Academic Orientation Module

Academic Resources

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Resources from Video

Disability Resource Center

Students who have a documented disability (including learning disabilities) are eligible to receive accommodations through the McBurney Disability Resource Center.


  • Adaptive/Assistive Technology
  • Alternative Formats (Document Conversion, Braille, large print, audio)
  • Alternative Testing (Test Accommodations)
  • Course Substitution Evaluation
  • Laboratory Assistance
  • Notetaking
  • Preferential Seating
  • Reduced Credit Load Recommendation


Downloadable video guide (PDF)

Understanding Academic Misconduct

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Resources from Video

Links included in the video:

Downloadable video guide (PDF)

Preparing for your Classes

After you have reviewed the Course Enrollment Orientation Module and added some classes to your schedule, it’s time to start preparing for them to begin.

The US Classroom

You may find that some aspects of the classroom in the United States are quite similar to how things are back home. Other things might be very different. Be sure to check out each one for more information.

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Instructors & Teaching Assistants (TAs)

Instructors lead classes at UW-Madison. In addition to your instructors, some larger classes will also have teaching assistants (TAs). Teaching assistants often guide discussion or lab sections, and sometimes assist the instructor with grading.

Each week, your instructors and teaching assistants will hold office hours to help answer questions outside of class. These office hours will be listed on your course syllabus. We recommend visiting office hours if you have questions.

Course Components - Lecture, discussions, and labs

These are common components of courses in a US university. Your individual classes may vary, so see the course description for more information:

  • Lecture – A lecture is usually lead by the instructor of the class. Some classes only have a lecture section, and others have additional mandatory components as well. In larger classes, the lecture section is usually time for the professor/instructor to provide broad course content. Exams are often also scheduled during the lecture section.
  • Discussion – In classes with more students, you might have separate discussion sections where the course material can be discussed in a smaller break out group. These sections are often taught by teaching assistants, and are meant to further understanding and discuss key issues covered in the lecture.
  • Laboratory – Most often included in science or engineering classes, labs serve much like discussion sections and allow for hands-on practice of the content covered in the lecture.


Check your Student Center, Canvas account, course description, or syllabus for textbook information. You can purchase your textbooks online, from the University Bookstore, or from other local bookstores in Madison. Some classes have printed course packets instead of textbooks, which you can find at local print shops.


You should receive your syllabus for each class on the first day or beforehand from your instructor. Your syllabus will include the course meeting times, professor office hours, homework, grading information, final exam time, and other very important information.

Be sure to keep copies of all syllabus to give to your home university after you return. It may be difficult to obtain a new copy of lost syllabi after the fact.


In the US university setting, you will likely have a large amount of homework and projects to do outside of class. You should plan on spending several hours each week per class to complete these course requirements. All homework and exams should be listed in the course syllabus, which you should receive the first day of class.


Unlike in some other countries, course attendance is very important during your time at UW-Madison. It is a visa requirement to attend classes regularly. Attendance is also sometimes factored into your course grade. Some professors allow excused absences with doctor’s notes or other proof, and others do not.

Refer to your course syllabus for more information about your specific course requirements, and ask your professor what they prefer you do if you need to be absent due to illness or other urgent matters.

Final Exam Schedule - Check before classes start

The final exam information (if any) should be included in the course description. Before your classes begin, be sure that you do not have overlapping final exams or other scheduling issues.  It can be difficult if not impossible to reschedule final exams. You may have to change classes if you have two final exams scheduled at the same time.