When a process like orientation becomes integral to a college campus, becomes an event that students look forward to, campus and college begin to feel a little less scary for prospective students. Here at Northwestern, Wildcat Welcome is consistently one of the highest rated programs, most lauded efforts, and most appreciated endeavors this school puts on. That our orientation is so loved speaks volumes to this school and this student body’s care for its newest Wildcats.

Wildcat Welcome begins not when new students step foot on campus but when the Peer Advisers and Family Ambassadors are hired in the winter. These students decide that dedicating their time to learning about the issues and frustrations new students and families experience is an important part of their college process. And so, throughout the Winter and Spring the New Student and Family Programs office hosts multiple training sessions with these student leaders, developing their leadership styles, discussing key issues of inclusion and identity, and going over the logistics and energy required to host an 8-day orientation program.

Finally, come September, new students and their families arrive on campus and are greeted by personalized schedules, amazing student volunteers, and a schedule packed with fun, challenging, and perspective-changing activities designed to help them adjust to college. Each student is given a Peer Adviser and is placed in a group with students studying similar topics. They stay with this group and this adviser for all of Wildcat Welcome. Families are placed with a Family Ambassador who guides them through all of Parent and Family Orientation.

Throughout Wildcat Welcome, students will, with their groups, go through important sessions discussing alcohol, sexual health, and inclusion and diversity, they will register for their classes and go through advising, and will have a chance to attend a Northwestern football game, go to Six Flags, and listen to some of the best performance groups at Northwestern. All of these events are catered to make sure students experience all Northwestern has to offer.

However, Northwestern understands that orientation does not end after Wildcat Welcome. A student’s Peer Adviser stays in contact with their students all year and New Student and Family Programs continues to host events throughout the year to make sure students are doing well with the transition.

No matter where a student is coming from, Wildcat Welcome makes sure they feel ready to be a part of this amazing community. Northwestern’s pride is never stronger than during Wildcat Welcome.

–Kevin Nigarura

photo: The Daily Northwestern.

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