SOAR FAQs

General Program Questions

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

What will happen during the online SOAR program for students?

There are two components to SOAR – Academics & Course Enrollment and Student Life & Transition. The content of the SOAR program is designed to help you have a successful transition as a new Badger. The SOAR program will consist of completing preparation tasks, two required online courses on these themes, and your academic advising process to help you enroll in your first semester courses. We will also have many opportunities for you to learn all about what our campus has to offer and connect virtually with fellow students and university staff.

More information about the program will be posted in the coming months.

Will there be any in-person options for SOAR this summer?

No, the entire SOAR program will be delivered online.

Will there be a fee for SOAR if it's online?

No, the cost of the online SOAR program for both students and their families will be included in the New Student Fee which will be charged on the student’s first-semester tuition bill.

How much of a time commitment will the online SOAR program be?

There are times when students must complete required content in a timely manner. You will also have at least one required appointment time with a professional academic advisor. You will work with your SOAR advising group to schedule an appointment time(s) that works for you. You will enroll for classes on your own after receiving instructions during your advising appointment.

Which of my emails will SOAR communications go to?

We ask students to activate their Wiscmail account (@wisc.edu) once they pay their enrollment deposit. Most information from university offices is sent to this account. To access your Wiscmail account, go to the MyUW homepage and click the Email tile. You can also change your preferred email in your Student Center through MyUW using this step-by-step instruction page. Please note: You may receive some communications to the email you used to apply to UW-Madison.

If you feel that you are not getting SOAR communications, be sure to do the following:

  • Check your SOAR reservation to ensure all emails are correct (e.g. no misspellings, incorrect punctuation, etc.)
  • Check the junk, spam, and deleted folders of your personal email you used to apply to UW-Madison and Wiscmail account.
  • If you need any help with your Wiscmail at any point, it is best to contact the DoIT Help Desk for help.

Q: Will this be an interactive experience? Will students have the chance to connect with other incoming students?

Yes! We understand the value of connecting current students to each other as they make their transition to UW-Madison and start building their Badger community. New students and their families will be able to connect with SOAR New Student Leaders (NSLs) throughout the summer and during the Wisconsin Welcome program in the Fall. We will have a calendar of live events, small group meetings, and one-on-one opportunities available for you to attend to connect with current and incoming Badgers. These will be an opportunity to talk to SOAR New Student Leaders (NSLs), UW-Madison staff, and other incoming students about campus, different aspects of college life, and any questions you have in an open and honest way.

Is the online SOAR content able to be completed on a phone or tablet?

The SOAR registration process is mobile friendly and all SOAR program content is viewable on a mobile device. However, there are portions of the program which are best to complete on a desktop or laptop, if possible.

SOAR Sign-Up

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

How do I sign up for SOAR?

To be able to access the SOAR reservation system, you must have accepted your admission offer for the summer/Fall 2021 semester in MyUW. Check your Admitted Student Checklist for instructions on that process. 

  • Starting April 1, all students committed to UW for summer/Fall 2021 can start exploring the SOAR reservation system. During this time, you will be able to enter all your personal information on your SOAR profile and get familiar with our reservation system. 
  • Starting Monday, May 3 at 5:00 p.m. CST, you will be able to finish registering and reserve your spot in the SOAR program. You will choose a SOAR program from a list of options displayed in Step 8 of the reservation process. 

If I need to change or update my SOAR reservation, how can I do that?

After you sign up for SOAR, you can go into the SOAR reservation system at any time and update your information. Any changes to your SOAR reservation must be made at least one week prior to your SOAR program. Our SOAR office staff are happy to help if you have any questions.

What SOAR dates will be available for this summer?

The SOAR reservation system is the only way to see what SOAR program options are available to you. You will be able to select a SOAR session starting Monday, May 3 at 5:00 p.m. CST.

Will choosing a later SOAR session affect my ability to enroll in the courses I need?

No. you will finish SOAR with a full schedule of classes that fulfill undergraduate degree requirements. University administration officials closely monitor course enrollment throughout to ensure a maximum number of options for all incoming students.

In general, very popular courses and popular dates and times may not always be available, but students can work with their academic advising team to see if and when they may be offered in a future semester. We encourage students to keep an open mind and be open to different possibilities.

