To what extent are these concerns real at UW

<p>Wisconsin seems like a good fit for D2 who seems to want a bigger school with big time sports, school spirit, and unlimited things to do. She's also very concerned about high quality academics and having other students who are interested in academics to study with and learn from. I don't think it will be a safety for her - more of a match, but she would apply early and hopefully know early if she can get in. </p>

<p>We are full pay OOS from the Boston area. D2 is a rising junior who doesn't know what she wants to major in but likes science especially biology and chemistry and perhaps wants to be premed. She does mostly A level work in math, science and foreign language classes, and B+ level work in history and English. She will have taken AP Physics B (5), AP Bio, both AP Econs and at least AP Calculus AB (BC keeps getting cut due to budget cuts) by the time she graduates.</p>

<p>D2 may want to consider 3-2 engineering programs and Wisconsin seems like a school where you can easily double major in 5 years in majors with high overlap, such as molecular biology and chemical engineering (really biomolecular), and the school doesn't seem to mind because lots of people double major, though I could be wrong about this.</p>

<p>My main concerns about UW for D2 are
1) Not being able to get into the classes she needs and having her life delayed unnecessarily
2) Premed weed out - If she can't get AP Chem in HS due to budget cuts, will she have a snowball's chance in hell of surviving the weed out classes should she want to do that.
3) How much someone OOS who refrains from alcohol in order to maintain herself in tip-top athletic condition would enjoy attending what's known as a great party school.
4) Coastie vs Sconer - She would hate this even being an issue. She really likes all kinds of people. I suspect that this is overblown, but who knows.
5) ChemE requiring mandatory lab over a summer term - can't find another school that does this.
6) Questionable advising - lots of CC stories about advisors being most unhelpful
7) Difficulty/Uncertainty of being able to get involved with research - I can't tell if this is an issue - are there many people who want to get involved and are unsuccessful?
8) Difficulty of navigating such a huge place
9) General attitude toward undergraduates of many faculty and graduate students at a major research university which is also a public school where teaching is not a priority.
10) Availability of getting help in a course if you need it.
11) Wisconsin winter - do people still plug their cars in at night? LOL!</p>

<p>The upside seems terrific though
1) Among the most beautiful campuses I've ever seen (saw it summer though)
2) High quality academics with world class faculty, if you can get at them.
3) Terrific breadth of courses, majors and potential opportunities
4) School Spirit and all that goes with that - Can school spirit be expressed without heavy drinking?
5) State Street and overall urban feel
6) Vibrant campus</p>

<p>From a current (soon graduating) student:</p>

<p>1) This really isn't a problem after your freshman year, and during your freshman year you have so many requirements to fulfill that it really isn't a big deal.</p>

<p>2) This seems a little bit more subjective and based on the individual, but if you really want to succeed in something at college you can independently study a weak subject on your own time (such as buying books to the class in advance) and you can in essence, make yourself succeed.</p>

<p>3) The drinking culture is big but if you don't want to do it you don't have to, and there are other like minded people here and other activities to engage in that don't involve alcohol.</p>

<p>4) It's definitely overblown, it's more the material of jokes than actual tension.</p>

<p>5) Summer is a great time to be in Madison, so there's that.</p>

<p>6) There are good, well intentioned advisors here but objectively speaking this is a definite weak spot of UW. In the end though it just means you need to be more independent and assertive -- not necessarily a bad thing.</p>

<p>7) I can't comment on this from the perspective of say biology but undergraduate research opportunities do exist, you just have to be very proactive and assertive in getting to know professors.</p>

<p>8) The campus is large but rather logically laid out, so I don't see this as a concern.</p>

<p>9) This is a negative, but there are still great professors who do care about teaching. The breakdown (courtesy of a disucssion with a friend who also goes to UW): 1/3 of professors are research orientated and don't care about students, 1/3 of professors aren't good teachers, 1/3 are. So with that being said, every semester you should have at least one professor who you can connect with and who you can get a lot out of.</p>

<p>10) It's there, but you have to search for independently.</p>

<p>11) This is a negative, but it's definitely not enough to warrant someone staying away from going to UW.</p>

<p>And yes, school spirit can definitely be expressed without drinking. </p>

<p>Hope that's helpful!</p>

<p>Comments:
If she likes bio related sciences, UW is it. In terms of stem cell research, it beats Harvard. Yeah, Wisconsin is darn cold for sure. I guess your D2 is not from Florida either. She will survive. Good luck.</p>

<p>I've lived in both places, and think that winters in (southern) Wisconsin are very similar to those in Massachusetts. I've never had to plug in my cars.</p>

