Passage General FAQs
Passage is Wheaton's New Student Orientation Program. This comprehensive orientation experience will help you transition into college by providing opportunities to build community, foster spiritual growth, connect with professors, and welcome you to your new Wheaton home! Students choose from various Passage site options where you will meet with your small group and engage in learning activities about our Christ-centered liberal arts mission.
Wheaton Passage is a transition program for launching the Wheaton experience well, and we expect all first-year students to participate.
While not explicitly required for transfer students, Transfer Passage is strongly recommended to form a supportive community with other transfer students for your Wheaton journey.
Family Member Questions
When students return from their Passage site they will continue their orientation experience with on-campus events and begin preparing for classes. We ask that parents do not return to campus to meet their students after Passage. There is no programming scheduled for parents after students return to campus from their Passage sites.
Parents are welcome to help their students move into their residence halls, experience a warm Wheaton welcome, and send their student out to their Passage site. After students leave campus, parents are especially encouraged to attend the final program exclusively for parents and other family members. This program will be led by President Ryken.
Yes! Siblings are welcome to attend the move-in portion of Wheaton Passage until students depart for their Passage sites.
Yes, family members can purchase meal tickets in advance to eat in Anderson Commons.
Our Parent Engagement website is chock full of valuable information about how parents can stay informed, what resources are available to students, and a list of campus contacts. Parents are encouraged to update their contact information so we can send them the monthly parent e-newsletter. If parents have additional questions, please email email@example.com.
Temporary, short-term parking will be available in the spaces outside your residence hall. After you’ve unloaded your belongings, please move your vehicle to one of the parking lots highlighted on this map. Please note that overnight parking of motor homes is not permitted on Wheaton’s campus.
There are several hotels in the Wheaton area that offer discounted rates to Wheaton College guests. Parents should mention they are a guest of Wheaton when they book their reservation.
Registration opens February 15, 2023.
If you try to register for a site that is full, it will tell you that you are on the waitlist. At that point, register for your next choice and we will notify you if a spot becomes available at your preferred site.
No. You will need to sign the risk waivers on your own, so please register yourself for Passage using your Wheaton-provided student email address (it ends with @my.wheaton.edu).
The Passage fee - $995 for first year students and transfers attending Transfer Passage - is itemized as part of your Wheaton College fall semester bill.
Communication and Technology
While phones and other devices provide excellent opportunities to connect with friends, family, and loved ones from afar, we must acknowledge that they sometimes distract us from living fully in the moment. On Passage, students are invited to disconnect from technology to take advantage of this once in a lifetime orientation opportunity where you will connect with new friends, faculty, and God. Each Passage site has slightly different policies on technology use.
Students on Wilderness Passage will not have access to their phones for the duration of the experience. Students on Northwoods and Equestrian Passage will not have access to their technology unless a medical accommodation is requested through Learning and Accessibility Services (LAS@wheaton.edu). Students on Urban Passage will use technology to navigate the city, but will be asked to defer phone use during times in group discussions, meals, and while in housing.
Each Passage site uses a different approach for reducing the use of technology so you can get the most out of your Passage experience.
For Wilderness students, the recommendation is to store your laptops and phones in your locked residence hall room while you're on Passage. Please do so before reporting to the coach bus for site departure.
For Northwoods and Equestrian students, the recommendation is to store your laptops and phones in your locked residence hall room while you're on Passage. Please do so before reporting to the coach bus for site departure. For students who need their technology for medical reasons, please submit an accommodation request to Learning and Accessibility Services (LAS@wheaton.edu).
For Urban students, it is recommended to keep your phone on you in a safe pocket or backpack at all times. You will need to have your phone available for navigation and at other times you will be responsible to store your phone in a backpack or pocket to focus on group discussions, meals, and other community development activities.
We understand that sometimes there is a need for students and parents to connect during the program. Bearing in mind that Passage advises parents to make appropriate space for students to fully engage with the experience, sometimes there are circumstances that necessitate correspondence.
For Wilderness Passage students, correspondence only occurs in the case of an emergency with an approved authorization on file for Wheaton College to communicate with parents about medical information.
