What Made Iowa Right For Me

I don’t regret my choice in picking Iowa over a school in Milwaukee. To summarize, the reasons I chose Iowa can come down to:

  • It was far enough away from home to miss home.
  • A wide variety of majors. (I knew I wasn’t a thousand percent sure about my major and wow, was I right)
  • It was big with a small feel. Iowa has ~30,000 people on campus. I definitely did not want something smaller than my high school—which held about 1,500 people per class.
  • A different mindset

Being away from home can feel liberating and also awful at the same time. Being from the Chicagoland area, Iowa is far enough away but close enough to spend less than half a day driving home. It gave me the opportunity to miss home and also make the trip back in case homesickness hit me. Also, before you know it, it’ll be weird calling home ‘home’ or you’ll catch yourself saying “I’m going home” when you actually mean your dorm.

While the other school would have been closer to home, it was not what I wanted. Iowa carries a wide variety of majors and as a person who is very aware how likely I was to change my first major, I needed the options.

When you first come to Iowa, it will seem really big at first. There’s like a thousand students packed into Burge; the dining hall line can literally go all the way out the side entrance during lunch rush; and there’s a million faces you’ve never seen before. But that feeling goes away pretty quickly (well all of it goes away except that long lunch line. There’s no beating it unless you find some way to book it after class and be the first one there) and you start to recognize people in your clubs, classes, and daily walks to class. Even the unfamiliar faces start to feel familiar. I also feel that once I got more involved and started to know a chunk of campus, I felt like I almost knew at least half or more of campus (because someone always knows another someone, and down the line).

At Iowa, there are people coming from different backgrounds—mostly rooted in socio-cultural differences. There are people like myself, who come from big suburban high schools and towns that were a short trip from a big city like Chicago, and there are people who come from smaller towns that have less people than my high school class did. I like that Iowa brings together these different people and more often than not, you have something to learn from them and their differing perspective.

If I could do it all again, I think I would still pick Iowa.

That Group Project (and how to Survive)

You know the one I’m talking about.

The one where somehow you ended up doing the majority of the work and it seems like your fellow group members don’t care.

The type that inspires memes like “I want my group members at my funeral to let me down one last time.”

That group project.

We’ve all been there. But for whatever reason, I was really struck by this one.

In one of my classes this semester we were assigned two group projects over the course of the semester. They would make up the bulk of our grade besides the exams and low weight homework assignments.

If you don’t know it already, Google Drive will be your best friend for any and all group projects. It allows for real time collaboration and should eliminate most of the need to meet with your group out of class.

The first group project was a slight headache. Some members neglected to show up to the meetings and were full of excuses. Not the greatest first impression but things come up in life. Taking that into account, there is still the expectation that your work gets done. Unfairly, I had a hand in completing a majority of this first project. I can’t help that a type A tendency hits me when I participate in a group project: I want timeliness, good work, and overall cooperation. For whatever reason, I was willing to let it slide.

Looking back, I’m starting to think that perhaps that was one of my initial mistakes with this group. It should be noted here that I did remedy my feelings a little bit by talking directly to my group members that similar behavior would not fly with the next project. Additionally I talked to my professor after class the last period before thanksgiving break (and before our second project would be due). I discussed with my group members—and later my professor—that we would try to get the project done earlier (it was, after all, due the Sunday after Thanksgiving and we would shoot to have it completed by the Monday before) and divvy up the parts so everyone only has a small part to do.

The true stomach-dropping-on-a-rollercoaster-feeling didn’t occur until the Sunday after Thanksgiving break about our second group project. I had completed my part by the previous Monday and had urged my peers throughout the week to complete their portions. Come Sunday night, only two other members had completed their portions of the project—leaving a majority of our project undone. If you’re anything like me, you’ll know this is where the sick, nervous feeling starts to set in. I was wildly upset. I sent an email to my professor, explaining the situation and how we would not meet the deadline. I then spent a portion of the night and the next day, working on the missing parts of the project. It wasn’t perfect and might have been had my group members pulled their own weight. But I’m not upset anymore because I learned how to deal with it.

Here are my tips for dealing with bad group members:

  1. Do stay in contact with them. Do the extra nagging to keep them on task. Yes, you’re not anyone’s mom but at least it will serve as your proof that you made an attempt.
  2. Do use google drive. It keeps record of who worked on what and when and can also serve as your proof come peer evaluations.
  3. Do talk to your professor. My professor has been incredibly understanding and helpful in this situation and how to go about rectifying it. In a situation where you may feel powerless, there is someone to help you out.
  4. Do your work: don’t contribute to a lacking group and look out for yourself. Good work ethic is not a hard skill to master and will contribute to life later on.
  5. Rest easy; Karma and peer evaluations are a thing and will help in righting the world.