Wisconsin Welcome Back: Support second-year students in their return to campus

Wisconsin Welcome Back logo

For first-year and new transfer students, the 2020–21 academic year posed unique challenges and wasn’t the traditional experience many were expecting. So it comes as no surprise that the pandemic’s impact on their success exacerbated issues related to student academics, health and well-being, as well as their sense of community, belonging, and campus pride on a national scale.

As students, staff, and faculty reunite on campus this fall, Student Affairs is rallying resources, support, and unique programming to welcome second-year Badgers back to a more open and vibrant campus.

“As second-year students return to campus, we are offering unique programming and intentional ways to connect to campus, and one another, through ‘Wisconsin Welcome Back’  programming,” Dean of Students Christina Olstad shares. “While our students might not have had a typical first-year experience, it’s important that second-year Badgers are introduced to traditions, and spaces and places that set them up for academic success, health and well-being, and of course, a robust Wisconsin Experience for every student.”

Wisconsin Welcome Back is a suite of programs, services, and support designed especially for second-year students. It is an intentional spin-off of Wisconsin Welcome, UW–Madison’s traditional programming for first-year and new transfer students.

These combined initiatives are intended to engage nearly 16,000 students in making UW–Madison’s campus their home after a year of disconnection.

Here’s how faculty and staff  can be part of the effort:

  • Consider programming for second-year students. As you plan ways to engage with students at the start of the semester, think about developing programming especially for second-year students as part of Wisconsin Welcome Back. Then share your programming and resources with the Center for the First-Year Experience (CFYE) through its Wisconsin Welcome Call for Programs so that they can be promoted and amplified through the Wisconsin Welcome AND Wisconsin Welcome Back promotional packages. Please submit programs by August 16.
  • Explore offerings for students with specific identities and needs. Consider ways to intentionally welcome and support students of color, LGBTQ+ students, international students (both in-person and virtual), students with disabilities, and veterans as part of Wisconsin Welcome and Wisconsin Welcome Back! Align with unique campus programming and resources for students from underserved communities to build connections and support.

“This is an opportunity for our students to build community and find their place on campus,” says Gabe Javier, Associate Vice Chancellor of Identity & Inclusion at Student Affairs. “We know the pandemic disproportionately impacted our most marginalized and underserved communities, and it’s important we offer opportunities to intentionally welcome and support these communities as part of our Wisconsin Welcome Back programming.”

  • Join the Scavenger Hunt! There will be an undergraduate scavenger hunt September 1-30 to help second-year students navigate and connect with campus resources. Sign up to share your resources and support services with second-year students so they can feel a part of our community. Fill out the participation form by August 6.
  • Spread the word. Please share information about these initiatives with other campus and community partners who serve students and could help meet the unique needs of next year’s student population.

We appreciate your collaboration to support student success as we prepare to welcome (BACK!) students to campus.