A-Z Index

First-Year Student Starting Fall/Summer

Hi Bearcat!

We offer SOAR and Advantage to help you acclimate to the Northwest campus before you arrive for the fall semester.



What is SOAR?

SOAR is a one-day introduction to campus life for students in June and July. It helps students get to know their peers, campus offices, and available services, as well as obtain their class schedule. It consists of a full day (8 a.m. - 4 p.m.) on campus and includes: 

  • Connecting with other new and current Bearcats. 
  • A Student Services Fair will be held to connect with offices and departments across campus. 
  • Meet with an academic advisor and get your first-semester schedule. 
  • Taking care of any other necessary business on campus. 


How can I register and sign up for SOAR?

SOAR registration begins on March 1st of each calendar year. SOAR dates are listed in the next tab below. You can register for SOAR by: 

  1. Go to CatPAWS 
  2. Click: Log In/Enter Secure Area 
  3. Enter your Northwest Network Account username (s#) and password. 
  4. Navigate to the orientation tab. (If you do not see the orientation tab, there is a green arrow you can select to view more options.) 
  5. Select “Click here to enter Orientation System.” 

Registering for SOAR will take approximately 15 minutes. It is important the Northwest student is present during the registration process. The student will be asked about registration preferences, confirmation of personal information, academic information relating to dual credit courses and more. 

After completing orientation registration, the student will receive a confirmation email explaining their date selection and information regarding their SOAR Day.  

Bearcat Tip: Please do not use your high school e-mail address ( In most cases, the high school e-mail address will be inactivated once the student graduate’s high school. 

What days may I chose from for SOAR? What if I cannot attend a SOAR Day due to extenuating circumstances? I need to change my SOAR Day.

2024 SOAR Dates

SOAR Calendar 2024

June 2024

  • Tuesday, June 4
  • Wednesday, June 5
  • Friday, June 7
  • Tuesday, June 11
  • Wednesday, June 12
  • Friday, June 14
  • Saturday, June 15

July 2024

  • Friday, July 26
  • Saturday, July 27

SOAR Days are offered in June and July. Early registration is encouraged to get the optimal date for the student and their support system. When registering for SOAR and an alternate date is needed (and the date is closed), please contact the Student Success Center to assist with accommodating your preferences.

Student Success Center: 660.562.1695

Student participation in SOAR is highly recommended. SOAR allows students to start forming connections with other future Bearcats. However, the orientation team realizes life happens. If you are unable to attend SOAR in-person, an online orientation is available.

If a student needs to change their SOAR Day at any time, they can access the orientation system through CatPAWS and select a different day.

Bearcat Tip:  SOAR is a great day for Bearcats to meet their future roommate! 

What and who should I bring to SOAR?

  • Any questions you may have.
  • Students can bring their health history form to SOAR.
  • Weather appropriate attire.
  • Students are encouraged to bring their support system to SOAR. The students’ support system has an opportunity to participate in the SOAR experience. 

What do I do at SOAR?

This is what a typical day at SOAR entails.

Time Activity

8 a.m. - Noon

  • Check-in
  • Student Services Fair
  • Welcome Presentation and Overview of the Day
  • Faculty Tips for Success
  • University Life Presentation
  • Finance and Billing Presentation
  • Advisement and Registration Overview
  • Meet the SOAR Leaders
  • Parent Q&A

Noon - 1 p.m.

  • Lunch

1-3 p.m.

  • Academic Advisement
  • Resident Hall Browsing
  • Campus Offices Available

*The SOAR schedule above is tentative and may be adjusted. The final SOAR schedule will be included in your SOAR confirmation packet and upon check-in on your SOAR day.

Student Services Fair

Students who attend SOAR can meet people from campus organizations and offices to connect and gain information before move-in day.

