Orientation

<p>Sitting at the Cedar Rapids airport and thought I'd write up a short summary of my D's orientation. Lots to share...I'll try to keep this relatively short given the amount to share, but feel free to post any questions. </p>

<p>We were in the 2nd orientation session, so any wrinkles were probably ironed out. We stayed in Iowa City Sunday evening - Wednesday AM, and glad we had a little extra time there to help my OOS D acclimate. Everything went very smoothly, and was extremely well-organized. The agenda that had been mailed and was posted online was very high-level, so I was surprised when we got here just how thorough the agenda was. Very packed schedule. It was organized like a work conference with breakouts at times, tours, information fairs, etc. I believe almost all students were there with at least one parent/guardian. Everyone was very friendly and helpful. Atmosphere was comfortable and casual. When you see the 500 students + ~700 parents, and you realize this is 1/10 of the freshman class, you realize how big this school is, even as a smaller Big Ten school. </p>

<p>I found most of the sessions to be helpful, especially as a detail-oriented person and this is our first going off to college. I think it may be a little much for the students, especially my D who is not detail-oriented. She toughed it out though, and while she complained, I think inside it was comforting for her to get a lot of things addressed that was probably concerned about, even though she did not say that. </p>

<p>First day, the first couple of sessions had parents with students for overview info, and then the students on their own. Together again for the Hawkeye dinner and evening sessions. A pretty long day, especially for the students. Second day, parents and students were separated again in the AM, and then together for some wrap up sessions. </p>

<p>There was a ton of information that was shared, and the administration did an incredible job getting everything organized, the speakers were very concise and well-prepared. Lots of time for questions. There was just enough time to fit in some time walking around buying Iowa gear, getting a student ID, and getting an Iowa credit union bank account which seems to have some nice benefits (easy to transfer money to student, lots of local free ATMs, and used student ID card as ATM card). Took ten minutes to get an acct and comes with a free t-shirt. It was nice that the students worked on a draft schedule on the first day, and then had an opportunity to discuss with their parents (if they want to). </p>

<p>In terms of learning's to help prepare for orientation, nothing stands out, a few minor things. I would come early to sign in and good time for student to get his/her ID card photo and bank acct, or do that stuff during lunch on the second day. For t-shirts and sweats, buy that stuff in the capitol mall area, where there are a few good places, not in the truck parked by the Union, as their selection is limited. All this is a good way to fill time. I was glad that we took the evening dorm tour. Hawkeye dinner is a good chance to see the Burge dining hall, but nothing else happened there. I was glad we stayed in downtown Iowa City as it gave my D a chance to acclimate some more to the campus. She did not stay in Stanley overnight. Definitely make sure everyone has charged cell phones to help find each other, and beware we had some issues with no reception deep inside the Union/IMU. Also, definitely bring umbrellas -- lots of rain this week!</p>

<p>In summary, kudo's to the university administration and all of the orientation team, including students, who made this a great welcome to the university! They put a lot of work into the event, and it showed.</p>

<p>What a great summary! Thanks so much. My son and wife go down next week, which should be pretty interesting as he will cave in under a huge information overload and, if he's alone, no one will be there to back him up. Which is probably the point!</p>

<p>Questions:
1. Dorm tour - could you choose the dorm to tour? We'd want to see Daum if it's available. Not much point in seeing Burge again!
2. Is there a games/icebreaker thing in the evening? Did your D do it?
3. Were you with her when she did actual registration or did she go solo?
4. There's presumably a pick up of the STAT package - did you do that?
5. And I assume there is no pickup of football tix purchased prior to orientation?</p>

<p>thanks!</p>

<p>Thanks for the great review. I also will be looking forward to possibly a review from beastman.</p>

<p>rwehavingfunyet can you give a more detail review of the campus and downtown? Good and bad, thanks.</p>

<p>My son and I attended the first orientation last week and had a similar experience to rwe's. It was very well organized, I thought. We stayed at the Iowa House at the Union which was perfect because most of the orientation takes place at the Union. If you get to the IMU parking garage and it is full (will happen if you don't get there early), they will still let you in if you tell them you are staying at there. If you don't get there in time to get in that garage, you have to park at the Hancher lot all the way across campus and take the shuttle.</p>

