Tech for new students: Where do I start?

Last updated August 9, 2022

Top 5 things to do before classes start...

someone typing on a laptop

1. Learn what tech you need for college

Access to a laptop or computer is essential for your learning. Learning activities may include downloading or streaming video lectures, accessing coursework or taking quizzes in Canvas, participating in course discussions, or group projects via Google Docs, among others. Does your computer meet the guidelines to do everything you’ll need it to do?

Computers & equipment for students: What do I need?

Learning online: Technology tips & tools


password field superimposed over hands typing on a keyboard

2. Know your NetID and password

Your NetID provides access to resources like Course Search & Enroll, Canvas and LinkedIn Learning. As an applicant, you received your NetID via email. If you are unsure of your NetID or need to reset your password, the Help Desk can assist you.

How to recover a forgotten NetID

Contact the Help Desk


Smartphone displaying Duo log in screen

3. Get multi-factor authentication on your device

UW–Madison uses Duo Security (MFA-Duo) for our multi-factor authentication service. You must enroll in MFA-Duo in order to access your UW–Madison online data (Canvas, email, MyUW, etc). This additional security step uses something you know (your NetID and password) with something you have (your smartphone or token/fob) to “prove it’s you!”

Prove it’s you


Data and a lock

4. Secure your computer and data

Make sure your computer has antivirus software installed and use a virtual private network (VPN) when you’re connected to public networks. Additionally, use a password management tool to store your passwords and learn how to recognize and report phishing emails.

Use Windows Defender

Enable Gatekeeper for macOS

Install WiscVPN

Learn about phishing


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5. Download essential software

Office 365 by Microsoft is available free to students and provides access to email, calendaring and the Office Suite, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneDrive. To facilitate document sharing and group collaboration, take advantage of cloud-based productivity tools included in G Suite such as Google Drive and Google Docs. Visit the Campus Software Library to discover other no-charge software applications available to you as a UW–‍Madison student.

Get free Microsoft 365

Login to Google Workspace

Visit the Campus Software Library