For Northwoods Passage students who are taking a technology break during Passage, students wishing to contact their parents simply need to speak with their leaders to arrange a time to call. Students and Parents should be advised that non-emergency communication may take time to arrange. In the event of an emergency at Northwoods Passage, students will be able to contact their parents. Official correspondence only occurs in the case of an emergency with an approved authorization on file for Wheaton College to communicate with parents about medical information.
For Urban Students, parents may connect with their student over usual communication avenues. Passage advises for parents to make appropriate space for students to fully engage with the experience.
Cost and Payment
The fee includes your housing, experiences during Passage, transportation, and essential outdoor equipment where needed. A student may want to bring discretionary money for use at some Passage site options. Financial Aid for Wheaton Passage will be determined by Wheaton’s Office of Student Financial Services with the information provided on a student’s FAFSA and aid eligibility. No further application is required.
Student Financial Services will begin distributing Passage Grant notifications in early June to those who qualify. The cost and grant awards will be included in the fall term bill, which will be available in mid-July and is due the first day of the semester on August 28th.
No, you do not need to complete additional forms. Financial assistance for Wheaton Passage will be determined by information provided on a student's FAFSA and aid eligibility. No further application is required to receive financial assistance to put towards Passage Orientation.
Student Financial Services will begin distributing Passage Grant notifications in mid-May to those who qualify. The cost and grant awards will be included in the fall term bill, which will be available in mid-July and is due the first day of the semester on August 28th.
Coursework and Credit
Yes. Passage is a 0-credit course that is graded with a pass/fail metric. Passage is the first Wheaton College course that students take and it is designed to prepare you for your academic journey. Please purchase the reading materials in advance and complete course pre-work before your arrival to Wheaton College.
The Passage course requires students to come prepared having read all required textbooks for the class. It is imperative to buy the current edition of textbooks for the Passage course! These books will be available to order through Wheaton’s Campus Store. Please follow email announcements sent to your student email for correspondence about course materials.
If you’re an incoming student currently living outside the US, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for special textbook arrangements. If you need assistance with alternative reading formats, please email Learning and Accessibility Services (LAS@Wheaton.edu).
It is important to arrive to Wheaton College for Passage having purchased your books and completed any pre-work assignments.
This really depends on you. We asked students to share how long it took them and their answers ranged from 12–26 hours. We really suggest you purchase and review the texts to assess it for yourself. However it is important to arrive at Wheaton College having completed your pre-work for Passage.
Pro tip: Don’t compare your speed to others! Take the coursework as an opportunity to lay the foundation for your Wheaton experience.
Arrival and Move In
When you arrive at Wheaton College, you can arrive with your family and spend 2 days settling into your room in your Residence Hall to begin your experience at Wheaton College. For this portion, pack as you would normally to move into a residence. For the Passage experience that begins two days after your arrival, pack a separate bag following the packing list for your selected Passage site.
Remember that what you pack for a Wilderness or Urban Passage will need to be carried for variable distances. Our Wilderness Passage leaders will help make sure you're only packing the essentials for your trip in your expedition backpack! Urban Passage leaders will make sure that each student has only one personal backpack and one carry-on sized bag.
Packing lists for each Passage Site can be found here.
On arrival day, you are welcome to arrive with your family to Wheaton College where you will check-in to begin your college journey. First Year Students, check-in at the welcome desk at your residence hall. Transfers, check-in at the transfer welcome tent - 301 Chase St. - outside the Welcome Center.
You will be met by our Thunder Move-In team who will help you unload your belongings into your residence hall. After you set-up your room just the way you like, we offer campus tours to familiarize yourself with your new home. That evening, Wheaton College presents an opening program to welcome all new students and their families to Wheaton.
Wilderness students depart for their Passage site early morning Friday, August 16th. All other students will depart for sites on Saturday, August 17th.
If you are having any difficulty buying or finding the appropriate equipment or resources to participate at your Passage site, please reach out to the Wheaton Passage Office. We would love to work with you to make sure you are fully equipped and resourced for your Passage experience.
Wilderness Site Questions
Caring for each Wilderness Passage group are two group leaders. At least one member of this leadership pair is a trained and certified in Wilderness First Aid and has previous wilderness trip leading experience. All of our wilderness leaders undergo several weeks of training in wilderness leadership. Additionally, Passage stations staff members throughout the wilderness trip areas to allow for quick responses to any needs that may arise. In case of emergency, our trip leaders carry personal and satellite phones, and our senior staff keep track of their progress throughout the week.
