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!
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.
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 studying reality changes in college. Before I just assumed I would study in my room. I mean, it’s what I did in high school, and it worked pretty well. Then I actually got to college and had my first ever roommate! That’s right folks, I had never shared my room until my freshman year of college.
She was a random roommate, so I didn’t know her that well. We got along, but we certainly weren’t BFF material. Realization set in: it’s hard to study in a room with someone else in it. It wasn’t her fault. My concentration just wasn’t on calculus. It was on the food she was making or the perfume she was spraying.
Luckily, UW Madison does not lack places to study. There’s over forty libraries on campus, plus all the other nooks and crannies you can find. Each study spot has its perks, and it might take a while before you find “the one”. You’ll know the one when you find it. Time basically stops and you will have gotten more done in an hour than you did the past two days combined.
Here’s a breakdown of the four most popular study spots with each spot’s perks and downfalls explained using everyone’s favorite language, emojis.
1. College aka Helen C. White Library
Sit by the massive windows facing Lake Mendota for some of the best views on campus and to de-stress whenever you look up from your notes.
College was made for marathon library sessions. Get your mid-afternoon (or midnight) pick-me-up at the cafe located on the first floor they also sell grab-and-go snack items!
Watch your battery life. It’s really hard to find a place to sit that also has a nearby outlet. I expect an outlet war to break out there any year now.
Most sections are designated as loud. If you are trying to read or get some serious work done the temptation to people watch can make it hard to concentrate.
2. The SAC aka The Student Activity Center
The SAC has many different kinds of study areas. You could sit at a table, a desk, a couch, a cubicle, or even on a giant carpeted stair case. Choose your own study adventure.
You can eat at the SAC. There’s even a microwave for you to use on the third floor. Don’t worry if you forgot your own snack; you can get something at the vending machines.
It always seems to be a million degrees. Definitely wear layers in the winter so you can take off your bulky sweatshirt.
It can get really crowded. Like walking around two or three times to find a seat crowded. However, this usually only happens during peak library times.
3. Steenbock Library
There are superb cubbies to submerge yourself in if you like to be isolated when you study. Literally forget everything else but Biology exists for a couple hours.
A computer lab located on the first floor that has (you guessed it) computers, printers, and scanners. The computers have a ton of software downloaded on them you might need for your coursework.
Most sections are designated quiet study areas. No picking up that call from mom in the middle of memorizing your flashcards.
With the comfy cubbies and designated quiet areas dozing off becomes a reality.
4. Memorial Library
Holy outlets, Batman! You will not be left wandering around looking for a spot where you can charge your laptop. Outlets practically grow out of the walls.
I know I already said that Steenbock had great cubbies, but Memorial takes it to a new level. They’re called the “cages”. You can actually lock yourself into them if you please. No external stimuli will be bothering you here.
I’ll admit, I kinda cheated using this emoji. Just an FYI, Memorial doesn’t allow food. Hunger pains may drive you out of the library at any time.
If you are a late-night study-er, maybe skip Memorial. It’s only open until midnight.
Don’t worry if none of these libraries appeal to you. Or if some of the perks are actually downfalls for you, or vise versa. Not every student is going to study great in every environment. Check out some of the other libraries on campus to find the perfect mix of what you need. You can sort by subject, hours, and other features! And let me know if you would like to see any other study spots added to the list! I haven’t even used all the emojis yet.