Attention enrolling students: On Iowa!

I cannot contain my excitement for this year’s BRAND NEW On Iowa! Program for new first-year students.  I can’t contain the excitement, nor can I put that excitement into words… but I’ll try to give you a sneak peak at what you should expect.

You may be asking yourself, “What IS On Iowa!?”  Even if you’ve heard of it, you may still be questioning it. Don’t.  On Iowa! will be an “introduction” to remember.  An introduction to your academic career.  An introduction to faculty and staff.  An introduction to campus life.  An introduction to friendships you’ll maintain for a lifetime.  An introduction to Iowa City. An introduction to a University.  An introduction to your new home; The University of Iowa.

Let’s talk some highlights:

Move-in: Wednesday and Thursday (Aug. 17th/18th): You’ll be moving into your residence hall. You’ll be getting settled with a floor of new faces which will turn to new friends.  This is your new home; a home you share with 40 of your friends. No parents? Awesome; let’s do this…

After moving in, you may pop down to a neighbor’s room to ask for tape to hang one of the few (or 20) posters you packed.  After tossing over some Scotch tape, your neighbor asks, “Hey, my roommate and I are headed to the UI Athletics Hall of Fame Tour, then headed to the dodgeball tournament.  Wanna join?”  Without hesitation you quote the movie Dodgeball saying, “If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball. Stop down when you head out.”  You then return to hang your new poster:


Events like these continue throughout the next  few days leading up to the commencement of class. Athletics Hall of Fame not your thing? Don’t play dodgeball? Check out one of the other events like pottery painting, Museum of Art tour, movies or Zumba to name only a few.

Black and Gold Spirit Day – Day 1: (Friday, Aug. 19th) Put your game-face on; it’s time to learn why it’s GREAT to be a Hawkeye!  Your entire class will gather at Kinnick Stadium, but not only will you get to sit in the seats, but you’ll be able to take the field!  Here you’ll be addressed by a keynote speaker before learning a few of Iowa’s traditions.  The fun doesn’t stop there; as you leave Kinnick Stadium thinking your jaw couldn’t drop further, you head over to the Iowa Memorial Union’s Main Lounge to have your mind blown by magician Nate Staniforth. Don’t believe in magic? This will change your mind: Nate Staniforth Magician 2011

Iowa Challenge Day – Day 2: (Saturday, Aug. 20th) What can you expect from Iowa both in and out of the classroom.  You’ll get the opportunity to discuss this with your fellow classmates in both small and large groups.  Learn about the Iowa Challenge here:  Then some downtime and a movie before hitting the DJ White Panda concert in Hubbard Park!

Convocation – Day 3: (Sunday, Aug 21st) You’re ready to start at Iowa?!  Not before hearing from President Sally Mason and one of your fellow classmates (apply to be THAT classmate here).  You’ll gather with the rest of the entering class of 2011 for Convocation.

01 Convocation_Panorama

Following the presentation, you, your friends, and the entire group will head to the President’s residence on Clinton Street for the President’s Block Party.

President's Block Party President's Block Party

The Real Deal -DAY 1 (of classes):  Wake up early for some bacon and eggs at the Marketplace, read the current issue of The Daily Iowan, and off to class.  Time to put all you’ve learned to work.


Again, these are only the highlights.  Check out the full schedule to start planning your days at:

What are you doing to beat the winter doldrums?!

I’m sure many of you are well aware of the winter storm that crossed the nation last week.   Picture montage. Go.

We’re still digging out from that storm in Iowa City yet this week.  I see trucks hauling snow from various parts of the city on a daily basis, and I was also thrilled to have gotten stuck Wednesday evening after work… yes a week after the initial storm.

While I enjoy seeing the beautiful white blanket covering the ground outside my window, I’m due for a sunny 70 degree day.  Aren’t you?  Because of this, I’m finding ways to ‘beat the winter doldrums’ (From Merriam-Webster online: doldrums: a state or period of inactivity, stagnation, or slump).  The things I’ve done this past week include:

  • Daily trips to the gym
  • Old Chicago with friends for $1.50 slices of pizza to negate previously mentioned gym adventures,
  • Wednesday Wing Night at the Summit downtown for $2/dozen wings covered in oh-so-scrumptious chipotle-honey wing sauce,
  • The Superbowl w/ homemade WI cheese soup,
  • An afternoon watching some incredible diving at the USA National Diving Championships,
  • An evening at the Englert theater to see the comedy troupe, Second City followed by…
  • Big Buck Hunter (the new world edition) downtown Iowa City, and
  • Watching for the yellow hummer driving around campus Wednesday as Iowa City’s own CASH CAB

