Your orientation begins when you come to a Student Orientation, Advising, and Registration (SOAR) session, and continues when you join us on campus with Wisconsin Welcome events and activities.
Before you arrive on campus, learn more about these important parts about becoming a Badger.
Finance Your Education
Let’s face it. Paying for college is expensive. UW-Madison may be one of the best values in public education, but here’s a list of must-do steps to make sure you’re tapping into all possible avenues of assistance.
Transportation and Parking
Five great ways to get around Madison:
Many students walk as their primary method of transportation around the campus area. If you’re needing to walk at night on campus, SAFEwalk will provide you with escorts to make sure you get to your destination safely.
Madison is a very bike-friendly city with lots of dedicated bike lanes and bike racks for parking. UW-Madison’s campus is also bike-friendly. If you don’t have a bike or prefer not to bring one, you may want to consider participating in the free Red Bike Project or buying a BCycle bike-sharing program membership.
Pick up a bus pass
Associated Students of Madison (ASM) provides free Madison Metro bus passes to registered students. Fall passes are typically available starting in the beginning of August, and Spring/Summer passes are often distributed about a week before classes start in January. Madison Metro Transit offers maps of the bus routes, bus schedules, and an interactive trip planner.
Ride the campus circulators
There are four routes run by Madison Metro that circulate in the campus area, and these are free to all riders. The route numbers are 80, 81, 82, and 84. The Wisconsin app offers real-time tracking of all the buses that stop at campus stops.
Get a ZipCar membership
UW-Madison has partnered with ZipCar to provide student memberships to its car-sharing service at a reduced cost. If you need to transport lots of groceries or go farther than the bus will take you, this is a great option.
Students with disabilities also have additional transportation options available through paratransit services.
Getting Out of Madison
Four bus companies service the UW-Madison campus: Greyhound, Badger Bus, Van Galder, and Megabus all stop outside the Chazen Museum on University Avenue.
If you’re living on campus, don’t bring a car. Parking is not available for students who live on campus.
If you must commute to campus from outside the Madison area, parking options include:
Annual campus permit
Available only to students who commute from more than 1 mile beyond the city bus routes, those who work off-campus 3 times a week, or students with special needs. There are several types of permit options for eligible students. The cost for these permits is high.
Monthly city permit
Allows you to park in a city lot on a monthly basis. The cost for these permits is high.
- Private parking spaces
- Park & Ride
Tips for New Transfers
Learn some tips for adjustment from an experienced source — recent UW-Madison transfer students.
Transferring to UW – Madison was the best decision that I’ve ever made. My biggest advice for new transfers is that even though campus can feel large and overwhelming, its size is actually a blessing because it allows students to find the niche where they belong. It may take some effort, but wading through the lists of student organizations, on-campus job or internship opportunities, and classes is well worth it. UW – Madison’s breadth of offerings makes it so that students can spend their time here doing things that they love and that interest them. Don’t take that for granted, and remember that if you try something new and it doesn’t work out, that doesn’t mean that you’ve failed or done anything wrong, it just means that you haven’t quite found your niche yet. And UW – Madison has a niche for everyone. –Sara Hilliger, UW-LaCrosse
Get involved! By participating in transfer activities, going to the student org fair and finding orgs you would like to join, and attending campus events, you will start to feel like you are a part of the community. –Emma Miller, Mankato State University
It just requires a small amount of effort to find one club, job or research opportunity that fits your passion. After you find something you really enjoy on campus, the rest falls into place. UW-Madison will become your home too. –Alia Paavola, Marquette University
It is so easy to push things off and say “I’ll do that next semester.” Don’t. Join that club, go to the game, go to the Memorial Union Terrace, apply for that research position, ask your professor that question! As a transfer student you may only have two years left, or maybe even one! Jam all that you can into your schedule when you can, because soon you will be sitting on the Terrace a month before graduation wishing that you had more time. –Kelsey Bakken, UW-Fox Valley
Expand Your Comfort Zone
Never be afraid to sit at the front of the class, speak up, or say hello to people you don’t know. Everybody is talented and knowledgeable. The best way to learn from them is to just ask. –Catharine Flynn, Madison College
Step out of your comfort zone. For me, transferring to UW was like entering another world because it was so different from my previous university, but here’s the thing: different doesn’t have to mean scary. Do things you normally wouldn’t, try foods you usually don’t eat, talk to the random people who sit next to you in your lecture. Make the most of your time at Madison because as a transfer student we may technically have less time here than others, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have the same great experience. –Emily Starich, Seton Hall University
In a way, transferring is a fresh start. Take advantage of this. Take a class you would usually pass up. Join a club you always thought about but didn’t have the time for. Go places the old you wouldn’t have bothered going out of your way to. A new start calls for new experiences. Go have them. –Zoe Levine, Kenyon College
Be open to new people and new experiences. Let people know about the unique experiences that you’ve had at your previous university. Take advantage of all of the new, amazing opportunities that UW has to offer. Remember that you are a Badger through and through–a badger with a little extra experience which helps you appreciate everything that makes Wisconsin special. –Joshua Gutzmann, University of Pennsylvania
