SOAR Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

To protect the health and safety of you and our campus community, we will be offering the SOAR program in an online format. While we are sad you will not be able to join us on campus, we will still make sure your ​Wisconsin Experience​ starts off right! New undergraduate students (freshmen and transfer) enrolling in summer and fall terms will complete their orientation online. This will include enrolling for your fall (and summer) courses. Please continue to check your email for updates and complete the required tasks on the ​New Student To Do list in MyUW​. We are committed to providing you and your family a seamless transition to your start as a Badger.

We know this may raise a lot of questions for you and the SOAR staff are here to support you during this process. Please view our list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) to learn more about the program. We may not have all the answers yet, but we will regularly post updates to this page and expand our website in the coming weeks. If you have any other questions not on this page, you contact our office and we will answer your questions as soon as possible.

What will happen during the online SOAR program?

The SOAR experience for students will center around two important themes: Academic Advising and Student Life. The content of each theme will be designed to help you have a successful transition as a new Badger. Our Student Program page has more information about what SOAR will look like this summer. We will communicate more information about the program via e-mail and our website in the coming weeks.

We will be providing a separate online SOAR experience for parents and family members this summer too. We are also committed to providing Badger family members with the necessary support to help facilitate a successful transition for students. Our Parent & Family Orientation page provides an overview of what we will offer parents and family members for incoming Badgers. We will announce more information via e-mail and on our website. During the SOAR sign-up process, students should also add any family members they would like included in the orientation process on their SOAR reservation.

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Will there be 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. More information will be posted on our website in the coming weeks. In the meantime, students should add any family members they would like included in this orientation process on their SOAR reservation.

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

No, the entire SOAR program will be delivered online for summer 2020. At this time, UW-Madison has cancelled all in-person programming on campus this summer for the health and safety of our campus community.

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Will this be an interactive experience? Will students have the chance to connect with other matriculating students?

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. We plan to offer live events and opportunities for new students and their families to connect with fellow Badgers and campus resources throughout the summer. More information and dates for these live events will be posted on our website in the coming weeks.

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What types of panels and information sessions can be expected?

We are still determining what content will be included in the online SOAR program and how it will be delivered to students and families. We are committed to connecting new students with all campus has to offer.

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Will there still be SOAR New Student Leaders (current students) working with and supporting the new students?

New students and their families will be able to connect with New Student Leaders throughout the summer and during the Wisconsin Welcome program in the Fall. We understand the value of connecting current students with new students. Current students can share what it is like to be on campus and what their transition to UW-Madison was like. We will post more information about these opportunities soon.

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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, such as: placement testing, the Preparing for SOAR app, and the required Student Program Canvas experiences. More information about recommended completion timelines for these tasks will be shared with students in early June.

You will not need to dedicate all your time to SOAR during your advising week. However, you should have flexible availability that week to focus on your SOAR advising requirements and course enrollment process. You will work with your SOAR advising group to schedule an appointment time that works for you. Students can complete the other orientation content their own pace throughout the summer. We will also host a calendar of live online events students and families can attend.

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

Yes! We will offer a free 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.

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Which of my emails will SOAR communications go to?

We ask students to activate their UW Wiscmail account once they pay their enrollment deposit so we ensure they are getting these types of communications.  You can also change your preferred e-mail in your Student Center through MyUW and add additional e-mails in Step 9 of the SOAR reservation process. Follow this step-by-step instruction page for guidance. If you feel that you are not getting SOAR communications, be sure to also check the junk, spam, and deleted folders of your personal e-mail and Wiscmail. If you need any more help during that process, it is best to contact the DoIT Help Desk.

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I was told that placement testing is required to be done at least 2 weeks before SOAR. Is that still true?

Since an online placement testing process is being developed, we are not sure what our new requirements will be yet. Students will be expected to complete their required placement test prior to meeting with an academic advisor. We will provide more information after the online testing process is finalized.

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What if I cannot take my placement tests before my SOAR advising week?

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 after the placement testing process is announced you still cannot complete your placement testing please, contact the SOAR Office to discuss your situation.

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How will AP exam credit be affected?

The College Board has announced modifications to the Advanced Placement (AP) examinations offered for the 2019-20 academic year only: examinations in the spring of 2020 will be administered as 45-minute online exams to be taken at home, instead of the traditional face-to-face format. Information about how UW-Madison will be handling the change has been posted at the Office of the Registrar’s Credit by Exam page

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Why am I required to take placement testing?

