First Wave Application Information

  • 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 2019
    • 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 Information 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, 2019.  Please start the process early to allow enough time for application materials to be received by the January 15, 2019 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, 2018.


    • PRIORITY consideration: October 15, 2018
    • REGULAR consideration: January 15, 2019

    If you have any questions, please email us at

  • First Wave Application Essay Questions
    1. The First Wave Learning community is founded on three pillars—Academics, Arts, and Activism. In your essay, please describe how you think 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 your evolution in your artistry and activism. In doing so, please explain how you think studying at UW-Madison will benefit you going forward. Please highlight relevant courses of study, majors, special programs, etc. in which you have an interest in participating.
    3. Please define activism and what it means to you. In your essay, please also address how you have worked with others collaboratively and also how you plan to work in community with other scholar-artist-activists who may hold differing viewpoints?
    4. The First Wave scholarship program is grounded in a particular aesthetic that blends Hip Hop, Spoken Word, and Urban Arts. Please explain why you want to be part of the First Wave learning community and detail your commitment to exploration through this particular aesthetic.
    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, 2019. 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, 2019. 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.