Opportunities at SOAR

There are tons of opportunities available to you as an incoming student in the L&S Honors Program. We’d be thrilled to discuss each and every one with you at SOAR, but for now we have a brief introduction to a few of the more common ones below.

First-Year Interest Groups

The professors in my FIG were the most influential and challenging professors that I have had at this university…these were classes and experiences I never would have had if I wasn’t part of a FIG, and these were experiences that have shaped my perspective, my academic experience, and who I am now.” – Senior Student reflecting on their FIG

One of these opportunities that you might consider for the fall is a FIG or First-Year Interest Group. A FIG is a “community” of about 20 students who are enrolled in a cluster of two or three classes that are linked by a common theme. The main seminar course of each FIG enrolls only those 20 students and is taught by a faculty member who integrates into that class appropriate content from the other two classes linked to the cluster. There are approximately 60 different FIGs offered each fall semester. Check out the full list of FIGsWe also invite you to watch a video that was made by L&S Honors students a few years ago about the FIG experience.

Each year, Honors FIGs are offered and these FIGs are only open to students who are admitted to the L&S Honors Program! They are a great way to begin exploring different subjects, connect with other Honors students, and get to know faculty.

Taking a FIG is a fantastic way to explore the intersection of different disciplines and to connect with other first-year students. We will talk about FIGs during your SOAR session, and you will have the chance to ask questions and sign up for a FIG at that time. In the meantime, we invite you to check out the list of FIGs before you arrive at SOAR and to think about whether a FIG might be a good fit for you. As you are looking over the list of FIGs, please note that some FIGs have enrollment restrictions based on placement scores, school/college affiliation, and/or program membership. We will be able to address and explain all of these classifications when you arrive at SOAR.

This summer we are offering Honors students the opportunity to reserve a place in a FIG in advance of attending SOAR. If there is one FIG that really stands out to you, we invite you to email the FIGs program (Kari.Fernholz@wisc.edu) with your name, 10 digit student ID number, SOAR date, and the name of the FIG that you are interested in to reserve a place in that FIG. Kari will follow up with you about the possibility of reserving a space. Keep in mind that this is only a reservation; you will still have to come to SOAR and participate in advising and registration. Your ability to register for a particular FIG may also be influenced by your placement scores, AP/IB scores, or transfer credit. If you reserve a space in a FIG, you can still change your mind after you arrive at SOAR choosing instead to individually select classes or even select an alternate FIG.

Frequently Asked Questions about FIGs

First-Year Seminars

UW – Madison offers several different small seminars geared specifically for first-year students. Whether you’re wondering what this whole “Wisconsin Idea” thing is; are interested in meeting other students in your residence hall; or want to hear what your Psych professor’s take on Sherlock is, a vast variety of seminars await your perusal!

Learning Community Seminars

Wisconsin Experience Seminars

Residence Hall Sections

Many of the residence halls at UW-Madison have on-site classrooms where students can take sections of popular classes alongside their neighbors. Not only does this mean avoiding that December chill, since almost every student in the class lives in the community, but residence hall sections also facilitates opportunities for students to study together outside of class. Many instructors will even choose to hold their review sessions inside the building so that more students can attend.

Residence Hall Academic Classes

World Languages

UW – Madison is a national and even international leader in the study of languages, literatures, and cultures. Students can choose from over 40 different languages each year, and overall the University graduates more students with majors in languages other than English than any other university in the United States. Whether you plan to continue studying a language with which you already have some experience or you want to start a something completely new, lanuages are a great way to get the most out of your Wisconsin Experience!

There are also tons of ways to get involved with languages beyond the classroom including: Language Tables, Scholarships, Studey Abroad, Student Organizations, and Internships.

Languages at UW-Madison

Undergraduate Research Scholars

If you are excited about getting involved in research, regardless of field, the Undergraduate Research Scholars (URS) program might be for you!

URS pairs first- and second-year students with a faculty or staff researcher and provides valuable research assistance and support through a 2-3 credit course. While there are plenty of opportunities to be part of research at UW – Madison, URS is a great opportunity for incoming first-year students to “get their feet wet” early on.

Undergraduate Research Scholars

Wisconsin Emerging Scholars

“The WES program helped a lot since we worked in small groups because we got more one-on-one attention. I wish my discussions were like this for every class!”- WES-CS participant

Jazzed about Math and/or Computer Science? Interested in engaging into the material at a deeper level and coming out with greater knowledge? Check out Wisconsin Emerging Scholars (WES).

WES sections are 1-2 credit courses that offer motivated students the opportunity to continue the material covered in their large Calculus or Introductory CS lecture with a small group of similarly dedicated students under the supervision of an experienced undergraduate or graduate student.

WES Math

WES Computer Science

Biology Core Curriculum (Biocore)

“Biocore was the best decision I made as an undergraduate. I have never been so challenged, nor so excited about learning as during my time in Biocore. Biocore has taught me to think critically and how to question. It helped me develop my science writing and problem solving skills, and made other advanced courses easier. Biocore helped me push myself and manage time wisely. I learned to be a part of a team and made some great friendships.” – Senior student reflecting on their Biocore experience

Biocore student experience video

Biocore is an integrated sequence of lecture and lab courses created especially for students who have deep interest in biology and are highly motivated to spend time learning biology within a small community of students, peer mentors, and instructors. The sequence begins in the fall with the following course progression (Sem 1) Evolution, Ecology, and Genetics, (Sem 2) Cellular Biology, (Sem 3) Organismal Biology, and (Sem 4) Biological Interactions (all taken for Honors). Students learn to do original science research, communicate scientifically, solve problems, think critically, and work collaboratively with a highly-motivated peers. Biocore fulfills introductory and some intermediate/advanced requirements for a variety of majors, and builds a firm foundation for additional upper-level coursework.

Biocore typically starts in sophomore year, however, Biocore does offer freshman admission to a small (~10) cohort of well prepared and highly motivated freshman interested in any biological science. This option is available for freshman who anticipate having credit for Chemistry 103 and Math 221 (via AP Calc, IB or transfer credit) and are interested in continuing Chemistry in their first semester at UW-Madison. Interested students should fill out a Freshman Admission application prior to SOAR.