Getting Ready for Your First Year!

Preparing for your first year on campus can be a stressful process. With new people to meet, places to go, and things to see, it’s hard to know where to start. However, we’ve gathered a few tips to help you begin your college transition and prepare for what’s ahead.

  1. Find ways to keep organized. Even beyond the super helpful student planner we provide you at #uwsoar, finding resources to keep you on track are extremely useful for college life. Some easy options that only take a search in the App. store are note-taking apps, such as Microsoft OneNote, apps for time management, such as Time Camp, or online storage programs, such as Google Drive or Dropbox. Otherwise, if technology isn’t your strong suite, office supplies can be a beneficial tool to arrange your class materials. Purchasing a separate folder and notebook for each subject and possibly even color-coding can keep you from losing your papers or misplacing your notes.
  2. Practice the skills necessary for academic success. Although attending lectures and reading your textbooks are habits every college student should form, conquering your first year of college require other less-discussed skills too. One example of these skills is studying to understand, not to memorize. Although being able to recall vocabulary words may help you pass that first midterm exam, you’ll risk your grade on the cumulative final if you fail to truly understand. Students who are able to comprehend what they are studying are able to think more critically about their subjects and recognize their complexity. Some ways to practice this study technique include critical reading and concept mapping.
  3. Know how to effectively use your technology. Computers are a necessity at college. (You can rent one from one of UW-Madison’s libraries once you get on campus). Although some professors will allow them in lectures and others won’t, knowing the ins and outs of using your laptop can come in handy in your time on campus. Improving your typing ability and knowing how to properly address a professor in an email are only some of the ways your knowledge of technology will affect your success. Other skills, such as knowing how to efficiently search Google, may seem small but will save you time and energy when doing your first research paperbmr-infographic-useful-google-search-tips1
  4. Research ways to get involved on campus ahead of time. UW-Madison helps first-year students engage with campus through a variety of resources. One of these resources is the Center for Leadership and Involvement, which helps students find the involvement opportunities that best suite them, ranging from student organizations, to Greek life. If you want to take the initiative on your own, however, check out the online Wisconsin Involvement Network which allows students to search through the over 900 student organizations available at UW-Madison and find which ones are right for them. Plan which orgs you’ll want to visit at the annual Student Organization Fair and get ready to make your place on campus!
  5. Be aware of campus safety resources and protocols. Safety is a top priority for everyone on UW-Madison’s campus. Our own on-campus police department can be contacted by phone at (608) 264-2677 or (for emergencies) by dialing 911. This department offers a variety of field and investigative services to students and campus community-members. Other campus resources include SAFEwalkThe Dean of Students’ Office, and the UW-Madison’s Hate and Bias Protocol. Whether it’s in the residence halls or on your walk across campus, resources are always available to help students feel more comfortable on campus. Know all of the available resources to keep yourself and your community safe.

We understand that you will have many questions about preparing for college life, even beyond these few tips. Therefore, we encourage you to reach out to our office by phone, at 608-263-0367 or by email, at Get excited for your first year at UW-Madison and we’ll see you at #uwsoar!

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