Welcome to freshman year, kids. Consider us coffee-and-booze-fueled, sleep-deprived, wild upperclassmen your new moms and dads. Surviving the first year of college on your own is no simple task. Luckily, you have us. Walk a straight line up the hill, mind your lanyards and keep your chin held high with Hawkeye pride if you want to see your first spring semester as a Hawkeye.
1. Burge at 11 Isn’t Heaven
Like any eating establishment, the dining halls have peak hours when the workers try to hide themselves like safari guides before a stampede. You’ll quickly learn these peak hours, especially on chicken finger days. Visiting Burge at 11 a.m. leaves you with almost no eating or seating options, and stopping by Hillcrest at 6 p.m. looks like the parable of the five loaves and two fish without a miracle worker to feed the undulating crowd. As a general rule, the lines will be longer at the half-hours. Plan with your dining hall squad appropriately so you don’t get stuck with another slice of Burge pizza.
2. Only Order Up Occasionally
Order Up is a gift from the God of Laziness (Dozius? Sleepius?). Get any fast food you want delivered right to your door. Can you say clogged arteries and empty bank accounts? When you can’t drag yourself out of bed to get free, all-you-can-eat food in the dining hall, you spent your last $12 on a burrito that’s only three blocks away. You weren’t #blessed with a bringing a car to campus, so you’ll realize how Order Up saves lives. The simple solution to not overuse Order Up is deleting the app after you order and only re-downloading it under extreme circumstances.
3. Blue to Burge, Red to Rienow
This simple nursery rhyme-esque chant will save you from the long-way-around bus trip. Take the blue route to go to Burge or any stops in between and the Red Route to go to Rienow or any stops in between. The difference between the routes is simply that one runs counterclockwise and the other clockwise, but the alliteration makes remembering so much easier. Once you’ve graduated from these bus routes, you’ll learn the difference between Interdorm and Hawkeye Interdorm (Hawkeye goes to Hawk Lot), and you’ll be set to go anywhere across campus. Most other routes are for professionals only.
4. “F—k state” Makes Friends
One thing most Hawkeyes bond over, besides sheer Hawkeye pride, is hate for the Iowa State Cyclones. “F—k state” should be your motto. Say it walking down Melrose while tailgating. Say it while walking through the ped mall after a night at the bars. Say it to the person sitting next to you in Physics 101. Forget hellos. Throw in a “f—k state!”
5. Pick Classes According to the Hill
Walking from Van Allen to Adler, back to Pomerantz, down to the library and then back up to MacBride will give you killer calves and glutes, but you’ll arrive to class a sweaty mess. Don’t do this to yourself. This tip means more than just “keep your classes close together” though. Schedule your classes so you walk up or down the hill the minimum number of times possible.
6. Your Lanyard and On Iowa T-shirt Should Not See the Light of Day
Both of these articles of clothing equate to writing “freshman” on your forehead in Sharpie. These are literally the two main objects that comprise the very popular “freshman” Halloween costume. Besides waiting for lights to change before crossing the streets downtown and acting like you discovered Union, nothing screams, “I’m new here” more than the lanyard dangling from your neck. Do yourself a favor. Keep your lanyard in your backpack, and only wear your On Iowa shirt to bed.
7. Go to On Iowa
Conversely, you still must go to On Iowa to be blessed with that On Iowa T-shirt. On Iowa is the not-mandatory-but-highly-recommended program where freshmen roll their eyes through icebreakers and watch hundreds of videos about sexual assault on college campuses. Freshmen everywhere have mixed feelings about this program. I say go. Experience On Iowa with the rest of your peers. Meet new people and feel more confident in university life. Plus, you’ll get to spend time in Kinnick Stadium, which alone is worth the icebreakers.
8. “Freshman Bars” Crawl with Cops by 10 p.m.
Whichever bars upperclassmen deem the “freshmen bars” that year (there are usually a couple) have more cops than the precinct after 10 p.m. when underage partiers get kicked out. Don’t try to hide in the bathroom. Don’t try to get an over-21 wristband from your friend. Don’t risk it. Nobody wants to call their parents and beg for them to help cover a $700 PAULA ticket. Make like Cinderella and get the hell out of there when the clock strikes leaving whatever shoe and creepy guy hitting on you behind as needed.
9. Go Beyond the First Floor of the Library
The first floor of the library is full of good food, friends to study with and comfy chairs from which to people watch and/or nap. Go up one floor, and the quiet wraps you up like a warm blanket. You’ll forget what time and day it is and get more done than you ever thought possible. The same goes for the IMU. The Hawkeye Room is great for group project work and catching a possible free drink or baked good every once in a while, but the corner outside of the art museum? Homework paradise. Cool, silent and isolated. Good study spots require a little more searching, but they’re oh-so worth it come finals week.
10. Use Nite Ride
Nite Ride picks students up from any location near campus and drives them home safely between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Originally for exclusively female passengers, Nite Ride has since opened up to all genders and moved to a free app you can download on your phone. Just type in your location and Nite Ride picks you up for free. Nite Ride offers security and safety, and shouldn’t be treated as a free cab service or abused as transportation to and from your booty call (precisely why Nite Ride won’t pick up from the dorms). Use this service to take care of yourself and friends who need it. Plus, you don’t have to be a University of Iowa student to use Nite Ride either, so your out-of-town friends can stay safe too.