Advisors will work directly with students if they have concerns or issues with course access. We are committed to student access to courses that are needed for graduation, and there are a lot of interchangeable parts in the first four semesters. Advisors will work with students to make a schedule that works for them.

I can’t access the SOAR reservation system. Why is this happening?

The most common reason is that you have not yet paid your enrollment deposit to the Office of Admissions and Recruitment, or your payment has not finished processing. Paying your enrollment deposit is the way students confirm their intention to attend UW-Madison and authorizes them to access our reservation system. If you have not accepted your admission offer, please refer to the instructions in your Admitted Student Checklist from the Office of Admissions and Recruitment.

Please note: It can take up to 48 hours after payment for the University to process your deposit. If it has been more than 48 hours after paying your enrollment deposit and you cannot access the SOAR reservation system, please contact the SOAR office.

Deferred students: Students who deferred their admission to Fall 2021 from a previous semester should contact the Office of Admissions and Recruitment to check their admission status. You must confirm with the Office of Admissions and Recruitment that you intend to start UW-Madison courses in Spring 2021 so they can activate you for the Fall 2021 term. This must be done before you will be eligible to make a SOAR reservation. 

Reentry/readmitted students: If you are entering the Spring 2021 semester as a reentry student, you will not go through the SOAR program and will be unable to access the reservation system. Your next steps are to:

I am considering deferring my enrollment to a future semester. Should I still register for SOAR this summer?

If you are considering deferring your enrollment, please thoroughly review the Office of Admissions’ Deferred Enrollment information page before registering for SOAR. Please contact the Office of Admissions as soon as possible to discuss your options.

I’m part of the Wisconsin Experience Summer Launch (WESL) program. Will SOAR overlap with my class responsibilities this summer?

Students in the WESL program will know all their class requirements in advance. This will allow WESL students to schedule their SOAR requirements around their class commitments. If you have additional questions about the WESL program, please contact the WESL staff at WIExpSummerLaunch@wisc.edu

Placement Testing & Other Exams

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

How do I register for placement testing and when can I take them?

All placement testing will be completed online. Please review the information below based on your required placement tests:

UW System Placement Tests: Math, English, and World Languages (Spanish, French, and German):

  1. Go to go.wisc.edu/uw_testing.
  2. At the top of the page, click the hyperlinked text: “registration form for Fall 2021 students”*
  3. You will then be on a page titled Regional Testing 2021. At the bottom of that page, click the hyperlinked text: “registration form”
  4. The registration form will then load onto the page. Fill out and submit the form to register!

*You must log in to this registration page using your UW-Madison NetID and password. If you’ve activated your NetID but have forgotten your NetID password, you can reset it online with the NetID Password Reset Tool. If you have forgotten your NetID, you can recover it using the self-service NetID Recovery Tool.

After registering, you will receive an email from candidatesupport@scantron.com with a password and instructions to access the Scantron online placement testing system within two business days. You will then select the placement tests to take in the Scantron testing portal.

ESLAT (English as a Second Language Assessment Test)

You will complete the test in Canvas, the University’s learning management system. After you have pay your enrollment deposit AND activate your NetID services, you will see the ESLAT exam appear within your UW Canvas dashboard by the following Monday. If you are required to take the ESLAT, please do not take the UW System English test.

When do I need to complete my placement testing?

Students must complete all their required placement testing at least 2 weeks before their SOAR program. Failure to complete all your required placement testing on time may result in your inability to enroll in all your courses during SOAR.

Is there any cost for taking placement tests?

No. The UW System is offering a free online placement testing process for incoming summer/Fall 2021 students.

Why am I required to take placement testing?

Placement tests are how academic advisors learn about your skills and help you choose courses at the correct level in each subject. Placement testing requirements also vary depending on your student type. To confirm which test(s) you need to take, consult that email or contact the Office of Admissions & Recruitment at onwisconsin@admissions.wisc.edu.

Freshman Students

Math & English: Freshmen are required to take a math placement test and an English placement test (UW System or ESLAT), regardless of previous coursework or credit-bearing exams, such as: AP, IB, CLEP, and CAPP credit. You will should have received an email from the Office of Admissions & Recruitment with additional information about the test(s) that you are required to take.

