Most First-Year Interest Groups are open to all new freshmen.
A few FIGs are designed just for students who plan to enter specific degree programs, schools, or colleges, such as Nursing or Engineering. There may also be a few FIGs for incoming transfer students. When you browse the catalog of current FIGs, look for the special yellow boxes that identify those FIGs.
Some FIGs may also require certain scores on your placement tests. For example, a FIG that has a foreign-language component may be open to students who have achieved a certain level of competency in that language.
All incoming freshmen participate in UW–Madison’s Summer Orientation, Advising, and Registration program, almost always called SOAR.
SOAR for freshman is a two-day program, starting around noon on the first day and ending around noon on the second day. On the first day, you will learn about the UW–Madison campus and meet with your academic advisor. On the second day, you will continue academic planning and enroll in your Fall-semester courses, including your FIG.
Most freshmen will also enroll for at least one other course of their choosing, along with the FIG courses.
Undergraduates are usually full-time students, which means enrolling for at least 12 credits each semester. Each course 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 courses 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 likely also choose a course with at least 3 credits, to meet the 12-credit minimum credit load.
We publish a schedule grid for each of the FIGs, to help you see what class times are reserved for the FIG courses. When you choose additional courses, look for class times that don’t overlap with your FIG. (UW–Madison has a tool called Class Search, that lets you find courses based on day and time.)
Nope, there is no fee beyond your usual tuition expenses. All FIG courses are regular UW courses. The main course will always only be open to you and the other students who enrolled in that FIG, but otherwise it’s just like other standard courses.
Some optional activities, such as a study-abroad component, may have costs not covered by your UW tuition.
First-Year Interest Groups are a whole package: when you enroll, you commit to taking the full set of courses in that FIG. Each course will meet at specific class times, which you can see in the FIG catalog.
If you only want to take some, but not all, of courses in a FIG, then you (with your SOAR advisor’s help) would enroll in those courses separate from the FIG program. The main FIG course wouldn’t be open to you, but the linked courses may (if seats are still available).
Just as you must enroll in all of the classes in the FIG, dropping a course within a FIG means dropping all the courses in the FIG. This is because we reserve equal numbers of seats in all of the FIG courses and we want everyone in the FIG to have the whole experience. However, after the semester begins, if you have concerns about one of your FIG courses, please contact the FIGs office so we can help.
Your SOAR advisor will help you identify which FIGs still have space available. If the FIG you most wanted is already full, we can include you on a waitlist and let you know if a seat becomes available.
We know that this can make your Fall semester planning a little messy, so we’ll help you consider other options, such as exploring other FIGs that might be an excellent fit.
In some cases, though, you may be able to hold a spot in a FIG until you attend your SOAR session. If you identify a FIG prior to SOAR that feels like your perfect match, you can send an email to Assistant Director Kari Fernholz. Please include the name of the FIG, your 10-digit campus ID number, and the date of your SOAR visit to Madison. Kari will follow up with you about the possibility of reserving a space.