What the Heck is a WisCard?

Your WisCard is a fancy name for your student ID card. It has a picture of you, your name, and your campus ID number on the front, and the back looks just like the back of a debit card. In fact, your WisCard is basically a university debit card. Money can be loaded on to it and used for a variety of different things on campus.You can load money online, by snail mail, or in person. It’s so easy to do, I’ve seen students do it on their smart phone while they are in line!


You probably won’t look as fly as Bucky. Sorry.

Your WisCard is an essential part of your life on campus, especially your first year. The title question really should be, “What isn’t your WisCard?” But let’s stick with the plan, “What the heck is a WisCard?”

1. Your Meal Plan 

UW-Madison doesn’t have a meal plan where you pay a certain amount of money before you come to campus and it earns you a certain amount of “meal swipes” throughout the year. Instead there is a ‘a la cart’ or pay-as-you-go system.

This is how it works. If you live in the dorms and have money on your WisCard you can buy food at the housing dining facilities with a 30% reduced rate on everything you purchase. (P.S. If you don’t live in the dorms, you can still get a 5% reduced rate.) I really liked this method better because it could adapt to my daily schedule easily.

For example, if I was running late to a 7:45am exam, but I couldn’t make it through without something in my stomach, I could run through a dining facility and buy an apple and a granola bar. I would only be paying for an apple and a granola bar. Plus, I could come back 50 minutes later (after acing the exam, duh) and buy a bigger breakfast if I needed. I wouldn’t have to wait until 11am for my “lunch swipe” to kick in having wasted my “breakfast swipe” on the apple/granola bar combo. Or even worse, I wouldn’t have to risk trying to cook on my own.


Basically, if you want to eat 15 tiny meals a day, go for it. If you want to eat 3 meals and 2 snacks a day, no one is stopping you.

You can use your WisCard at the Wisconsin Unions, but the reduced rate is 5% no matter if you live in the dorms or not.

2. Your Laundry Card

If you live in the dorms, you use your WisCard to pay for your laundry. No need to collect quarters or begrudgingly trade in your last fiver. The laundry rooms have a device that looks like the debit card scanners at most stores. You can swipe your WisCard type, in the number of the washer you are using, and your done!

In case you were wondering, washing is $2.25, and drying is free! Which trust me, you’ll come to appreciate in the Wisconsin winters when you don’t have to walk to class with wet hat and mittens.

With University Housing’s online service, Laundry Alert, you can stalk the washing and drying units to see which ones are empty and make sure you don’t waste a trip when all the units are full. Laundry Alert will also text you when your clothes are done! So feel free to get absorbed in your homework nap without worrying about leaving your clothes in too long.


3. Your Printing Card

The dorms and most of the 42 libraries on campus have computers students can access that are hooked up to printers. You can print off of them for the small fee of 7 cents for a black and white page and 60 cents for a color page. You guessed it, you can pay for it right off of your WisCard.

Because these printers are so convenient I have never had my own printer during my time as a student. I hate paying for ink, and I also hate getting the stupid thing to work.


I avoid both of those by using the university printers. As this is 2015, most professors are using online drop boxes, so you don’t have to print too often. However, there are a few that will want things handed in as hard copy. Again, the university printers save the day.

4. Your All-Access Pass

There are some libraries where students need to show their WisCard to get in. Namely, Memorial Library and College Library (after midnight).


You may also need your WisCard to prove your identity at midterms and exams for some of the bigger classes. Make sure you have it with you when shopping or eating out too! Most places offer student discounts, and it never hurts to ask.

5. Your Debit Card

If you have a checking account at the UW Credit Union you can  attach your checking account to your WisCard. This effectively levels it up to a WisCard-debit card hybrid.


Rest assured if you lose it you can cancel it online.

See more information about the UW Credit Union program here.

Still Curious?

If you are longing to learn more about the mysteries of the WisCard search no further. Check out a list of FAQs on the WisCard website.


The Lesser Known Evil: The Sophomore 15

A dramatic lifestyle change like starting college can make it very difficult to maintain your weight. Especially when mom isn’t making you those wonderful well-balanced meals anymore. However, the popularization of the ‘freshman 15’ has made many new students hyper-aware of their eating habits/work out routines their first year of college and, in turn, has helped them keep the weight off…

…at least until sophomore year.

That’s right, folks. The sophomore 15 is real, and it will sneak up on you.

What are two big reasons the sophomore 15 strikes?

How do you to avoid it?

Great questions.

