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  • Writer's pictureNancy Adis

Madison, WI – A Capital City with a Lively College Culture

When I was in Madison last month, I got to visit not only UW-Madison, the well-known flagship university of the UW system, but also the nearby small private college – Edgewood College. Students who are interested in living in this mid-sized city nestled between lakes and hopping with an active lifestyle, have many study options!

First, let me mention that Greater Madison is a very bicycle-friendly city. I’ve heard that they actually have more bikes than cars and there are more than 200 miles of scenic biking and hiking trails in the area. Let me also mention the arts and cultural offerings, famous State Street, farmer’s markets, and lakefront activities. So, the city has many amenities, now let’s talk about the two colleges I visited:


This is the largest university in Wisconsin, with a total campus enrollment of over 50,000 students, including representation from all 50 states and over 120 countries. They have an outstanding academic reputation, offer over 125 majors, and have a 20:1 student-to-faculty ratio.

Students have extensive options for study abroad, research programs, internships, and co-ops, as well as service-learning projects, first year interest groups, and residential learning communities to help them customize their experience as a Badger. It seems like there is a little “something for everyone” on this 938-acre campus.

UW-Madison is guided by a long tradition of the “Wisconsin Idea” which signifies the general principle “that education should influence people’s lives beyond the boundaries of the classroom.” This commitment to serving the community also seems to lead to a wide variety of people (not just students and faculty) participating on the campus. When I was at the Memorial Union, I enjoyed seeing the comfortable interaction of students with professionals, families, and people from all walks of life. The university has a world class performing arts center which hosts well-known musicians, national tours of theatre shows, and other performances which many community members partake of. Students also support the independent and locally owned small businesses which are plentiful in town.

UW-Madison has NCAA Division 1 sport teams, with games often broadcast nationally. The Wisconsin Badgers football team plays at Camp Randall Stadium and home games can bring more than 100,000 people into town in support. You may have heard of “Jump Around,” when the entire stadium erupts in cheers as the starting horns are heard over the speakers. Students, alumni, and community members alike jump up and down, shaking all of the stadium.

Students interested in attending UW-Madison should get their application materials in by early January. There is a program called “Bucky’s Tuition Promise” to help Wisconsin students with financial need, but most other scholarships need to be applied for directly using a scholarship hub to explore applicable options by program and interest.

And then just down the road, less than a mile away, there is a smaller college:

Edgewood College

This private Catholic college enrolls approximately 2,000 students who are pursuing degrees in the arts and sciences, the humanities, business, education, and nursing. Since 1927, Edgewood has been committed “to the lifelong search for truth.” As a friendly campus focused on fostering a strong community, the students, faculty and staff of many varied backgrounds partner in the pursuit of a just and compassionate world.

When I visited, I learned about the variety of learners at Edgewood - from full-time traditional aged undergraduate students to adult students and on-line students and graduate students. This independent liberal arts college offers many opportunities for students to connect learning, beliefs, and action. They have over 40 majors and an average class size of 15. Additional offerings include an Honors program, study abroad opportunities, and internship options. Another bonus is their collaborative program with UW-Madison, in which students can take a UW-Madison course, as often as once each semester, in order to supplement the instructional resources of this smaller college.

The 55-acre campus also has access to the hiking and biking trails of Lake Wingra, offers NCAA Division III sports, and features many extracurriculars for students to get involved in. All new students receive some type of grant or scholarship to help with financing their education. Edgewood College may be a good option for students looking for a small college experience in a big college town.

There are many colleges and universities available to students, depending on their interests and career goals. Confident College Planning guides students and families in the college choice process with a personalized plan that reduces stress and helps students be most successful. Our services include planning discussions for exploring majors, making college lists and college visits, and individualized attention for essay editing, application review and tracking, scholarship research, and funding strategies. Contact me at for assistance – I would love to help you on your college choice journey!

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