And that’s only this past week!  Next week Ben Bailey from Discovery’s CASH CAB will be here!  Today, I’m also finalizing some travel planning for this Spring; something I’m certainly looking forward to!  My travel will include:

  • February: Milwaukee
  • March: Southern Chicago Suburbs, Chicago “Next Step” programs for admitted students, Dubuque, and Memphis
  • April: Dallas/Fort Worth

Things like these happen all the time in Iowa City.  Between the community of Iowa City and The University of Iowa sponsered events, there are always plenty of things to beat ANY sort of doldrums.  So, don’t be thinking this was an unbelievable and unusually fun filled week of events… it’s just you suffering the winter doldrums.

I spent HOW long in the car? (BONUS: Free blog subscription)

With the exception of one day (Nov 16th), I’ve completed “Travel Season 2k10.”

Here are some other statistics you might find interesting:

I was gone for 7 consecutive weeks which included 25 working days.

1454 miles on an airplane

5684.2 miles in a car.

7138.2 Total miles.

Average fuel economy: 23.3 mpg

Fuel used: ~243.96 gallons (car)

#times at the pump: ~14

Average speed on land: 41 mph (includes city driving)

5684.2 miles at my average speed of 41 mph = 138.64 hours in the car which is equivalent to 5.78 days or 17.33 working days (the 8 hour kind).

7138.2 miles at my average speed of 41 mph = 174.1 hours = 7.25 days or 21.76 working days (8hr).

7138.2 miles at a speed of 70 mph =101.97 hours = 4.25 days or 12.75 working days (8hr).


Articulation Unplugged (week 1)- Bloomington/Normal, IL (9/13) – 386 miles

Parkland College Fair (also week 1)- Champaign, IL (9/15) – 512 miles

Texas College Fairs/High School Visits (week 2) – Dallas, TX (9/17-9/24) – 2278 miles

Iowa/Madison High Schools & Wisconsin College Fairs(week 3) – 864.2 miles

Wisconsin Educational Fairs (week 4) – 797.5 miles

Wisconsin Educational Fairs part 2  (week 5) – exact mileage unknown.  mileage included in week 6

Illinois College Fairs/High School Visits (Week 6)- 1445 miles

National College Fair Milwaukee & Milwaukee High Schools  (Week 7)- 855.5 miles

Total Mileage traveled during ‘Travel Season 2k10’: 7138.2 Miles


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(Long overdue) Photo Update

My final week of travel (7th consecutive week) started at 6 am yesterday morning (Sunday) when I left 19 people asleep at our place, in order to travel to MKE for the National College Fair Milwaukee.  College fairs are always a little tough after losing, but being in Wisconsin after losing to….Wisconsin?!  I knew to expect some harassment.  To rub salt in the wounds, The University of Wisconsin’s booth was just across the isle during the fair.

Now after my first day complete, I’ve officially decided this was not the best week to recruit Wisconsin because  I’m forced to relive our loss everywhere I go… including McD’s(love their breakfast). While I was forced to relive our loss, my visits  have been great.  I’ve talked with some excellent students, and it’s always great to catch up with the counselors I haven’t seen in a year’s time.  Today’s visits included Brookfield East, Brookfield Central, Marquette University High School, and Wauwatosa East.  I’ll spend the rest of the week at Kettle Moraine, Dominican, Wauwatosa West, Whitefish Bay, Homestead, Germantown, Divine Savior Holy Angels, and The Prairie School.

Now to enjoy some travel photos:

Up in the Air

After one week in TX and two in Wisconsin, I’m reminded of the movie Up in the Air starring George Clooney.  One who travels often will relate easily to the movie.  Clooney is spot on when it comes to packing, airports, security lines, rental cars, and ‘life on the road.’  Up in the Air is a great movie, and if you love to travel, you’ll love the movie.

What reminded me of the movie was my packing for this trip.  Last night, preparing for my 3rd week in Wisconsin(and the following week in Illinois), I found myself mindlessly packing.  When I turned to shut the door to my place this morning(and for the last time for two whole weeks), I thought to myself, “I can’t have everything.”   However, having opened my suitcase tonight in preparation for tomorrow, I now know everything’s here and in its usual place.

