New First Year Scholars

We are so excited that you are joining CeO as you prepare for life at UW-Madison!

The Center for Educational Opportunity (CeO) is a community that helps students explore and create connections while achieving their academic goals.

Our mission is to support and increase good academic standing, retention, and graduation rates among CeO Scholars through advising, connecting students with campus resources, and fostering a welcoming and inclusive environment.

First-Year CeO Scholar Participation Requirements

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Cohort SOAR 

First-Year CeO Scholars should plan to attend one of the listed Cohort SOAR dates listed below. Once a student is admitted to CeO, they will have permission to attend one of the Cohort SOAR dates. Please contact your CeO Advisor for questions or concerns.

  • Dates to be released during spring 2024

Counseling Psychology 115 - CeO Educational Effectiveness (Fall & Spring Semesters)

This first year, one-credit seminar course is designed to help you acclimate to campus, adjust to the rigor of college academics, and to build belonging among the First-Year CeO Scholar community. CP 115 is taught by an experienced instructor who will guide you through academics, campus life, and vital resources that will support your first year on campus. CP 115 is limited to First Year CeO Scholars and provides an inclusive, discussion-driven, community-oriented learning environment.

  • There are six sections of CP 115 that are reserved for CeO Scholars
  • 1 credit
  • Not required for Transfer CeO Scholars

High Impact Practice (HIP) 

All First Year CeO Scholars must select a HIP course for their fall semester or the summer term before their first fall semester. These course options are defined as HIPs, because they are based on evidence of significant educational benefits for students who participate in them—including and especially those from demographic groups historically underserved by higher education. These practices take many different forms, depending on learner characteristics and on institutional priorities and contexts. First Year CeO Scholars must choose one of the following HIP options:

  • FIGs (First Year Interest Groups) FIGs are clusters of (usually) three UW- Madison courses, linked together to explore a common theme, and offered to incoming first year scholars who attend these classes together as a cohort.
    • Reach out to your CeO Advisor for the Cohort FIG Reservation Form to reserve a seat in a FIG ahead of SOAR!
  • Undergraduate Research Scholars Program The Undergraduate Research Scholars (URS) program is a high-impact practice (HIP) at UW-Madison. The program facilitates learning both the skills of your field and acquiring an interdisciplinary perspective on research, and creative practices. URS is also for those that are interested in developing critical thinking skills, communication skills, and growing as an informed well-rounded scholar. Scholars should apply to URS, enroll in Inter-LS 250, and plan on taking this course for two semesters in a row.
  • Learning & Theme Communities  Embedded within various residence halls, our learning and theme communities are residential spaces that bring together students around a specific focus and help make a large university feel smaller and more intimate. First Year Scholar will need to register with the associated courses/seminars to fulfill CeO’s High Impact Practice requirement. To join a learning community you must prioritize learning/theme communities over residence halls when you submit your hall preferences in My UW Housing. This HIP requirement is not fulfilled by enrolling in a reserved residence hall class section (such as Comm Arts 100 or CHEM 103). The HIP requirement IS fulfilled by joining one of the fifteen learning and theme communities:
    • BioHouse If you’re interested in the scientific study of living things – whether it’s plants, animals, health, microbiology, evolution, neurobiology, soil, food genetics, bioenergy, or anything else biological — BioHouse can nurture your passion for science and connect you to other young scientists.
    • Bradley Explore your interests, potential majors, and campus with a supportive community at your back. Get to know professors right away in Bradley’s small and personalized Roundtable Seminars.
    • Business Connect Designed for first-year direct admits to the Wisconsin School of Business, this community provides you opportunities for mentorship, involvement, and resources in the School of Business.
    • Chadbourne Residential College By fostering connections with faculty, students, and campus, Chadbourne Residential College (CRC) offers a perfect combination of academics and social life in the heart of campus, so you can explore a liberal arts education, no matter your major.
    • Essence Essence focuses on exploring the Black diaspora and impacted peoples through events, dialogue, and community-building. This theme community fosters a sense of belonging on campus and connects students through shared experiences. The goal of Essence is to create a community where students can be their authentic selves.
    • Gender Inclusive This theme community provides a welcoming atmosphere to all students with increased flexibility to meet the needs of transgender, gender non-conforming, nonbinary, and LGBTQ+ students and allies to select a housing assignment that is inclusive, safe, and comfortable. Residents who list this community as a preference can be assigned to:
      • Single room with a bathroom
      • Double room with a bathroom
      • Triple room with a bathroom
    • GreenHouse Joining GreenHouse gives students an opportunity to go beyond a conventional residence hall experience. If you are the type of person who is interested in being active in your environment and community, the GreenHouse can provide you with the network, tools, and knowledge to get involved.
    • Indigenous (NDGNS) Dedicated to learning about Indigenous (NDGNS) voices and experiences with a focus on building community and relationships through shared experiences, this community offers academic support and a variety of academic, community, and cultural events to help you thrive.
    • International To be successful in today’s world, cultural readiness is essential. The International Learning Community (ILC) offers students a variety of opportunities aimed at developing students into global leaders. The ILC living experience is ideal for students studying foreign languages, interested in world affairs, or visiting UW-Madison via an exchange program.
    • Multicultural A safe and welcoming space where you can gain an expanded worldview and build solidarity by engaging in themes of multiculturalism, social justice, inclusion, race, and identity.
    • Open House Open House is an inclusive community for all where LGBTQIA+ and allied students can find and create an environment of awareness, respect, and advocacy for all sexual and gender identities. We’re a welcoming and supportive space focused on building community among our intersecting identities.
    • Pathway For students admitted to Bucky’s Pell Pathway and BANNER scholarship programs, Pathway builds community and relationships, including co-curricular support to help you succeed.
    • StartUp If you are a doer and maker with big ideas, creativity, and who enjoys putting together teams, this learning community is for you. StartUp is a vibrant community of students that are a mix of engineers, writers, designers, musicians, biologists and business majors.
    • The Studio Filled with students ranging in majors from fine arts, dance, engineering, computer science, and equipped with a rehearsal room, a room for wet art projects, and spaces for sound recording and digital art projects, The Studio offers spaces to let your creativity take over. The Studio is home to all who appreciate the creative process and is a place where you make art, connect, grow, and learn surrounded by peers who share your passion.
    • Women in Science & Engineering (WISE) Unite with fellow women interested in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). In this memorable environments, you’ll learn about current research fields and hear from women in all types of STEM professions.
  • Educational Psychology 322 – The Psychology and Moral Development of Forgiveness
    • LEC 001 – CeO Scholars only lecture
    • Email Amy Moschkau at to request permission to enroll and include your campus ID number.
  • Educational Psychology 120 – Art and Science of Human Flourishing
    • DIS 305  – DDEEA & CAE Scholars only section
  • History 200 – Ghandi, King, Mandela: Nonviolence in the World
    • LEC 10 – DDEEA & CAE Scholars only section
    • Complete This Form for access to enroll in this course
  • Service Learning Courses

