10 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Went To UW Madison Orientation


Are you like everyone else and super excited for college, but also freaking out and have a ton of questions? Freshman orientation, or as UW Madison calls it, SOAR, is a great first step into college. Before you go, read these tips and tricks on how to make SOAR a success. Here are 10 things I wish I knew before I went to UW Madison orientation.

10 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Went To UW Madison Orientation

1. Research classes

It is extremely overwhelming to look at the enormous list of classes available at UW Madison. It is helpful to have a general idea of what you want and need to take. The student and academic advisors will have their opinions, but it’s good to start with a basic understanding of what you want to study. However, don’t get too worried and stressed when choosing classes. It’s only the first semester and generally any introductory classes you take will count for something in your major.

2. Know what you want to study

You absolutely have time to figure out your major in college, but it’s never to early to start thinking about possible majors. Start with a list of all of the majors offered and eliminate the ones that you know you do not want. If you cannot handle blood eliminate Nursing, if you hate math ditch Engineering.

3. Dress nice and comfortable

For the most part, you will not want Badger gear or any Wisconsin clothing in your Wiscard picture for the next four years. Or maybe you do? Either way, there is plenty of time later to show off your Badger gear.

4. Include your family

SOAR is one of the only large events at UW Madison that your family can be apart of relating to academics. Listen to your parent’s suggestions on classes. They know how a student schedule goes and what is normal to take in college. Your parents will want to be apart of your school experience and you should include them when you can (especially if they are paying for tuition).

5. Do not stress over trying to make friends

At SOAR, there will be about 1,000 other students around campus, but it’s pretty rare to find your best friend immediately. Chances are you will never see anyone you meet at SOAR again, the campus is just so large. Of course there is that chance that you might find your best friend so just be polite.

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6. Go with your roommate

It would be perfect to meet up with your future roommate at SOAR. It’s a great time for you to meet and get to know each other. Maybe even to start shopping for dorm decoration! If you do end up going on different dates, it is not a problem. You will have plenty of time together throughout the year.

7. Go to your resident hall, but do not expect to see your room

SOAR is a great time to scope out your future home. Whether you are in Southeast or Lakeshore, it is worth it to walk around and find where your dorm is located. If you’re in Southeast you are super close to the downtown and can expect the dorm to feel that way: loud, energetic, and busy. In Lakeshore you have the best lakeside property in Madison, so use it! Go on Lakeshore path and enjoy being close to Camp Randall.

8. Scope out your buildings

The simplest tour to do by yourself at SOAR is to find the buildings where your classes will be. Even if you have gone on the official tour, chances are you will not be in those exact buildings that they showed. At least go to the outside of your building to find the front door and figure out how to get there. If you have time, you can see how long it takes to walk between classes so you can plan ahead.

9. Save time to walk around campus with your parents

Bonus points if your parents are alumni and can show you the best places to hang out. Again, it’s the last big hurrah with your family and they will want to see where you will be for the whole year! It’s an exciting and scary time for everyone, so take in any advice you can get and just enjoy it. Don’t be embarrassed to take those cheesy pictures with your family, everyone secretly wants to take them.

10. Take it all in

You only go to freshman orientation once and this experience is something you will want to remember for a long time. Like many events your freshman year they won’t seem as important in the moment, but looking back you will want to remember them.

Do you have any more tips for UW Madison orientation!? Share in the comments below!

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