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Doubling down on Wildcat Welcome this year

First-ever Wildcat Welcome Back gives second-year students the chance to build connections and community after a challenging year

Northwestern’s student orientation takes on special meaning in 2021 as University life begins to reestablish after a year of COVID-19 restrictions. With new, transfer and second-year students moving into campus residences this week, Wildcat Welcome is underway to introduce the Class of 2025 to the foundational elements of Northwestern. At the same time, a new program known as Wildcat Welcome Back commences for members of the Class of 2024 who missed out last year on the face-to-face traditions, connections and community-building opportunities that are a staple of the student experience.

The slate of traditional Wildcat Welcome activities, including March Through the Arch, a class photo and the president’s convocation, is available for participating students via Canvas. Meanwhile, second-year students registered for Wildcat Welcome Back will enjoy many of those same events this week leading into the first day of classes on Tuesday, Sept. 21.

“We know that life during the pandemic left many feeling stagnant and disconnected, but we have some exciting things planned this week to get the new year off to a great start,” said Brent Turner, executive director for campus life. “Rather than a full repeat of a typical first-year and transfer student orientation, Wildcat Welcome Back will restore some of our favorite Northwestern traditions while safely gathering this cohort in a long-overdue celebration of its accomplishments and resilience over a challenging year. Now that the campus community is reassembling, we’ll be ready — along with so many others — to welcome students with a long-delayed hug, handshake or a smile.”

Wildcat Welcome Back

The Wildcat Welcome Back schedule includes events to help students navigate campus, focus on personal wellness, experience traditions and create community and connections:

  • Norris at Night: 9 p.m. Friday, Sept. 17
    The Class of 2024 and the Class of 2025 join for this fun-filled event featuring all that Norris University Center has to offer. With activities throughout the building, students learn where to go to relax, meet up, eat and get more involved at Northwestern.
  • President’s Welcome & Reception for Family Members: 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 18
    While students take part in events promoting new connections and friendship, family members are invited to attend a welcome and reception with President Morton Schapiro.
  • Rock the Lake: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 18
    A mega-variety show features performances by Northwestern student organizations. Find singing, dancing and laughs under the stars on the lakefill east of Norris University Center.
  • March Through the Arch and Kiss’n’Bye: 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 19
    After a virtual teaser last September, the Class of 2024 and 2020 transfer students will officially march through the Weber Arch to signify the start to their second year. Following welcome addresses, the event ends with an opportunity for families to take a moment to share a goodbye and part ways. 
  • Six Flags Great America: 8:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 19
    Returning for Fall 2021 is Northwestern’s night at Six Flags Great America. The park will be open only for the Class of 2024 and transfer students who entered Fall of 2020, as well as incoming undergraduate students for Fall 2021.
  • Lunch on the Lake: 11:30 a.m. Monday, Sept. 20
    A Wildcat Welcome tradition, the Class of 2024 will gather at the lakefront to connect with others over lunch before taking a class photo.
  • Class Photo: 1 p.m. Monday, Sept. 20
    The entire class will gather to fill out the “N” for the iconic class photo.
  • Wildcat Dash: Saturday, Nov. 6
    In an event hosted during Family Weekend, the Class of 2024 will dash across Ryan Field before the Wildcats’ football game against Iowa.

To see what else is happening each day during Wildcat Welcome and Wildcat Welcome Back, follow on Twitter. Also, learn more about the New Student Experience team within the Division of Student Affairs.

Northwestern makes students’ health and safety its top priority. The dates and details as planned are subject to change as the University follows local, state and federal health directives and guidelines. Students will be notified of changes via email and Canvas announcements.

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