Summer HIP Options

All First Year CeO Scholars must select a HIP course for their fall semester or the summer term before their first fall semester. Either of the following two summer options fulfill your HIP requirement.

  • Summer STEM Catalyst Program
    • 4-week paid summer research program for incoming CeO first-years. Scholars will have the opportunity to connect with STEM faculty, meet other STEM-focused students, and conduct world-class research on the UW-Madison Campus.
  • Summer Collegiate Experience (SCE)
    • The Summer Collegiate Experience (SCE) is a high-impact, quality-learning, first year experience for students entering the university. As an SCE student, you will take two classes for degree credit, register for fall courses, and learn about UW-Madison resources and campus culture during a six-week, on-campus program.

Early Housing Move-In

First Year CeO Scholars are assigned an early move-in date in late August to attend CeO’s Strategies for Success Orientation (SFS). SFS begins the same day as Early Move-In. The early move-in date allows for easier access to the residence halls as there are far fewer housing residents moving on campus during early move-in.

CeO Strategies for Success Orientation (SFS): 2024 Dates TBD

SFS is a five-day, fun-filled orientation for First Year CeO Scholars where we create community and prepare you for a successful first year at UW-Madison.

First Year Academic Advising

First Year CeO Scholars are required to meet with their CeO Advisor at least three times each semester. These meetings occur during the critical advising weeks of each semester. First Years are required to meet with their CeO Advisor before the end of:

  • The fourth week to review transition, belonging, and academic supports for classes
  • The mid-semester week to review mid-semester grades and scholars will complete an academic progress report
  • The enrollment week to review class selection and enrollment for the following semester or summer term

Empowering You Career & Internship Conference

The Empowering You Career & Internship Conference is a collaborative effort between the College of Letters & Science Center for Academic Excellence (CAE), the Division of Diversity, Equity and Educational Achievement (DDEEA), and SuccessWorks at the College of Letters & Science.

Empowering You occurs in the spring semester each year and is designed to help students clarify their academic goals and connect their academic work with post-graduation careers and opportunities.

All CeO First Year Scholars are required to attend Empowering You.

Peer Led Communities (PLCs)

CeO First Year Scholars will be placed into PLCs of five to eight other scholars and have a Peer Navigator (PN) to lead the PLC throughout the entire first year in CeO. Peer Navigator are more experienced CeO Scholars who are hired to lead and serve as mentors to First Year Scholars.