World Languages: Freshmen are strongly encouraged to test in the world language they studied in high school if you plan to continue in the language you studied. If you plan to continue in studying French, German or Spanish and you already have experience with the language, you must take a placement test in that language to qualify and enroll in classes beyond the introductory level language course. More information on placement into language courses, including languages other than French, German and Spanish, can be found on the UW-Madison Languages Placement Procedures page. Be sure to review the UW Guide to determine your degree requirements for world language and consult with your advisor at SOAR.

Transfer Students

Transfer students are informed which placement tests they are required to take via email by the Office of the Registrar. Information about which tests are required is need also available at the bottom of your Transfer Credit Evaluation, located in your Student Center in MyUW. If you have any questions regarding your placement testing requirement(s), please contact Credit Evaluation Services at crediteval@registrar.wisc.edu.

International Students

Students who were required to submit a TOEFL or IELTS will take the English as a Second Language Assessment Test (ESLAT) instead of the UW System English placement test. The ESLAT is used to assess students’ English language skills required for academic work and to place students in appropriate ESL courses. Visit the English as a Second Language office website for more information about the ESLAT.

How do I know if I should take a World Language placement test?

Students who plan to take a language course above the introductory level at UW-Madison must take a placement test in that language. Additionally, many programs have a world language requirement. Be sure to review the UW Guide to determine your degree requirements for world language and consult with your advisor during SOAR.

Spanish, French, and German placement tests: These tests are offered by the UW System and are in the same online testing portal as the Math and English tests. Go to go.wisc.edu/uw_testing if you still need to register. Freshman are strongly encouraged to test in the world language they studied in high school or have previous experience with, even if they have anticipated AP test credit. Previous experience may include native speakers and those who have previous coursework in the language. 

Other World Languages: If you are interested in taking a course in world language other than Spanish, French, or German, visit the UW-Madison Languages Placement Procedures page for more information. 

Am I required to take one or more of the World Language placement tests: Spanish, French, or German even if I have anticipated AP credit?

Freshman are strongly encouraged to test in the world language they studied in high school, even if they have anticipated AP test credit. Freshman who have previous experience in Spanish, French, or German and who plan to take coursework in this language at UW–Madison, must take a placement test in that language to qualify and enroll in classes beyond the entry level language course. Previous experience may include native speakers and those who have previous coursework in the language. 

If you are interested in taking a course in world language other than Spanish, French, or German, visit the UW-Madison Languages Placement Procedures page for more information. Additionally, many programs have a world language requirement. Be sure to review the UW Guide to determine your degree requirements for world language and consult with your advisor during SOAR.

How are AP exams scores handled?

If you took AP tests, you may be granted credit for UW–Madison courses depending on the score(s). If your scores are not yet available when you participate in SOAR, your advisor will help you make contingency plans based on your predicted scores. You will also receive instructions on what to do next if you are waiting on an AP score that impacts their course enrollment. You can find more information about how AP exam credit transfers on the Credit By Exam page on the Office of the Registrar’s website.

How will my IB or A-Level credits transfer? Who should I speak to about those at SOAR and how?

International Baccalaureate (IB) and Advanced Level (A-Level) students may be awarded either a diploma or course certificate to reflect their standard of work. The results will be based around students’ coursework and the established assessment expertise, rigor, and quality control already built into the programs. When you meet with an academic advisor as part of SOAR, they will share how all your credits and exams will transfer. You can find more information about how credits transfer at the UW-Madison Credit By Exam page.

What if I cannot complete my placement tests on time?

All students are expected to complete their placement testing prior to enrolling in classes. Failure to complete the test may result in an inability to register for some fall courses. If you still cannot complete your placement testing, please contact the SOAR Office to discuss your situation.

Advising & Enrollment

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

How will I enroll for my classes since SOAR is online?

During the SOAR advising process, students will learn the information they need to successfully enroll in their first semester courses. All students will receive a full schedule that counts towards their degree requirements after they finish SOAR.

