwestern experience and to build community with other participants (seven-eight) in your small group.  You'll also get an awesome opportunity to meet more than 100 other new students and student leaders!

CATalyst Schedule Example



Thursday, September 12

Check-in between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. on campus, meet other new students and CATalyst facilitators, tour campus and eat lunch outside, and depart for Camp Hickory to get settled and have a cook out!

Friday, September 13 - Sunday, September 15

Participate in icebreakers and activities that help you get to know other participants and build community among the group, eat delicious meals from Camp Hickory, participate in leadership activities and the low and high ropes courses, and learn from each other and the student leaders about the transition to college.

Monday, September 16

New Student Move-In Day! Eat an early breakfast at Camp Hickory and then we'll hit the road back to campus to get pumped for Wildcat Welcome. If your family or friends are bringing your belongings to help you move in, you can plan to meet them beginning at 11 a.m. Again, we don't suggest making your move-in unloading time until 11:30 a.m. though so that you can have some moments between arriving back to campus, collecting any luggage you stored, and moving in.

Frequently Asked Questions

Still have questions? Visit our
frequently asked questions page or send us an email at