Let's get into it: Wisconsin. Cheese. Beer. Brats. BADGERS. These things were all a bit strange to me. I come from southwest Florida, so the whole cold thing was a shock too. The best thing about this school, hands down, is the academics. UW was recently ranked 17th in the WORLD for scientific research. That's some heavy stuff right there. My chemistry professor is actually a theoretical chemist and leading expert on chemical bonding. He just teaches intro chem (103) for fun. Clark Landis: he's the man. Let me tell you a secret. There's no such thing as a "big school" where everyone is just a face in the crowd. There are way too many ways to make this university smaller for yourself. There's a greek system. There are hundreds upon hundreds of student organizations. There are religious organizations. The school has so much to offer that one should never feel alone. The best part about a large student body is that there are definitely people just like you. People usually act with surprise when I tell them I go to this school, but that's mostly because I'm from Florida. They usually follow up their surprise with a "have fun being cold" or "that's a really good school." I prefer the second one. Weather shouldn't steer anyone away from this campus. I spend most of my time in the library. I'm a biochemistry major on the pre-health (med) track so I'm plenty busy most of the time. There's a great student activity center (SAC) where I also study. I'm also in the chemistry building a whole lot. If I'm not at any of those places or asleep, I'm at the SERF (South East Recreational Facility) working out. It's a fantastic gym and it's open to any student with a wiscard (our student ID) This is the best college town of all time. Ann Arbor is boring. Gainesville is a dirt road. State College is sequestered in a valley, and Berkeley is straight up strange. Madison, WI is the place to be. It's a very real place. This is a center of political activity (very liberal), there is a financial district, there is a large professional community, and above all Madison is home to a lot of regular citizens. On top of all that an exciting state capital can offer, there is an amazing sense of school pride and spirited atmosphere that surround this campus in the heart of downtown Madison. Game days are unreal and wild, but during the week there is a true environment of learning. I don't quite know how to explain it, but it just feels like you're in a place where big things are happening. Whether the music school (which is excellent) is putting on a concert, or the engineering school (that out-ranks Harvard) just created something that would make your head spin, something academically amazing is happening. The administration is very friendly and helpful. This is characteristic of the entire state of Wisconsin. People look for reasons to trust you rather than not to trust you, and they truly help you when you are in need. The recent political rallies over Governor Walker's stupidity were pretty outrageous. That's some campus controversy. The most unusual thing about this school is, I think, that it exists. The probability that such a fine institution of learning would exist in America's dairyland is just unusual and delightful. When most people think "Wisconsin" they don't think engineering or big-time business, skyscrapers, or particle accelerators. They think farms and cheese and cows that go moo.
The best thing about Wisconsin is harder to decide than picking what college to go to. State Street is one of the cutest, most interesting places I have ever walked around. Coming from New York, the quaint area that the city of Madison is is a great break from the intense, rushed lifestyle we live on the east coast. One think that I might change is more availability to the several shopping areas that may be found about 10 minutes driving away from campus in all directions. We often find ourselves visiting the same 5 places up and down State Street relentlessly, although there is plenty available. UW-Madison is huge. There is no denying it! Almost every lecture of mine has at least 300 people in it, but those classes feature discussion sections which I have never had more than 15 people in. I love that the school is big enough to be constantly, throughout 4 years, keep meeting new people, but my dorm hallway is small enough to feel like you have a home within this huge school. People react differently each time I tell someone I go to Wisconsin. Anyone who knows the school with it’s fabulous and only rising positive reputation is thrilled for me, and half of the time says “go badgers!” (one of my favorite phrases of all time.) That reaction is normally when meeting people throughout the mid-west. However, back home, the reaction is “oh, that’s nice.” In my prestigious town, non-Ivy is somewhat frowned upon, and public schools are even more discouraged. However, again, the popularity of Wisconsin has been only steadily increasing, with 6 people of my 400-person graduating class migrating here this past year. I spend most of my time on State Street – whether grabbing a bite to eat with friends, shopping, or studying in a coffee shop. School pride is not even a question. If you don’t have school pride, DO NOT COME HERE. I would say that I wear a Wisconsin item of clothing at least 2 times a week. On State Street, within 2 blocks of each other are about 5 different novelty stores featuring our red and white coloring. In every lecture hall, about 3 football jerseys can be found, a dozen ‘Bucky’ hats, and about 70 t-shirts featuring something about our school being the amazing place that it is. Again, it is SO hard to pick out a single favorite moment here, but something that really stands out in my mind was my first football game here. Walking out on state street, there is not a color to seen other than red and white. Even people not going to the game sport our school colors. Then the walk down to Camp Randall, our football stadium, is a continuous flood of both students and alumni rushing to watch their beloved Badgers. It is easily the most amazing, exciting experience of my life. And not to mention the wave done at each game, with several rounds including double-time, slow motion, and criss-crossing arms. Most frequently I hear complains about the weather. It is clearly a cold place, but there are freak days that the wind chill is almost unbearable. But honestly, just stay inside as much as you can on these days – get to class, get home, and deal with it! And maybe invest in some long underwear.