<ol>
<li><p>Maybe at first, but as you progress it's easier to get the classes you want/need.</p></li>
<li><p>I don't know, sorry, I'm liberal arts, lol.</p></li>
<li><p>There are all sorts of students at UW, lots who don't drink. It is a big party school and the drinking culture is prevalent, I won't lie, but it's totally easy to abstain.</p></li>
<li><p>Definitely more of a joke thing, and more about a certain attitude than where someone's actually from. It's nothing to really worry about or base a decision on.</p></li>
<li><p>I did not know you had to do that, but as someone said, summer is a really nice time in Madison and a lot of people do stay.</p></li>
<li><p>I would agree with above that advising isn't always the most helpful. However, you just need to be independent - it's not overly hard to figure out what you need to take and where you need to go.</p></li>
<li><p>I don't know about research too much, but you could look up the Undergraduate Research Scholars, that's a program that should help your D get into research. Also there are many research jobs available on the Financial Aid website - especially in summer!</p></li>
<li><p>Navigating is not hard at all after a few weeks, I absolutely promise.</p></li>
<li><p>As said above, there are profs who don't care about teaching but I don't catch a general vibe of negativity towards undergraduates.</p></li>
<li><p>There are plenty of tutoring options - if you live in a dorm there's very frequent help in several subjects. Other than that, you do have to look independently.</p></li>
<li><p>It is cold, but you acclimate much more than you'd think (I'm from Florida and I survived!) and it's not a huge problem.</p></li>
</ol>

<p>One thing I like to tell people who are interested in UW is that almost everyone I meet here is so happy to be here and loves where they are and what they're doing. I'm ecstatic to be going to Madison and living here, and I think most people really do feel the same way...and that's definitely not true for all schools, so UW must be doing something right.</p>

<p>As a parent of a rising junior D at UW-Madison, I will say that even he she is science-based & likes it, she will have all she can handle at the university. The science prerequisites aren't necessarily weed outs, they're just intense & hard, as it should be for one of the top public U's in the US.</p>

<p>And although UW-Madison will LOVE to take your full pay OOS tuition, she's gotta get in first. Being from the East Coast may actually be an advantage stats-wise over adjacent states to Wisconsin. You say she does mostly A level work, and she's gotta keep that up to have a shot. I haven't checked the admittance percentage chart lately, but a 3.8 and a 30 ACT gives an applicant no more than a 50% or 60% chance of admission these days. Higher than that is definitely better.</p>

<p>Good luck to your D, mine loves being a Badger!</p>

<p>UW has many facets. Every student's experience will be different. Academic preferences, social choices... Very easy to choose your own path and find a peer group. With thousands of undergrads there is great diversity. I wouldn't worry about those who party. Your D will find people with similar interests and values.</p>

<p>Son was a runner and while I know he didn't have a virgin liver (hint to students- parents can tell how you handle wine when home for the holidays and offered some) he also wasn't into the party scene- spent some fall weekends traveling with the track club to CC meets. Also big into math/science but took some fun courses totally unrelated. One course in linguisitics, a whole course on one philosopher... You can be liberal without being a partier.</p>

<p>Walking the campus between classes is good exercise. A Wisconsin native, I never knew of anyone who plugged in their car winters, especially as far south as Madison- even without a garage. Don't worry about being from the coast, especially Boston- she'll be used to winter.</p>

<p>Have her check out the Honors program courses. She'll get an Honors advisor for SOAR (summer orientation) and beyond. Math, Physics, Chemistry Honors sequences available starting as a freshman (although she may only want the Chemistry of those). After Organic Chem Biocore is a great Honors sequence. The strengths of the grad programs mean great advanced courses, research opportunities- annual spring undergrad research symposuim. Serious students should get to know their professors as well as their TA's- office hours are for that as well as asking questions. They improved the Honors Program with more activities than in my day while keeping the good academic offerings. </p>

<p>Once she is taking upper level courses in her major she'll be able to be involved in her chosen departmental activities- hear lectures from visiting profs... the strength of the grad programs means a lot of opportunities.</p>

<p>Rearding the "premed weedout" courses. If she is a strong student interested in the subject she shouldn't worry- as a potential Chem E major she should do well in Chemistry. Also- if she is interested in Chem E and keeps that as a major she'll enjoy a summer in Madison- a lot of cheap sublets available so housing isn't an issue if she doesn't have a year long apt by then. Many students change their major as well so it may not be an issue.</p>

<p>As a parent I would encourage her to research UW and plan a visit if she seems interested- best when classes are in session. If she likes it as much as we do she should definitely apply. Feel free to PM people for more info.</p>

