What is the First-Year Experience at UW-Madison?
The First-Year Experience describes the transition of new freshmen and transfer students from their previous institutions to UW-Madison. Technically, the first-year experience encompasses everything a student does in their first year at UW-Madison, including learning and engagement both in and outside the classroom. That sounds a bit daunting, so we’ve broken it down into some basic goals and expectations that we have for first-year students:
- Gain competence and confidence as a college student at UW-Madison. This includes becoming familiar with the resources available to students on campus as well as having the skills and tools to succeed here academically.
- Make positive connections with faculty, staff, and peers. Learning from others, both inside and outside of the classroom, is one of the most valuable aspects of being a student at UW-Madison. Throughout the first year, students have many opportunities to establish relationships and engage with those who are similar to them and those who may be different in one or more ways (such as race, religion, socioeconomic status, sexual identity, political views, etc.).
- Engage in behaviors that promote your personal health and balance. Mental and physical health are keys to success at UW-Madison as are displaying healthy behavior around nutrition, sleep, exercise, sexual relationships, and alcohol and drug use.
- Understand yourself as a member of the socially diverse university community. Increasing awareness of your own identity and how this intersects with the identities of your fellow community members leads to a stronger, more respectful learning environment.
- Develop awareness of the impact of your personal choices. Behaving in an ethical way that is consistent with your values is an important component in taking responsibility for your personal choices and actions.
The University of Wisconsin-Madison, as a campus, is committed to supporting the success of our newest students through formal programs and informal interactions. In particular, CFYE offers several ways for students to prepare for, engage with, and reflect on their first year experience: SOAR, Transfer Transitions, Wisconsin Welcome, and the Wisconsin Experience Seminar. We also support our campus partners in their work with first year students whether it’s in the Residence Halls, through Campus Involvement, or in the classroom in a First-Year Interest Group (FIG) or First-Year Seminar.
Regardless of where each individual student connects, the First Year at UW-Madison is a transformative experience.
It’s okay if students experience difficulties while adjusting to the academic expectations of a new campus. This is a new (and sometimes scary) time for everyone. We’ve got a wide variety of resources (mostly free!) on campus that can support your learning and give you additional support when needed:
- McBurney Disability Resource Center: Provides a variety of services for students with physical, learning, sensory, psychological, or health-related disabilities.
- University Libraries: There are more than 40 libraries on campus providing a wide range of resources. If you’re not sure where to start, “Ask a Librarian.
- CeO: Center for Educational Opportunity: Comprehensive resources for students from low-income families, first-generation college students, and students with disabilities. (Application required.)
- Career Services: Career Services at UW-Madison are organized and delivered through individual schools/colleges. Visit this site to find career guidance and resources.
- Tutoring and Learning Support Resources: A list of free tutoring and learning support units on campus, FAQs, student testimonials, and resources to help you achieve academic success.
- Undergraduate Advising Resources: Advising resources and tools and information on how to contact your advisor.
- University Health Services (UHS): Health resources such as making doctors appointments, receiving vaccinations, mental health resources, sexual assault resources, and more.
- Wisconsin Involvement Network (WIN): A database of student organizations and involvement opportunities as well as student org resources.
Students who participate in activities outside the classroom are the most successful in college and beyond. We know you have demanding schedules, but we want you to participate in at least one involvement opportunity during first semester at UW–Madison. It’s a great way to make friends, improve our campus, and enrich your life here at UW-Madison. Here’s just a few:
- STAMP: The Student Transfer Association and Mentor Program (STAMP) is an active organization led by transfer students for transfer students.
- Undergraduate Research: One of the unique opportunities of attending an institution like UW–Madison is the ability to participate in undergraduate research.
- Center for Leadership and Involvement (CfLI): CfLI connects students to more than 700 student organizations and other leadership opportunities on campus.
- Associated Students of Madison (ASM): ASM is the official student government of UW–Madison including a vast number of volunteer and appointed leadership opportunities.
- Morgridge Center for Public Service: The Morgridge Center connect students to service-learning and volunteer opportunities in the community.
- Study Abroad: Learn more about the abundant opportunities to study internationally through UW–Madison.
- Recreational Sports: UW–Madison Recreational Sports offers several exercise facilities as well as intramural and club sports, fitness classes and personal training.
Feel free to connect with us online whenever you want. We’re easy to find on Facebook or Twitter, and we’re never far from our computers, ready to answer any questions you might have. Madison is your new home and you shouldn’t feel alone. You’re surrounded by Badgers that love and support each other. Have fun, and On, Wisconsin!
Congratulations on your decision to join the UW-Madison community. Your first step to becoming a Badger is attending Student Orientation, Advising, and Registration (SOAR). The Center for First-Year Experience (CFYE) provides you with an orientation program that offers a glimpse into life as a UW–Madison student. Whether you’re a freshman, transfer, or an international student, we’re here to help you transition into this amazing university. Ready. Set. SOAR.
Learn more about SOAR here.
Transfer Transition Program
Whether you’re just starting to plan your transfer, are in the midst of the admissions process, or have newly joined the Badger ranks, the Transfer Transition Program is here for you. Our transfer students are a very important part of our campus, and they make up a significant portion of our undergraduate student body. You bring a host of diverse experiences, come from a wide range of institutions, and carry with you a unique set of strengths and a lot of transferable skills. Our goal is to get to know you better, to help you get connected at UW-Madison, and to make sure you get the information and assistance you need to make your transition as easy as possible.
Learn more about the Transfer Transition Program here.
The Wisconsin Experience Seminar (CP 125)
This small, interactive course is designed to help new students transition successfully to academic and student life at UW-Madison. Students will explore campus resources and opportunities; their skills, identity, interests, and goals; and the history and purpose of UW to help them make the most of their Wisconsin experience and achieve their personal and professional goals.
Learn more information about the Wisconsin Experience Seminar here.
There’s something for everyone during Wisconsin Welcome! You’ll have a great time meeting new friends and begin to find your place in the community. It’s a chance to find answers to your questions, learn about academics, find your way around campus, and discover all that the university has to offer.
Learn more information about Wisconsin Welcome here.
For more information and resources for first-year students, visit the First-Year Resources page under the "Resources" tab.