Among the many new faces on the University of Wisconsin–Madison campus last fall were eight people resuming their college education after a significant break. They were the first students served by the Badger Ready program, which gave them a chance to enter the state’s flagship university and complete a degree.
Badger Ready offers an opportunity for adults 25 and older and veterans of any age who have at least 24 transferable college credits but no degree. Those selected for Badger Ready can establish their current academic readiness by completing at least 12 credits on the UW–Madison campus as special students (defined as those who aren’t seeking a degree at the university). If participants earn a 3.0 grade point average, they can be admitted as undergraduate transfer students and continue their progress to a four-year degree.
A joint project of Adult Career and Special Student Services (ACSSS) and the Office of Admissions and Recruitment, Badger Ready is geared toward adult students determined to overcome obstacles to earning a UW–Madison degree.
“Providing access to higher education is an effective way of addressing inequities in our community,” says Sarah C. Mangelsdorf, UW–Madison’s provost and vice chancellor for Academic Affairs. “Adults who may not have been able to complete college degrees due to life circumstances should have a second chance to prove their academic abilities, especially if they’ve gone on to achieve success in the workplace or other areas. Earning a UW–Madison degree can boost not only their career prospects, but also the Wisconsin economy.”
Academic plans and personal goals
ACSSS considers applications for Badger Ready on a rolling basis for fall and spring. To be eligible, applicants must be seeking their first college degree. They cannot previously have been degree-seeking students at UW–Madison, as that would make them eligible for reentry admission. Wisconsin residency is not a requirement, although Badger Ready is primarily designed for local adults who can take face-to-face courses on campus. ACSSS assesses applicants’ high school and college records and their career and educational goals to determine if UW–Madison is a good fit for them. The priority deadline for fall 2019 is June 1.
Throughout the program, participants receive advising and coaching from ACSSS and campus partners. Those who don’t meet the criteria for continuing at UW–Madison can work with ACSSS staff to determine the next steps for completing their degrees elsewhere.
Scholarships are available for Badger Ready students based on financial need, academic plans and personal goals. After successfully completing the program, participants can apply for financial aid, scholarships for returning adult students and other resources available to UW–Madison students, such as Bucky’s Tuition Promise.
‘The bridge I needed’
All eight students admitted to the first cohort of Badger Ready finished their recommended coursework with a B or better. Five of them will complete their required 12 credits with Badger Ready by summer and are applying for fall 2019 transfer admission to start their undergraduate academic careers at UW–Madison.
Jesse Anderson left UW–Milwaukee five years ago following a series of personal challenges. After traveling through India, surviving an earthquake and spending time at a Buddhist monastery, he decided to return to college.
“The Badger Ready program was the bridge I needed to get back in college after a long absence,” says Anderson. “Because of Badger Ready, the attention and support of the advisors and a generous scholarship, I’m on my way to pursuing my passion again.”
Five students were admitted to the second Badger Ready cohort for spring 2019. The university will continue to expand the program, providing a pathway to a degree for those who may have experienced previous academic challenges.
“With Badger Ready, a student’s prior grade point average will not close the door to a promising future,” says Jeffrey S. Russell, dean of UW–Madison Continuing Studies and vice provost for Lifelong Learning. “This program is focused on students’ abilities in the present.”