<p>My D is a rising sophomore Chem E from the east coast, and she loves UW and cannot get back soon enough. The coastie thing is a joke. No issue getting into classes, especially with planning ahead and logging in right at her appointed time. She lived in the Women in Science and Engineering Learning Community, well worth it. Her roommates for this coming year all came from there but one (from another learning community) and while they have fun they also study hard and are taking some honors classes together. The learning community had grants for research opportunities. At our (multiple) visits she learned about lots of other ways to get into research. She went to the extra help and discussions and very few kids seem to take advantage of them, so she got all the help she needed. If you want advice, help, info etc you can get it, people are not going to hold your hand but they are right there. There is tutoring right in the dorm (she was in Sellery). As to partying, anyone who thinks any college does not have that as part of the culture is kidding themselves. It is teaching them how to cope, go with friends anywhere, have the taxi number in your cell phone and money, never sit a drink down or take a drink from anyone, and keep yourself busy with great activities like intramural sports (D took up Frisbee and soccer again and made friends). She lost weight her freshman year walking everywhere and using the sports facilities. There are multiple Chem options, my D did 109 since she had a lot of HS Chemistry, but others take another option that allows you to be at the right place. Same is true in math. I was impressed with her faculty, they had scientific research papers published in the best journals in the world yet she loved her chem class with the person. Honors courses have fantastic faculty.</p>

<p>The Chemistry dept has members actively involved in the ways to teach chemistry at the school levels before college and this helps at the college level. There is actually an organization in this- hear about it through my annual Badger Chemist (I took 115-116 then the honors degree eons ago then went the medical route- some friends got PhDs in it). I know that some top 50 schools only offer one intro course that everyone takes. Back then- I'll bet still happens- we did some work for the honors credit in Organic and Pchem labs in grad labs, exposure to cutting edge research (in my day the Pchemers were separating DNA strands with centrifuges as I recall from my experience- now elementary school kids know about it).</p>

<p>The OP asks some good questions and got some good answers. Just a couple of quick observations.</p>

<ol>
<li><p>If I got a dime from every parent who thinks their kid won't want to drink in college because they don't drink in high school . . . </p></li>
<li><p>That a 3.8 with all those science APs and a 30 on the ACT puts you at a 50/50 chance of getting in is a bunch of hooey. UW is selective but not THAT selective. This student will get in.</p></li>
</ol>

<p>Never guarantees on admissions. There's difference in trying drinking or only occasionally indulging and becoming a regular partier.</p>

<p>Wis75, there's never a guarantee on anything in life, but the poster is flat wrong -- by UW's own statistics -- that a 3.8 and a 30 gives you a 50/50 shot. Are you disagreeing just for the sake of being disagreeable? Because that's not helpful to new readers. </p>

<p>Here's the latest publication by UW admissions on "Freshman Admissions Expectations." According to it, the middle 50 percent of accepted applicants have a GPA ranging from 3.5 to 3.9 and an ACT from 27 to 29. Thus, the OP's daughter is without question better than a 50/50 applicant, which is my only point.</p>

<p><a href="http://www.admissions.wisc.edu/images/UW_FreshAdmitExpect.pdf%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://www.admissions.wisc.edu/images/UW_FreshAdmitExpect.pdf&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>Your only "point" is to be a PITA here. Go back to your Virginia boards where you belong. We have seen plenty of people with higher stats get waitlisted last year and not admitted later. They got a big increase in apps that are not reflected in that chart. Note the date on it: September 2010</p>

<p>Not that big, barrons, and you know it. Why give out misleading information? UW's student profile is strong -- sugar-coating is unnecessary. Even if it is a year old, it's the most current information being put out by the admissions office; it's certainly worth more than the anecdotal, and completely unverifiable, information found on a CC "chances" thread.</p>

<p>Amen, Barrons. Having followed the UW threads for 3 years & seen the increasing wailing & gnashing of teeth from those deferred, waitlisted & out-and-out denied, admission has gotten harder & harder, even for OOS students. That doesn't make it right, Nova, it just IS. I was just guesstimating a median, as it were, and I'll bet for the 2012-2013 school year, when all is said & done, I'm not too far off.</p>

<p>It is always entertaining watching this ping-pong argument. I don't know you guys, But I learned quite a lot from both sides.....:)</p>

<p>LOL, pretty funny. I don't know why these guys argue these points in the face of contrary evidence from UW's own website and own track record. Yes, UW had more applications this year, and yes, the average numbers will likely rise -- but if history is any guide they won't rise nearly as dramatically as these guys predict. It took 10 years for the average ACT to go from 27 to 28; it won't go to 30 in one year. </p>

