January SOAR Program Overview

The January SOAR Program is a required day-long orientation program held on the UW-Madison campus for incoming Spring 2023 undergraduate students. You must attend all parts of the program in order to enroll in your first-semester courses. 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. A detailed SOAR schedule is provided at check-in.

During SOAR, you will:

  • Work with academic advisors to develop your academic plan.
  • Review degree and major requirements and transfer credit evaluations (if relevant) and enroll in your spring-semester courses.
  • Have an opportunity to meet current and incoming students.
  • Learn about important campus resources that will support your success as a Badger.

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

Bucky Badger sitting at Memorial Union Terrace with frozen Lake Mendota in background

Pre-SOAR Tasks

Before your SOAR session, there are several important tasks you must complete to have a smooth course enrollment process. Lists below describe each task and the estimated amount of time it will take to complete each one.

Due by January 11: 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 by Wednesday, January 11, 2023. 

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 3, please visit go.wisc.edu/uw_testing to register for your online UW System placement testing.

How to register:

  1. Go to go.wisc.edu/uw_testing. This will take you to the Testing and Evaluation Services Office page with instructions to access the registration form.
  2. Follow the prompt at the top of the page to go to the registration page.
  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 3, 2023. You will also receive a Canvas invitation to the ESLAT in your Wiscmail.

Contact the SOAR office if you need help accessing the ESLAT in your Canvas dashboard.

Due Before Your Session

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Once registered, Read the SOAR Confirmation Packet

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

Final transcript deadlines (Spring 2023):

  • Spring Freshmen: January 4
  • Spring Transfer Students (Semester school): January 4
  • Spring Transfer Students (Quarter School): January 4

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 access to 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.

This PEC hold will be applied approximately two weeks before the start of  semester (early January). 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.

Complete Required Academic Advising Canvas Content (45 min)

Your SOAR Academic Advising Canvas course will:

  • Connect you with important information about the academic advising process at SOAR and UW-Madison
  • Guide you through the campus tools used to enroll in courses.

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 3; The course will appear in your UW Canvas dashboard when available.

Due Date: Steps 1-4 must be completed by Monday, January 16 by 11:59 p.m. Central Time.

Recommended web browsers: Google Chrome and Firefox

  • You may use Microsoft Edge or Safari, but please note that the Canvas courses may not function properly in this browser. Avoid using Internet Explorer.

During Your SOAR Session

We are excited to welcome you to campus at SOAR soon! Please note that UW–Madison is a large campus, and it can take more time than you expect to move between program locations and parking. Plan your travel accordingly! Review the information below to prepare for your session.

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Where to Check In

Arrive between 8 a.m. and 8:45 a.m. at the Memorial Union
Annex Room, located on the second floor (800 Langdon
Street). A light breakfast will be served, and various
campus offices will be present at tables to answer your questions on the fourth floor in the Great Hall Room.

What to Wear

SOAR programming takes place at several different
campus locations. Please wear comfortable
shoes and check the weather forecast before attending, as SOAR will
include brief walks outside. Madison will also be quite cold in January, so wear layers of clothes.

Where to Park

You are encouraged to park in the State Street Campus Garage
(415 N. Lake Street). This garage is located 0.3 mi from Memorial Union (5 min walk). Cost is $1.50 per hour and the pay stations accept Visa, Mastercard, and cash.

Program Schedules

Below are the general timeframes for the January SOAR program sessions. A detailed schedule will be provided at check-in.

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Student Program

8:00 AM – 8:45 AM
Program Check-In (Memorial Union Annex Room, 2nd floor)

8:00 AM – 9:15 AM
Light Breakfast, Social, Academic Advising Q and A Table, and Resource Fair

9:15 AM – 9:40 AM
Welcome to UW-Madison

9:40 AM – 3:00 PM
Academic Advising and Enrollment (including Lunch). Students can leave the program after they have completed spring enrollment.

Parent & Guest Program

8:00 AM – 8:45 AM
Program Check-In (Memorial Union Annex Room, 2nd floor)

8:00 AM – 9:15 AM
Light Breakfast, Social, Academic Advising Q and A Table, and Resource Fair

9:15 AM – 9:45 AM
Welcome to UW-Madison

9:45 AM – 11:50 AM
Morning programming including information about advising, health & safety, and student success

11:50 AM – 1:00 PM

1:00 AM – 3:00 PM
Afternoon information sessions on various topics and campus resources

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. 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

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 as early as possible. 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:

  • Access to printed materials
  • 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 service (CART)
  • Sign language interpretation

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.

Paying for SOAR

The SOAR Program cost for students is covered in your New Student Fee which is paid on your first semester tuition bill. However, the SOAR Program charges a fee for parent/guest attendance to help cover the costs of the program,

SOAR Parent and Guest Program Fee:

  • $25 per parent/guest during one-day transfer SOAR sessions and January SOAR sessions

Payment Process

After making a SOAR reservation, you will receive the link to our secure online payment portal.  In order to speed up your check-in process at SOAR, we highly recommend making your payment online  as soon as possible before your session. Failure to pay before attending will significantly slow down your check-in process. For security purposes, the SOAR office is unable to take payment over the phone.

Refund and Cancellation Policy

Because resources are committed in advance of your SOAR attendance, edits to your SOAR reservation must be made at least one week before attending the program. Your Parent/Guest & Pre-Paid Parking fees are refundable up to one week before your scheduled SOAR session. Changes may only be made by contacting the SOAR office at soar@studentlife.wisc.edu or 608-262-4707.

No refunds will be granted for changes made within one week of your SOAR session, except in extraordinary cases. All refund requests for Parent/Guest fees & Pre-paid Parking Fees after this deadline must be submitted in writing to soar@studentlife.wisc.edu with the following information:

  • Student Name
  • Student 10-digit Campus ID number
  • Parent/Guest Name(s) (only if requesting Parent/Guest fee refund)
  • Explanation of refund request

SOAR Financial Assistance

The university has limited funds available to assist students in paying the cost associated with SOAR. To qualify for assistance in paying a portion of your SOAR fees, the Office of Student Financial Aid must have received your FAFSA information and all requested documentation and you must meet one of the following:

  1. You are eligible to receive a federal Pell grant,
  2. You are eligible for Bucky’s Tuition Promise, or
  3. You are a participant in the FASTrack or BANNER program

Check your financial aid status in the Student Center on My UW (https://my.wisc.edu/). Students who meet these criteria will automatically have their optional SOAR program fees waived on their SOAR reservation.