To the Class of 2017
A year ago today I was exactly where you are right now. I was sitting at home, jumpy from accepting my admission to Iowa and filling out my housing application. It seemed like I had to get everything figured out then and there and I was pretty stressed. I couldn’t narrow down my interests to one major and I didn’t know if I should buy tickets for the big games or the whole season. I wasn’t sure I would last so far away from my home in Connecticut or if I’d be able to relate to the people living around me. I was convinced the classes would be extremely difficult to pass and that I’d have professors with too many students to bother with just one. I didn’t know what clubs to join, or which events were “good”, or which classes to take first. I had never used a bus system before, I hoped my RA would be nice, I hoped moving in wouldn’t be too tricky, and I had not a single clue about what I was going to furnish my room with.
But as the year comes to a close I can look back and realize how easy my first year at Iowa actually was. I started off the year, as everyone does, with MapWorks and Sexual Harassment videos. That should ease some of the stress right there. It did for me. I knew I was coming into a community of concerned staff members, and I was right on. The professionals here will not hesitate to reach out to you if you are struggling, and MapWorks will serve as a check up system. That way they can identify transition issues that even you may not have recognized yet.
With the On Iowa! Program, moving in was almost too easy. Current students helped me unload my car into a rolling cart and directed me to my room. It took an hour and a half to get my room looking my own, and I’ve continued to add to it. Its now complete with futon, bookshelf, and framed Pokemon posters.
My professors, even those teaching lecture halls of 300+ students, have office hours where they’ve been able to meet with me. They also have Teaching Assistants who are assigned to a smaller group of students for discussion. Not to mention the free tutoring provided by the Math Lab, Writing Center, and the University Housing and Dining. Certain classes also provide near daily tutoring in the Pomerantz center and other locations. There is no shortage of academic assistance, trust me. I came to campus freaking out, and now I’m on the President’s Honor Roll, a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, and a member of the Phi Eta Sigma Fraternity/Sorority (Iowa’s National Honors Society). So if you have any of these goals set for yourself it’s more than doable.
In fact, it’s more than doable while attending every home football and basketball game of the season. When you see the crowds it gets a little intimidating- especially if you’ve never been before. But your older friends, and even your “from Iowa City” friends will know how to navigate to the stadium and will know where to go for food and things. I loved tailgating amongst strangers and learning how to play beanie games. It’s a great distraction from homesickness.
So I would definitely suggest that you meet lots of people and try lots of things. There’s really nothing holding you back, and the system at the University will keep you moving forward. You’ll be assigned a freshman advisor, who will keep an eye on you academically. I always end up laughing hysterically with mine. She has kept me motivated and on track with my majors throughout the entirety of this past year. And that’s right, majors. As in plural. I was freaking out about figuring it out, and I get here and boom. We figure it out. I’m a double major now, in English and Business. I haven’t picked my tracks yet, which is more than okay. Even with a major selected you don’t have to know what you want to do with it yet. So just breathe.
There will be events to attend everywhere you turn, some in the buildings where you’ll be living. Dances, crafts, trivia, raffles, movie nights, dinners, cultural celebrations, and everything in between. The residence hall life is incredible here. Students leave their doors open to attract strangers and hall mates trying to meet people. Just walk right in! The food in the dining hall is awesome, you’re close to campus, you make friends easily, your RA is nearby to help you through, and the rooms are nice. I love living in the residence halls so much that I’m going to RA in one next year. So if you’re living in Parklawn I’ll be seeing you.
If you’re not living in Parklawn, I’ll probably still be seeing you. In fact, I hope I see you everywhere. At sporting events, informationals, tutoring centers, in the front row of classrooms, in the Marketplace, on the Cambus, in your Hawkeye gear. You are about to start a very important piece of your life, and the take the first step in the direction of your professional future. And it will be really easy. Isn’t that great?