Incoming Undergraduates

Welcome Engineering Students!

Welcome future Badger Engineering students! UW-Madison has lots of programs and opportunities that you can take advantage of your first year on campus. At SOAR, you’ll meet with an academic advisor who can help you determine which classes will be right for you. You can also get questions answered about how advanced standing credit (AP, IB, CLEP) will count towards your degree progress, ways to connect with other incoming students, the kind of computer you will need and how to connect with advisors over the summer.

What you need to know

  • Summer Launch Programs: Check this out to see if you can get a head start on your degree by taking a high-demand course in the month before your freshman year.
  • First Year Interest Groups (FIGS):  Study and connect with fellow Badgers who have similar interests to you. Perfect for transitioning from high school to college.
  • Residence Hall Reserved Class Sections: Take a class where you live and meet your fellow Badgers living in the same hall.
  • Wisconsin Experience Seminar (CP125): A one credit course exposing students to campus resources and experiences to help achieve their personal and academic goals.
  • Undergraduate Research Scholars (URS): Opportunity to earn credit while participating in research and creative work with UW-Madison Faculty & Staff.  Open to 1st & 2nd year students.
  • Wisconsin Emerging Scholars Program (WES) for Math & Computer Science: Additional built in small group study time to foster high levels of understanding and interest.  For Math and Computer Science courses.
  • Certificates: UW-Madison’s version of minors.


  • Language courses count towards humanities credits within the College of Engineering. All students in the College of Engineering need a minimum of 6 humanities credits. Consider the variety of languages available at UW-Madison.

Student Orientation and Registration (SOAR) FAQs

Before coming to campus, use this website as your guide to prepare for your SOAR session:

An academic advisor is a staff member who has in-depth knowledge of the academic requirements within the College of Engineering at UW-Madison.  Students who advise with the College of Engineering at SOAR will be assigned an advisor who can help them make progress towards applying to a degree granting engineering department.

At SOAR, academic advisors teach new students about academic requirements and help students select appropriate courses that fit their interests and abilities.

After SOAR, academic advisors are available on a continuing basis to assist students with major exploration, course selection, support services, personal challenges, and referral to other campus partners when needed.

Students planning to pursue a major within the College of Engineering will be assigned an advisor when they attend SOAR. Once assigned, you can find your advisor’s name in your MY UW “Student Services” window. If you have an advising question in the meantime, emails us at or call 608-262-2473..

1st year students enroll for courses during the morning of their 2nd day at SOAR.

Transfer students attend one day of SOAR, so they enroll for courses during that afternoon.


At SOAR students are advised by professional and peer advisors.

Together students and advisors work to identify appropriate courses based on the students’ interests, goals, and strengths to choose the appropriate classes and number of credits.

Students are encouraged to be responsible for the choices they make at SOAR, with advisors supporting them and providing information to help them make informed decisions.

Advisors may recommend courses to students based on goals or academic interests, however students are ultimately responsible for their schedule created at SOAR and in future semesters at UW-Madison.


Advisors help students at SOAR to understand how their advanced standing credit will satisfy UW-Madison requirements and impact first semester course selection.

Students are advised to submit test scores and transcripts to the Office of Admissions and Recruitment prior to SOAR so that most of the work can be evaluated and posted to a student’s record prior to SOAR.

Students are also encouraged to share this information with advisors at SOAR.

For more information and a list of equivalencies, please refer to Credit By Exam..

Student can attend SOAR prior to test scores (i.e., AP, IB, etc.) being available or posted. However, students should share their anticipated test scores with advisors. Advisors can still help students determine a few different plans or course options based on anticipated test scores.  Advisors verify test scores in the beginning of the fall semester and contact students accordingly.

Students in the College of Engineering are not required to take a world language; however students can take world language courses to fulfill part of their liberal studies elective requirements.  Liberal studies are required for all engineering majors.

Students can use language courses to fulfill requirements of certificates as well, such as the International Engineering Certificate or Certificate in German.

We suggest students take the appropriate language exam during placement testing to have the most options while at UW-Madison.


FIGS (First-Year Interest Groups) are available to incoming freshmen. FIGS are made up of three courses that have a common theme. There are 3 specific engineering-themed FIGS.  There are also a variety of other FIG topics that may be of interest to engineering students. Take advantage of FIGS if you want to meet new people and take advantage of small class sizes.

Residential Learning Communities foster community and intellectual growth outside of the classroom.

Undergraduate Research Scholars provides the opportunity for newly-admitted students to conduct research with the guidance of a faculty member. The URS Seminar helps research-minded students find a community of peers with similar interests.

UW-Madison language classes are small, interactive, meet frequently and emphasize communication in the target language. Students get to know each other and their instructor as they speak about themselves and the culture and language they study.

Keep in mind these are not the only way to connect with other students.  You will learn about many more ways to connect with other students at SOAR.

Academic advisors help students enroll in key gateway courses for engineering.  However, for some courses such as liberal electives, we encourage students to select a variety of courses that will satisfy their degree requirements.  It is always best to have back-up courses when planning for enrollment.

Students who cannot enroll in a course they would like to take because the course is full should enroll in the wait-list for the course (if option is available) and/or register for a back-up course.

If students need assistance changing their schedule after their SOAR date, they are encouraged to contact their academic advisor.

We cannot guarantee that students will be able to enroll in every course they want to take at SOAR, but students will leave SOAR with a full-time schedule (at least 12 credits) that satisfies degree requirements.

Laptops and coursework
Laptops are required for incoming students. You will find a laptop helpful throughout your career in Engineering at UW-Madison. In addition, there will be courses that make use of laptops in the classroom and for outside homework assignments.

What to buy
We strongly recommend that you have a Windows laptop to fully leverage the Engineering software available to you. If you already own a laptop, you may want use it for a semester or two, to determine if you need to purchase a new laptop. We have published some guidelines for suitable computers at:

Software needs
At this time, there is no need to purchase any special software for your laptop. The UW campus software library offers many productivity and mathematical packages. Computer-Aided Engineering (CAE – computer support in the College of Engineering) also licenses and provides access to additional software packages that are specific to engineering.

CAE Computer labs
CAE will continue to provide computer labs that supplement your computing and software needs. The Labs will offer larger displays, 3D capable hardware specifications, and some software that cannot be made available for student laptop installation.

The Center for First-Year Experience is committed to providing parents and guests with the necessary tools and support to help facilitate a successful transition for students. There is a separate concurrent SOAR program for parents and guests planning on attending SOAR with their student.

There is also a federal law called FERPA which stands for Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974. FERPA governs the privacy of student education records, access to those records, and disclosure of student information. Per FERPA, parents/guests do not have access to their students’ advisor(s) name and contact information unless students share this information.

That’s OK and completely normal! Many students arrive knowing exactly what they want to do…and then they take a class and realize they have narrowed their interests. Other students come in with a general idea and they go to a seminar and hear someone from industry speak and leave knowing they have found their passion. Other students come in sure that they want to save the environment, but they aren’t sure what major will get them there.

Wherever you fall on the “declaring a major” spectrum, researching what is out there is a great way to help you clarify your goals and there are myriad resources available to you to help you do just that.

Please send an email to and an advisor will get back to you.