<p>The dorm tours offered were: East Side which toured Currier and Stanley with discussion of Burge and Daum, West Side which toured Hillcrest and Rienow with discussion of Quadrangle and Slater, and Mayflower. I got that from the program. We didn't attend any of them because we already know where my son is living next year and we had toured Currier when we visited earlier.</p>

<p>There were "Night Games" at the Fieldhouse, which my son went to briefly. He said it was mostly basketball and pizza. He was back in our room asleep when I got back from going downtown for a drink with some friends.</p>

<p>The kids do their own registration on the morning of the second day. If you want input, discuss it with them the night before. I did not do this because there's not a lot of choice in his major but he ended up signing up for Calc II instead of Calc I which he is changing based on my advice/pressure. Calculus is one of the classes in his "Courses in Common" series so now his whole schedule needs to change so he can get in another CIC group. We did not know about Courses in Common before orientation but it seems like a very helpful program for first semester freshmen.</p>

<p>After registration, you meet back up at the Information Fair. There are more seminars on the second day, but I was kind of "informationed out" and I've already sent a child to college so didn't need to atttend the "Letting Go" type seminars.</p>

<p>We ordered football and basketball tickets but you don't get them then. We just charged them to his U-Bill.</p>

<p>CB, what exactly do you want to know about campus? Have you not visited yet? The campus is lovely and the Old Capitol building is beautiful. I love that you can see the golden dome from all over the place. It was sunny when we were there and the sun really highlights it. The downtown is very nice with a good variety of restaurants and bars. We (parents only) had drinks at 808 the first night. There was a huge police presence downtown because they've just changed the bars to 21 and over, and they seem to be enforcing it pretty strongly. Chatted with several drunken college students who were pretty funny. I had breakfast at the Hamburg Inn the next morning which was very good. One of my friends that I was with went to Iowa so she knew all the good places. </p>

<p>The second day I only attended one session after breakfast, then met my son and we shopped a little and then headed home. He is loaded up with Iowa gear now and ready for school to start. He can't wait.</p>

<p>Thanks, Izzie! Your post really answers my questions. Too bad to see Currier and Stanley which are, I think, identical room layouts and not Burge or Daum which, I think have same room layouts! Ah, well. I'm sure they know what they're doing.</p>

<p>Has anyone done the Honors orientation which is the first session on day 1? The program seems really cool but honestly when I read the website my head nearly explodes. It's tough to know how this will or can affect one's registration as there are about 1 million variations to consider.</p>

<p>CB, correct me if I'm wrong, but although you are probably the most well-informed about UI via the internet, you have STILL never been there!</p>

<p>Iowa City has a small commercial district with banks and businesses but butts up to the campus and really acts more as a "campustown" than a city unto itself. But it's a nice campustown and reminds me a fair amount of State Street in Madison. Lots of bars and restaurants aimed at students (huge beers for $3), some decent clothing boutiques aimed at grown ups with a little cash and the usual array of college town retailers: head shop, record store, cheap clothing stores, book stores, coffee shops etc. I think it's great. Most businesses are locally owned - no national chains like Urban Outfitters.</p>

<p>Thanks for the reviews.</p>

<p>Beastman, no I've never seen Iowa City in person but I will August 19th. Due to my research into the area, and daily reading of Iowa City news I become informed about the area a lot. I also view many pictures and videos.</p>

<p>Izzie although I find myself to be very informed about the campus and downtown I am always thrilled to read reviews, especially when they are recent. As for 808, interesting that you spent time there as the city council recently for the second time denied the bar liquour license.</p>

<p>Beastman, that's strange... does the city not allow stores like Urban Outfitters downtown? These are examples of a few stores that attract people downtown and not the local mall. Without stores like urban outfitters downtown can not experience a shopping district like major cities.</p>

<p>I am not aware of zoning or other restrictions preventing national retailers from locating downtown. Most of them are in the Coralville Mall but this is a small regional mall whose anchors are - what? - JCPenney? Kohl's?</p>

<p>It's a widely held belief that college towns are more vital and organic if the businesses are owned locally. But of course there are many viewpoints. When I was at UW Madison we shopped at Goodwill and Ragstock. Kids today love their national brands. But downtown IC has none of them. I think it's good and makes for a funkier environment. My son has decades to shop in suburbia - no need to get a headstart.</p>

