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

January SOAR Program Overview

This page will help you prepare for your SOAR experience by:

  • Providing a full outline of the January SOAR program
  • List all SOAR task due dates
  • Explain the technology recommendations for the SOAR program and academic year
  • Giving tips for protecting your information and identity online

Scroll down this page or use the navigation panel below to learn all about the January SOAR program!

UW-Madison student having a virtual academic advising appointment

SOAR Student Program Outline

The SOAR program consists of completing two required online courses in Canvas and an individual audio or video meeting with a professional academic advisor between January 5–21, 2021. You will also have several important tasks to complete before the program begins.

You will need to follow the process outlined on this page to complete the entire SOAR Program and be able to enroll in spring courses. The times listed below are an approximation of how long it will take you to complete each part.

Want a summary of this section? Check out our digital January SOAR Confirmation Booklet!

Go to January SOAR Confirmation Booklet

Cover page of January SOAR program confirmation booklet

Complete by January 3

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Make your SOAR Reservation (30 min)

Review our Signing Up for SOAR page for more information on the process.

We strongly encourage all students admitted to the Spring 2021 semester to sign-up for SOAR by Saturday, January 2, 2021.

Complete Preparing for SOAR module in MyUW (30 min)

We believe that your SOAR experience should focus on YOU. The information collected in the Preparing for SOAR module helps the SOAR staff and advisors personalize your SOAR experience and ensure you are connected with the appropriate advising group. To access the module, use this direct Preparing for SOAR link or search ‘Preparing for SOAR’ in MyUW.

Open Date: Monday, December 7 at 12:00 p.m. CST

Due Date: You should complete the Preparing for SOAR module as soon as possible after making your SOAR reservation, and no later than Sunday, January 3, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. CST. You must complete the Preparing for SOAR module to get access to your SOAR Academic Advising Canvas course.

Send your official final transcripts and AP/IB/CLEP scores to the Office of Admissions & Recruitment

Final transcript deadlines (Spring 2021):

  • Spring Freshmen: January 3*
  • Spring Transfer Students (Semester school): January 3*
  • Spring Transfer Students (Quarter School): January 3

*Or next business day if deadline falls on a weekend. 

If you have any questions about the process or the status of your transcript, please contact the Office of Admissions & Recruitment.

If you have scores from the AP, CLEP, or IB exams, you might be eligible to receive course credit for your scores. Request that CollegeBoard or International Baccalaureate program send your official scores directly to the Office of Admissions and Recruitment. Your scores will arrive electronically directly from the testing agency.

We also encourage you to have score reports for credit-bearing exams and unofficial transcripts of college coursework available for your SOAR advising process.

Complete the Pre-enrollment Checklist in MyUW (15 min)

Before enrolling each semester, you are required to complete the Pre Enrollment Checklist (PEC), also known as the Financial Responsibility Agreement. The Pre-Enrollment Checklist includes you understanding and agreeing to financial responsibility terms & conditions.

To release this hold, follow these step-by-step instructions for completing the PEC. After you’ve done these steps, the hold will be automatically removed and the PEC should no longer appear in your Tasks tile. If your Tasks tile does not show the Pre-Enrollment Checklist, then you have completed all necessary steps needed for this task before SOAR.

If you need help completing the Pre-Enrollment Checklist or experience technical issues, contact one of the following offices:

For more information about the financial responsibility terms and conditions, review the Bursar’s Office Terms & Conditions FAQs page or contact the Bursar’s Office at tuition@bussvc.wisc.edu.

Update your contact information in Student Center (if needed)

It is important to ensure your contact information is accurate on your UW-Madison profile. Follow this step-by-step guide for updating your contact information.

January 4: Complete Placement Testing

Placement testing is how advisors learn more about your skills and help
correctly advise you about your first-semester courses. All required
placement testing must be completed on January 4, 2021. To confirm which test(s) you need to take, consult your placement testing email from the Office of Admissions and Recruitment or contact their office at 608-262-3961 or onwisconsin@admissions.wisc.edu.

How to Register and complete your tests:

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UW System Placement tests – Math, English, & World Languages (Spanish, French, German)

On January 4, please visit go.wisc.edu/uw_testing to register and complete your UW System placement testing online. Please note: You will register AND complete placement testing on January 4.

How to get to the registration form:

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

Shortly after registering, you will receive an email from candidatesupport@scantron.com with a password and instructions to access the Scantron online placement testing system. You will then select the placement tests to take in the Scantron testing portal. Please complete your required placement testing as soon as possible after getting access to the Scantron testing portal.

