A visual of the student SOAR process that is described in the text below

Understanding SOAR & Getting Started

This information is intended for students who have signed up for SOAR. If you need to still sign-up for SOAR, please complete the steps outlined on our Before SOAR page.

The following information will help you prepare for your SOAR experience. We will outline the technology required to complete the SOAR program as well as a full outline of the SOAR experience. For SOAR, you will need to complete both components of the program which is divided between Academics & Course Enrollment and Student Life & Transition. Both components have their own required courses that you will complete in our online learning platform called Canvas

Bucky Badger points at the camera

SOAR Program Outline

UW-Madison student having a virtual academic advising appointment

There are two components to SOAR – Academics & Course Enrollment and Student Life & Transition. You will  need  to follow the process outlined below to complete the entire SOAR Program and enroll in fall courses. The times listed below are an approximation of how long it will take you to complete each part. You can work on both components at the same time.

You can view a visual of the components, which are detailed in text below.

Need help? Contact the SOAR Program at 608-262-4707 or soar@studentlife.wisc.edu.

Academic Information & Course Enrollment

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

Complete Your Required Placement Tests (90 mins per test)

Students who are required to take placement testing must complete their placement test(s) at least two weeks before their SOAR session week. Go to the UW-Madison Placement Testing Information page to register for placement testing with Testing and Evaluation Services.  Contact Testing and Evaluation Services at frontdesk@exams.wisc.edu or (608) 262-5863 if you have questions during the registration process. For more information about placement tests, visit our Placement Testing page.

Complete Preparing for SOAR (30 mins)

We believe that your SOAR experience should focus on YOU. The information collected in this ‘Preparing for SOAR’ section helps the SOAR staff and advisors personalize your SOAR experience and ensure you are connected with an appropriate advising group. You can search for the ‘Preparing for SOAR’ app at my.wisc.edu (MyUW).

Review Required Canvas Content (varies per advising group)

Here, your advising group will connect you with important information while guiding you through the course selection process. 

Meet with Your Academic Advisor (at least 30 mins)

Part of the SOAR Advising Content is to schedule time to meet with an academic advisor. This 30-60 minute meeting is a key part of your SOAR advising experience, and one that advisors look forward to. This meeting is intended to prepare you for selecting your first semester of courses at UW-Madison. 

During your advising meeting, your academic advisor will explain when your SOAR Advising hold will be removed and when you can begin enrolling in your fall courses. This is one of two holds related to SOAR. Please see the Student Life & Transition component for information regarding the other hold.

Enroll in Courses

Students are responsible for enrolling in courses, and this is where it all happens. This last step will help you build a schedule and enroll in courses for your first semester.

Student Life & Transition Content

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

Review Required Canvas Content (120 mins)

One of the goals of SOAR is to help you become familiar with campus life and to provide information that will help with the transition to the University of Wisconsin – Madison. The required student life content must be completed prior to your SOAR week. This content includes important information from many key departments on campus. If you have any questions, our New Student Leader (NSL) staff is available for a one-on-one conversation. To schedule a chat with a NSL, visit our SOAR Live page.

After reviewing the required Student Life content and passing the knowledge checks your SOAR Student Life enrollment hold will be released. All required content must be finished by your SOAR week. This is one of two holds related to SOAR. Please see the Academics & Course Enrollment component for information regarding the other hold.

Review Connect with Your Badger Community Content (100 mins)

Throughout the summer, we invite you to continue your SOAR experience with valuable connections to campus. This content is filled with information that will be very applicable as we approach the fall semester. We invite you to take your time and move through it at your own pace.

Participate in SOAR Live Events

Want to get in on the fun, meet peers, and get questions answered live from various staff from around campus? Sign up for a SOAR Live session and get specific questions answered by staff whom you will interact with when you come to campus!

Due Dates

For specific deadlines for your SOAR session, use the drop down menu below select your advising week.

*Tasks need to be completed at 11:59 p.m. on the date listed.

