What can you do at Iowa?

I’ve spent a large chunk of the past two months traveling for admissions work.  I spend a majority of my time in Chicago, though I also have high schools and college fairs near the Twin Cities.  During my college fairs and high school visits, I have met over 3,500 students interested in Iowa.  As you can imagine, we are asked just about every question imaginable about the University of Iowa.  There is one question, however, that has more to do with perception than any other.

What can I do at the University of Iowa?

It’s understandable that students may not know very much about the state of Iowa itself, much less Iowa City and our fair school.  Since I travel almost exclusively outside the state, I find myself having to battle some of the common perceptions about Iowa (being a MN native, I had to overcome these perceptions myself).  Just in case those of you reading this blog have lived in Iowa your entire life, let me explain how this works.  While you and I know about the dynamic offerings of the state and the college vibe you feel in Iowa City, people elsewhere in the country do not.  Here is what students in MN typically think of as soon as you mention the word “Iowa”.

Thrilling, isn't it?
Pictured above: Iowa

We also would accept Field of Dreams as a correct answer.

Some people see admission counselors as being in sales, competing with other schools to try and grab all the best students.  However, our job is much more focused on simply giving information to prospective students.  Half the battle that I have as an out of state representative is convincing students that Iowa City is a fantastic place to live and be a college student.  In this post I wanted to discuss just a few of the options that our students have;

Participate in the fine arts – Our Theatre Department performs almost 30 productions every single year, allowing students from all disciplines to participate.  We also have improv groups such as No Shame Theatre.

Attend a Big 10 sporting event: All students who are interested in getting season tickets for our football or basketball team are able to.  We do not use a lottery or seniority system, we simply make sure there are enough for everyone.  Kinnick Stadium holds over 70,000 people, and on game day becomes the 5th largest city in the state of Iowa.  It truly is electric being inside the stadium.

Kinnick Stadium, Homecoming 2010

Macbride Nature and Recreation Area: This is not a very well known area outside of our current students, though it should be.  Macbride hosts a number of outdoor events and activities throughout the entire year. Frisbee Golf, Mountain Biking, Sailing Club, Cross Country Skiing, Swimming, Macbride Nature and Recreation area has them all.

Go see someone famous: At Iowa, we always have celebrities coming onto campus for a myriad of reasons.  Want to meet the President of the United States?  He was here.  Maybe you would like to go see a concert by Jack’s Mannequin or Nas and Damian Marley among many others.

President Obama on campus this year

Meet other amazing students who share the same interests: University of Iowa students come from all 50 states and over 100 foreign countries.  Regardless of where you are from, you will be able to find others who are interested in the same things that you are.  You can do this through one of our 500 clubs and organizations, through your residence hall, or through classes.  Students who live in Daum Residence Hall today had a story in the Daily Iowan on their latest adventures, a full on Quidditch match.  I personally was a fan of setting up a 32 person Call of Duty match including our entire floor once a week.  Other students may be interested in intramural sports or volunteer organizations.

Don't let anyone tell you that students at Iowa aren't "cool kids"

I feel like I’m forgetting something…  oh yeah!

Go to Class! The University of Iowa has some amazing faculty and course offerings for our students.  whether it is a chemistry class for the premed students or film studies for Cinema students, you will have the opportunity to learn about some amazing areas.  Here are some examples of classes open to students, regardless of major.

So in a nutshell, when someone asks me the question of what they can do at Iowa, I only have one response.


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