After you complete each of your required tests, please ensure that you click Submit at the end. If you have you submitted your tests, then you have completed the placement testing process. You can always log back into the Scantron testing system to make sure you submitted each test.

Contact the Testing and Evaluation Services office at frontdesk@exams.wisc.edu or (608) 262-5863 if you have questions during the registration or testing process.

English as a Second Language Assessment Test (ESLAT)

International students required to take the ESLAT will complete the test in Canvas, instead of the UW System English placement test. If you have signed up for SOAR and activated your NetID Services (including Wiscmail), you will see the ESLAT exam appear on your UW Canvas dashboard on January 4, 2021. You will also receive a Canvas invitation to the ESLAT in your Wiscmail.

Contact the SOAR office if you need help accessing the ESLAT on January 4

January 5-21 (SOAR Program)

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. You will complete online SOAR program content in Canvas, the University’s online learning platform. UW-Madison faculty use Canvas for your courses, so SOAR will also an opportunity for you to get comfortable using the system before classes begin.

Between January 5-10: Complete Online SOAR Canvas Content

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Complete Required Academic Advising Canvas Content (time varies per advising group)

Your SOAR Academic Advising Canvas course will be specific to your advising group. In this course, your advising group will:

  • Connect you with important information about the academic advising process
  • Guiding you through the course selection process. 
  • Receive instructions for scheduling your required one-on-one meeting with a professional advisor

You will be able to complete this course at your own pace and you do not have to complete it all in one sitting. Canvas will save your progress as you go!

Open Date: Tuesday, January 5; You must complete the Preparing for SOAR module to receive access to this course on time.

Due Date: Steps 1-4 must be completed by Sunday, January 10 at 11:59 p.m. CST.

Complete Required Student Life & Transition Content (120 min)

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. This content includes important information from many key departments on campus.

Open Date: Tuesday, January 5

Due Date: Unit 1 must be completed by Sunday, January 10 at 11:59 p.m. CST.

You will be able to complete this course at your own pace and you do not have to complete it all in one sitting. Canvas will save your progress as you go!

After reviewing the required Student Life & Transition content and passing the knowledge checks, your SOAR Student Life enrollment hold will be released within 15 minutes. This is one of two holds related to SOAR. Please see the next section regarding the SOAR Advising hold.

Review Connect with Your Badger Community Content (100 mins)

Throughout January, we invite you to continue your SOAR experience with valuable connections to campus. Unit 2 of the Student Life & Transition course is filled with useful information for your first semester. We invite you to take your time and move through it at your own pace.

The ‘Connect With your Badger Community’ content in Unit 2 can be completed in any order. Note: Unlike Unit 1, there will not be any green checkmarks to indicate completion for the Unit 2 modules.

January 13-21: Academic Advising & Course Enrollment

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Meet with an Academic Advisor (at least 30 min)

Your SOAR advising appointment will be a scheduled video or audio call with a professional academic advisor. During your advising appointment, you can expect to discuss degree requirements and course options for your first semester at UW-Madison. This meeting is a key part of your SOAR advising experience, and one that advisors look forward to!

SOAR advising appointments will take place during January 13-21 (except Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend). Dates and times available for advising appointments varies across the SOAR advising groups. In your SOAR Academic Advising Canvas course, you will receive specific instructions on how to schedule your advising appointment and the days your advising group is available for appointments during this timeframe.

Due Date: As soon as possible after completing your SOAR Academic Advising Canvas course; Review the information in Step 4 of your course for appointment scheduling instructions.

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 Spring courses. This is one of two holds related to SOAR. Please see the Student Life & Transition component for information regarding the other hold.

Complete Step 5 of SOAR Academic Advising course (time varies per advising group)

After meeting with an advisor, you will have explored courses and learned about major and degree requirements. You will be ready to enroll! Step 5 of your SOAR Academic Advising course will give you more guidance for enrolling in your first-semester courses.

Open Date: After your meeting with an advisor

Step 5 content can be completed at any time and at your own pace.

Enroll in Courses (time varies per person)

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. Campus has also worked over the past several years to make our enrollment tools easy to use and user friendly!

January SOAR Program Due Dates

SOAR for Parents & Families

Welcome to the Badger Family! The Center for the First-Year Experience (CFYE) is committed to providing you with the necessary support to help facilitate a successful transition for your student.  For this reason, we will also offer online content for parents and family members of incoming Badgers starting January 5, 2021. Click the button below to visit our January SOAR for Parents & Families page to learn more!

