I went here my freshman year with the plan to major in Communication Disorders. Think long and hard before going to UWEC just because it's affordable and conveniently located. True, it's beautiful, it has some really great academic programs, and awesome study abroad opportunities, but it's not the right school for everyone.
First off it's a smaller school, the types of classes you can get into are very limited right off the bat, and as a freshman you're further limited to leftover classes. Thinking about trying out a particular major? I hope there's a single class related class you can get into as a freshman because you will, no doubt, land a lot of random generals. I transferred to UW-Milwaukee for my sophomore year where there are tons of classes and freshmen get to register very early in order to have a large selection.
Beyond class selection, look at your department of choice, is it a strong one at Eau Claire? Eau Claire has a lot of liberal arts, environmental/general sciences, education, and art majors. There is a small nursing department, kinesiology, and communication disorders. But there's very few healthcare-related generals, and you're very limited on your options as far as your majors if you decide to switch later on. I was very unimpressed with communication disorders; the head of the department, who everyone frantically sucks up to, is arrogant, rude, and unapproachable. She has no time for you and she even forces you to buy her books. The comm dis students themselves are all pretty much the same- arrogant, chatty cathy girls who are forever stuck in high school. One of my good friends graduated from comm dis at uwec, and it wasn't until after she graduated that she admitted to me how little she liked 90% of the girls in the department. In comparison, she went to UW-Milwaukee for her masters and loved the speech therapy department there. I too love Milwaukee for it's huge, friendly, welcoming health sciences departments. They have the biggest school of health sciences in the state of Wisconsin, and that's not including nursing since that is a separate school at milwaukee. Tons of great, related, health sciences generals to take and learn from.
I would also take a look at Eau Claire the city. There's a reason everyone wants to bring their cars; there's almost NOTHING to do aside from school events and hanging out with your friends. I cannot tell you how many weekends my friends and I would stare off into space, eventually asking each one another if we should wander back over to shopko or hardees. There's also no music scene whatsoever. During my year at uwec there was an OKGO concert, maybe one unheard of indie artist a week, and whatever wandered through the acoustic cafe. Intramural sports are strong at uwec, but unless that is enough to keep you busy and sustain you, there's a good chance you'll wind up driving off to the big cities to find something to do.
The hill, however pretty it is, is not just good exercise; it's huge pain in the ass. I watched a guy flip his bikes over the crossbar and bang up his head pretty well when he hit the ground. I watched a girl twist and break her ankle on the icy incline. I also watched a line of 4 cars stack up behind a stalled car on the hill, in an icy snowstorm. Be prepared to climb that thing in hideous weather in the middle of the night if you live in the dorms and plan on getting any studying done. The dorms are loud; you'll need the library on lower.
The student body you'll find is far from diverse or interesting. They all act and look pretty much the same, give or take a few awesome people here and there. If you love culture or quirky people, you've come to the wrong place. Here you will find a school full of female, white, middle class, ugg-wearers, northface-popping, with identical highlights, and perfectly color coordinated cardigans. Oh and they're snooty and exclusive to boot. But hey, if you love your uggs and your cardigans and trips to the mall, the more the merrier at uwec! But all of my favorite friends, ones with personalities, all either transferred out or seriously considered but were already too far into their program.The last thing I would point out is the dorm options- they're all doubles. Go tour UW-Milwaukee, you can have your own room, or live in an apartment for even cheaper then their dorms. If you do have to live in the dorms tho, I would recommend doing a random assignment. Believe it or not those tend to work out better, plus if it doesn't work out with a friend then you'll lose a roommate and a friend. If you didn't know them in the first place you just lose a roommate.