College Q&A: Here’s The Truth

By this time last year, I knew where I would be attending college.

It came down to a battle between the University of Iowa and Florida State University. Truth be told, despite being born and raised in Iowa, FSU had been my dream school for as long as I can remember (for many reasons).

In the end, I chose the University of Iowa because of its location (it’s a lot closer to home) and cost of attendance (out-of-state tuition is insane), and because it felt like a place I could call home when I visited during my junior year of high school.

Let this be known: I don’t regret my decision of choosing Iowa over Florida State. Not even a little bit. (OK, maybe a tiny bit on days when it’s below zero here and I check the weather in Tallahassee.) It was the best decision for me at this point in my life, and I’m happy to call Iowa City my home.

I’ve truly grown to love the University of Iowa since starting classes a few months ago. I love the campus. I love the faculty. I love my classes. I love my job.

And I’m not just saying this because I blog for Iowa Admissions. It really is a university anyone would be happy and proud to say they will graduate (or have graduated) from.

Despite visiting and making the decision to attend the University of Iowa, I still had a lot of questions. I’ve thought back to this time last year and decided to answer the questions I had (as well as other random ones) with the knowledge I have about the University of Iowa today.

Did I make the right decision when choosing between schools?

I know I already touched on this, but I wanted to add on to what I said.

It’s not the end of the world if you don’t attend your “dream school.” Dreams change all the time, and chances are you’ll love the school you choose just as much…if not more.

I’m going to be completely honest and tell you I really struggled with this decision. When I accepted my offer of admission to the University of Iowa, I spent days scolding myself for giving up on my dream. It took me a while to realize I hadn’t given up on my dream, but that I was putting that specific dream on hold. I wasn’t ready to move 1,200 miles away from home. I also didn’t want to go that far in student loan debt. In the end, I made a decision that was right for me and I’m happy.

It may sound ridiculous, but weigh the pros and cons of the colleges you’re choosing between. Rory Gilmore did it in “Gilmore Girls” when deciding between Harvard, her dream school, and Yale. (I won’t spoil which school she chose.) Decide what’s most important to you, and go with it.

I came to terms with my decision when I realized I have another dream—a bigger dream—that involves working for a collegiate or professional sports organization. In fact, I wouldn’t even call it a dream. It’s an end goal (an outcome I won’t compromise) for me, and college is a means goal (a path in which to reach my end goal). The college I attend isn’t going to stop me from reaching my end goal, but how I spend my time in college can.

In the spirit of full disclosure, Florida State is a dream I’ll probably never give up. Because who knows? Maybe someday it’ll be in the cards for me.

What I do know is this: I will be proud, and privileged, to graduate and have a degree from the University of Iowa. What I do with that degree, however, is up to me.

Do I have to choose a major right away?

No. Maybe I’m wrong, but I feel like most people wait a year or two to decide on their major. Work on completing the general education requirements and think about what your interests are, where you see yourself in ten years, and so on.

And if you do pick a major but want to change it later on, then change it. Talk to your advisor. Talk to your parents. You’ll be fine.

I came into college knowing I would double major in Sport and Recreation Management and Journalism and Mass Communication. It wasn’t a hard decision for me, but it can be for others. It’s scary to think about what you might be doing for the rest of your life.

(I will talk more independently about my majors and the opportunities they provide in the future, specifically the Sport and Recreation Management program.)

What if I can’t find someone to room with and I get randomly matched?

Searching for a roommate is an awkward experience, or at least it was for me. It felt weird messaging and talking to random girls about possibly being roommates. Eventually I decided I’d let fate run its course.

I’m thankful to say my roommate and I get along incredibly well. We went to schools that played each other in some sports, and we have quite a bit in common. I’d go as far to say one of the biggest differences between the two of us is that she’s a Green Bay Packers fan and I’m a Minnesota Vikings fan, but we make it work.

I may have lucked out in the roommate department because I have heard horror stories about getting randomly matched. Just remember, it’s only temporary and, if you don’t get along, you can always swap rooms.

How do I manage my time?

That’s a good question, and I’m still trying to figure it out.

There are a lot of ways to keep track of your time, but actually getting in the habit of doing it is the hard part. You can use the calendar on your phone, a physical calendar, a planner, a bullet journal, and the list goes on.

It’s all about figuring out what works for you and getting in the habit of doing it.

Should I get a job?

Technically, I had a job during my first semester at the University of Iowa, but I was only a volunteer (I will start getting paid in Fall of 2018).

In general, I think it’s fine to wait a semester or two before getting a job unless you absolutely need one. And when you do decide to look around, you can use Hire A Hawk to help.

 

How are classes different from high school?

The easiest answer is they’re harder. You have to put more time in when it comes to assignments, papers, and studying for tests. If you fall behind, it can be really hard to catch back up.

What’s my favorite class and why?

I only have one full semester under my belt, but I’ll go with Introduction to the Politics of Race. It fulfilled a Gen Ed requirement, and it was unrelated to my major, but it’s a class I think everyone should take. I learned a lot about race, mass incarceration, and immigration law.

How is college in general different from high school?

You have a lot more “free” time. When I was in high school, I was stuck at school from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., and after school was time for extracurricular activities or work.

When it comes to college, your classes are more spread out. You might have three on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and only one on Mondays and Wednesdays. You have all this open space on your schedule to do whatever you want, right?

Wrong.

You still have homework (readings, assignments, papers). You still have extracurricular activities. You still have work.

So it’s up to you to make sure you spend your “free” time the right way before you sit back and relax.

Is the food good?

In the dining halls/market places, it’s all-you-can-eat. One day you can eat a salad, and the next you can have a plate full of pizza. Or you can have salad and pizza all at once. It’s really up to you. If you ever want to see the options you’ll have to choose from, take a look at the menus for the three dining halls on campus.

There are a lot of non-dining halls to choose from when it comes to places to eat on campus. My favorites so far are the Street Hawk Food Truck and Union Station. I’ve heard that River Room Cafe and Black’s Gold Grill are good, but I haven’t eaten at either one yet.

I will say this: There are a lot of places to eat on and around campus, but dining hall food can get a little old after a while. Try to switch it up every once in a while.

Do I need a car?

No. At least not as a freshman.

If you want to go home, someone can come pick you up or you can catch a ride with another student. Or you can buy a plane ticket, if necessary.

Bringing a car means having to spend more money, and we’re already spending enough as is. Honestly, Iowa’s campus is close enough to everything you might need and more.

 

How do I get around campus?

A combination of walking and using the Cambus. You can download an app for the bus schedule, and you’ll catch on quickly to which routes you need to use. A lot of people have a moped, but I don’t have a very good history with them.

Getting around campus is not as hard as some people make it seem.

Should I purchase season tickets for football and basketball?

YES. All other athletic events are free for students, but I definitely recommend getting season tickets for football and basketball.

I didn’t have to purchase season tickets for football because of my job, but I would have if I needed to. The environment is insane. Kinnick Stadium is one of the toughest places to play—just ask Michigan and Ohio State. You definitely want to be a part of that, even if you’re not a huge football fan.

Thank you for reading! Be sure to keep an eye out for my next post! And if you’d like to see more of my everyday life as an Iowa student, feel free to follow me on social media. Go Hawks!

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@kam_smithy

 

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