UW-La Crosse's START program prepares incoming freshmen - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

UW-La Crosse's START program prepares incoming freshmen

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La Crosse, WI (WXOW) -

240 future Eagles had their first experience of campus life at UW-La Crosse's first START program of the summer on Monday.

An acronym for STudent Advising Registration and Transition, START prepares students for life on campus and in the classroom.

Amanda Mahlum recently graduated from Germantown High School, and come fall she will be a UWL Eagle.

"It's definitely nerve-racking, especially because I'm super close with my younger sister," incoming UWL Freshman Amanda Mahlum elaborates, "so leaving her behind is going to be something that's really hard for me," Mahlum discloses.

Leaving family can be nerve-racking for anyone, but UWL's START program aims to help students make a new home in La Crosse.

"We strive to give those students a really good sense of belonging, because we know students are more successful when they feel like they really belong with the community," UWL Director of Academic Advising and Career Services Becky Vianden describes.

"They go to a computer lab, get help with how to use the registration system, and then they actually have a schedule in hand to leave with them when they leave today," Vianden finishes.

Besides registering for class, START connects students with upperclassman called Eagle Guides to give them a student's perspective of what to expect in their first year.

"No student wants to be the first one to ask any questions and so I think knowing that, the Eagle Guides are able to step in and be like, 'Hey I know you didn't ask but these are some things that I was kind of thinking about or wondering about when I was in your shoes," UWL Eagle Guide Jacob Ausman elaborates.

A perspective that helps students realize their next four years may not play out as they imagine.

"It's OK if you change your major, I did. It's OK if you come in undeclared, I did. So things like that can go a long way," Ausman adds.

Ausman serves as a support structure for students before they move in that reduces some of the unknown that comes with their first year.

"So I am a little nervous about that but I think it will turn out how it's supposed to, I think everything is going to work out well," Mahlum concludes.

START also separates parents and students to give them an idea of what it will be like when September rolls around. It's all in an effort to simulate what it will be like for students without their parents while they still have the summer ahead of them.

Every incoming student is required to attend START, with nine sessions scheduled throughout June.

MORE: Additional START information

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