Pre-orientation programs affected by Wildcat Welcome’s extension


Daily file photo by Susan Du

The Class of 2017 participates in Wildcat Welcome. Next year’s Wildcat Welcome will start earlier and has been extended to 10 days, pushing pre-orientation programs back.

Emily Chin, Assistant Campus Editor

Some students are concerned about Wildcat Welcome interfering with pre-orientation programs now that orientation will be extended from eight days to 10.

Pre-orientation programs, which typically occur the week before Wildcat Welcome, will start earlier this year so students can be back on campus in time for orientation.

Eli Sugerman, who will be a Project Wildcat counselor this summer, said he thinks at least a few people won’t go on the trip because of the early start, but it won’t have a big effect.

The Communication freshman said he chose to do a pre-Wildcat Welcome program because it served as a buffer between summer and school, especially because Wildcat Welcome can be overwhelming with all of its required programming and scheduled activities. Pre-orientation programs are focused on having fun and learning about the school before you actually get there, he said.

“I think the school is trying to make Wildcat Welcome something that everyone does and I don’t think they have such a strong relationship with (pre-Wildcat Welcome programs),” Sugerman said. “The school would be fine with students doing just Wildcat Welcome and not pre-orientation trips.”

The relationship between pre-orientation programs and Wildcat Welcome used to be more tense, said Patricia Hilkert, director of New Student and Family Programs, but those planning Wildcat Welcome are trying to make it more of a team effort.

“Last year was the first year we hosted a New Student Experience Retreat,” she said. “We invited all the counselors for pre-Wildcat Welcome programs so that our leaders could get to know each other and so that all of our students could be on the same page regarding what we should be telling our new students.”

Hilkert added that Wildcat Welcome is longer and earlier because school will start earlier and will extend through Rosh Hashanah, when there can be no required programming.

“It’s not ideal,” Hilkert said. “We would obviously rather have the students here for one weekend instead of two. We will have to be very creative in our programming to keep our students very engaged.”

For the Freshman Urban Program, Wildcat Welcome’s early start will not only cut into summer, but could also affect the actual programming, said Weinberg junior Dean Meisel, a FUP co-chair. The program brings 80 new students to tour and learn about Chicago for a week.

This is the first year FUP will be over Labor Day weekend, which creates problems for them because some FUP destinations may not be open on Labor Day, Meisel said. 

McCormick sophomore Stevie Lillington, a PWild counselor, added that students with summer jobs will have to cut them short. Because Northwestern’s summer starts later than other schools, students typically stay home through mid-September so they can spend the maximum amount of time at their job.

“For me, it means I’ll have to start my job right after school ends and work until the start of the trip,” Lillington said.

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly identified Steve Lillington’s position in Project Wildcat. Lillington is a PWild counselor. The Daily regrets the error.

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