enroll in themed interdisciplinary clusters of UW-Madison classes • small class sizes • dedicated instructors

Choose your FIG

Fall 2020 students:

  1. Look through the catalog of FIGs and explore the ones of interest to you.
  2. Request a spot in a FIG with the “Choose your FIG” form.
    • You can submit this Google Form as soon as you have made your one-on-one SOAR advising appointment through Starfish. That advising date is required on the form.
    • You can also fill out this form after your advising appointment.
    • If you are in a country that does not allow access to Google Forms, or otherwise not able to access the form through a web browser, please contact Kari Fernholz at kari.fernholz@wisc.edu.
  3. Since FIGs are in high demand, you can request a spot in only one FIG (exception: read about “waitlist” FIGs below).
    • Did you change your mind after submitting the form? You can submit again, and it will replace your earlier request.
  4. You will receive an email a few minutes after submitting the form, just for your records. The form asks for your new official “@wisc.edu” address, and this is where we will send more important information.
  5. Your request will expire 3 days after your advisor appointment. If you haven’t enrolled in the FIG classes within three days (the day of your advisor appointment plus three more calendar days), your reserved spot will be released to other students.
    • Example: your advisor appointment is on Thursday. If you still haven’t enrolled by the end of the Sunday, your spot will be released.
    • Or, if you request a FIG on a day after your advisor appointment, you’ll have three full days after you submit the form to complete your enrollment in the FIG classes.
    • Please contact Kari Fernholz at kari.fernholz@wisc.edu if you have a reason to extend this deadline.
  6. When you’re ready to enroll, follow the process described on the Enroll in your FIG page.

The FIG I want says “WAITLIST” on the form

If the “Choose your FIG” form shows that your choice is waitlisted, it means that all the available seats have been reserved or filled.

You can add your name to our waitlist by submitting the form with that FIG as your choice. Please also find another open FIG and request a spot there, too. That way you can get registered for a FIG.

Spots may open up in waitlisted FIGs if other students decide to enroll in different classes or more capacity becomes available. We cannot predict when or if this will happen. If you are next on the waitlist when a spot is open, Kari Fernholz will contact you at your @wisc.edu email address.

The FIG I want isn’t listed on the form

When enough students fill the waitlist for a FIG, it will become CLOSED. Closed FIGs won’t appear on the form, so that students don’t mistakenly request a seat in one. You can confirm that the FIG is closed by checking its page on this website.

I want to request a FIG but my SOAR week isn’t until much later

You must be active in your SOAR course and have scheduled an appointment with an academic advisor before you can request a spot in a FIG.

Once you have this date, you can fill out the “Choose your FIG” form.

Who can enroll in a FIG?

FIGs are open to new freshmen, including first-year students whose incoming AP/retroactive credits give them class standing of sophomore or higher. Transfer and returning students are not allowed to enroll in FIGs.

A few FIGs are designed only for students who are advised by specific schools, colleges, or programs such as Nursing, Letters & Science Honors, or Engineering. When you browse the catalog of current FIGs, look for the yellow tags that identify these unique cases. Other than these few restricted FIGs, all others are open to any student for whom it is a good fit. Please talk with your SOAR advisor about your interests and which FIGs might be right for you.

Some FIG classes require certain minimum scores on your placement tests. For example, a FIG that has a foreign-language class may be open only to students who have achieved a tested level of competency in that language. Chemistry is another common class that requires a specific math competency to enroll. These are issues your advisor can help address.

When do I enroll?

All FIG enrollment takes place during UW–Madison’s Student Orientation Advising and Registration program (SOAR).

For students starting in fall 2020, SOAR is entirely online. All SOAR participants will be enrolled in a college or school-specific SOAR online course. In this course you will learn about many opportunities, including FIGs.

Does a FIG fill up my whole semester?

Most freshmen will also enroll for at least one other class of their choosing, along with the classes that make up the FIG.

Undergraduates are usually full-time students, which means enrolling for 12 to 18 credits each semester. Each class is assigned a certain number of credits, depending on how many hours a week the class meets and other factors.

The credits of all the classes in a FIG are added together, and you can find that total number listed for each current FIG. If you enroll in a 9-credit FIG, you will also choose an additional class with at least 3 credits to meet the 12-credit minimum credit load.

The three classes in a FIG are separate courses with different instructors and they all count toward graduation. The only thing unique about them is that they are all linked together so that everyone in the FIG cohort is enrolled in the same sections of all three classes. Your advisor will help you select the non-FIG class(es) that will work with your FIG schedule and make sense for you.

Do FIGs cost extra?

Nope, there is no cost beyond your usual tuition and fee expenses. The one exception is if there is an optional January study-abroad opportunity for students in the Rainforests and Coral Reefs FIG: this trip will have additional costs. The instructor will discuss this once the semester is underway.

Can I take two classes in a three-class FIG?

No. First-Year Interest Groups are a whole package: when you enroll, you commit to taking the full set of specific classes in the FIG. Each FIG class section will meet at a specific time, which you can see on the FIG’s page and at enroll.wisc.edu. You must enroll in these specific classes/sections.

If you want to take only the linked classes in a FIG, then you (with your SOAR advisor’s help) may be able to enroll in those classes separate from the FIG Program, if there are seats available in non-FIG sections. The main FIG seminar is only for students in the FIG.

Can I drop a class in a FIG?

Just as you must enroll in all of the classes in the FIG, dropping a class within a FIG means dropping all the classes in the FIG. This is because we reserve equal numbers of seats in all of the FIG classes and we want everyone in the FIG to have the whole experience. Part of what makes a FIG special is the ability to think about the relationship between all of the classes—which is only possible if everyone is enrolled in the whole package.

However, after the semester begins, if you have concerns about one of your FIG classes, please contact us so we can help (figs@ls.wisc.edu).