When thinking of wilderness safety, the threat of wild animals comes to mind for many participants and their families. While it is very rare for there to be a safety concern regarding wildlife, Passage leaders are trained in protocols to mitigate this risk. All food and scented items are hung in trees over night and all leaders carry pepper-sprays to ward of any animals.
No wilderness experience is needed to participate in the Wilderness track. We design our trips to ease all students into the experience and place the more demanding days towards the middle/end of the trip when students have adjusted to the routines of life on the trail. If you are able to leisurely walk 3 miles at one time, you are equipped to handle the wilderness trip!
Wilderness Passage uses a risk management and situation response plan developed by the HoneyRock Center for Leadership Development that has been facilitating outdoor adventures since 1953.
Caring for each Wilderness Passage group are two group leaders. At least one member of this leadership pair is a trained and certified in Wilderness First Aid and has previous wilderness trip leading experience. All of our wilderness leaders undergo several weeks of training in wilderness leadership. Additionally, Passage stations staff members throughout the wilderness trip areas to allow for quick responses to any needs that may arise. In case of emergency, our trip leaders carry personal and satellite phones, and our senior staff keep track of their progress throughout the week. Students requiring immediate or emergency care will be taken to the nearest medical facility to address their needs. Students will be connected with their parents when requested and Wheaton College will be able to correspond with parents only if appropriate medical release forms are on file.
Urban Site Questions
Urban Passage takes place in Downtown Chicago. Programming in any location, including major cities, has inherent risks. Passage student leaders and staff are trained to make wise decisions that manage risk for participants including traveling in groups, being aware of one's surroundings, and being paritcularly careful when traveling after dark. Passage has collaborated with Wheaton College's Wheaton in Chicago program to develop our risk management plans for emergency incidents. Passage also makes mental health support available through Wheaton College to students who need additional support for their wellbeing.
Students in both the Woodlawn and Downtown tracks also have access to a variety of local urgent care and emergency room providers. Wheaton College may not discuss medical information with parents in an offical capacity unless health information release forms are on file. For minor medical or mental issues, Passage staff will connect with Wheaton College's Student Health Services or Student Wellness deparments to develop a care plan for the student.
Northwoods Site Questions
HoneyRock, the Center for Leadership Development of Wheaton College is located in the Northwoods of Wisconsin on a chain of 28 lakes and in the Nicolet National Forest. It has over 900 acres of facilities and resources for activities, learning, and adventure. Since 1951, HoneyRock has provided college preparation, leadership development, and spiritual formation opportunities for youth and young adults. HoneyRock hosts Wheaton Passage and is the site for the Northwoods Passage tracks HoneyRock and Equestrian.
No! HoneyRock is a residential campus that has cabins with 8-10 beds each, hot showers, and a full-service kitchen and dining hall that accommodates dietary allergies.
Students at the Northwoods site will have the opportunity to enjoy a variety of indoor and outdoor activities to participate in as they connect with their classmates. Indoor options abound – from ping pong and board games to our ceramics studio and coffee shop, students will enjoy making new friends in a variety of contexts. Outdoor options are equally abundant – waterskiing, canoeing, rock climbing, hiking, biking, and more are available for all students. Some students enjoy reading in HoneyRock's Adirondack chairs or soaking up the sun on the waterfront docks. No matter your interests and no matter the weather, the Northwoods site has something for everyone!
Northwoods Passage uses a risk management and situation response plan developed by the HoneyRock Center for Leadership Development that has been facilitating outdoor adventures and leadership development since 1951. The HoneyRock Campus operates year-round and hosts over 1,000 campers, 150 staff during the summer, and over 60 students during the winter months. As a result, HoneyRock's Health Center has an on-site, registered nurse, an on-call doctor, and an on-call crisis counselor available for students who present with medical or mental health issues while on Passage.
Students requiring immediate or emergency care will be taken to the nearest medical facility to address their needs. Students will be connected with their parents when requested and Wheaton College will be able to correspond with parents only if appropriate medical release forms are on file.
Student leaders and staff facilitating activities at HoneyRock have received risk management or other appropriate training in their activity area.