If you’ve seen the movie, you also know that Clooney travels the country as a corporate downsizer, firing people at each of his destinations.  If you ‘ve seen the movie, you also know through his travels, Clooney has a personal goal to reach 10 million frequent flier miles.  Thinking of this, I got the great idea to track the number of miles I travel this fall season.  This will include only the miles I travel for work purposes.  Follow along as I provide continued “Milage Reports.” With that said, let’s begin:


Articulation Unplugged (week 1)- Bloomington/Normal, IL (9/13) – 386 miles

Parkland College Fair (also week 1)- Champaign, IL (9/15) – 512 miles

Texas College Fairs/High School Visits (week 2) – Dallas, TX (9/17-9/24) – 2278 miles

Iowa/Madison High Schools & Wisconsin College Fairs(week 3) – 864.2 miles

Wisconsin Educational Fairs (week 4) – 797.5 miles

Wisconsin Educational Fairs part 2 (week 5) – Currently in route.. to be continued!

Total Mileage thus far: 4837.7 Miles

My travel in stills:

Easy Driving in WI
Wisconsin's Great Scenery
Lambeau Tour with the Counselors
Iowa vs. Penn State 2010

A typical day or an atypical day. You decide.

My day…

I’ve just finished a busy day of work for Iowa Admissions.  I’ve returned home (or what I’ve been calling home – a hotel).  I started the morning in Madison, WI.  I spent the morning and early afternoon visiting high schools in and around the Madison area. Today this included five which are; Edgewood, Madison West, Middleton, Memorial, and Sun Prairie.  If you include my stop at Sun Prairie Upper Middle School, which was Sun Prairie High School last year, you could call it 6 high schools.  The day was far from over at that point.  Following Sun Prairie HIGH SCHOOL, I enjoyed a two hour drive to De Pere where I spoke with students during the Wisconsin Education Fair at St. Norberts College. 

That’s it. My day in a nutshell.  Well, that’s not it.  Now for dinner with some other counselors and some sleep, only to do it again tomorrow.  I love it.

I’m truly loving it.  Wisconsin’s gorgeous this time of year.  Here are some pictures from my drive yesterday:

Hello WI
Goodbye IL

Everything’s…different? in Texas

I’ve very familiar with the phrase, “Everything’s Bigger in Texas.”  During my stay here, I haven’t noticed anything being much bigger (not even the steak I ordered Sunday night), but I have noticed some differences.  Here are some notable differences from Iowa:

-U-Turn lanes. Once off an interstate, Texas provides you a convienent opportunity to make an uninterrupted U-Turn.  I found this out when attempting to turn left on the first day here, and found myself going back the way I came.  See an example from my friend Wikipedia here:

-Highway lines: While we’re talking about the highway system, lets talk about the lines on the highways.  In Iowa they’re painted on with reflective paint.  Here, the lines are painted, however they also have raised, reflective, round(or rectangle) markers on the painted lines.  These make a very interesting noise when driving over them.  I found myself doing this on occasion, just for fun.

Whataburger: I’m accustomed to Micky D’s (McDonald’s), Wendy’s, Burger King, Hardee’s (love their commercials. ex:

BBQ – while on the topic of food (which I love), there are more BBQ restaurants here.  At these restaurants, it’s more of a buffet line than a regular order/sit-down restaurant.  This is kind of nice.  I ended up sitting with two older(I called them young) men who had waited in line for TCU tickets.  We had a great conversation about college football and a better lunch.  The sliced BBQ beef at Angelo’s was great(!

Gas stations: In Iowa we have gas stations like BP, Kum & Go, and Casey’s, but in TX they have Mobile 1, Valero, and Chevron.  Gas is gas, but nothing beats Casey’s donuts and pizza!  Haven’t had it? It’s a must-try!

Heat: It’s been Hot! for September?  I like the seasons of Iowa, and nothing screams football like the fall weather!  I made the mistake of renting a black car.  In Iowa, WI, and IL I can sit in my car and read if I make it to a high school early, but in TX?!  I’d have to leave the car running to keep cool.  I’m also a fan of the colors we have during the change in seasons.

All in all, I had a great time in TX.  I hope to return again. Until then, keep it cool (pun intended) Texas.

College Search 101: Choosing the “Perfect” Fit

My college search advice…

Between yesterday and today I’ve answered many, many questions about Iowa, our admission practices and policies, and also the college search process. Yesterday I was asked a rather unique question which I loved. It gives me a great opportunity to offer my college search advice.

A father and son approached me when the son started to ask questions about our campus. When asked how old he was, the student responded, “Only a junior.”. To this I responded, “Only a junior? That’s “only” the best time to start your college search!”

Upon my response the father then asked, “What’s your advice for a junior?”

This was a unique question I’d never fielded. For lack of a better analogy (and time to think of one), I said, “Approach the college search process like you would buying a car. You wouldnt dare buy the first car a car you looked at would would you? Nor would you spend the next 4 years at the first college you asked about.”