Placement test scores help academic advisors learn about your skills and help choose courses at the correct level in each subject. All freshman students are required to complete placement testing in Math and English (or English as a second language: “ESLAT”), regardless of previous coursework or test credit such as: AP, IB credit, and CAPP credit. Transfer students are informed which placement test(s) they are required to take via email by Credit Evaluation Services in the Office of the Registrar. Information about which test(s) you need to take is 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 or 608-890-4000.

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How will I learn how to 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: the required Advising Canvas course, a one-on-one academic advisor appointment, and any needed consultations with key departments. We are committed to providing students with an individual appointment with an academic advisor to discuss what they learned in Canvas and ask questions about course selection and the enrollment process. 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. More specific information about our online advising process will be posted on our website in the coming weeks.

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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 a professional academic advisor within their SOAR advising group before enrolling in courses. After students complete their required SOAR Advising Canvas experience, they will gain access to schedule their one-on-one appointment with an advisor. You will work with your SOAR advising group to schedule an appointment time that works for you. More specific information about our appointment and online advising process will be posted on our website in the coming weeks.

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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 is inline with your “primary” interest. If you are equally interested in both majors, you should work with Cross-College Advising Service to start. We will also be developing a process to connect you with the advising group which matches your academic interests and career goals the best.

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What are the required courses for freshmen?

We do not have a core curriculum for freshmen students and it varies widely between majors. Students can explore semester by semester plans in the UW Guide.

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I’m very interested in enrolling in a First-Year Interest Group (FIG). How will I be able to discuss my options and enroll in a FIG since SOAR is online?

First-Year Interest Groups (FIGs) are a great option for freshmen in their first semester! You can explore which FIGs are being offered in the fall semester at https://figs.wisc.edu/. You will also find information about the enrollment process and how to contact FIGs Program staff by clicking on the “How to Enroll” tab.

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How will my IB/A-Level/AP 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.

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

You will finish SOAR with a full schedule of classes that fulfill undergraduate degree requirements. University administration officials monitor course enrollments throughout to ensure a maximum number of options for all incoming students.

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The reservation system says there are no SOAR advising weeks available. Why is this happening?

The availability of specific SOAR advising weeks depends on a variety of factors. If you receive this error message, please contact the SOAR office and we will help you complete your reservation.

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I/my student need to register for courses as early as possible to ensure accommodations due to disability are in place by Fall. What should I/they 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 at https://mcburney.wisc.edu/apply-for-accommodations/. More specific information about our registration and online advising process will be posted on our website in the coming weeks.

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I do not have reliable/any internet access where I live. How will I be able to complete SOAR online?

We are committed to providing a high quality SOAR experience to all new Badgers. We are aware of accessibility concerns and working to find solutions to ensure access for all in our online SOAR program. We have plans in place to ask all incoming students about their access to the internet and computers, and we will be centering those needs in our program planning. We will provide more specific information as soon as we are able.

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If libraries or schools are not open this summer, for students that have phones, but no computer, will virtual SOAR be visible on a phone or tablet?

Whenever possible we will create an online SOAR experience that is mobile-friendly, but there may be portions of the program which are best to complete on a desktop or laptop machine. We are working with DoIT, the University Bookstore, and the UW-Madison Libraries to explore options for students who do not have access to a computer this summer. Please provide your technology access information on Step 7 of your SOAR reservation to help us understand your needs. The SOAR registration process is mobile friendly.

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

There could be a variety of reasons you are not able to make your SOAR reservation at a given time. One of the most common reasons is that you have not yet paid your enrollment deposit to the Office of Admissions. Paying your enrollment deposit is the way students confirm their intention to attend UW-Madison and authorizes them to access our reservation system. Please review step 1, “Complete Your Admissions Steps” on the SOAR checklist in order to ensure you reserve your spot in the freshman or transfer class. Log in to the MyUW portal to accept your offer of admission in the Student Center. The confirmation deadline for incoming freshman was May 1. If you requested an extension, you will have until June 1 to make your decision. The deadline for incoming transfer students to confirm is June 1.

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How do I sign up for SOAR?

Students can sign-up for SOAR at any time using our online reservation system. Follow the steps on our Before SOAR page to complete the process. We will communicate next steps to students via email in the coming weeks.

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If I need a different advising week, how can I change my SOAR reservation?

Students can go into the SOAR reservation system and change to any available advising weeks if needed. Accessing the live reservation system is the only way to determine what dates are available for you. Any changes to your SOAR reservation must be made at least one week prior to your SOAR advising week. We are currently designing our registration process for advising appointments but options will be available for students who miss or need to change their selected SOAR advising date and time. Our SOAR office staff are happy to help if you have any questions.

