First Wave Application Information

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Minimum Eligibility Requirements

Minimum eligibility requirements to apply for and be considered for the First Wave Scholarship Program:

  • Current high school graduating senior or equivalent (GED or HSED) or freshman in college (NOT already attending UW-Madison)
  • Applied and admitted to the University of Wisconsin-Madison for Fall semester
  • U.S. Citizen, U.S. Permanent Resident (Green Card holder) or international student that qualifies for a Student Visa

Application Process

If you are eligible and interested in applying (see Minimum Eligibility Requirements) to the First Wave Scholarship Program, please follow the THREE steps below:

STEP ONEFill out the First Wave Scholarship Application Request Form! You must first fill out this mandatory form in order to apply to the First Wave Scholarship Program. With this information, we are able to track and prioritize your UW-Madison Admissions application. 

STEP TWOApply for admission to UW-Madison! In order to move onto step three, you must first submit your UW-Madison Admissions application and wait for an email within 48 hours that will give you your UW-Madison 10-digit Campus ID number (starting with 90-). This will be required to submit your First Wave application in step three. Please pay close attention to the UW-Madison Admission Application Materials ListALL mandatory materials for BOTH the UW-Madison Admissions application AND the First Wave Scholarship application are due IN THE OFFICES by January 15.  Please start the process early to allow enough time for application materials to be received by the January 15 deadline.

STEP THREE: Apply to First Wave! Once you have submitted your First Wave Scholarship Information Form, you will be emailed a link to your personal First Wave Scholarship Application on or after August 15.


  • PRIORITY consideration: October 15
  • REGULAR consideration: January 15

If you have any questions, please email us at

First Wave Application Essay Questions

  1. The First Wave Hip Hop & Urban Arts Learning Community is founded on three pillars — Academics, Arts, and Activism. In your essay, describe how you can contribute to the First Wave community and uphold its pillars as a student at UW-Madison. Please provide examples or share an experience that highlights how your interests align with all three program pillars.
  2. Describe the evolution in your artistry. What art form(s) are you interested in, how did you get involved in these craft(s), and what are your goals with your art? If possible, highlight UW-Madison resources (courses, faculty, certificate programs and/or majors, etc) you think may be helpful to your evolution as an artist.
  3. Please define activism and what it means to you. In your essay, address how you have worked collaboratively with others to contribute to the greater good of a community. You may also highlight any of your experience in civic engagement (in your school community, after-school communities, volunteer or mentorship work, etc).
  4. The First Wave scholarship program is grounded in a particular form of divisive hip hop theater, as developed by founding OMAI/FW Artistic Director, Chris Walker, and coined as the “First Wave Pedagogy.” The first year of the program in particular focuses on collaborating across disciplines to create a multimedia production, often blending the various art forms practiced among all of the FW scholars represented in the first-year cohort (visual arts, movement, music, performance poetry, etc). Explain why you want to be a part of the First Wave Hip Hop & Urban Arts Learning Community, and highlight why exploration through hip hop/urban arts and collaborative art-making may be beneficial to your trajectory as a scholar, artist, and activist/community leader.
  5. Is there anything else we need to consider when reviewing your First Wave application?

First Wave Application Letter of Recommendation Guidelines

Recommenders are sent an individual link to upload their recommendation for a specific First Wave student applicant. This email is sent directly to the recommender after an applicant submits their First Wave online application.

About the First Wave Program

The First Wave Hip Hop and Urban Arts Learning Community is a full-tuition scholarship program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. First Wave focuses on three pillars, what we call the “3 As”: Academics, Arts, and Activism. These three pillars set the foundation for our scholarship program. The expectation is to have our First Wave students embody all three areas. The goal is to focus on these three areas and help our students develop goals and build skills that increase their leadership in the classroom, as an artist, and as a global change agent.

First Wave application recommendation guidelines

As part of your letter, we ask that you address the following in regard to the student:

  1. Demonstrated leadership in the areas of Academics, Arts (urban arts/hip-hop) and Activism/social justice.
  2. Positive character traits: integrity, respect, accountability, dependability, inclusivity, etc.
  3. Community and capacity building experience – working and collaborating with others.

Completion Checklist

Make sure you have completed and submitted all of the following required items by the REGULAR application deadline of January 15. Incomplete applications will not be considered for the First Wave Scholarship Program.

❒ Completed and submitted the First Wave Scholarship Information Online Form
❒ Completed and submitted the Freshman or Transfer Admissions Online Application
❒ Submitted all mandatory materials to the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and Recruitment by January 15
❒ Completed the FIVE First Wave Essay Questions
❒ Uploaded THREE artistic samples
❒ Confirmed that your TWO recommenders have submitted recommendations on your behalf
❒ Submitted UNOFFICIAL high school or college transcript to the First Wave Application

The UW-Madison Admissions Application, the First Wave Application, and all required materials for each of these applications, are due by January 15. Please start the process early in order to guarantee completion by the January 15 deadline and we encourage you to submit as early as possible. Allow yourself enough time to complete both applications and the required materials.