Campus Itself: Very large, but not hard to get around. Frequent bus loops help for classes that are far away. Lots of green space on Bascom Hill to bum around on in nice weather. Everything is reasonably well marked, so it's not hard to get around. Pedestrian traffic is very heavy, but is manageable after you get used to it. Campus Area: Lots of liquor stores and dive bars, and not much else. There are no 24-hour food places, dance clubs, hangout places, or anything of the like. State Street is nice, but it gets boring after a while. Redeeming quality - absolutely amazing ethnic food of almost every variety. City itself: boring. The campus pretty much is the city. There are no dance clubs or any other venues besides dive bars anywhere near campus (and not much of anything anywhere). Movie theaters/shopping/etc. are available only at the malls out toward the suburbs, which are all an hour bus ride away. If you don't have a car, it's difficult to get anywhere, but it's almost impossible to keep a car... Administration: Horrendous. The bureaucracy is endless and makes everything difficult. Much of the staff in the dean's office/advisers/etc. are underqualified and not very helpful or sympathetic. I had problems with a sexist adviser who told me to take the wrong classes. A friend of mine has left the dean's office crying twice. Any change you want to make academically requires tons of paperwork, and the computer system often has mistakes. The school's website is poorly designed and hard to use. Don't declare your major until you're absolutely sure... Student body: You can probably find a few of any kind of person you could dream up since the school is so big, but the vast majority of the student population is made up of drunks that don't care about school because they're not paying for it. Virtually no activism or organizing outside of polemic political and religious groups. Campus is not nearly as "liberal" as people seem to think. I have been openly criticized for not only my sexuality, but also my hair color. Yes, my hair color. Greek: I'm a member of Alpha Chi Sigma, a co-ed professional chemistry fraternity, and there are several sororities and fraternities active on campus, however, greek life is not really a huge part of UW culture. School Pride: Tons of it! Just watch a Badger football game and you get the picture immediately. Football Saturdays are practically a religious holiday, and most sports are widely followed and supported.
My overall opinion of UW-Madison is that it is a very good school that has a lot of excellent opportunities to succeed. I think the best part about the school is the advising opportunities. The career counseling that I've received here has been second to none. I feel very confident about my career prospects because of the personal, focused, and easy to access advising that I've had here. This is really nice to have, especially because the school actually is very large. The size of the school shows in some classes and not so much in others. There are very large lecture halls but also very small, personal discussion sections which help sort of everything in lecture. I've also had a few lectures in my upper level courses that were both small and taught by the professor, not the TA. Madison itself is a wonderful and unique city. It is small enough so that you can get around quite easily and recognize people wherever you go, and yet its also big enough to have a lot (and I mean A LOT) of excellent restaurants, bars, and retail establishments to suit your needs. I personally find the character of Madison to be one of the most intriguing and attractive parts of being a student here. The school spirit here is very high, and it definitely shows all year round. It runs especially high during football season, but even throughout the year students and citizens alike can be seen daily with Badger clothing and memorabilia. I think that it's a great aspect of the school and the city, and my Badger pride will definitely remain with me through my life. Of all the things that I do like, there are a few things I'd change. First, it would be the class registration system. I'm not sure about how other schools do it, but the process for registering and scheduling classes here has been somewhat frustrating. With some many students, classes tend to fill up quickly, and even as a senior registering very early I was prevented from registering in a class because of high demand. Overall though, I think that UW-Madison is a wonderful place to get an education. Academically, it is among the elite and culturally there is nothing like it. I don't think there are many schools out there that can compare with the great combination of these two qualities.
