First-Year Resources

First-Year Experience Opportunities

To help you engage quickly with the academic and student life expectations at UW–Madison, OSTFE recommends participating in at least one high impact educational practice in your first-year. Students have reported that these experiences are helpful since you will be…

  • Interacting frequently—and substantively—with instructors and peers
  • Exploring big questions and ideas in a challenging and supportive way
  • Experiencing diversity
  • Receiving frequent feedback on your performance
  • Integrating, synthesizing, and applying knowledge
  • Incorporating in- and out-of-classroom learning

In most cases, these classes and opportunities count for credit toward your degree. Checkout the opportunities listed here; and speak to your advisor about which options are best for you.

This is an accordion element with a series of buttons that open and close related content panels.

The Wisconsin Experience Seminar

The Wisconsin Experience Seminar is a one-credit course for new students (both freshman and transfer) to help them make a successful transition to academic and social life at UW–Madison. A UW faculty or staff member and an experienced undergraduate student co-teach the small class (20 students or fewer), which connects students to resources and opportunities that enhance The Wisconsin Experience.

First-Year Interest Groups

A First-Year Interest Group (FIG) consists of a group of 20 freshmen or first-year transfer students who enroll in a cluster of two or three classes together. Each FIG offers courses linked by a central theme. The main seminar course of each FIG enrolls only those 20 students; the other courses, which enroll more students, are selected by relevance to the FIG’s theme.

FIGs provide first-year students with an opportunity to be in a small enrollment seminar with a professor who engages them in an interdisciplinary exploration of the FIG topic. Some FIGs are designed for students interested in specific majors (e.g., business, nursing, engineering, education, art, etc.), while others allow students to explore topics and courses that are applicable to many different potential majors.

FIG options will be available that represent a wide range of topics that integrate materials from the sciences, social sciences, and humanities.

Go Big Read

The University of Wisconsin–Madison invites you to participate in its common book program, Go Big Read.

The program engages members of the campus community and beyond in a shared, academically focused reading experience. Students, faculty, staff, and community members are invited to participate by reading the book, and taking part in classroom discussions and campus events. First-year students will receive a copy of the text at the Chancellor’s Convocation for New Students. If you still need a copy, swing by our office and we’ll give you one!

Residence Hall Reserved Course Sections

UW–Madison is a big school and can be a little intimidating at first. Taking a class reserved for students in your residence hall can be a great way to meet other students and gain a larger sense of community on campus. Class sections, as well as instructor office hours and/or review sessions, are held in classrooms within the residence halls. Classes are offered in the most common first-year courses, including Chemistry 103/109, English 100, Math 221, and Political Science 104.

Residential Learning Community Seminars

If you live in a residential learning community, be sure to enroll in the seminar that serves as the academic and social anchor of your community.

Undergraduate Research Scholars

The Undergraduate Research Scholars Program (URS) is dedicated to helping first- and second-year undergraduates get hands- on experience in research or other creative endeavors by working with UW faculty and research staff. Students earn college credit while working independently with a research mentor in any area of academic interest across campus.