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Back (Ache) to School

Going of to college at UW-Madison requires toting a lot of stuff. And it always has.

John Allen
August 01, 2016

Photo by UW-Madison Archives

When parents prep their freshmen to head off to campus next month, many will consult the registrar’s advice on what a student should buy, borrow, and bring to Madison. And many o those parents will sigh and say, “Oy, vey, what a lot of stuff to carry. Kids today, with their so many things!”

And that, no doubt, is what their parents and grandparents said as well. A UW education has always required a lot more than tuition and a ready mind. This photo accompanied a 1961 new-student guide from the University Book Store.

Today’s freshmen will need fewer typewriter ribbons and vinyl record albums. But they will need other things. The university estimates that the cost of books and supplies for a Badger student averages $1,200 a year. (The registrar’s office offers a helpful guide showing which books are required for which courses.)

Miscellaneous other expenses add up to another $2,296. The list includes classic items, such as sheets and a fan, as well as more modern conveniences, such as an MP3 player and a cell phone. (The dorms no longer offer land lines.)

There’s no estimate on how much a new student should spend on pennants and bookends.

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