  • Information Technology (IT)
  • University Police Department (UPD)
  • Student Success Center (SSC)
  • University Seminar
  • Library
  • City of Maryville
  • Study Abroad
  • TRIO
  • Student Account Services
  • Show Me Gold
  • Student Employment
  • Career Services
  • Residential Life
  • US Bank
  • Accessibility & Accommodations
  • Wellness
  • Campus Recreation
  • Diversity & Inclusion
  • Office of Student Involvement
  • OSI:  Student Activities Council
  • OSI:  Homecoming
  • OSI:  Fraternity & Sorority Life
  • Student Media
  • Honors
  • Fine & Performing Arts
  • Campus Ministries

What items do I need to complete before SOAR?

One item you need to complete before SOAR is the Directed Self Placement (DSP). This survey allows you to choose which English class you would prefer to take based on your strengths. Choosing your English course allows us to create your class schedule, so it's important to take care of it before SOAR. 

How to access the DSP:

  • Login to CatPAWS.
  • Under the Orientation tab, click "Click here for writing self-placement."

You can also find your personalized pre-orientation checklist in CatPAWS by selecting the orientation tab and entering the orientation system.

Its my SOAR day, where do I go?

Check out our orientation points of interest map!

Orientation Points of Interest Map



What is Advantage?

Advantage is a continuation of orientation and serves as your kick-off to college. This four day program in August helps students to get acclimated to campus through speakers and events to help with the transition to campus life. It is a welcome program that includes:

  • Move-in day.
  • Four days of getting settled, meeting other new Bearcats and enjoying fun activities.
  • Attending University Seminar classes.

When is Advantage?

Advantage is Thursday – Sunday preceding the day classes start. Attendance is mandatory for both commuters and on-campus residents. This year’s Advantage dates are:

Move-in Day
August 22, 2024

Advantage 2024
Thursday, Aug. 22
Sunday, Aug. 25

First Day of Classes
August 26, 2024

Check out the full Advantage Schedule 

Advantage FAQs

When do I move in?

Students will move in according to alphabetical order by last name. You will also receive information in late summer about moving in, including a map that tells you how to drive into campus and where to drop off your stuff. We even have the Cat Crew to meet you and lend a hand when you need it.

Move-In Day Schedule & Map

When will I receive an Advantage schedule?

The Advantage schedule will be posted online, but you can receive your Advantage packet when you check in to your residential hall. If you are a commuter student, you can pick up your Advantage packet at the Student Success Center in the B.D. Owens Library on Thursday, or your packet can be delivered to you during your first University Seminar class that takes place on Friday.

I am a commuter student (living off-campus); do I still need to attend Advantage?

Yes, Advantage is required for all first-time freshmen. You will receive more information through your Northwest email account.

Do I go to class during Advantage?

Yes, University Seminar class meets several times during Advantage, beginning Friday. University Seminar starts before your other classes because it helps get you acclimated to campus. Your University Seminar Instructor and Peer Advisor (an upper-class student who is a teaching assistant) can act as your guides through those first days and weeks on campus, and even better, you have an instant group of new friends.

Should my family stay all weekend?

Typically, your family helps move you in and get settled. However, if they have a long way to drive, your family may want to make reservations at a hotel in Maryville for that night. You will be so busy with activities throughout Advantage that you probably won't have a lot of time to spend with them. And before you know it, it will be time to go home for a visit.

What if I can't attend any part of Advantage?

It's important for freshmen to attend Advantage, particularly since classes start that weekend. If you think you need to miss any part of Advantage, please email the Student Success Center.

Student Success Center:

What's next?

It is important to check your personal and Northwest email regularly before classes begin. Your academic advisor will be reaching out to you via email, so be sure to keep an eye out for their message. If you have any questions about your classes, reach out to your advisor.  If you do not know who your advisor is, you can email the Student Success Center at or 660.562.1695 and they will get you connected to your advisor. 

Need more info?

If you have any questions about Advantage or the beginning of the semester, don't hesitate to contact the Student Success Center at or 660.562.1695.

We look forward to seeing you on campus!