Make sure you talk to the people you sit next to in class! It may seem awkward, but it really helps to make new friends. Also never miss out on free events, especially if it’s a new activity that you’ve never done before. –Transfer Student, UW-Parkside
Always keep an open mind to people you meet, classes, and opportunities here on campus. You will be surprised to find how much you have grown as a person and how much your interests are going to change. –Lauren Wysocky, UW-Eau Claire
Since I transferred from a giant school from another giant school, the adjustment wasn’t all that bad in terms of the school, what I struggled with was not being integrated into my class. As an incoming freshmen, you live in the dorms and you take classes together; you’re able to make lasting relationships. As a transfer student, you don’t have that opportunity. My advice would be to go out of your way to interact with your classmates and make solid relationships so you can have those support networks. –Megan Schumacher, Arizona State University
Ease Into Student Life
Use what you gained at your previous school to push you in new directions at UW Madison. –Mariah Klingeisen, Carroll University
I would also suggest spending a summer in Madison, working or going to school or whatever. This is a city that thrives in the summer and it is something to experience. –Sarah Lawinger, Iowa State University
Take time to read your WISC emails about the Writing lab (help with papers), Do IT classes (interactive training on PowerPoint, Photo Shop, WEB design). Computer issues, use Do-IT to fix your lap top/computer for affordable rates. My software issue was a FREE fix (life saver!). –Karen Singer, Madison College
Just take it one step at a time. Transferring schools was overwhelming for me, especially for the first couple of weeks when I was getting used to the much bigger campus of UW-Madison and having classrooms in different buildings. Try to plan a rough outline of your day so you can balance homework with other activities, and make sure you ask questions! People in Madison are very friendly, so if you’re lost on the street or lost during lecture, just reach out and talk to someone. -Saige Henkel, UW-Washington County
Find where your classes are before the first day and spend some time on campus grounds getting to know your new home! You’ll be less stressed and be able to ease into life at UW-Madison much faster without the headaches of potentially being late for classes and getting lost. –Christie Lord, Madison College
Pay attention to different clubs and seminars. They can lead you to an idea of what you want to after you graduate. –Transfer Student, Madison College
Have Patience. You've Got This.
Be patient with your transfer, it’s a big change that will take some getting used to! Don’t put too much pressure on yourself! –Kayla Smith, Rock Valley College
Remember that you are now a UW-Madison student, and as much as you feel like you may not fit in, you DO belong here. –Transfer Student, UW-Baraboo/Sauk County
Transitioning from a smaller 2-year university to a big 4-year can seem intimidating and stressful but it’s not. If you are stressed about the transition don’t be, UW Madison made transferring easy and painless and made all of the new students feel welcome. –Amanda Richardson, UW-Sheboygan
The professors here that I’ve had have been very friendly and willing to help students and answer questions. Don’t let large class sizes intimidate you or prevent you from asking questions or approaching professors. –Matt Wawiorka, UW-LaCrosse
Start off trying harder and more persistent than you have ever done before in school. Jumping into the academic race is hard, but keeping up is the only way the struggle will become success. –Abby Kornetzke, Madison College
Go to office hours! Your professors are here to help you, and since the large classes at Madison can be overwhelming, office hours are a great way to become more than just a number! –Samantha Miller, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
Find a student in your major that can give you advice [and the student’s perspective] on classes. –Daniel Mataczynski, UW-Stout
Don’t be afraid of everyone telling you the UW-Madison is hard and let it impact your performance. You’re transferring for a reason, so know that you can accept the challenge and take it on. –Kellie Willis, UW-Whitewater
One of the most stressful parts of transferring for me was making sure I was taking the correct classes that would transfer over and count towards my degree. The best advice I can give is to talk to the U.W. Madison transfer advisors ASAP. They are so knowledgeable and definitely put my mind at ease that I was on the right track. They are also extremely helpful in putting you in contact with other advisors that work specifically with your intended major. Best advice: Don’t Wait! –Emma Lark, Madison College
Take the classes you want to take and most importantly get to know your professors because that in itself can have a big effect on your grade, so don’t be shy like I was in my first year at UW-Madison. Go to classes, study every day or at least most days of the week and you will get the grade you want. –Annelise Resende, Madison College
Students with Children
UW Child Care options
Centers: There are five campus childcare centers available. The Office of Childcare and Family Resources (OCCFR) coordinates the application process for all of these centers.
Family Child Care Providers: The UW Family Child Care Network, run through Satellite Family Child Care, will provide a list of accredited providers who each care for a small number of children in their homes.
Campus Women’s Center: This student-run organization matches student volunteers with students who have kids to provide free childcare for a few hours at a time.
Kids Kare: A program that subsidizes back-up or mildly ill childcare through UW childcare centers or Maxim Healthcare Services when regular center or in-home care is not an option.
Additional Parenting Resources
Financial Assistance for Child Care: There are a number of financial assistance programs for which parenting undergraduate students might be eligible for, including the Child Care Tuition Assistance Program (CCTAP), Access for Mothers and Infants (AIM), and grants that help cover expenses in emergency situations. OCCFR maintains a comprehensive list of campus options, as well as links to local and state resources.
Lactation Rooms: OCCFR maintains a very helpful list of lactation rooms on campus, including details about the contents of each room. To see rooms available to students on a map, visit our handy Resource Map.