Therefore, going along with the car analogy, this is my advice to a junior moving into senior year.

FRIST and foremost: Junior year is a great time to start ‘car shopping.’  Before even looking at colleges, think of what you want out of a college.  I thought it funny when I asked a girl today what she was lookinng for, and she responded, “well, I don’t know.”  Everyone knows what they want out of a college institution.  While they might need a second to close their eyes and think; they know.  Large, small, contemporary, modern, urban, rural – these can all be characteristics of what you’re looking for in a college institution.  I am asked some very strange questions sometimes, and while I think they may be strange, I know that individual aspect of college is important to that individual student.  For example, I was once asked, “Do more of your students wear sweatpants or jeans.”  While this may mean nothing to one student, it may mean the world to another.  Therefore, STEP ONE; Decide what you want.  Be greedy. It’s your education.

STEP TWO: Gather information.  After determining what type of car you would like  (truck, luxury, compact, mid-size, etc) you need to find out what cars fit that type.  Same with colleges.  Search for colleges that fit the profile you’ve deemed as the “perfect” college.  Ask questions, talk to the admission counselors, talk to the students,  find an alumnus if possible.  Gather information about the college.  This includes, the following:

          1.) Academics.  (class sizes, availability of professors, academic resources, honors program opportunities, research opportunities, etc).

           2.) Cost (overall cost, how financial aid is awarded – merit vs. need,  scholarship availability, continuing year scholarships/scholarships after the first year, etc)

          3.) Atmosphere  – this is where I related the jeans v. sweatpants question (size, the #of clubs/organizations, the types of clubs/organizations, volunteer opportunities, involvement within the surrounding community, diversity of the student population, extracurricular opportunities, distance from home, facilities/buildings, etc. Again… you’re, in a sense, choosing a new home for 4 years – you should like/love it)

STEP THREE and MOST IMPORTANT:  VISIT (the test drive).  Vist the campus.  Much like test driving a car, this is your opportunity to see what the institution’s really like.  Much like a car salesman talking about every car as ‘the best,’ most college representatives will tell you they’ve got ‘excellent or great programs.’   Take a tour.  Talk to the students.  Get the ‘feel’ of campus.  You may love one institution on paper/web, but once there, you might find that it’s really not the right fit.  This is the same for a car – as a 6’2″ guy, I may think a car is sporty and cool, but once inside, I find I have no headroom and would feel more comfortable in something else. 

Most of the students I talk to at any institution, will most often say the reason they chose that institution was because they “fell in love with the campus,” “it felt right,” or “it felt like home.” 

After these three steps you should have what is (or should be) the best fit.  While not perfect in every aspect, it will be the best, and once on campus and making it your own, it WILL be PERFECT.

If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to post, contact, or call!

Best of luck throughout the college search process, and more-so your college experience!

Peter Diggins, your food is ready…

“Peter Diggins, your food is ready.  Petttterrr DIIGGGINS, come. get’.chur. food.”

This is how they called out my food order at The Twisted Root Burger Company, where I ate lunch yesterday after the college fair I attended.  Every customer was given a slip of card with a different name on it.  While I was there, so was Elvis, the Texans, and Bugs Bunny among others. 

One thing I love about being on the road is getting to experience an array of different foods, and divulging in new/unique places to eat.  During my first trip out last Monday, I was at a table across from the Texas Christian University(TCU) representative.  With such a strong football program, of course we started talking sports, however with my upcoming trip to Dallas/Fort Worth (where TCU is located) we started talking Texas.  She was quick to throw out things to see and places to eat.  Among these were Angelo’s BBQ and The Twisted Root. 

The Twisted Root has won an assortment of awards for their made-from-scratch food.  Every thing’s made from scratch; their burgers, fries, ice cream, everything.  I got to enjoy their “Green Chile,Guacamole & Pepperjack Burger with Sweet Potato Chips.” 

Green Chile,Guacamole & Pepperjack Burger -

Their website says “Slap-Yo-Momma Good,” and their t-shirts said “Sofa King Good,”  and let me tell you, it lived up to both.  One of the best burgers I’ve ever had.

While the burger had me walking down the street on cloud 9, I was quickly brought back to reality by the $35 parking ticket I received during the hour I was parked.  $35 dollars?!  I guess I was familiar with Iowa City’s free weekend meters, and also their $5 tickets.  I guess all good things come to an end.

Orrr maybe not.  I’ve found this gem-of-a-website to find new places to eat throughout the week:

<<<<<<<Stay tuned for my ‘college search’ advice.>>>>>>>