Written by Emily Beyer
1. Avoid parking on campus whenever possible.
Unless you have a parking pass, which can be quite expensive, parking on campus can be a hassle and can become pricey very quickly. If you are not living on campus and have to commute to campus daily, it may be worth it to invest in a parking pass at one of the campus lots. These can go quickly and better locations fill up faster, so if you are looking to get one make sure you do so early on before the semester begins. If you are unable to get a parking pass and do not want to pay to park in one of the parking ramps, you may be able to find street parking in some of the surrounding neighborhoods off campus. Just beware, street parking can be difficult to find so make sure you account for enough time to find a spot and walk to campus.
2. Avoid getting to class late, especially at the beginning of the semester.
It may seem obvious that you would not want to get to class late as you might miss important information. However, even getting to class exactly when it is scheduled to start might be too late sometimes. In the larger lectures, seats fill up quickly and you might need to stand or sit on the floor for the duration of the lecture. Later in the semester, some people may drop the class or stop showing up as frequently so it will likely be easier to find a seat then. I would suggest planning to arrive at your class about ten minutes prior to the start of class, allowing you to find a seat comfortably and settle in before the lecture begins.
3. Avoid enrolling in classes that are far apart on campus with not enough walking time in between.
Building off my last point, make sure you have enough time in between classes to get from one to the next to avoid being late. Due to UW-Madison’s large and spread out campus, it is possible that some classes could be on complete opposite sides of campus and may take 20-30 minutes to get from one to the other. Although this is not extremely common, I have made the mistake of enrolling in classes that are quite far apart from each other more than once and it can be very stressful. On top of racing from one class to another, during wintertime when there is snow on the ground the trek between classes is even more difficult and should be accounted for. Therefore, it is useful to look at the location of back-to-back classes and cross-referencing them with a map of campus before finalizing your class schedule.
4. Avoid waiting too long before signing a lease if you plan to live on campus.
If you plan on living in the dorms, this is not as much of a concern as UW-Madison does a good job at ensuring availability in University housing as long as you meet the deadline. However, if you plan on finding your own housing such as an apartment or house on campus there is no guarantee that you will find housing if you wait too long. Non-University housing begins to fill up as early as late fall and early winter, so if you are looking to sign a lease for the next year, make sure you start looking early. If you are just coming to study at UW-Madison for a semester, there are not many one-semester lease apartments available as most are full-year contracts. Instead, living in a dorm or subletting an apartment from someone else for a semester are good options. There are several ways to find an apartment to sublease, but the easiest way is through a Facebook page for students to list their sublease information called “NEW UW Madison Sublet and Roommate Board”.
5. Avoid walking with earbuds in late at night on campus.
In general, UW-Madison is very safe and well-protected. Still, given that the campus weaves into the greater downtown Madison area, there is still crime that occurs on occasion that requires a certain level of caution. It is quite common for students to spend late nights studying at the library or the unions on campus, so even if you are studying late, chances are there will be many other students doing the same. However, there are many other people that are not students around campus and downtown at night. It is always a good idea to try to study with others at night so you need not walk home alone. Fortunately, many campus study spots have a service called “Safe Walk”, where volunteer students are available to safely walk you home if necessary. If walking with someone else is not possible, just make sure to exercise personal awareness and vigilance. Late at night, do not walk with earbuds in or you will be unable to hear your surroundings. Again, Madison is not a very dangerous place, but it is always smart to be safe rather than sorry.