Apply to First Wave

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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

Application Process

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

STEP ONEApply for undergraduate admission to UW-Madison! In order to move onto step two, 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-), net ID , and MYUW log in instructions. This will be required to start your First Wave application (see Step two). Please pay close attention to the UW-Madison Admission Application Materials List.

STEP TWOApply to First Wave! Once you have submitted your UW-Madison Admissions Application, please log into the Wisconsin Scholarship Hub (WiSH) and do a search for the “First Wave Scholarship Program”.


  • EARLY ACTION consideration: November 1
  • REGULAR consideration: January 16

Please note that we can only offer the First Wave Scholarship to students that are admitted to UW-Madison.

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.

If you have any questions, please email us at

Completion Checklist

Make sure you have completed and submitted all of the following required items by the November 1 to be considered for Early Action/Priority, or by February 15 for regular consideration.

Incomplete applications will not be considered.

❒ Completed and submitted the Freshman or Transfer Admissions Online Application
❒ Submitted all mandatory materials to the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and Recruitment by your preferred consideration deadline
❒ Completed the FIVE First Wave Essay Questions
❒ Uploaded THREE artistic samples
❒ Confirmed that your TWO recommenders have submitted recommendations on your behalf
❒ Submitted the complete First Wave Application online

The UW-Madison Admissions Application and First Wave Scholarship Application, and all required materials for the applications, are due by the consideration date you have chosen. That includes that all materials must be received in the respective offices by the deadline. Allow yourself enough time to complete both applications and the required materials.

If you have any questions, please email us at