Go to January SOAR for Parents & Families page

UW student and mother pose with Badger gear


We are excited to host several SOAR Live events the week of January 19! These free, online events will give you the opportunity to dive deeper into our program content and connect with campus resources. All SOAR Live events will be hosted on Zoom and are open to all incoming Badgers and their family members. After each event, we will also post the recordings of each SOAR Live event in the descriptions below.

Live Event Recordings

Getting Involved: A Conversation with CfLI

Date/Time: Tuesday, January 19 at 2:00 p.m. CST

Resource Centers on Campus

Date/Time: Wednesday, January 20 at 1:00 p.m. CST

Watch the Recording

Hybrid Learning: Tips, Tricks, Successes, and First-Hand Student Experiences

Date/Time: Thursday, January 21 at 2:00 p.m. CST

Watch the Recording


Study Tips with the Greater University Tutoring Service

Date/Time: Tuesday, January 19 at 3:00 p.m. CST

Watch the Recording

Using the UW-Madison Libraries

Date/Time: Wednesday, January 20 at 3:00 p.m. CST

Watch the Recording

Technology & Connectivity

The January SOAR program is being delivered in a fully online format. We want to ensure all of our students know the tools needed to complete the program. During SOAR, you will use multiple online tools to complete tasks, connect with your advisor, and learn about campus life and academics.

Below we have outlined the recommended hardware, software, and connectivity needed to get the most out of your SOAR experience an during the academic year at UW-Madison.

Student completing coursework in Canvas

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

To learn more about what technology works best for our campus and options for purchasing hardware, visit the UW-Madison Getting Started with Tech website.

Software & Applications

All applications used for SOAR provide web-based platforms that do not require you to install additional software.

Recommended web browsers are Chrome and Firefox. You may use Edge or Safari, but please note that the Canvas courses may not function properly in this browser. Avoid using Internet Explorer.

Below is a list of applications you will use for the SOAR program:


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. 

To understand your internet speed, 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 DoIT’s tips for how to manage slower internet or low bandwidth.

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.

Accommodations for Persons with Disabilities

SOAR is committed to creating a program where everyone can participate. We value disability as an aspect of diversity and want to ensure that you are able to fully participate in all programming available to you.

Please review the following information for information about requesting accommodations for the SOAR Program, placement testing, and for the school year, which are all separate processes.

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Request Accommodations for Placement Testing

This section applies to placement tests only. The online placement tests will be untimed and students can adjust the magnification on their browser, so in most cases accommodations will not be necessary. If you have any questions, please email Tim O’Connor in Testing & Evaluation Services at tnoconno@wisc.edu.

Please see the Request Accommodations for the School Year tab in this section for information about arranging accommodations for tests and exams during the academic year.

Request Accommodations for the SOAR program (for students & family members with disabilities)

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.

All accommodation requests must be made through Step 6 of your SOAR reservation. Please provide all relevant details about your accommodation request. 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.

All SOAR program videos will have captions available.

Accommodations for the online SOAR program may include:

  • Printed materials in electronic format (e.g. video transcript)
  • Reader/assistant to complete forms during SOAR (Student only)
  • Extended time for advising and registration to meet communication needs (e.g. hearing loss, visual impairment, Autism Spectrum Disorder, etc.) (Student only)
  • Real-time captioning
  • Sign language interpretation

For more information about the online platforms used for SOAR, visit SOAR online – Accessibility & usability information.

Request Accommodations for the School Year

The McBurney Disability Resource Center provides services and accommodations for UW-Madison students with conditions such as:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Serious chronic health conditions (e,g., Crohn’s, chronic migraine, lupus, etc.)
  • AD/HD
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Mobility, sensory, learning, and other traditional disabilities

Disability-related services and accommodations help ensure equal access to programs, services, and activities at UW-Madison. Examples include the following:

  • Test accommodations
  • Study and learning skills assistance
  • Notetaking
  • Assistive technology
  • Scholarships
  • Advocacy with faculty and staff for reasonable accommodations
  • Counseling modules on academic anxiety and executive functioning
  • Transition services

You should begin the McBurney eligibility process now even if you are unsure if you want to use accommodations.  Starting now will help avoid a lengthy delay in receiving services should they be needed.

Any disability-related information previously sent to other offices (e.g., Admissions, SOAR, placement testing sites, etc.) must be resent to McBurney to begin the service eligibility process for accommodations for the school year.

Disability information submitted to the McBurney Center is maintained by McBurney. Disability information or disclosure to other campus entities is maintained within that entity’s secure recordkeeping system. All disability information is protected under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Students decide to disclose disability status to faculty and/or staff when relevant to the educational (e.g., advising, registration, etc.) or accommodation process.

Interpreter provides caption-to-screen Communications Access Realtime Translation (CART) service during a presentation.