<p>Happy to take jmn's bet because I'm the only one who backs up what I'm saying with actual numbers instead of anecdotes.</p>

<p>It's extremely odd for me to be agreeing with novaparent ever, but you also have to take into consideration that last year was kind of a weird year for admissions. There were a lot more applications, and there were a few people (they posted on CC) with great stats and they were rejected, just because there were so many applications. It was definitely harder last year.</p>

<p>However, since this has only occurred for one year, we can't REALLY call it a "trend" or say it's harder to get into UW now. It was harder last year, that's for sure. But there were a lot of factors that made UW more desirable last year (for example, the Rose Bowl, Packers in the Super Bowl, and there was a viral video online - Teach Me How to Bucky - that some people say generated a LOT of interest in UW) and those most likely won't carry over into this year (though we all wish!). So if the surge in apps was due to those things, then there might be less apps this year. There was also a lot of buzz about it being harder to get into UW, so less people might apply if they don't think they'll be able to get in. Last year's freshman class was also abnormally large so I think they approached admissions in a different way (although I have no idea what really happened with that).</p>

<p>However I think there were more apps than usual across the board, so perhaps it is a sign of a new trend. My point is just that we can't make any kind of real predictions until at LEAST this next admissions cycle is over, and even then they won't be very good predictions.</p>

<p>I greatly appreciate the responses from those trying to be helpful. I feel better about the winter, and the Sconer/Coastie thing. We'll look closely at how the Wisconsin budget affects things and I think we'll visit next spring and take it from there. In terms of honors classes, I think we're getting ahead of ourselves. </p>

<p>Are there people who can't get into CHEM 109 or CHEM103, or get into the introductory classes that they need for their major? Basically not getting into a class that is 4 levels deep in a prerequisite tree would be a huge problem for me as a full-pay parent. That's really the primary concern. </p>

<p>Novaparent. You are hijacking my thread and I don't think that you are being helpful nor do I think that you are trying to be helpful. I don't understand your agenda. Please stop the bickering. Please stop responding to novaparent. College Confidential has terms of service that need to be enforced!</p>

<p>I dislike chances threads, and I don't see any point in discussing D2's chances. The application is pretty easy in the scheme of things, and if she doesn't get in, the sun will still rise in the east the next day and she'll just go somewhere else. She hasn't even taken the SAT or ACT yet.</p>

<p>As far as drinking. If D2 decides that she wants to drink (her well educated parents certainly don't refrain nor do they pretend to), then she'll probably have less of an issue with going to a school with great parties. The drinking culture is a concern of HERS. It is prevalent in our town and the number of kids who don't participate is small and she doesn't like it. Our town's school budget is killing off all of the classes she wants (BC Calc and AP Chem), and the social opportunities to hang out with kids who like to hang out yet who refrain from drinking is very limited. These are the drivers of why she doesn't want to go to a small school. She figures that at a larger school, there are more people so she's more likely to find like-minded people. She assumes that there are also many more academic opportunities. Even though my wife and her frat boy husband (me) both liked drinking and partying, I would feel funny about actually encouraging my kids to drink when they don't want to. :-)</p>

<p>D2 would like to find a place where there is plenty of social life for kids who don't drink. D1 doesn't drink either but she goes to an hyper-intense intellectual school where "fun comes to die", and she nonetheless seems to have plenty of fun there with like-minded people. D2's priorities seem much more balanced between academic and social than her older sister and she thinks that she would prefer a university to a small college. The problem is that her GPA is more in the A- range and it seems like, excluding religious schools, the fraction of drinkers in a university goes up as the stats required to get in goes down. </p>

<p>In that context, there is a lot to like about large high end public schools like Wisconsin, where there is a substantial non-drinking population of critical mass as long as the budget issues and getting locked out of key classes don't become a huge problem. </p>

<p>Again, thanks for all of the helpful feedback.</p>

<p>ClassicRockerdad, I'm sorry if you think I'm hijacking your thread. And my only "agenda" is to contribute balanced and thoughtful information to the board. Nowhere does the "terms of service" require only that positive information be provided about a school. If that were the case, we wouldn't need CC; students and parents could just go to the websites of the schools themselves and get all of the one-sided information that they need. </p>

<p>On the issue of drinking at UW, I'm sorry, but I think you're looking with rose-colored glasses. There's usually something behind a reputation, and UW's reputation as a party school is close to legendary. At a minimum your daughter will have a serious adjustment to make.</p>