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Wildcat Welcome

Wildcat Welcome—Northwestern’s mandatory orientation program—prepares all new undergraduates for their time as a Wildcat. The Wildcat Welcome experience is designed to build community and get you ready to start fall classes and navigate the University with confidence. All incoming students must complete the Wildcat Welcome Information Form by July 1.  

The Wildcat Welcome 2021 Experience

Wildcat Welcome 2021 consists of three parts to successfully launch students into their first year at Northwestern:

Purple Prep

May 4-September 10, 2021

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 and immunizations form to participating in virtual meetings with your academic adviser and completing fall course registration with your peer adviser group. The Purple Prep Checklist and Purple Prep emails will guide you through this phase of your orientation.

Summer Engagement Series: Before the Arch

June - September 12, 2021

Starting in June, you will have weekly opportunities to learn from and engage with current Northwestern students on a wide range of topics. The series also encourages and enables meeting and connecting with other incoming students. The June Purple Prep email will tell you more about the launch of the series.

Fall Welcome

September 13-20 and September 25

Fall Welcome begins when you move to campus on September 13 or 14, continues through September 20, and culminates in Wildcat Welcome capstone events on September 25. Fall 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.

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.  All students will hear from their PA in mid-July. Although questions about course selection will be answered by your academic adviser in August and September, your PA will be with you (virtually) when your PA group registers for fall courses together on September 9 or 10.

Wildcat Welcome: Fall 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. Programs such as the President’s Convocation and the True Northwestern Dialogue series focus on Northwestern values.  Your days will be very full—but not without downtimes for fun, relaxation, and self-care. 

Details of the Fall Welcome schedule will be announced in September’s Purple Prep email, though you can plan to participate in orientation programming throughout each day/evening from your move-in day through Monday, September 20 and again on Saturday, September 25. Students who need to know more about their Fall Welcome schedule so that they can plan around a work schedule should contact New Student Experience at

March Through the Arch

March Through the Arch is one of Northwestern's richest traditions, symbolically marking your start to the University. Though the full Fall Welcome schedule is released in September, the date and time of this event is provided in advance so families are able plan travel appropriately if they wish to stay and line the path of marching students. 

March Through the Arch, as well as a time for families to formerly say goodbye to their student called Kiss'n'Bye, occurs on Tuesday, September 14 from 3-4 p.m. More details for families will be included in the Parent and Family Orientation schedule.

Please note that the date/time and details of this event are subject to change as Northwestern follows local, state, and federal health and safety guidelines.

Families who must depart campus prior to March Through the Arch

Families who will need to depart after assisting with move-in, or those who are not able to travel to campus, can find on the Parent and Family Engagement website how to engage with Parent and Family Orientation programming remotely. Families who are unable to remain on campus for the March Through the Arch tradition can find available alternatives below.


A Note about Health and Safety

The safety of our students is our top 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.