Why Choose PACE?

PACE gifted and talented participants posing on Bascom Hill

Engage your academic interests in a college setting. During class, don’t be surprised if you lose track of time while geeking out and being inspired by your favorite subject area, while facing unique academic challenges. In the classroom, you will learn to become more independent as a learner and increase your confidence when approaching challenging academic tasks, both individually and in teams. By the end of the program, you will develop better time management skills and improve your understanding of yourself; your strengths, talents, and areas where you can continue to grow. When you are not in class, be ready to explore different parts of campus that may spark your curiosity even further.

Overall, you will feel more comfortable and confident sharing your ideas with a broad community of intellectual youth.


PACE offers a learning opportunity that I would not have had without this program and WCATY itself.

WCATY Participant

What to Expect?

Precollege Academic Campus Experience (PACE) Program Model: PACE gives students completing grades 5-8 an opportunity to explore their current interests and passions with like-minded peers in a college setting. Equally strong emphasis is given to academic rigor, social-emotional development, and community building. Students spend a week taking one accelerated class designed specifically for middle school advanced learners on the beautiful UW–Madison campus. This program was developed to engage, intellectually challenge, and inspire young minds. Not only will students explore their chosen area of study in class, they will also have the opportunity to spark their curiosity during campus field trips during the week. Class sizes are small, affording students the opportunity to connect with mentors, instructors, and peers. In addition to content area related field trips and guest speakers, students will explore all that the UW–Madison campus has to offer during their lunch breaks. Some examples of past excursions have included: The Chazen Art Museum, visits to Makerspace, and a tour of Camp Randall Stadium.

View the PACE Student Handbook.


PACE was a perfect mix of fun and learning.

WCATY Participant

Daily Schedule

Time Activity
8:30-8:40am Drop off
8:40-8:50am Whole group morning meeting
9:00-11:00am Class time
11:15am -12:00pm Lunch
12:15-1:15pm Campus Field Trips
1:30-4:15pm Class time
4:30pm Pick up

For Parents

Parents will have the opportunity to meet instructors, mentors, and WCATY staff on the opening day of the program. In addition, Parent Visiting Day is held on the final day of the program and parents are invited to attend their child’s class from 3:30-4:15pm and witness first-hand what their child has been exploring all week.

Safety and Security

It is the expectation that students remain on campus at all times during program hours. The campus boundaries will be clearly defined during the mandatory rules meeting on opening day. Students are supervised at all times by mentors, instructors, and WCATY staff. Cell phones are allowed, but use is limited to emergency situations or to coordinate with parents. Please ensure your child is careful with his or her own belongings, that they keep their belongings with them at all times, and are respectful of others’ belongings.


What I liked most was how relatable students were and
that everyone could talk to each other and was interested in similar things.

WCATY Participant

WCATY Instructors

Many WCATY instructors return to teach year after year and bring with them their passion for their chosen fields, as well as their passion for educating advanced learners. Backgrounds of our instructors vary widely—from seasoned classroom educators, to innovative professionals eager to share their knowledge with our students, to aspiring academics seeking to broaden their community outreach skills.