Advice to Apply for College from UW-Madison’s Office of Admissions

At UW Madison we consistently see that some of our best and brightest students come from youth organizations like 4-H. We are excited to be partnering with Wisconsin’s 4-H programs to give some advice for applying to colleges (and hopefully UW-Madison) this fall.

Grades and Class Selection
Having good grades is an important aspect of applying to colleges. Focusing on earning A’s and B’s in your classes during your high school career is important. Taking a wide variety of classes, including classes in all 5 core subjects (English, Social Studies, Math, Science and Foreign Language) is important as well. We encourage students who have an idea of what major they would like to pursue to take courses in related subjects. For example if a student wants to major in Agronomy, they should take related coursework in Science and Agriculture courses if available at their high school.

Rigor is the level of difficulty in coursework students chose to take. Courses that are AP, honors, dual credit or IB are some examples of high rigor courses. It is important to note that every school has different options available to students. Because of this we look at the individual circumstances that a student was educated in. This means if you attend a school that does not offer things like honors or AP class this is accounted for and we will just look to see that you have taken the challenging options available to you as a student.

Involvement is a huge part of the application process. If you are an involved student in your school and community that shows universities and colleges that you are more likely to be involved while attending their schools. It is important to note that we are looking for quality of involvement over quantity. Make sure to include things like leadership positions held, committees your students sit on, volunteer work done and overall years of involvement. If there are opportunities for major related experiences students should include these as well. For example if a student wants to major in dairy science and they show dairy cattle or participate in dairy judging contests they should include that on their application. Involvement also includes things like jobs and family responsibilities, so if your student raises livestock or works for a family farm or family business make sure to include this in the involvement section as well.

College Ready Writing
When filling out your admissions application make sure to put your best foot forward with quality writing. In both your essays and throughout the application as a whole we are looking for students who show college ready writing skills. We highly encourage students to re-read, edit and have trusted sources, like teachers, review their essays before submitting.

Deadlines and Letters of Recommendation
It is important to start the application process early and pay attention to deadlines for things like transcripts and letters of recommendation. Asking early for things like letters of recommendation gives your teachers, counselors, 4-H leaders and coaches time to write high quality letters for you. It is important to note that at UW-Madison as part of our review process we read through every document submitted. For 4-H leaders writing letters of recommendation we highly encourage you to include information about the students’ specific involvement with your organization. It is not uncommon for students to leave out participation and awards they have received and these awesome accomplishments to be pointed out in letters of recommendation. For UW-Madison, students must submit one letter of recommendation from academic sources, such as a teacher or counselor, and additional letters of recommendation can come from non academic sources like 4-H Leaders and coaches. It is important to watch for deadlines that are related to other aspects after admission, things like scholarships, housing and placement test sign ups all have additional deadlines.

Reaching out and Checking Email
If you have questions at any point during the admissions process, or would just like to know more about your college or university, reach out to them! For UW-Madison related questions reach out to with any questions you have regarding the admissions process or to learn more about UW-Madison. We also highly encourage students to use an email address that is different then their school provided email address for the application process and when signing up for FAFSA. This ensures that the email will not be deleted when the student graduates high school. We also encourage students to check their email often to make sure they do not miss any communications from our office regarding their admissions application.

At UW-Madison we are so excited to see the great things students in 4-H are doing and hope everyone has a great start to the school year. Go Badgers! Learn more about UW-Madison Admissions here:

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