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What if students don’t have reliable internet access and cannot use external centers (like EdUSA) because of consular closures?

We are committed to providing a high quality SOAR experience to all new Badgers. We are aware of accessibility concerns and working to find solutions to ensure access for all in our online SOAR program. Please provide your technology access information on Step 7 of your SOAR reservation to help us understand your needs. We will provide more specific information as soon as we are able.

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

We understand the SOAR program will need to serve students in multiple time zones, we will do our best to accommodate students in their home time zones whenever possible.

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How will UW-Madison deal with cancelled/delayed national exams and/or graduation dates? Will I need those for SOAR?

Per UW System Regent policy all students need to complete high school prior to starting a bachelor degree program. However, students can participate in the SOAR program while still finishing high school if needed. If you are concerned about not receiving your high school diploma prior to the start of classes in September, you should contact the Office of Admission and Recruitment at onwisconsin@admissions.wisc.edu to discuss your options.

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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.

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

Campus leadership is exploring all options to provide these on-campus experiences in the Fall. As we know more, 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.

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Will there be a fee for Online SOAR?

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

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How is campus responding to COVID-19?

For general University updates about COVID-19, please visit the following sites that are updated daily:

Is Fall Move-in changing?

At this time, Fall Move-in is still scheduled as planned, but these dates are subject to change and approval. More information regarding Fall Move-In 2020 will be published in the summer on the University Housing Moving & Breaks page.

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Will there be 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 a list of upcoming Virtual Information sessions and events for admitted students to learn more about our university.  Campus is working on developing more virtual options to explore campus.

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I did not receive the e-mail to new students that announced that SOAR would be online this summer. How can I ensure that I get these UW communications in the future?

The Office of Admissions sent that message to all admitted new students at the e-mail address they used to apply to the university. We also ask students to activate their UW Wiscmail account once they pay their enrollment deposit so we ensure they are getting these types of communications. Be sure to also check the junk, spam, and deleted folders of your personal e-mail and Wiscmail to see if the message is there. You can also change your preferred e-mail in your Student Center through MyUW. Follow this step-by-step instruction page for guidance. If you need any more help during that process, it is best to contact the DoIT Help Desk.

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

You will not need to dedicate all your time to SOAR during your advising week. However, you should have flexible availability that week to focus on your SOAR advising requirements and course enrollment process. You will work with your SOAR advising group to schedule an appointment time that works for you. We will post more specific information about how much time students should plan to complete the online SOAR program soon.

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I am considering deferring my enrollment to the spring 2021 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. The typical deadline to submit a request to defer enrollment has passed and incoming requests will be reviewed on a case by case basis and are not guaranteed. If you would like to submit a late request, you must submit a deferred enrollment request formPlease contact the Office of Admissions as soon as possible to discuss your options.

If you have applied for deferred admission and want to check your status, you can email the Office of Admissions and Recruitment at onwisconsin@admissions.wisc.edu. Please note that it can take a couple weeks (10 days to two weeks) for a decision, and some cases longer.

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How do I access the New Student To-Do List?

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, freshman students can search for the app in MyUW or use todo.newstudent.wisc.edu.

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How do I access the course?

You will use your UW Canvas dashboard to access your SOAR Canvas courses. You should have access to the SOAR Student Life & Transition course the business day after you registered for SOAR.

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How much time will it take to complete the course?

Unit 1 required content will take approximately 120 minutes to complete and Unit 2 has approximately 100 minutes of additional content.  You will be able to complete this course at your own pace and you do not have to complete it all in one sitting. Please remember to also complete Unit 1 of your SOAR Academic Advising course by your advising week’s deadline.

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What is the difference between Unit 1 and Unit 2?

 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. Unit 1 contains the required content that must be completed by the Wednesday before your SOAR week. This content includes important information from many key departments on campus. 

While Unit 2 is optional, it is filled with information that will be very applicable as we approach the fall semester and for connecting with your Badger community. We invite you to take your time and move through it at your own pace throughout the summer.

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I completed all of Unit 1, but it is not being marked as complete. What should I do?

On the Acknowledgement Check page in Unit 1, please ensure that you clicked both the “Forward” answer and then “Submit Quiz.”. Canvas will not record your submission unless you submitted your answer before moving onto the next page. As long as you completed all Unit 1 content and earned a 1/1 score on the Acknowledgement Check at the end of Unit 1, you did everything correctly. If you are unable to access the Acknowledgement Check or still have this issue after submitting, please contact the SOAR office.

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Unit 2 is not being marked as complete even though I reviewed all the content. What should I do?

