UW-Madison: Connections program continues to expand

CONTACT: Annette McDaniel, 608-890-1649, [email protected]

MADISON – The University of Wisconsin-Madison, with its national reputation as a leading educational institution and its picturesque location, is the most desired destination for thousands of academically talented college applicants in the state.

“Even though UW-Madison is fortunate to have many, many top-tier high school seniors applying, we do not have enough seats for all of them,” says assistant dean Annette McDaniel, director of the UW-Madison Connections program.

To relieve increasing freshman-enrollment pressure, UW-Madison developed Connections, a dual-admission program, in 2001.

“Connections is an innovative plan to allow academically strong applicants to start at one of our partner campuses and then finish their bachelor’s degrees at UW-Madison … and the good news is we’re expanding the program,” McDaniel adds.

Invitations to participate in connections for the 2009-10 academic year are being sent to students around the state.

In addition to the current two-year partner campuses, freshmen entering the program next fall will be able to choose from five four-year campuses: UW-Green Bay, UW-Parkside, UW-River Falls, UW-Stevens Point and UW-Stout.

Students in the Connections program complete their freshman and sophomore years (54 credits) at their partner institutions and receive UW-Madison ID cards, giving them access to UW-Madison libraries, recreational facilities and sporting events.

What’s it like being one of the 474 students in the UW-Madison Connections program?

Andrew Zganjar of Mequon says he was disappointed at first that he was asked to join Connections and almost accepted admittance at an Iowa college. “But now I am very, very happy that I chose to stick with the program,” he says. “It’s given me the opportunity to be a big fish in a small pond (at Madison Area Technical College). Now I get noticed for my hard work, and I don’t feel like just a number.”

Zganjar chose to move to Madison from his suburban Milwaukee home so he could get acquainted with the city before transferring to UW-Madison. “I lived in a private dorm near campus my first year, which gave me a good base of both UW and MATC friends.”

The biggest difference between the two schools, he adds, is the size of classes. “I know or recognize everyone in all of my MATC classes and I know the professors on a first-name basis. MATC is a great mix of high school and university.”

Zganjar, who hopes to go to medical school at UW-Madison, says the best part of attending MATC is the opportunities to excel: playing with the MATC golf team and going to nationals in New York, being chosen as a member of the National Honor Society and serving this year as the MATC chapter’s president.

“The dual-admission program has really added to my Madison experience. I use my ID card almost daily; I usually use the UW-Madison recreational facilities twice a week and I go to the college library almost every night. I applied for football tickets also, but lost the lottery both years.”

Bryan Carlson, of DePere, who plans to become a pharmacist, is a UW-Madison Connections participant who started his education at UW-Fox Valley.

“This way I was guaranteed a space at UW-Madison, and I could complete my first and second years of education without taking out any loans,” he says. “It was literally, a mini-scale version of UW-Madison, with similar student groups and involvement. This allowed me to grow my personal identity and develop as an individual. Now I’m bringing that independence to UW-Madison.”

Michael Butalla, a 2008 graduate of Marathon High School, also chose to go with Connections after he was accepted.

“I had my heart set on going to UW-Madison, yet I really didn’t know how I would finance my studies there,” says Butalla. “Then I was offered a scholarship if I attended UW-Marathon for the first two years. How could I refuse that offer? It was a daunting decision. Finally I decided I would save money for attending UW-Madison while I lived at home and went to my local campus.”

Connections opens the doors to UW-Madison to many more students because they have the security of knowing that they can transfer in their third year, McDaniel adds.

“We’re pleased that we can offer this option to academically strong students so they can continue their educations while remaining in the state,” she says

For more information, contact McDaniel at [email protected] or 608-890-1649 or visit http://www.connections.wisc.edu.