Technology & Connectivity

SOAR is being delivered in a fully online format. We want to ensure all of our students have the tools needed to complete the program. Below we have outlined the recommended hardware, software, and connectivity needed to get the most out of your SOAR experience, and would be additionally helpful during your time at UW-Madison. During SOAR, students will use multiple online tools to complete tasks, connect with each other, and learn about campus life and academics. 

Hardware (Computer)

We recommend that students use either a desktop or laptop computer with a webcam and microphone to have the best experience with our technology. At minimum, students will need the following hardware to complete the SOAR program:

  • A tablet, laptop, or desktop computer for completing SOAR courses in Canvas
    • Completing SOAR courses on a smartphone is possible, but this is not recommended and will be a lower quality user experience.
    • We recommend using Windows 10 or/and High Sierra or later versions for Macs
  • As back-up phone (landline or cellphone) may be needed

Software & Applications

All applications used for SOAR provide web-based platforms that do not require you to install additional software. For your web browser, you should plan to use Chrome, Firefox, Edge, or Safari. Internet Explorer is not recommended.


A reliable, high-speed internet connection is important to being able to participate fully in online learning. We recommend an internet connection with: 

  • 15 megabit per second (Mb/s) or better download speed
  • 5 megabit per second (Mb/s) or better upload speed 
  • A ‘ping time’ of less than 75 milliseconds. 

Not sure what this means? Check your internet speed using a speed test and compare it against the recommended specification above. A wireless hotspot or tethering from a phone might not be sufficient. 

For help determining these specifications, contact the DoIT Help Desk’s Home Internet Connection Doctor Service.If you are concerned about your internet connection, please check out these tips for how to manage slower internet or low bandwidth.

Technology Recommendations for the School Year

UW-Madison recommends for hardware specifications for the school year. Visit the UW-Madison Getting Started with Tech website if you would like to learn more about what works best with our campus technology.


If you are in need to purchase technology, you can find a selection of available hardware on the UW Bookstore website and the DoIT Student technology recommendations page.

We are aware of internet and technology accessibility concerns, and working to find solutions to ensure access for all students in our online SOAR program. We understand that some students might have financial difficulty with acquiring the needed technology to fully experience SOAR. If you would like to inquire about possible assistance with hardware or connectivity, please contact us at soar-ops@studentlife.wisc.edu and we can see what we can do to help.

If you are experiencing issues with any of the applications, or need additional technology troubleshooting, please contact the DoIT Help Desk.

If you need any accommodations with technology, see the accommodations section below.

Protecting Your Information & Identity

When participating online, for SOAR or any other activity, it is important to take steps to protect your identity and information, as well as verify the individuals you are working with. We encourage you to review Scams to avoid: protecting your online identity from the UW-Madison Division of Information Technology for more information.

For SOAR, please remember the following:

  • University staff will NEVER ask you for your password or My UW login information.
  • All communication will come from a wisc.edu email address. If you receive email from an unknown individual you can look them up in the campus directory or contact the SOAR Program for assistance.
  • There is no cost to attend SOAR, and you will not be asked for any credit card or account information from SOAR staff. You will receive information from the Bursar’s Office later this summer about how to securely pay your tuition and fees bill.
  • A campus ID number or NetID username can often be used to help identify the correct student to a staff member. You will NEVER be asked for your Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) as a way to verify your identity.
  • Your interactions with University staff and students will always be scheduled. Do not accept impromptu or unsolicited meetings from unknown individuals.
Student laptop with various UW stickers

Virtual Private Networks (VPN)

VPNs are helpful for students who are worried about the security or accessibility of their internet connection (i.e. public Wifi).  If you are in need of a VPN service to connect to a public connection, please download, install, and connect via the WiscVPN client (choose the operating system that matches your device for specific instructions). This will allow you to connect to the UW-Madison network from anywhere.


SOAR is committed to creating a program where everyone can participate. When you registered for SOAR, you indicated any accommodations you may need to fully participate in the program. If your needs have changed or you forgot to add an accommodation need, please update your SOAR reservation with your accommodation request. If you would like speak with someone about your accommodations needs contact the SOAR office at 608-262-4707 or soar@studentlife.wisc.edu.

Need Help?

SOAR Orientation Assistants answering phones