Begin your next mission with Odyssey Beyond Wars

As a veteran, I would have benefited tremendously from a program like Odyssey. After my service, I ended up back in my hometown as a 22 year old with no job, no education, and Army training that didn't help me in my pursuit to find a career. I ended up working minimum wage jobs for a long time. The transition from military life back into the civilian world is a lot more difficult than most people realize. As an alum of the Odyssey program, I can attest that Odyssey is life changing.

Joe Robinson, Army veteran and Odyssey Project graduate

Frequently Asked Questions

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When and where does class meet?

Odyssey Beyond Wars is a two-semester (September through May) program that meets one night a week from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. at the South Madison Partnership Space (2238 S. Park Street, Madison WI 53713)

How does Odyssey Beyond Wars help remove barriers to college?

Aside from providing free tuition, Odyssey Beyond Wars provides the following services and supports:

  • textbooks and all necessary supplies, including technology
  • childcare and enrichment programming for children and grandchildren ages birth through 18.
  • a weekly pre-class dinner
  • assistance with transportation needs
  • one-on-one tutoring (for both current Odyssey students and alumni, children and grandchildren)
  • support from dedicated success coaches
  • access to the Onward Odyssey program, offering tuition-free alumni courses in subjects such as history, sociology, acting, and English

One of the biggest benefits of Odyssey Beyond Wars, though, is the opportunity for veterans to engage intellectually with peers who are often facing similar challenges in adjusting to life outside of the military. The program focuses on fostering the sense of community that veterans often miss when they transition to civilian life.

How much does it cost?

The course is free to students because of UW-Madison support, grant funding, and private donations. Books, necessary supplies and technology, and childcare/enrichment are provided without charge as well. Program graduates can get a jump start on their college career by earning six transferable college credits without using any VA benefits.

Program graduates can also continue to access Odyssey support services and take credit-bearing courses in English, history, sociology, and acting — all at no cost.

What are classes like?

During the weekly evening class sessions, Odyssey students engage in lively discussions inspired by literature, philosophy, art, film and music that reflects their lived experiences. They also share their own work, published quarterly in The Odyssey Oracle, building both confidence and community, as well as critical thinking skills, a sense of empowerment, and a stronger voice along the way.

Check out a list of works often covered in the class.

Who can apply?

Odyssey Beyond Wars encourages and accepts applications from all military veterans, regardless of time in service, deployment history, disability status, or discharge status. Applicants must:

  • be at least 18 years old
  • possess a high school diploma or GED/HSED
  • possess the ability to read texts in English
  • make a commitment to attend classes regularly and complete weekly assignments

Preference will be given to applicants facing financial need and/or other significant barriers.

If I meet those requirements, how do I apply?

  1. Download an application, complete it, and return it to: Erin Celello, Odyssey Beyond Wars Director, 2238 S. Park St., Madison, WI 53713 OR
  2. Fill out this form online OR
  3. Pick up an application at the UW South Madison Partnership Space located at 2238 S. Park Street

If I'm accepted into Odyssey Beyond Wars, does that mean I'm admitted to UW-Madison?

Students admitted to Odyssey enter UW-Madison as special students. Special students take classes at the university but are not enrolled in a degree program.

Special Student status does come with a host of benefits, however. Odyssey students receive UW-Madison photo IDs and have many of the same opportunities as students in degree programs (for example bus passes and access to campus athletic and other facilities). Upon completing the Odyssey course, some students choose to apply to UW-Madison in degree programs.

What if I have additional questions?

Feel free to contact Erin Celello at 608-286-5549 or with any questions not answered here.

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