First off I will say that if you are a transfer student to the college of liberal arts, the second language requirement for a BA is going to be a big hassle if u want to graduate in 2 years or less. So if you are coming here to pursue major specific courses I would say do a language in community college or wherever you transferred from, because it is ridiculous to spend 70% of your time learning a language just to fulfill a requirement, meanwhile you are sacrificing time you should be spending doing the work towards your major that hopefully interests you and is relevent to your career.
Advising here is a joke. I have a Major advisor and a College advisor. I had a meeting with a College advisor and all he did to answer my questions was refer me to the website. The College advisors only know as much that is on the website and broschures, dont even waste your time with them. My major advisor was pretty good though.
The school is huge and impersonal overall. It is a nightmare of a bureaucracy (The application process took forever and seemed unorganized. When you asked questions they would transfer you to somebody that spoke little english), but thankfully most the common services are streamlined for online use.
a big factor that ruined my experience at the U was just getting to the damned place. Parking is expensive, and limited. the buses are often overcrowded and forced to skip stops. It doesnt sound like a big deal, but when you start dealing with it everyday it starts to wear on you. if you do go here it is probably best to just live near campus, even though it is a rip off.
I was a commuter so i guess i was not that deep in the social life but I can say this much: The U is dominated by kids from small towns and distant suburbs all over the state and Wisconsin (I swear half the school is from Wisconsin). It is all fun at first, but I grew up in the Twin Cities, so I guess the whole "we're here, lets live it up," mentality does not translate for me. Alot of them seem to be relishing the freedom from their parents and life in the city. Obviously that means an obsession with going out and drinking. I can say it is especially true with the women there, most the girls i met there LOVED attention at the bars and clubs and were on some kind of mission to meet as many athletes or young professionals as they could attract. Dont get me wrong, I love going out and having fun, but I found it was difficult to CASUALLY hang out or have an adult conversation with the girls i met because they were so obsessed with being on the "scene" at all times.
There is the whole school spirit/sports/frat scene if you want it, but it does not dominate the scene and it is easy to ignore if you dont care. Oh yea, it seems like almost everyone is hopped up on adderall... I cant stay up until 5 and wake up 3 hours later 4 nights a week but apprently alot of people can there....
I spent a semester in the architecture school and I hated the people there. They pretty much lived up to every stereotype of architecture school (academic snobs), except for one professor who was actually a practicing architect and had knowledge rooted in actual experience rather than the endless theory that comes out of the U. Not to mention their arch/land arch program takes 7 years to finish from undergrad to masters and doesnt even teach you autocad.
The U has its good and bad qualities. I would say if you grew up locally, and you arent a big academic person like me, you might grow tired of it fast.