CM’s Guide to the University of Northern Iowa

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University of Northern Iowa—Cedar Falls, Iowa

UNI’s Instagram

The Vibe

Stuck in the middle

What it Feels Like to Go Here

Iowans might hate the University of Iowa, or they might hate Iowa State University, but everyone loves their friend up north: The University of Northern Iowa. With respectable sports programs and a wild party scene, everyone loves going to visit their best friend from high school at UNI. And did you know that it’s the smallest of the three state schools? You’ll find your frat bros, your sports fanatics and your drama stars. However, because of its smaller size, students experience a closer, small-town feel. “The size is perfect for me because I’m used to a small town, and this is a smaller campus,” said junior Kennedy Kraus. “It’s still big enough to meet new people and get to experience a different environment.” Fun fact: UNI students battle stronger winds as they walk to class. The towers on campus were built to make a wind channel through them because of the summer camps that they used to hold.

Awesome Alumni

Chuck Grassley, the United States GOP Senator from Iowa, received his undergrad at UNI when it was the Iowa State Teachers College in 1955. Lots of sports stars also call UNI home. Head coach of the Creighton University Men’s Basketball Greg McDermott graduated from UNI after playing basketball for the Panthers. He also spent time coaching for the team from 2001-2006. The former host of Entertainment Tonight Mark Steines graduated from UNI with a degree in radio and television, while playing football. Kurt Warner, an NFL MVP and Super Bowl Champion, also got his start playing football for the University of Northern Iowa Panthers. Talk about some star power.

Where We Hang

UNI students know how to balance partying and studying well. Lots of students love studying at Maucker Union. “There is a food court, study spaces, TV lounges and an awesome coffee shop called Chats,” said freshman Elle Boeding. Many students enjoy studying in any of the cozy buildings on campus in between classes. Caribou Coffee and a local coffee shop, Sidecar, fill up with students cramming for midterms as well. On Thursday nights, students flock to Amigos for their two-for-one margarita deal. They also spend Friday and Saturday nights at Hydrant for karaoke, or at other bars on “the Hill,” like Sharky’s or Little Bigs. One of UNI’s best traditions? The Campaniling. Students gather under the campanile on campus and kiss at midnight. “Rumor is that if you don’t go campaniling at least once while in school, a brick will fall on your head,” said junior Rachel Barkema.


1. How much are students partying?

“Students party here more than others think we do,” said Barkema. “Most students are average partiers, some over do it, and some don’t go out at all. The bars on the weekend are always packed and usually there are lines and the bouncers are doing ‘one in, one out’. On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we don’t have classes. People have house parties with crazy keggers and we call it MLKegs Day.”

2. What will you get in trouble for at your school?

“We can get in trouble for the regular school things, like cheating and plagiarism,” Kraus said. “We’ve been getting a lot of UNI alerts for sexual assaults lately.”

3. How much sex are students having?

“An average amount, I suppose,” said junior Lacy Doyle. “I know some people who are pretty open about finding someone at the bar and then going home with them, but I feel like the other half of people are more conservative with their sexual escapades.”

4. What would you tell incoming freshmen about your school?

“College is scary, living on your own is scary, but everyone is scared!  Try as hard as you can to meet new people and make new friends,” said junior Emma Tuetken. “Try as many new things as you can, from student organizations to fitness classes to attending as many sporting events as you can.  I promise you will find somewhere you fit with other people just like you.”

5. What are sporting events like at your school?

“The sporting events are pretty tame here in comparison to ones I’ve seen at Iowa or Iowa State,” said senior Sydney Owen. “But those who do follow UNI sports are extremely loyal.”

Student Reviews

“My favorite part about UNI is that it feels like home. It’s comforting that I see the same faces almost every day, yet I seem to meet new people all the time.” – Jessi Welter, Class of 2021

“I really miss the sense of community. Everywhere I went, I felt like I knew someone and if I didn’t, that sense of community made it easy to form new connections.” – Drew Hays, Class of 2017

“I came from a community college, and I feel like UNI is the perfect size. It’s bigger than Kirkwood and smaller than the big places like Iowa or ISU. It’s big enough and has a lot of diversity within the students but I can also cross campus in 10 or 15 minutes.” – Lacy Doyle, Class of 2019

“I was really happy with how nice people tended to be here. Every college is cliquey, but I think generally our student body is friendly.” – Sydney Owen, Class of 2018

“I was really surprised about how socially aware UNI was. I was afraid when I chose UNI that I would get stuck with the same sort of people I was around in high school, but that was not the case. My social awareness and knowledge on current issues has seriously increased and I never would have imagined that UNI would have been able to give me that experience.” – Elle Boeding, Class of 2021

Top 3 Majors

1. Education

2. Business

3. Communication/Journalism

3 Popular Student Organizations

1. Dance Marathon

UNI Dance Marathon, the largest student organization on campus, raises money for the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital in Iowa City. They also support 58 Miracle Families within the Cedar Valley area. “UNI Dance Marathon hosts tons of events on campus that any student is welcome to,” said senior Kerrigan Riley, who is a Morale Captain within the organization. “Since we are the biggest student organization, I think we do a good job of welcoming everyone and encouraging them to get involved.”

2. Colleges Against Cancer

UNI students love to give back to their community, and Colleges Against Cancer does just that. The group raises money for the American Cancer Society. They also plan a big Relay for Life event at the McLeod Center in April to raise money, and they have smaller fundraisers throughout the year. “This is important to me because it gives me the opportunity to help fight for a world without cancer,” said junior Kendra Braswell. “I also get to honor Jake Dibel, who I went to school with and passed away last summer after fighting multiple kinds of cancer.”

3. Orchesis Dance Company

The Orchesis Dance Company is a student dance organization at UNI. Members audition for a spot within the club, which is also a two-semester hour class. A director guides the club and student members choreograph most of the numbers. “This organization has become another family to me. We truly all have become friends and spend quite a bit of time together outside of class. I know without this organization I would not stay sane trying to balance everything a college student has on their plate,” said Tuetken. The club performs in one show each semester and they also do a Christmas piece in the Varsity Men’s Glee Club Christmas Variety Show each year.

Getting In

Don’t think you can charm your way into this school just because administrators subscribe to “Iowa nice.” You’ll need to have the dedication of an Iowa farmer out in his cornfields before dawn to get into UNI. “They don’t want students who don’t care or just want to come to college to party or hangout,” Said Barkema. UNI looks for involved students. They love seeing that you participated in your community and school. This could be volunteering, jobs, sports, church activities and more. They look for students that received good grades in high school and put in some effort.


Location: Cedar Falls, Iowa

Tuition and Fees: In-state – $8,483. Out-of-state – $19,025

Total Cost on Campus: $20,788

Undergrads Enrolled: 10,104

Grads Enrolled: 1,801

Total Enrolled: 11, 905

Acceptance Percentage: 82%

Percent Admitted who Enroll: N/A

Percentage of Male Students: 43.1%

Percentage of Female Students: 56.9%

Percentage Receiving Financial Aid: 57%

Percentage Receiving Federal Grants: 55%

Percentage Receiving Federal Loans: 58%

Third year creative writing and journalism student at the University of Iowa. Lover of reading, writing, cheering on the Hawkeyes, Dunkin Donuts, and admiring dogs from afar.

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