According to one ESPN analyst, Madison is "the best college sports town in America" and I would definitely agree based on my experiences. Home football saturdays are practically religious here (to be fair, they are on most big football campuses), I mean what else would get 30,000 students out of bed at 9am on a saturday. But what makes Madison unique in terms of sporting events is not just our pre-game parties on football saturdays, but the fact that we have many highly-ranked sports teams that compete all year. Our b-ball team has been performing well over the last few years and the Grateful Red bring an energy not found outside of Cameron Indoor Stadium. My favorite sport has to be Men's Hockey just due to the clever student section, where else do you do dance to the Time Warp, watch little kids play at intermission and then scream Sieve at the top of your lungs for minutes! Aside from our sporting events to keep us entertained outside of the classroom, the city is probably the most beautiful city in the country. Campus is sandwiched between two pristine lakes and stellar views abound from many spots on campus. When the weather is nice, the Memorial Union Terrace, overlooking Lake Mendota, is an awesome spot to hang out, listen to music and enjoy a brat and a brew (Our union serves imported German beer on tap!) Being at the heart of an urban center like Madison does have its advantages, you seemingly never run out of things to do from live music venues, multitudes of unique ethnic restaurants , museums and other attractions. The Metro bus system provides an easy way to get around (free bus passes for students!). Being at such a large school does have its advantages. While many small schools try to promote their make your own major or single class programs, chances are Madison already offers what you want (the famous example is underwater basket weaving). Besides, being able to just disappear into the crowd is useful sometime and it means you are more likely to find a group you enjoy hanging with. I could go on and on about the pluses to large state schools, but they all basically fall into the same category: opportunities, opportunities, opportunities.
The University of Wisconsin is a great place to be because it's a college town with a wide variety of opportunities students can take advantage of. Although it is a larger campus, I can personally say that it feels like a smaller campus community. Throughout campus, I almost always run into people that I know and because of this, I truly feel connected to UW. Madison has a strong sense of Badger pride which is evident if you have ever been to any of the Badger games where the entire crowd wears bright red. When telling people that I go to Madison, there is generally one of two sentiments. People either assume that Madison students are binge drinkers or they are impressed as Madison is one of the top academic schools in the country. In my opinion, Madison is not necessarily a drinking school, but like any other school, some people will choose to get out of control. One of my favorite things about Madison is that it is a very liberal town with progressive attitudes. People in Madison stand up for what they believe in and are very passionate about their beliefs. I am personally involved in a number of different organizations on campus that focus on women's health here in Madison and abroad. What's great about these organizations is that we truly make a difference with what we do whether its raising money or educating others on health policies. From my experience, people from Madison tend to be very interested in activism as there are a variety of different rallies or events held at the capitol protesting or showing support for a variety of issues. Another great thing about Madison is the farmers markets. This is one of the only times where students may feel as though there are people who exist other than students. Despite this, the farmer's market offers great, fresh (and sometimes organic) food right by campus for the community to enjoy. Finally, one of my favorite things about Madison is the lakes. There is absolutely nothing like going to sit in your favorite library and being able to see Lake Mendota no matter what time of year. Here's a picture so you can see for yourself: http://www.flickr.com/photos/althouse/2587977713/
One thing that distinguishes UW-Madison from many other colleges are the extensive opportunities offered for the aspiring undergraduate. I am double majoring in Zoology and English Literature, two fields that do not often coincide. Both departments have made me feel extremely included and well-informed about my present and future options. Some of the hours I have spent in my TA or professors' office hours have made me very confidents about my academic choices. Upon enrolling at UW-Madison, I was overwhelmed by the size of the school. However, I have come to believe it is that very aspect that offers such a unique and full experience. Not only are there students from all different backgrounds and cultures, there is a strong sense of unity among us. Additionally, the citizens of Madison often come onto the campus for football games, visiting the lake, etc., so we have a sense of oneness with the city as well. It has been interesting to interact with older people who live in the town, not just college-age students. Another great thing about Madison is that it is the perfect haven for the aspiring politician or revolutionist! Most of America knows the reputation Madison had during the Vietnam War for protesting. The Humanities building was even built to withstand riots! That reputation is still well-earned today. I had a great time protesting the educational reforms last year at the Capitol, making signs and staying the night in sleeping bags. Even if you're not someone who loves to "rise up against the man", it's still exciting to be where change is happening. There are downsides to this school. It's a fairly big city, so it's not safe to walk around at night or attend many of the parties without a fairly clear head and some protection. UW offers many assistances such as the Safe Walk program and Safe Ride buses, but it's definitely not always a quiet, relaxing environment. Although I have grown to love the school and prize it for its academics, I did not have a great first semester due to the fact that the social scene of freshmen is largely partying.
