Skip to main content

An Overview of New Student Week

Zoë provides a rundown of her experiences during NSW and explains its purpose as first-year orientation.

Zoë provides a rundown of her experiences during NSW and explains its purpose as first-year orientation.

The 6 days before the academic term begins are reserved for first-year student orientation, otherwise known as New Student Week (NSW) at Carleton. Understanding how to navigate campus, setting up your dorm room, making friends before the academic term begins, and learning about the many resources, organizations, and activities available to you are all crucial steps for first-years to take as they begin life at college. 

Luckily, NSW is sort of a “crash course on life at Carleton,” and you’ll learn a ton about how to make the transition from high school to college. What’s more, you’ll get a great taste of what it’s like to be a Carl for the next 4 years of your life! NSW leaders (sophomores, juniors, and seniors) provide support as mentors for the first-years, and each NSW group typically consists of 10-15 students. It’s the perfect size to make new friends as you acclimate to college.

To give you a sense of what NSW typically looks like, I’ll provide a rundown of several experiences I had as a brand new first-year when I arrived at Carleton in September of 2019.

Move-In Day

NSW begins the second you set foot on campus for Move-In day. Your first objective is to move your belongings into your dorm room. NSW leaders will direct you toward your dorm building and help carry your items into your dorm. This is also the moment when you meet your roommate for the first time! My roommate Nikki and I had corresponded a bit over text before arriving on campus, but we spent a lot of time getting to know each other during NSW and when the academic year began.

Meeting Nikki, my roommate, for the first time!

The Frisbee Toss

The iconic first-year Frisbee Toss occurs on the first day. All the new students encircle the main campus quad (affectionately known as the “Bald Spot”) and toss their own frisbee into the center. Everyone picks up another person’s frisbee and returns that frisbee to its rightful owner during NSW, making a new friend.

frisbee toss
The 2019 NSW Frisbee Toss.


Another fun Carleton NSW tradition is NOlympics, an event in which you and your floormates from your dorm form a team and participate in an Olympics-style competition in the Recreation Center. Each floor has its own dress-up theme as well. My floor, Third Goodhue, wore frat boy attire. While most of NSW is spent getting to know members of your NSW group, NOlympics is a great way to get to know fellow residents on your dorm floor.

3rd Goodhue decked out in frat boy outfits.

Group Meals

No meal during NSW is eaten alone. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are all communal meals shared with students and their NSW groups. Having set times to meet at the dining halls and grab a meal before the next orientation activity was super comforting and a fantastic way to get to know other first-years.

Dinner with my NSW group.

Planting Seedlings in the Arb

All the NSW groups had the opportunity to plant tree seedlings in the Arboretum together. It was a great introduction to the arb and a fun way to symbolize new beginnings together.

Planting seedlings with Erica, Wenlai, and Alicia.

Meeting the President

Every year, all the NSW groups get a tour of Carleton’s president’s house. Steven Poskanzer, affectionately known by the student body as “Stevie P,” showed us his house, shook all of our hands, commented on our hometowns, offered us apple crisp, and let us play games in his yard. Early on, you learn that the administration is very attentive to and communicative with the students.

president's house
My group posing in front of Stevie P’s house.

Bonding Opportunities

Because you spend so much time with fellow members of your NSW group, you will inevitably hang out with those people even after the week culminates. Several people within my NSW group continued to hang out once the school year began, making a trip to St. Olaf to sample their dining hall fare, running to Target for a shopping trip, and celebrating my birthday with me. Some of my closest friends were in my NSW group, and I could not be more thankful for meeting them in this context.

My friends threw me a surprise birthday party right after NSW ended, which was the kindest gesture ever!

Becoming a NSW Leader Myself

NSW was jam-packed with orientation activities and reminded me of summer camp. I enjoyed being a participant in NSW so much that I decided to become a NSW leader as a sophomore. There’s no doubt that the first week you spend at college is a momentous time, and truth be told, I was super stressed about move-in day and the transition to college life. My experiences during NSW effectively put my nerves at ease and prepared me for my first academic term at Carleton. Thus, I wanted to welcome the Class of 2024 to replicate for them the terrific time I had.

nsw leaders
Chloe and me as NSW leaders in 2020!

Zoë is a junior Sociology-Anthropology major who loves traveling and studying abroad, taking photos, and luxuriating in long walks in the glorious Arb. At Carleton, some of Zoë’s favorite pastimes include frequenting the various coffee shops in downtown Northfield, playing cello in the orchestra, participating in club soccer, and spending time with friends. Meet the other Bloggers!