The SOAR advising process includes: 

  • Completing the Preparing for SOAR module
  • Your required SOAR Advising Canvas course (based on your academic interests) 
  • An academic advising appointment with a professional advisor 
  • Any consultations with key departments (if needed)

We are committed to providing every student at least one individual appointment with an academic advisor to discuss what they learned in Canvas and ask questions about course selection and the enrollment process. Both professional and peer advising staff will be available throughout the summer to assist students with the enrollment process. In addition, campus has worked over the past several years to make our enrollment tools easy to use and user friendly. 

How will I/my student be able to meet with a SOAR advisor?

We are committed to providing all incoming students the opportunity to meet with an individual video or audio professional academic advisor within their SOAR advising group before enrolling in courses. You will receive instructions for scheduling your advising appointment(s) closer to your SOAR session. You will work with your SOAR advising group to schedule an appointment time that works for you.

I’m thinking of double-majoring between schools/colleges. How will this work for SOAR advising?

In some cases you can do this and some cases you cannot, as it depends on the policies of each school/college. For SOAR, you should work with the advising group which matches your “primary” academic interest. If you are equally interested in both majors, you should work with Cross-College Advising Service to start. The SOAR reservation process and Preparing for SOAR module will also help you identify the advising group that best matches your academic interests and career goals. 

What are the required courses for freshmen students?

There is no common curriculum for your student’s first at UW–Madison. It depends on your student’s major and degree program. Course selection is individualized and based on student interests, intended major, placement scores, and more. Students can explore semester by semester plans by major and degree program in the UW Guide

Your advisor will let you know if you have to take a particular course sooner rather than later, and there is no single “ideal” schedule. It’s hard to go wrong, especially in your first semester since all majors have room for some exploration.

How much time do I need to dedicate to my SOAR advising process?

Each student will have at least one (1) academic advising appointment that will be scheduled for a minimum of 30 minutes and enroll in courses on their own. More specific information about your specific appointment scheduling process and advising requirements will be provided by your SOAR advising group. You will work with your SOAR advising group to schedule an appointment time that works for you. 

Are advisors available early in the morning and evening to accommodate time zone differences?

We understand the SOAR program serves students in multiple time zones and our SOAR advising groups strive to accommodate students in their home time zones whenever possible. 

How will I be able to get into the courses they need?

The University closely monitors course enrollment and availability. Very popular courses and popular dates and times may not always be available, but students can work with their academic advising team to see if and when they may be offered in a future semester. We encourage students to keep an open mind and be open to different possibilities.

Advisors will work directly with students if they have concerns or issues with course access. We are committed to student access to courses that are needed for graduation, but there are a lot of interchangeable parts in the first four semesters. Advisors will work with students to make a schedule that works for them.

How many credits are recommended for a new student?

Generally, around 15 credits per semester is recommended, but this is a very individual decision, and some students will select a schedule with slightly more or fewer credits than 15. 

1 credit typically equals 1 hour of instruction and 2 hours of work outside class each week.

Advisors will help students consider many circumstances in determining appropriate credit load, including obligations, jobs, course combinations, and their previous academic experience.

Parents & Families

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

Q: Is there an online SOAR option for parents & family members of incoming students?

Yes! We will offer a free, online SOAR Parent & Family Orientation. We are committed to providing you with the necessary support and resources to help facilitate a successful transition for your student. We recognize that you play a central role in your student’s life and that you will continue to be a source of guidance and support during your student’s college years. Our program strives to empower parents/family members/supporters to learn more about campus resources and support networks to help their students succeed.

If you have an adult family member or supporter that would want to receive our parent & family content, please add their information on Step 4 of your SOAR reservation.

Q: Will the Parent & Family Orientation program consist of live events and self-paced content like the student program?

A: Yes, we will offer a comprehensive SOAR Parent & Family Orientation website, a calendar of live & recorded online events, and the opportunity to virtually connect one-on-one with a SOAR New Student Leader. Parents and family members of incoming students can engage with these opportunities at their own pace throughout the summer. Please have your student add your contact information on their SOAR reservation to receive all our upcoming communications about SOAR too.

Accessibility

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

I need to register for courses as early to ensure accommodations due to disability are in place by Fall. What should I do?

