New First-Year Students

Two students standing in a sand volleyball court on either side of a net. The student on the far side of the net has their right arm raised as they are about to serve the volleyball that is in their air above their head. The student in the foreground has their hands moving to a ready position as they prepare to receive the ball. In the background, there is a university building and the sky is reflecting the shades of pink and blue of the setting sun.
CeO Scholars playing sand volleyball at the 2022 Strategies for Success First-Year Orientation.

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. Sign up for SOAR here. Please contact your CeO Advisor for questions or concerns.

  • June 15-16, 2023
  • June 29-30, 2023
  • July 10-11, 2023

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

This first-year 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 to chose from: LEC 041 – 046
  • 1 credit
  • Not required for Transfer CeO Scholars

High Impact Practice (HIP) 

Each incoming First-Year CeO Scholar must select a HIP to enroll in for 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 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 (deadline is 7/7/23)!
  • Undergraduate Research Scholars  URS is dedicated to helping first- and second-year undergraduates get hands-on experience in research or other creative endeavors by working with UW faculty and research staff. Discovery – whether in the sciences, engineering, the arts, or the social sciences – is the cornerstone of our greatness as a university. Plan on taking this course for two semesters in a row.
  • Residential Learning Communities  Residential Learning Communities bring together faculty, staff and students around an explicit focus within the University Residence Halls. Unique seminars and class sections and aligned co-curricular activities all help produce smaller, more intentional communities that set students up for success. First-Year Scholar will need to register with the associated courses/seminars to fulfill CeO’s High Impact Practice requirement.
    • This requirement is not fulfilled by enrolling in a reserved residence hall class section (such as Comm Arts 100 or CHEM 103). It IS fulfilled by joining one of the eleven learning communities such as Bradley, StartUp, or GreenHouse.
  • 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.
  • 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

Early Housing Move-In: Sunday, August 27, 2023

First-Year CeO Scholars are assigned an early move-in date to attend CeO’s Strategies for Success Orientation (SFS). SFS begins the same day as Early Move-In.

CeO Strategies for Success Orientation (SFS): August 27 @ 4:00 pm - September 1, 2023

SFS is a 5-day, fun-filled orientation for 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. During the mid-semester appointment, scholars will complete an academic progress report.

Empowering You Conference

The Empowering You Conference is a collaborative effort between the College of Letters & Science Center for Academic Excellence (CAE) and the Division of Diversity, Equity and Educational Achievement (DDEEA). It is also supported through SuccessWorks at the College of Letters & Science and occurs in the spring semester each year. Empowering You is designed to help students clarify their academic goals and connect their academic work with post-graduation careers and opportunities.

Peer Led Communities (PLCs)

CeO First-Year Scholars will be placed into PLCs of 5-8 other scholars and have a Peer Navigator to lead the PLC throughout the entire first year in CeO.