Thursday, June 2, 2011 myBiz Blog
Reflections on my SOAR experience and 7 tips for pre-business students by Katie Coon

It was just two years ago that Belle attended SOAR as a first-year student.  Read more about her experience and her tips to make SOAR a positive experience for you.

1. Don’t be afraid to admit you’re a little bit out of your comfort zone. We get it- Madison is to some of you, completely new! If you’re still totally lost by the time you leave Madison and can’t even point toward Bascom Hill, you’re in the same position I was. I couldn’t even get myself from the Greyhound station to Liz Waters- much less the Psych Building for placement tests.  Worried you’re not yet in tune with campus vernacular? Still think Ian’s is someone’s apartment? Start asking questions, or time will be your best friend.

2. If you haven’t taken them yet, don’t worry too much about placement tests or how you scored on them. I anxiously checked mine the second they were available- only to freak out about them the rest of the night, wondering if I was going to have more limited class options because of them.  Placement tests are meant to put you in classes that are right for you, but that doesn’t mean they’re foolproof. Come prepared, but don’t let the stress of placement tests ruin your SOAR experience.

3. Not happy with how your class schedule turned out? It’s okay to change your classes after you leave SOAR- in fact, I did it 5 times before the end of summer. If you’re worried you won’t get into the classes you want because you have a late SOAR session, don’t fret. Either more sections will open up, or at the beginning of the semester, some spots will open. If you really want to get into a class, you can always contact the professor. Also familiarize yourself with My UW- you’ll be using it for the next four years, so get started now!

4. If you don’t click with the people in your SOAR session, it’s ok- don’t consider your singular SOAR experience indicative of what college is going to be like. Come fall, you’ll meet so many more people that you’re bound to find some who share the same interests as you. The people you do meet, be sure keep in touch with (Facebook! Become a fan of myBiz today!). You’ll appreciate already having those connections in the fall.

5. Take all the advice you can from your advisors, peer advisors, and SOAR leaders, and incorporate it with what works best for you. Ultimately, you know what’s best for yourself- whether it’s the number of credits to take, which classes to pick, which activities to join, or even which library is best to study at (I vote the business library! Read Hans’ post about campus libraries).  Remember that advisors are here to give their best recommendations coupled with what might work best for you as an individual.

6. Find out as much as you can about student organizations. It’s stressed a lot, and I’m going to stress it again. Whether it’s a fraternity or sorority, one related to your major, or even one you create yourself, there’s simply no better way to meet people. For pre-business students, there are over 30 business-specific student orgs to choose from . I found the professional business fraternity Delta Sigma Pi to be immensely helpful my freshman year- not just in meeting new people with similar interests, but in getting business school admissions advice, searching for internships, and finding a tight-knit community.

7. Finally, if you’re still reading this, it’s never too early to get a head start on your college experience! Put yourself out there- be the person you’ve always looked up to or wanted to become. Don’t be afraid to be who you really are, even if that person is completely different than who you were in high school. The beauty of college is that you meet so many people from diverse backgrounds that high school becomes a distant memory. Opportunities are waiting for you to grab them- get ready for the four of the best years of your life Badgers!

Things I Recommend Doing When Visiting Madison:

1. Take a stroll down State Street- the worst thing you can do during SOAR is stay in your room and leave Madison saying the only person you met was your SOAR roommate. Be sure to stop inside any of the numerous restaurants, boutiques, art galleries, or theaters.  Don’t forget that Madison is the capital of Wisconsin! I stopped by the state capitol at night to see it lit up. This view sure beat the one from my Liz Waters room.

3. Visit Memorial Union and the Terrace. I remember taking a mid-evening stroll along the lake, watching the sunset, and feeling my first sense of belonging. You can’t miss the Terrace- no matter when you go, it’ll always be abuzz with activity.

3. If you get the chance, see what else the surrounding area has to offer. About an hour outside of Madison is Devil’s Lake State Park - a great place with picturesque views and a variety of outdoor activities. I was lucky enough to take a trip there last fall with my residence hall, Sellery.

Henry Vilas Zoo , a short walk from the center of campus, is free and always a fun place to take a study break or relax. One of my favorite things to do there was watch the giraffes!

Belle is a junior majoring in marketing and management and human resources.  Let her know what you've experienced on campus during SOAR.