First-year families


The transition from high school to college is an important milestone in the life of your son and daughter. While every student is different, we offer advice and conversation starters to help you anticipate things that your son or daughter may experience and provide the tools for you to support him or her through this transition. The following resources may also be helpful to you as you support your new college student.


The Welcome newsletter is a publication that we send to parents of incoming students each year.  It gives information on who we are as the Parent and Family Program, provides key dates, and addresses topics such as orientation, college finances, and how families can stay connected to their students and the vibrant Madison community.

Badger Parent Newsletter

These newsletters contain information for families regarding class enrollment, housing decisions, a guide to talking to students about alcohol, reflections from students throughout their Badger experience, important reminders, key contacts, and a variety of other topics during the year.  They are distributed twice per semester and once in the summer, with new and engaging content in each issue.

Center for the First-Year Experience

The Center for the First-Year Experience (CFYE) offers a variety of programs designed to help new freshmen and transfer students make the transition to UW–Madison. Some of their major programs include Student Orientation Advising and Registration (SOAR), Wisconsin Welcome, and the Transfer Transition Program.

What to Bring to Campus

Your student’s first year in college is often his or her first time living away from home or sharing a room. Although what students choose to bring often comes down to personal preference, we have outlined some suggestions for what to bring to campus. Keep in mind that after moving in, students can always purchase or bring additional items from home. Finally, they should remember that along with packing essentials, they should bring a sense of self, a sense of purpose, and a sense of humor.

First-Year Interest Groups

First-Year Interest Groups (FIGs) are designed to help first-year students make the transition to UW–Madison, both academically and socially. A FIG is a “learning community” of about 20 students with similar interests who are enrolled in a cluster of classes together. The courses in a FIG are linked by a common theme, and the faculty member teaching the main seminar course of the FIG helps students discover the interdisciplinary connections between and among the classes.