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OSS student with some questions

BobbyCTBobbyCT Posts: 7
edited May 2013 in University of Iowa
We are looking to visit the University of Iowa this summer from our home state of Connecticut. My daughter has falling in love with Iowa based on it's reputation for school spirit, friendly kids and it's academic programs, particularly in writing and dance. She does not want to major in dance but is interested in a Minor or just taking classes.

Can anyone share their opinion on how welcome an out of region student may feel at Iowa? Is it a cliquey school, like many state universities or is it generally welcoming regardless of residence?

Also, it is difficult to get to Iowa City so can anyone suggest the best airport to fly in to? I have heard Quad City but Cedar Rapids looks much closer. Any other feedback or advice that could assist us would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
Post edited by BobbyCT on

Replies to: OSS student with some questions

  • beastmanbeastman Posts: 2
    edited May 2013
    I am the Minnesota father of a junior son in biomedical engineering, and a big Iowa booster here on CC. As a MN resident I am not entirely in the same boat as you, being as MN is the midwest and CT is the NE. Maybe someone else can weigh in on acceptance of those from outside the Midwest, but I can offer my perspective.

    Students and faculty at Iowa are, from my experience, the most friendly I've ever encountered. When my son moved into the dorm freshman year, he was besieged by other guys on the floor swarming in to introduce themselves. During our research of schools his admittance counselor arranged a special overnight visit, JUST FOR HIM. I spoke to the College of Engineering's career placement person for an hour JUST ABOUT HIM. When we attend the COE's brunch during Parent's Weekend, we sit with faculty and kibitz about internships, research opps, career paths, etc. So for both him and us, Iowa has been extremely welcoming and kind. It really IS a small big school. If your daughter involves herself in something outside of class (they preach "pick two") it is impossible that she not feel welcome.

    I would submit that the Greek system is a big clique at Iowa as it is elsewhere. Beyond that I see no evidence of any although, as I said, I am a MN parent and not a student.

    From my experience with both my kids, I suggest you look at the Honors Program and Honors Dorms at Iowa as they will most certainly offer a broader cross-section of students (geographically and more) than the mainstream dorms. I don't mean this to sound elitist in any way - it's just a reality that OOS kids pay more to attend and typically have more specific reasons to attend the University and thus are a more diverse group.

    As for transportation, Cedar Rapids is only 20 mins from IC. If you can get manageable flights there, go for it. The alternatives are pretty far from town.
  • BigdogloverBigdoglover Posts: 4 College Search & Selection Champion
    edited May 2013

    I will be able to tell you more soon but my S is attending Iowa this fall and we are from MA. He wanted to go far away and it came down to going to school in Oregon, Florida or Iowa. He thought the people were great at Iowa, had great programs for him and as you said the school spirit. We went to a campus visit day and people treated him great (he got called out in a huge assembly for visiting from the furthest distance). It was a great visit and it decided it for him. He is really looking forward to being a rare New Englander in Iowa.

    As far as airports you will get much better deals going through Quad Cities. The drive from there to Iowa City is really easy - takes about 50-55 min. However yes Cedar Rapids is much closer. When he goes alone we are going to have to fly him to Cedar Rapids - easy transportation to school. He is trying it in late June when he goes to orientation.

    Feel free to PM me if you have other questions, now or in the future.
  • BeanTown12BeanTown12 Posts: 2 College Search & Selection Champion
    edited May 2013
    Hey I was reading around and ran into your post, About iowa people they are really friendly too friendly I believe, but that's probably because I'm from Boston and people are always minding their business, Iowans are just really friendly!!!!! I decided to go to iowa state because of it having the better engineering program!!! I did visit iowa and we flew to the quad cities its a straight 45 min shot on 74!! Good luck
  • BobbyCTBobbyCT Posts: 7
    edited May 2013
    @beastman: Thank you for that overview. It is great to hear about the welcoming nature of the students and faculty. That is always nice to hear.

    @Bigdoglover: I would love to hear more as your son progresses. It is great to hear that another fellow New Englander has already looked at Iowa and has positive feedback. It is a real investment of time to travel to Iowa City so the more information I have, the better. I appreciate your offer to provide more information in the future. I will take you up on that.

    @BeanTown12: Thank you. It is appreciated.
  • BigdogloverBigdoglover Posts: 4 College Search & Selection Champion
    edited May 2013
    By the way BobbyCT, one thing that was really impressive is Iowa City and the town being basically attached to the campus. It gets rated well as a good college town but I was really impressed. Maybe not quite Ann Arbor good but a great town to spend four years in.
  • BobbyCTBobbyCT Posts: 7
    edited May 2013
    It looks like we will be visiting University of Iowa in July. Since we will be in Iowa for a couple days, I was thinking of using some down time to take the drive and visit Iowa State. Has anyone visited both and willing to share some comparisons? It looks like ISU has more of a science focus but also has a broad range of offerings.
  • HaystackHaystack Posts: 3
    edited May 2013
    I work at U Iowa and live in Iowa City. Son will be attending Iowa State in the fall.

