WCATY changing its name but not its mission

Group of teens studying in a park

There are some exciting changes happening at the WCATY program, the most immediate of which is that we are changing our name!

Programs previously housed under WCATY — GEM, ALP, STEP and PACE — will continue. These programs now will be housed in Badger Precollege, UW–Madison’s administrative home to an array of challenging academic experiences for students ages 5-18. Badger Precollege programs are further divided into Badger Precollege Senior (for students in grades 9–12) and Badger Precollege Junior (for students in grades 1–8). ALP will now be part of Badger Precollege Senior programs, while GEM, STEP and PACE will be part of our Badger Precollege Junior offerings.

We know that there is a good deal of tradition and loyalty to the WCATY name. The decision to change it is being made after careful deliberation and survey feedback from both existing and prospective students and families, benchmarking with other top-tier precollege programs and operational restructuring to better support student experiences.

The pandemic provided us with an opportunity to think about our goals and vision for the future of academic programming for young learners at UW–Madison. At a time when we are evolving our programs and admissions process to be more holistic and inclusionary to reach a broader range of academically curious and motivated learners, we felt that our program name needed to evolve along with those goals.

We have created an FAQ page that goes into greater detail about this name change and what you can expect going forward, but here is an overview:

  • Our mission to serve academically advanced students through high-quality, rigorous programming remains the same.
  • We will continue our focus and commitment on creating a sense of community and belonging for students who identify as academically curious.
  • Students who participated in WCATY programs can now access a larger portfolio of programming in Badger Precollege, in a greater range of interests and topics.
  • We are strengthening relationships with academic departments and faculty across UW–Madison to bring the latest, most innovative learning and resources from campus to all Badger Precollege programs.

Again, our FAQ page provides additional information. If you have further questions, please email us at info@precollege.wisc.edu and a member of our staff will be in touch.

We are so grateful for your participation in WCATY over the past 30 years. With your support, we are excited to continue to grow and develop Badger Precollege programs for curious and committed young learners for the next 30 years and beyond.