More Tips for Iowa Freshman to Make It Through the Year
Written by Emily Wiegand
11. Go to even Principles of Chem
You’ll find a ton of differences between high school and college, but the large and intimidating lecture classes might just push you to your limit. Walking into a 600-people class can make anyone feel intimidated. While being part of a faceless mass might make you feel like you can get away with skipping, going to lecture always pays off. “Often freshman don’t feel like they have to go because they won’t be noticed, but you have to go for your own benefit and sometimes there are pop quizzes,” said University of Iowa workshop instructor Maggie Rechtoris. Professors know students don’t want to attend lectures, so they throw in pop quizzes every once in a while to motivate better attendance. Taking a nap may sound like a better alternative, but going to lecture will benefit you in the long run.
12. Check out the ped mall instead of running home on the weekends
A big scary university can easily make you want to run home to mom and wish you were still in high school again, but actually spending the weekends at your university instead of heading back home should take priority over your fears. You’ll definitely feel tempted by the comfort of your own bed and mom’s home cooked meals, but actually being at the university helps you find your place. You can always find activities on the weekends to keep you busy, whether it be parties—University of Iowa has a reputation as a well-known party school—or going to see a movie with your roommate. A walk downtown through the pedestrian mall on a Saturday or a quick stop at Molly’s cupcakes will chase away even the worst of the homesickness.
13. Step into unfamiliar cornfields
You can disappear into the background at a big university, but if you want to make friendships you have to put yourself out there. That may mean doing something as simple as saying hi to someone you pass in the hallway, or even introducing yourself to the girl you sat next to during lecture on the first day of classes. These people may not end up being your best friend, but they could be someone you’ll enjoy grabbing lunch with. “Really step outside your comfort zone and make new friends. You’ll learn a lot not only about others, but about yourself as well,” said University of Iowa residence assistant Stephanie Dang. By stepping out of your comfort zone and meeting new people, you’ll surprise yourself by finding social skills you never knew you had.
14. Take notes in a way that works for you to conquer the curve
With professors talking at lightning speed and slides going across the screen faster than you can fully process the information, you’ll soon find out that high school notes are nothing like college notes. “You just need to figure out how to take notes and what works for you,” said University of Iowa freshman Caitlin Bieniek. Different note taking skills work for different people. Some take handwritten notes, others take them on computers and a few simply listen to the professor lecture and take notes from that. It doesn’t matter whether your notes keep only bullet points of the main ideas or you copy down everything word-for-word—you’ll only care that come test day, you pull off that passing grade You may not find a “best” way to take notes, but you will find what works for you.
15. Prepare to adopt the Hawkeye state as home
When you start college, you may feel like you got dropped off in a new dimension instead of just campus. The daily routine at the University of Iowa can seem like a totally different world compared to high school. “In high school it’s seven to eight hours of school and then an hour of homework but now it’s the complete opposite,” said Rechtoris. You spend less time in classes, so more time has to be dedicated to studying. You’ll have to find the motivation to study and learn the information on your own instead of having it spoonfed to you all day every day.
16. Join Dance Marathon or whatever club works for you
We all love to put off work, so might as well put it off by doing something productive like joining a club or student organization. “Join organizations and clubs you’re really interested in and make friends,” said Dang. The University of Iowa holds organizations fairs within the first couple weeks of the year, and you can find all kinds of organizations that interest you there. If you like to dance, join the University of Iowa Dance club even if your only “experience” consists of dancing in your bedroom with the blinds down. If you like to work with younger kids, you could sign up with Big Brothers Big Sisters and work with children in elementary schools. With hundreds of options to choose from you may find what fits just right for you. If you can’t find exactly what you want, start your own club. You might find your best friend among those who show up.
17. Find your passions and run with it
Going to a university means figuring out what you want to do with your life. You don’t need to know right off the bat, and even if you do it won’t always stay the same. But look for something that involves your passions. If you love academics, look for classes that catch your eye, like The Psychology of Forgiveness or The Art of Persuading Others, or you may find yourself with a totally new major that actually fits you a lot better. Outside of class, you might find a club whose philanthropy or mission might inspire you to chase an area of life you hadn’t thought about too much, like Dance Marathon. Finding something that gives you excitement will make your years at college far more enjoyable.
18. It’s okay to cry on the Pentacrest
Transitioning to a university doesn’t always follow the smoothest road, and you can easily feel lost at first. So does everyone else. Nobody expects you to figure out how to deal right off the bat. Almost everyone struggles with being homesick, like missing your parents and home-cooked meals, especially when the dining hall just loses its appeal. And when assignments are piling up, the stress will seem unbearable, but all your friends will be going through the same things as well so you won’t be alone. Just remember that you just have to fight through the stress and nerves of assignments and—like Dory says—keep on swimming.
19. Use SI and the Writing Center to kill that paper
With your first paper due in a few days, even if you think you have a good one, anxiety can kick in quick. Luckily, the writing center on campus has your back. The University of Iowa has resources that are blessings for students like the writing center, which helps students who hate essays or worry about their grammar and spelling. Even if you feel confident in your writing, a second look never hurts, and they may have some advice on exactly what your teacher wants from you. Take in your draft and they won’t only help you revise it, but also give you all the advice you need for an A-worthy paper.
20. Get out of the Hillcrest lounge and into the Hawkeye Room
Although you may think studying in the comfort of your dorm room will be easy, you’ll soon learn taking advantage of the large campus and heading somewhere public to study may work better. Plenty of distractions fill your dorm room, like your roommate talking on their phone, the guys on your floor who play their music so loud you wonder how they have any hearing left and, of course, the comfort of your own bed. The library and the Iowa Memorial Union have some of the best study spaces. At the library, you can reserve rooms on the first floor if you have a group project to work on. If you like to study independently, each level of the library gets quieter as you go up so you can focus easily. They even have cafés so you can grab a bite to eat while you study your flashcards.
**Updated on December 11, 2017 to include list items 11-20 by Emily Wiegand