SOAR Program Overview (Virtual)

Welcome Future Badgers! This information is for INTERNATIONAL FRESHMEN & TRANSFER STUDENTS who will attend the SOAR program virtually. This page will help you prepare for your online SOAR experience by providing:

  • A full outline of the SOAR program
  • A list all SOAR task due dates based on your session week
  • The technology recommendations for the SOAR program and academic year
  • Tips for protecting your information and identity online

Scroll down this page or use the navigation panel below to prepare for your upcoming SOAR experience!

UW-Madison student having a virtual academic advising appointment

Upcoming Fall Programming

Freshmen Students

All freshmen students who attended a virtual SOAR session have a 2nd, in-person component to their UW-Madison orientation experience on Friday, September 1st. More details about this event can be found by clicking the drop-down menu below. Follow the link to explore additional on-campus events: Wisconsin Welcome events 

International students should also review the new student information shared by the International Student Services Office.

Transfer Students

All transfer students who attended a virtual SOAR session have a 2nd, in-person component to their SOAR experience on Thursday, August 31st called the New Transfer Student Symposium. More details about this event can be found by clicking the drop-down menu below. Follow the link to find more TTP Wisconsin Welcome events:

New Transfer Student Symposium

Location: Union South, Varsity Hall (map)
Date: Thursday, August 31st
Check-In for international student pre-session: 10:30 am
Check-In for all student sessions: 11:30 am

Registration Required:

According to data collected by the Transfer Transition Program (TTP), transfer students indicate that succeeding academically and finding the “right” involvement is their primary concern when coming to campus.

The New Transfer Student Symposium is tailored to the first-semester, transfer student experience. TTP has designed sessions such as “Involvement 101” presented by the Center for Leadership and Involvement (CfLI), “Academics at UW and Student Success” presented by the Greater University Tutoring Services (GUTS) as well as information sessions about how to get involved in research, study abroad or learning about advancing your career goals. The event will end with a Resource Fair with many campus partners for you to connect with as you begin your new chapter at UW-Madison!

There will also be the optional morning session “US Higher Education System 101” prepared specifically for international students to learn all about the ins-and-outs of the US college system and academic culture.

Coming soon!

Main sessions by:

  • Center for Leadership & Involvement (CfLI)
  • Greater University Tutoring Services (GUTS)
  • Resource Fair

Breakout Session Topics:

  • Undergraduate Research Opportunities
  • Study Abroad
  • Internships & Career Services

Student Program Outline

The SOAR program consists of the following:

  • Completing several important tasks before your session week
  • Having an individual video or audio meeting with a professional academic advisor
  • Enrolling in your Fall courses

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

During Your SOAR Session

As our SOAR reservation process described, your SOAR session is the span of time where you will be focused on academic advising and course enrollment this summer. You will not need to dedicate all your time to SOAR during your virtual session. However, you should have flexible availability during your virtual session to complete your SOAR requirements. The information below outlines your SOAR session experience and time commitments. 

Completing the SOAR Canvas Course

This page will guide you through how to complete the online SOAR content in Canvas, the University’s online learning platform. Before your SOAR session, you must complete the required online course in Canvas. You will receive access to a Specific Advising Course that is sent to you by the school/college you will advise with during SOAR.

Completion of these courses is required prior to coming to SOAR whether you are in-person or virtual.

UW-Madison faculty use Canvas for your courses, so SOAR will also an opportunity for you to get comfortable using the platform before classes begin.

These modules contain text and video content that match the module theme. All SOAR video content in the Canvas course has captioning available. You can also access a transcript of the presented material or opt to view the content with American Sign language (ASL) Interpretation. 

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

  • Connect you with important information about your academic advising process
  • Provide details about key academic and advising resources available to help you succeed as a Badger
  • Guide you through the course selection process.

Before you get started

This is the required Canvas courses that you must complete to SOAR program requirements and enroll in Fall courses. Steps 1 through 4 of this course are due the Sunday before your session week at 11:59 p.m. CST. 

The time to complete this course varies based on advising group. 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!

How do I access the course?

To be able to get access to your SOAR Academic Advising course, you must:

  1. Complete your SOAR reservation.
  2. Complete the Preparing for SOAR module in MyUW by your session’s due date: This module confirms the assigned advising group for each student. You will not be added to a SOAR Academic Advising course until you complete this task.

