The First-Week Experience

#FutureBadgers start their first-year experience long before coming to campus. From the arrival of acceptance letters to a jam-packed #UWSOAR session and time spent packing their bags, the first year of college overlaps with the last of high school for UW-Madison students. However, the first week on-campus remains a huge milestone in for new Badgers: freshmen and #UWTransfers alike.

Wisconsin Welcome is a celebratory week full of experiences and opportunities for first-year UW-Madison students. After walking through the doors of your new home, attending your first college lecture hall, and forming friendships that will last a lifetime, you will see that there is nothing like #WiWelcome.



Moving into your new residence hall is the inaugural step to life at UW-Madison. After locating your parking and unloading locations (be sure you’re aware of any construction-related road closings), your room keys will await you at the front desk- all it takes is a swipe of your WisCard. Be sure to keep your cell phone on-hand as well to keep in-contact with those visiting campus with you as well. Don’t forget to see University Housing’s list of provided room furnishings and our ‘College UN-Packing List‘ to avoid bringing unnecessary items.

After unpacking your belongings, many new students will face another task: meeting your first college roommate. Although learning how to best live together is a main priority, a frequently forgotten issue is the over-crowding that can occur when two (sometimes three) of you combine all of your belongings in one room. Add family and friends amongst piles of boxes, and the moving process can become overwhelming.

To avoid this possible tension, coordinate with your roommate times that each of you will have space to unpack your belongings. Suggest that while one of you moves in, the other can run to Walmart, Target, or Fresh Market (all nearby) to grab groceries and any last minute necessities. Another option is to grab lunch, on State Street or in one of UW-Madison’s many dining halls. No matter your decision, have a plan in place to stagger move-in times and avoid any unnecessary stress.



Another obvious occurrence in your early days on-campus is the beginning of classes. This year, students should mark their calendars for Wednesday, September 6: one of many important dates to know. Here commences the transition from the familiarity of high school to the challenge of college. Students interview by the American Psychology Association noted several perceived differences between these experiences, including a new need for effective study and time management skills.

However, taking a few small steps to prepare for your first day can put you on the right foot and ease tensions. First, visit your MyUW Portal to find vital information on your new classes. By clicking the ‘Learn@UW‘ tab, students can find course syllabi, announcements, and even pre-firstday reading that may be assigned by professors (check your WiscMail!). You may also use Learn@UW for online readings, review material, and grade postings throughout the year.

Another useful tool within MyUW is your Student Center, which you might recognize from #UWSOAR. Here, you can not only add/ drop/ swap classes, but also find your textbooks (under the ‘Other Academics’ drop-down menu) and manage financial aide. To get the most out of this resource, compound it with meeting your academic advisor or consulting the UW-Madison Office of Financial Aid.

Beyond utilizing these online tools, taking a walk around campus (with your new roommate, perhaps?) and locating the campus buildings on your fall schedule will ease any worries of getting lost. Also, come to class with any supplies your professor may require (i.e. textbooks and note-taking supplies, such as a laptop or pen and paper). Despite it being syllabus week, some instructors prefer to start course content early and delve immediately into readings or lecture material.


#WiWelcome Events:

The final (and most fun) component of the “first-week experience” is 45 days filled with #WiWelcome events. Students can find a full calendar of events on the UWGuide app, but some of the main ongoings include Night at the Overture on August 31, Chancellor’s Convocation for New Students on September 5, and the Student Organization Fair on August 13 and 14.

  • Night at the Overture (8/31):

Night at the Overture is an all-night party for new students held at the Overture Center for the Arts. Here, students come together to socialize while enjoying performances, free food, swag from campus organizations, and more. Come enjoy campus a cappella groups,   improv shows, and a DJ (just to name a few of the performances waiting for #YouAtUW). Grab your roommate (or your whole floor) and make your way down State Street for a night of pure fun.

  • Chancellor’s Convocation (9/5):

Chancellor’s Convocation for New Students is the official welcome for incoming UW-Madison Badgers. Gather at the Kohl Center to experience the pride and spirit of your new campus, as well as receive a welcome from fellow students; campus representatives; and Chancellor Becky Blank herself. Plus, receive a copy of this year’s Go Big ReadHillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance; a story about “upward mobility in America [as] seen through the lens of a white, working-class family in the Midwest.”¹

  • Student Organization Fair (9/13- 9/14):

Finally, find your involvement opportunities for the new year at the two-day-long student organization fair. With over 900 clubs and organizations, there’s something for everyone on our campus. Gauge your interest beforehand by surfing the pages of the Wisconsin Involvement  Network (WIN), finding volunteer opportunities at the Morgridge Center for Public Service, or (if you have no idea where to start) by contacting the Center for Leadership & Involvement. No matter your interests, bring your WisCard to the Student Organization Fair.

We know you cannot wait to discard your title of #FutureBadgers, and there is a lot to look forward to during the first weeks of campus life. Yet, we also hope that you enjoy the rest of your #UWSummer at home. Try not to worry too much about starting classes and meeting new people; as every successful Badger has gone through their own first-year experience. Take our advice on how to prepare for the year and mark your calendars for the exciting events during #WiWelcome.

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