SOAR Program Overview (OUD Students)

Welcome Future Badgers! This information is for UW-MADISON ONLINE STUDENTS who will attend SOAR virtually. We look forward to working with you for your UW-Madison SOAR experience. This page will help you prepare for your SOAR experience by providing:

  • A full outline of the SOAR program
  • The technology recommendations for the SOAR program and academic year
  • Tips for protecting your information and identity online

Choosing a SOAR Date & Making Your SOAR Reservation

Please review the following information about advising with the Office of Online Student Success (OSS) before selecting your SOAR session. Each SOAR session spans two weeks. Within that period, you will complete all components of SOAR, taking approximately a total of 4-5 hours to complete.

You do not need to be available for the entirety of your two-week session but should plan to have several open blocks in which you can complete the various SOAR components. Please note that advising appointments will be offered Monday-Friday between the hours of 8:30 am-4:30 pm CST. 

For more information and FAQs, be sure to check out our OSS SOAR Page!

Science Hall is pictured with blooming spring flowers in the late afternoon sun at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on April 24, 2019.

For questions about your SOAR experience, please reach out to us at

UW-Madison Online Student Program Outline

The SOAR program consists of the following:

  • Completing several important tasks before your session 
  • Completing a virtual orientation course through Canvas
  • 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.

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 session. However, you should have flexible availability during your session to complete your SOAR requirements. The information below outlines your SOAR session experience and time commitments.

visual graphic of 5 step process

Complete UW-Madison Online Canvas Course (~2 hours)

During your SOAR session, you will have access to a fully online orientation course. This course will become available to you in Canvas on the first day of your SOAR session. You will receive separate instructions on how to log in to your account. The UW-Madison online orientation course will cover things like:

  • Campus tools and resources
  • Tips for success
  • Academic advising 
  • Preparation for enrollment
Student in a video chat with an academic advisor

Meet with an Online Academic Advisor (at least 30 minutes)

Your SOAR advising appointment will be a scheduled video or audio call with an Academic Advisor during your 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 can expect to do the following:

  1. Discuss degree requirements and course options for your first semester at UW-Madison.
  2. Receive instructions for SOAR. Your advising hold will be removed and 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. You will schedule this using the Starfish tool available in your MyUW portal. Please plan to have flexible availability for these timeframes during your session to complete your required SOAR advising and enrollment tasks. Please be sure to schedule an advising appointment time that works for you based on your schedule.

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

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.