To access the course in Canvas:

  1. Log in to Canvas using your UW-Madison NetID credentials.
  2. You should see a Dashboard for courses. If the SOAR course does not automatically appear, click the Courses icon on the left menu and a list of courses should appear.
  3. Find the course titled “SOAR Academic Advising” and click on it.
  4. Follow the completion instructions within the course starting with Forward! to  Step 1.

Completing the course

At the end of Step 4, you must complete an “acknowledgement check”. Enter your full name into the textbox and then click the “Submit Quiz” button. This will initiate the process to lift their enrollment hold. The “Submit Quiz button” must be clicked before you move onto the next page.

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

How to Know When You Are Done

To check if you have completed your Academic Advising Course, make sure that you have submitted the acknowledgement check at the end of Step 4. The Acknowledgement Check is the quiz where you enter your full name in the text box and click the “Submit Quiz” button. The “Submit Quiz button” must be clicked before you move onto the next page for Canvas to record your submission.

You will have a temporary Fall enrollment hold placed on your account called ‘SOAR Advising Required’. This hold will be lifted after you complete your Academic Advising Canvas course AND meet with your academic advisor during your SOAR session week. Holds are restrictions placed on student accounts that prevent students from enrolling in classes. They are put in place to ensure that students complete all necessary steps for a given semester.

Student taking notes while using a laptop
SOAR Academic Advising Canvas dashboard course picture
SOAR Academic Advising Canvas Dashboard course screenshot
SOAR Academic Advising Canvas Dashboard course screenshot
Acknowledgement Check screenshot in Unit 4 of the Academic Advising Canvas Course

During Your Virtual SOAR

Meet with an Academic Advisor (at least 30 minutes)

Your SOAR advising appointment will be a scheduled video or audio call with an Academic Advisor during your virtual session week. This meeting is a key part of your SOAR advising experience, and one that advisors look forward to! During your advising appointment, you should expect the following:

1) Discuss degree requirements and course options for your first semester at UW-Madison.

2) Pick out classes for your first semester with your academic advisor.

3) Have your advising hold removed so you can begin enrolling in your Fall courses.

SOAR advising appointments will generally take place between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Central Time. Please plan to have flexible availability for these timeframes during your virtual session week to complete your required SOAR advising and enrollment tasks. You will work with your SOAR advising group to schedule an advising appointment time that works for you based on your schedule.

Note: Students can start scheduling their sessions with an Academic Advisor the week prior to their virtual SOAR Session.

Student in a video chat with an academic advisor

Complete Final Steps of Your SOAR Advising Process (varies by advising group)

After meeting with an advisor, you will have access to Step 5 of your SOAR Academic Advising course. This step will will give you more guidance about any other next steps from your advising group to do before and after you enroll.

Student looking at laptop screen and taking notes

Enroll in Courses (time varies per person)

Students are responsible for enrolling in courses, and this is where it all happens. Using what you learned from Canvas and your advisor, you’ll be ready to build a schedule and enroll in your courses! Campus has also worked over the past several years to make our enrollment tools easy to use and user friendly.

Logo for the Course Search & enroll app in MyUW

SOAR for Parents & Families

The Center for the First-Year Experience (CFYE) is committed to providing parents and adult family members of incoming students with the necessary support to help facilitate a successful transition for their students. Students: Please register any family support you would like included for our SOAR Parent & Family content and communications on Step 4 of your SOAR reservation.

More Parent & Family Resources will be posted soon!

UW student and mother pose with Badger gear

Technology & Connectivity

The virtual 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 and be prepared for the academic year. During SOAR, you will use multiple online platforms 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.

To learn more about what technology is recommended during the academic yeear and options for purchasing hardware, visit the UW-Madison Getting Started with Tech website.

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 campus technology. At minimum, students will need the following hardware to complete the SOAR program:

  • A tablet, laptop, or desktop computer for completing Canvas content
    • Completing the Canvas course 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

Most 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:

How to Connect (Internet)

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 UW-Madison Division of Information Technology’s website 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 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.

Click the button below for more information requesting accommodations for placement testing, the SOAR program, and the academic year (all of which are separate processes):

Go to Accommodations Information page

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