wisconsin is the most amazing place in the world. i haven't talked to anyone who can imagine going anywhere else for their college career. we legit do feel so privileged and it's hard to understand other people's college careers that aren't quite.. as exciting. the school is huge.. but like i said.. it's impossible to not see someone you know. after about the second year it just seems normal to walk down the street and see 6 people you know in a stretch of 3 blocks.. even though there are like 41,000 people at the school! the more you become involved with.. the smaller it becomes. i spend most of my time at the library..surprisingly. the remainder of my time is spend on the terrace, on bascom hill (in the spring and fall), and bouncing from bar to bar or eating place on state street. it's indescribable. plus.. the student body seems to have a pretty similar mindset on school/party balance.. so people wil WANT to go study w/you by the lake before you go out.. or they'll want to go tan on bascom hill just to be worthless. the town is 100% a college town. it's interesting though.. because the futher down state street and closer to the capital you get.. the older the crowd gets. that's where the upperclassmen and graduate students often get internships.. and where a lot of the jobs after graduation are centered. it's a college town.. but there's opportunity for "adult sprawl " WI admimistration is.. there? i think they're about as good as i'd want them to be.. but i'm a pretty independent person. you can always talk to an adviser and they'll tell you what you want to know. there are a ton of resources on campus.. almost so many that if you just look up what you want on the wisc website.. you might find a club/student org directly related to your question and bypass the administration completely. school pride is rediculous. alumni school pride is even more rediculous. i haven't even graduated yet and i'm already a member of the wisconsin alumni group just so i can easily be informed as soon as i do gradutate!!
"The University of Wisconsin at Madison beat out the University of Chicago and Harvard to be the top national university by internet brand equity, according to the Global Language Monitor’s 2011 TrendTopper MediaBuzz internet rankings." Dear Everyone who doesn't go here, Read it and weep. Sincerely, Badgers I love this school, and no matter what magazine puts us at #45 or whatever nonsense in their "academic rankings", the above fact is what makes us the best. It doesn't matter what your major is, or your GPA, or your extracurriculars, when you go into a job interview and say "I went to UW Madison," people know what you're talking about and respect it. Our sports program is one of the best in the country, I've rushed both the basketball court and the football field after upset victories, arguably my top two goals entering college. Our business and journalism schools are top notch, and while I don't have much to do with the sciences here, I've heard they're damn good too. What hooked me during my college search though was the physical space, our amazing campus. It is a city, in between two gorgeous lakes, that is built around the campus. Not a city person? Great, half our town is traditional, Cambridge-esque, green-lawned quads and matching scarves, old school campus. Think that's too boring? Don't like foliage as much as a good bar? Well then you're in luck, just step onto State Street and enter a city atmosphere that boasts, the most bars per capita in the country (unofficially). The biggest downfall is that in a school so large, you've got to be a real self starter. No academic advisor is going to hold your hand and lead you along life's golden path to a prosperous career. Nor will they recommend easy classes. Every step you take here, you're largely on your own. But isn't that what college is all about? Sources: http://newsfeed.time.com/2011/01/05/the-most-buzzed-about-university-wisconsin/#ixzz1fPGY8zNF
UW is great. It fits the needs of all different types of students, so especially if you're not sure what you're looking for in a school, UW is an excellent option. It is a large school, however, and some of the programs are very large and can give you the feeling of being one among many. However, other smaller programs are downright cosy, and give a much more small school feel. It really depends on the program you're looking at. There are also hundreds of campus organizations to get involved in, which is another way to overcome the large, impersonal feeling you might otherwise get at the university. The location of downtown Madison itself is fantastic. You're only a few blocks away from State Street and the Capitol building (very convenient for the next time you get an urge to get involved in any of the political protests that crop up every so often, or to just visit the midwest's largest farmer's market). Plus with the bus pass that comes with your tuition you can get pretty much anywhere in the city you're interested in going to. There are two student unions which are both really nice places to meet up with friends and offer great programs such as free movies several times a week. Academically, UW has a lot to offer. Madison is a great option for students who are undecided in their majors. You can easily change from microbiology, to marketing, to Hebrew, to interior design, to kinesthesiology, without having to switch to a new university. The professors and T.A.s are top notch and enthusiastic about what they teach. All are more than willing to get to know and help out students outside of class and are great resources for students. As a shy person I was nervous about coming to UW. I didn't know how I'd find my niche on such a large campus and I was worried that all of my classes would be huge lectures where I was just another face to the professor. But none of these fears came to fruition and now I can't imagine myself anywhere else.