There is no issue or problem. Since Unit 2 content is optional and can be completed in any order throughout the summer, there will be no green checkmarks to indicate completion.  

Do keep in mind that if you take any remote courses through Canvas that each Canvas course operates a little differently based upon your instructor’s expectations. So, you may or may not see green checkmarks that indicate the completion of materials. This does not mean that these materials are not required elements of your course.

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What is the Preparing for SOAR module?

In this basic questionnaire, you will confirm your final SOAR advising group and provide your SOAR advisors with more information about your academic experiences. Completing this task is essential to receive access to your SOAR Academic Advising course and ensure your SOAR advisors are equipped with all the information necessary to help you plan for Fall courses.

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How do I access Preparing for SOAR?

You can access the module using this Preparing for SOAR link or by searching “Preparing for SOAR” in MyUW. You must have an active SOAR reservation before you can complete the Preparing for SOAR module.

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When do I need to complete the Preparing for SOAR module?

You must complete Preparing for SOAR module at least 2 weeks before your advising week. You will not receive access to your SOAR Academic Advising course on time if you do not complete the Preparing for SOAR module by this deadline. For your specific deadline, visit our Due Dates section of our Understanding SOAR & Getting Started page.

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I have already sent my AP/IB scores and/or transcripts to UW-Madison. Do I still need to self-report all my test scores and credit in Preparing for SOAR?

If you are a freshman student, you are encouraged to self-report as much information as you can in Preparing for SOAR in case there are any delays in the University processing your AB/IB scores or transfer credits. If you are a transfer student, you may skip the Transfer Courses section, as that information will be reflected in your Transfer Credit Evaluation in your MyUW Student Center.

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What should I do if I have trouble completing Preparing for SOAR?

If you have any problems with the module, we recommend trying to use a different browser or a private/incognito window. Clearing your browser cache may also help solve any problems with completing Preparing for SOAR as well. Follow these instructions from our DoIT Help Desk if you need help with that process: Clearing Your Browser Cache and Cookies. If you still are unable to complete Preparing for SOAR or have any questions, please contact the SOAR office.

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Where can I find a list of all the SOAR Live events this summer?

Visit our SOAR Live page to see all the opportunities we are offering this summer! We are excited to offer a wide variety of events for our incoming Badgers and their families.

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What types of panels and information sessions can be expected?

We are hosting a variety of weekly 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. Please visit our SOAR Live page to see all the events you can attend this summer!

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Do 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. Our SOAR Live events will also be streamed and recorded on our social media accounts:

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What times will SOAR Live events happen?

We offer our weekly featured events twice a day to accommodate students and families in different time zones. Visit our SOAR Live calendar to see all our events. All event times will be displayed in CST/Chicago time.

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Which online platforms will SOAR Live events use?

We are using multiple platforms for SOAR Live events. Be sure to check the event’s description page on our SOAR Live calendar to know the specific platform being used:

  • Microsoft Teams: New Student Leader Conversations, Affinity Spaces
  • WebEx Events/Facebook Live: Wayfinding Wednesdays, Family Fridays
  • Instagram Live: Talk About it Tuesdays, Tradition Thursdays
  • Facebook Live/Instagram Live: Student Sunday

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Are SOAR Live events required?

Attending SOAR Live events is not required. However, we highly encourage you and your family members to attend SOAR Live events this summer to learn more about what our campus has to offer and connect with your Badger community.

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If I missed a SOAR Live event, can I watch a recording?

Yes, recordings of most of our featured SOAR Live events will be available on our @uwnewstudent Facebook and Instagram accounts. Recorded versions of live events hosted by other campus offices may not be available.

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How can I schedule a 1-on-1 conversation with a New Student Leader?

Visit our New Student Leader Conversations online scheduling portal to schedule a time. Meeting times are available Monday-Friday between 8:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. CST and 5:00-9:00 p.m. CST. You may schedule as many as you would like throughout the summer. If you need to reschedule your 1-on-1 meeting time, contact our SOAR Programming Intern team at soar-interns@studentlife.wisc.edu.

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What is my New Student Leader Small Group meeting?

You will be invited to a Small Group meeting during your advising week led by a SOAR New Student Leader (NSL). This is a unique aspect of the program in the sense that you all get an opportunity to talk to an NSL and other incoming students in your advising week about campus, different aspects of college life, and any questions you have in an open and honest way. You will receive an invitation to your Small Group meeting the Thursday or Friday before your advising week. If you cannot attend the day and time you are invited or have questions about Small Group, contact the NSL team at soarnsl@studentlife.wisc.edu.

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