We are collaborating with our partners in the McBurney Disability Resource Center to ensure the best options for students needing early course registration. If you anticipate needing accommodations for your courses this fall, please start the McBurney intake process.

Are accommodations available for my advising appointment and virtual SOAR events?

We value disability as an aspect of diversity and want to ensure that you are able to complete SOAR requirements and fully participate in our programming. SOAR staff members are happy to assist you and your family members with needs you may have due to a permanent or temporary disability or condition. All accommodation requests and information must be provided through Step 7 in your SOAR reservation. It is important that you provide as much detail about your needs as possible so we can arrange appropriate services for you.

Confidentiality: The SOAR Program takes the confidentiality of student records very seriously. Disability accommodation information will only be shared with staff members on a need-to-know basis. Requesting accommodations will NOT affect your admission, advising experience, or course selection.

How do I request accommodations for placement testing and/or the academic year?

These are separate processes. Visit our Accommodations for Persons with Disabilities page for more information.

SOAR Live

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

Where will I be able to see a list of all the SOAR Live events this summer?

We will have a SOAR Live page on our website starting in June. This page will show the full calendar of opportunities we are offering throughout the summer! We are excited to offer a wide variety of events for our incoming Badgers and their families.

What types of panels and information sessions can be expected?

We are hosting a variety of events that cover key aspects of campus life. We also highlight other live events for incoming students and families hosted by other campus offices throughout the summer. More information and event information will be posted in June.

Will I have to register for SOAR Live events?

Some events will require registration. If registration is required, a registration link will be posted on the event description page. Some of SOAR Live events will also be streamed and recorded on our social media accounts:

What times will SOAR Live events happen?

We will offer our weekly featured events at a variety of times to accommodate students and families in different time zones. All event times will be displayed in CST/Chicago time.

Other Campus-Related Questions

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

Since SOAR is online, what will the Fall semester look like?

Most summer 2021 courses will continue to be remote, with some in-person courses available. The university is planning to return to primarily in-person instruction for the fall 2021 semester. For the most up-to-date information about UW-Madison’s COVID-19 response plans, please visit the UW-Madison COVID-19 Response website.

Will there be any other opportunities to see campus before the Fall semester?

Campus is exploring in-person options for students to attend, contingent on health and safety protocols for campus and the State of Wisconsin. More information will be shared as it becomes available. 

In the meantime, the Office of Admissions offers a virtual campus tour experience and admitted student Virtual Information Sessions throughout this spring.

How is campus responding to COVID-19?

For the most up-to-date information about UW-Madison’s plans addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit the UW-Madison COVID-19 Response website. If you have any questions about these plans, you can email campus leadership at covidresponse@vc.wisc.edu or use the Ask Bucky service.

How do I access the New Student To-Do List? (Incoming freshman only)

Domestic and international freshman students should have the New Student To-Do List app pre-loaded onto their MyUW home screen. If it does not appear automatically, you can search for the app in MyUW or use todo.newstudent.wisc.edu.

 

Should I still do tasks in my New Student To-do List? (Incoming Freshman only)

Yes, the New Student To-Do List is the broad list of tasks you must complete before you arrive on campus in the Fall. SOAR is just one part of your task list!

When will Fall move-in happen?

Dates and details for fall 2021 move-in will be determined by University Housing in summer 2021. All information regarding Fall 2021 Move-In is available on the University Housing Moving & Breaks page.

Are there virtual campus tour options available?

The Office of Admissions offers a virtual campus tour website designed to showcase the wide array of opportunities, programs, and services that our campus can offer you. Admissions is also hosting Virtual Information sessions and events for admitted students to learn more about our university throughout the summer. Recordings of previous Virtual Information sessions are also available.

Will there be any in-person programming in the Fall to help students get acclimated to campus?

In the coming months, we will share more information about what Wisconsin Welcome will look like to help students connect to campus resources, explore campus and Madison, and build community with fellow students.

SOAR Information Session Recordings

March 25

To view captions on this video:

    • Put your cursor over the video and click the CC button on the lower menu.
    • Select English in the option list. The captions are now turned on for the video
    • Click the Play button.

Dates and registration details for future SOAR Information Sessions will be posted on the Admitted Student Events list on Visit Bucky. Recorded versions will be posted here.