    Iowa City is a larger metro area than Ames and has more of an urban feel. U Iowa campus is adjacent to downtown. Downtown Iowa City is filled with LOTS of bars and other shops including quite a few decent restaurants. We spend lots of time downtown and really enjoy it as do the students. The downtown area is a big selling popint for students and families. The drinking and party culture at U Iowa is pretty significant. Obviously, you can ignore it if you want to but it does have a signiicant impact on the academic culture at U Iowa. Most programs at Iowa are pretty good and the quality of teaching/classes varies greatly as you might expect at a large research university. About 55% of the undergrads are from Iowa, 25% from Illinois, 10% other states, and 10% international. Football is big and basketball improving.

    Largest majors at Iowa...

    Pre-Business (1,778 students)
    Psychology (1,090)
    English (816)
    Communication Studies (759)
    Biology (674)
    Business (Accelerated Admission) (532)
    Health and Human Physiology (525)
    Finance (525)
    Art & Art History (465)
    Interdepartmental Studies (449)

    Ames is much smaller than Iowa City. The campus is not adjacent to downtown Ames but instead has the "Campustown" area next to campus. Campustown has some bars, restaurants, and a few shops. It is almost exclusively frequented by students rather than the Ames community. The drinking and partying culture at Iowa State is not quite as large as at Iowa but still there. Iowa State's campus is prettier and more wooded than U Iowa. ISU also has more students living on campus than Iowa. Iowa has about 6,000 students living on campus while Iowa State has about 10,000 studnts living in res halls and on-campus apartments. I would rate Iowa State's res hall system as quite a bit better than Iowa's. ISU's career services area is also much better than Iowa's. Most programs at Iowa State are pretty good and the quality of teaching/classes varies greatly as you might expect at a large research university. About 65% of the undergrads are from Iowa, 10% from Minnesota, 10% Illinois, 7% other states, and 8% international. About 50-55% of Iowa State's degrees are in STEM fields. Sports are huge here also. I honestly think that Iowa State grads are more loyal to their school than Iowa grads (I base this upon knowing hundreds of alums from both schools...I attended neither.).

    largest ISU majors

    Pre-Business 1,774
    Mechanical Engr 1,508
    Kinesiology(exer science) 1,157
    Electr/Computer Engr 1,134
    Civil/Constr/Envir Engr 1,068
    Animal Science 1,005
    App/Events/Hosp Mgmt 924
    Aero Engr/Engr Mech 707
    Psychology 662
    School of Education 646
    Greenlee Journ/Comm 635
  • BobbyCTBobbyCT Posts: 7
    edited May 2013
    @Haystack- Wow! I have been on CC for several years now and that was without question the most unbiased and informative comparison I have ever read. Thank you so much for taking the time to write that wonderful review. I was ready to write of ISU since I considered it the "tech" college. I just checked ISU and it looks like they have an Open House in July. I will plan on visiting both schools at that time. Unfortunately UI does not have any summer open house events.

    You seem to have a very high opinion of ISU, which is interesting since you work at UI and have a son that will be attending in the fall. I am glad I did not write off ISU as an option. I have a feeling my D will prefer UI but who knows, at this point something as simple as the school colors or mascot could influence her decision. Thank you once again.
  • HaystackHaystack Posts: 3
    edited May 2013
    A few other thoughts...

    I think most easterners and city folks prefer U Iowa. It has more of an urban feel and more 'hipsters' than ISU and is a bit 'flashier' to most people. You won't see too many students wearing cowboy hats and boots, flannel shirts, etc. at U Iowa.

    Iowa State is different. You willl see lots of students with cowboy hats, beards, flannel, etc. But, alongside those country folks, most poeple are unaware that ISU has one of the largest student run fashion shows in the country (they have a large fashion design major) thats sells out a 2700 seat auditorium each year, a MFA program in writing that is quite good, and a College of Design filled with almost 2,000 artistic people.

    Seth Abramson: The Top 25 Underrated Creative Writing MFA Programs (2011-2012)
  • BobbyCTBobbyCT Posts: 7
    edited May 2013
    @Haystack-Although cowboy hats are a rare sight in the Connecticut/Metro New York Area, I am sure she would prefer it to the ultra preppy culture that she has grown up in. I think she is a Mid-Western girl at heart. She is a much more down to earth kid. I understand every college has it's fair share of preppy but she is trying to find a college where it is not the norm. As she has said to me repeatedly, she does want to have to get dressed up for class, simple jeans and a sweatshirt. I understand what she means.
  • beastmanbeastman Posts: 2
    edited May 2013
    I believe another distinction between ISU and UI is that - generally speaking - ISU is "the ag school" and UI is the "medical sciences school." UI has, after all, the largest teaching hospital in the nation, and this presence manifests itself in a number of health science majors that you will not find at ISU. Similarly, if you're interested in biology you will find more ag-oriented biology majors at ISU than you will at UI.

    I definitely suggest you visit both campuses if you can. You will see all the differences haystack mentions and more. It's likely your daughter will identify more readily with one than the other.
  • BobbyCTBobbyCT Posts: 7
    edited May 2013
    @beastman-Thanks for that additional information. I already registered to visit ISU for one of their open houses this summer (Experience Iowa?) and will visit UI the next day. We will have a little more time at ISU since it is more of a full day program but the UI Admissions people said they would arrange some meetings for my D with different departments for her while she is there. My D is still somewhat undecided as far as major so it will help to see both. We are excited about this trip.
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