Ask Abe: Student Orientation, Advising, and Registration

An Alum

How long has the SOAR program been around?

Abe

Since the ’90s? The ’60s? Keep going … Originally established by UW president Glenn Frank, the University of Wisconsin has had a freshman orientation program since 1928. According to a rough draft outlining the 1928 program, the purpose of freshman orientation was to “become acquainted with problems in University work and University life by direct contact with officials who will be assigned the special responsibility of sympathetically and intelligently making such interpretations.” The 1931 edition of the Badger yearbook describes the “official welcome” for UW freshmen as a march up Bascom Hill to be met by upperclassmen and a band playing “On, Wisconsin!” Though that tradition has faded, the spirit of the program continued, and, during the ’60s, it took on the name SOAR (Student Orientation, Advising, and Registration). The principles of the original program still guide today’s SOAR, which is housed in the Division of Student Life’s Center for the First-Year Experience and now includes targeted programming for incoming freshmen, incoming transfer students, international students — and these students’ parents and guests.