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Visiting students can find a Badger path through college during the pandemic

August 24, 2020 By Lisa Bauer

MADISON—David Whittingham grew up in Madison and left Wisconsin for college. Now a rising sophomore, facing his higher education journey during a worldwide pandemic, he’s back to take advantage of special student status at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

“As the pandemic forces universities across the country into an online format, I began to explore taking a leave of absence from my university and enrolling in courses at UW­–Madison in order to save money while continuing my education,” says Whittingham, who is working for AmeriCorps while studying this fall.

As the pandemic disrupts education plans, UW–Madison invites visiting students who have not yet started or completed an undergraduate degree to be a Badger in person or online and earn college credit this fall. Fall semester starts September 2, so visiting students should apply soon.

“The pandemic is interrupting the education of students across the country,” says Martin Rouse, associate dean and director of Adult Career and Special Student Services (ACSSS). “We’re here to help.”

Rouse says people who describe themselves in the following ways can consider contacting ACSSS for assistance:

  • Undergraduate students actively working towards a degree at another institution but whose plans to return have been disrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Recent high school graduates whose plans for school or work have been disrupted by COVID-19.
  • People who already have an undergraduate degree can apply via one of our post-bachelor’s degree Special student classifications.

Whittingham says ACSSS served him well: “The Adult Career and Special Student Services website specifically for students impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic was incredibly helpful, not only offering important information for students whose plans have changed in light of the crisis, but also allowing me to share my current situation and get in touch with an advisor to explore options for the fall.”

To have a conversation about education plans with an advisors, students can submit the COVID-19 impacted students form. An advisor will discuss whether becoming a special student this fall will help make progress toward educational goals.

Students advised to apply as a visiting undergraduate-level special student will submit transcripts from prior educational institutions. For visiting special students, UW–Madison typically looks for a 3.00 GPA from those with just a high school degree and at least a 2.00 cumulative GPA for those who have already started college.

Under UW–Madison’s Smart Restart plan, students will resume academics September 2 with a mix of in-person and remote courses until the Thanksgiving recess, after which the campus will switch to a virtual format for all courses for the final nine days of instruction plus exams.

“UW–Madison offers a world-class education from renowned professors, and the pandemic has not changed that,” says Rouse. “Students can choose from more than 5,000 courses with many fully online options.”

Whittingham adds, “Growing up in Madison, I have long been made aware of the fortune of living in a state with an excellent and affordable public university.”