1. More responsibilities.

My freshman year I wanted to get used to the swing of things. I took 13-14 credits and only worked on Saturdays. I had a lot of extra time to do whatever I wanted to dedicate time to. Many students choose to fill that time with studying, participating in student organizations, and working out. Many other students choose to fill that time with napping, browsing the internet, and maxing out their WisCard at the dining halls.

Admittedly, I was not one of the students who avoided the freshman 15. I was used to running track and playing basketball throughout my high school years, so motivating myself to workout was something I never had to do before. Plus, I was used to eating whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. When I got to college I stopped burning calories and started burning through pints Babcock Dairy ice cream.

babcock hall mocha macchiato ice cream pint

The dining halls sell pints of Babcock Dairy ice cream. Beware.

The point is, freshman year most students have many opportunities to work out throughout the week, whether they choose to do so is another matter. Sophomore year even those who took time to be active and work out freshman year may struggle. Why? Because there is simply less time!

Sophomores usually work more hours, maybe even have an internship, and are taking more credits. The number of free time hours is scarce. You find yourself spending your free time doing *gasp* responsible things like cleaning your room or paying your bills. Because let’s be honest, the clothes sitting on your floor have basically been acting as a second layer of carpet for the last three months.

How can you make time to work out?

When my sophomore year started I slowly forgot about the routine I had created that summer. In November I noticed the weight had been slowly creeping back. The truth was clear. I hadn’t been active basically at all, but I felt like I had no time to go to the gym.

I decided to plan out my whole life for Sophomore year. I planned out when and the number of hours I would be in the library, the gym, relaxing, all in advance. That may not sound super glamorous, but my grades improved and I felt a lot more in control. Sooo, make a schedule and stick to it! Buy a planner that breaks down each day into hours or print off your class schedule from your Student Center.

Hourly Planner

Do you have any breaks in your classes? Plan to go to the library or get to the gym during that time. You’ll be amazed at how much you can get done if you spend little amounts of free time being productive instead of sitting on your phone. Literally plan your whole week out by the hour. You’ll find it much more motivating to go to the gym if you feel like you’re SUPPOSED to be there rather than hoping you decide in the moment to go.

2. Cooking sucks.

If you’ve gotten your own apartment sophomore year, you’ve already started to miss eating at the dining halls for so cheap. All the food options allow you to choose your own adventure. Channel your inner Leslie Knope and get waffles and whipped cream or take a trip around the salad bar.

What are you supposed to do now? Cook for yourself? Cooking means you have to plan out the meal, prep, and clean. Plus, how do you even do it? It’s much easier to go out and pay for someone to make your food for you.

As easy as it is, eventually your body (and your wallet) realize that maybe you should give the employees at Five Guys a chance to forget your order.

How can you make cooking easy?

For the love of Bucky, buy a crock-pot (also known to some people as a slow cooker)!!!! These things work miracles. Plop a few ingredients in it, go to bed or go to class, and come back to a fully cooked filling meal. Let’s weigh the options here, 1) prep for an hour and clean fifty pots and pans or 2) prep for ten minutes and clean one pot.

Plus, it’s easy to make it healthy. Here’s a recipe for Pineapple Salsa Chicken from the Skinny Mom Team. It only has five ingredients and the only real directions are ‘dump ingredients into pot’, so no excuses. Find more yummy and healthy crock-pot meals on Healthy Slow Cooker Recipes, the free mobile app. It will even explain the nutrition break down of each meal! You could even sign up for Pinterest and search for what you want to make.

Pineapple Salsa Chicken. Photo courtesy of Skinny Mom Team.

I know what you’re thinking. What do you eat when you’re out and about running back and forth from class to the library to class? This is when you learn the art of planning ahead and packing your lunch.

Lindsay, a dietitian who writes The Lean Green Bean blog, has a great post about packing healthy lunches. Streamline her idea by preparing a whole weeks worth of lunches before it starts. Spare an hour of Sunday evening to get everything ready so you aren’t temped to leave your lunch at home.

Make some healthy sandwiches whether they are the classic pb&j, a cold cut, or something more creative, and put them in the freezer. Not only can they stay there until you need them, they will keep fine in your backpack until you’re ready for lunch!

Buy individually wrapped snacks or put them into snack baggies yourself! Aim to put about 100 calories of each snack into a separate baggie. Small Tupperware containers make it easy to pack dipping sauces, hummus, salsa, and peanut butter. The options are almost endless.

You’ve probably heard all this advice before, but that’s because it works. Just do it!


Do you have any tips or tricks that help motivate you to work out and eat healthy? What was your experience like with the freshman or sophomore 15? What is your favorite flavor of Babcock Dairy ice cream? Comment below!