<p>CB, 808 definitely served me alcohol. I did not ask to see their license, but they asked to see mine, even though I am 48 years old and I have a child who is old enough to drink. It is a nice place -- my friends were looking for good wine, and they had wine but not quite up to their standards. Not every place we tried even had wine. I don't drink wine because it gives me migraines but I can tell you their Bud Light drafts were delightful. They have a nice sidewalk area where you can sit outside with your drinks.</p>

<p>I didn't see all of downtown so I didn't see any chain type stores but I did see a Buffalo Wild Wings and a Chipotle so I don't think they are necessarily zoned to keep out national chains.</p>

<p>That's strange Izzie:Council</a> votes to deny 808's liquor license | press-citizen.com | Iowa City Press Citizen</p>

<p>Well I am so excited, can't wait to see Iowa City.</p>

<p>Just back on line -- I think most of the questions asked earlier today were already answered. </p>

<p>One thing worth amplifying -- the topic of parents discussing schedules with students between days 1 and 2 of the orientation...I really think it is a good idea, as students have limited perspective first time through.</p>

<p>CB -- I've seen a lot of campuses, and each one is different. It comes down to personal taste, but I really like the Iowa campus. It is amazingly easy to get to classes, at least on the east side. </p>

<p>My D did not do night games, so cannot help there. </p>

<p>One thing that I found useful was to do some extra walking around campus, over to Kinnick (my first time on west side), and some areas I never saw on the east side. For my D's schedule, walking to classes and back to dorm will probably be easier than the walk she had to her K-12 schools. Dorms, classes, and downtown very well co-located, especially for those with dorms and classes on the east side. </p>

<p>Did I miss any questions not already answered?</p>

<p>Thanks,</p>

<p>Yes, what did your daughter think of the campus and city? Excited, so so, etc...? Thanks a lot.</p>

<p>Well, CB, I hope you like Iowa once you get there. My boys both knew shortly after they stepped foot on their respective campuses that that's where they wanted to go. My older son applied to one school and my younger son applied to two. They were raised in a Big 10 town and have attended the sports events since they were tiny and were pretty certain they wanted Big 10, just not the hometown one. (I also applied to one school and that's where I went so I guess they get it from me.) They're pretty easygoing though so they'd probably be happy anywhere that wasn't too competitive.</p>

<p>Anyway, I hope you love it as much as I think my son is going to.</p>

<p>CB, Last time we were on campus, she thought it was really nice, but everything was under snow, and it was bitter cold, so it was difficulty to enjoy. Also, last time she did not walk around the Pedestrian Mall or the Capitol Mall. </p>

<p>This time everything was very green, it was much more comfortable, you could see more cobblestone/brick walkways, and we did more walking, etc. So her already very positive opinion of the campus grew even more positive. I think she really likes the Pentacrest area. </p>

<p>In addition, everyone was incredibly friendly. I think people from the state of Iowa are very friendly and down-to-earth to begin with. And Iowa seems to attract people from OOS who are likewise very friendly. I think people come to Iowa because of the value proposition, not as a status symbol. It is difficult to find anyone there with any hint of arrogance. This was one of the attractions of Iowa -- school spirit, strong academics, beautiful campus, wide range of academics, and friendly people, all without the arrogance. </p>

<p>One thing that was pretty funny -- almost everyone we met asked her why she came all the way from California to Iowa. There are a lot of people from the midwest, but everyone seemed genuinely surprised to be meeting someone from California (even though CA was something like the 9th or 10th most represented state in the freshman class based on data the registrar shared at orientation). I guess most of the student body is concentrated in just a few states, more so for Iowa than for some other schools, so by the time you get to 8, 9, 10, you are talking about small numbers. </p>

<p>One thing that really strikes me about Iowa. Because it is "only" 20,000 undergrads, and many of those are on the medical campus, the Pentacrest/east side really feels more like a large liberal arts school if you think of the campus as the east side where most freshman have their classes. I could touch my daughter's dorm, all her class buildings, and the edge of downtown in something like a 10-15 minute walk. The west side dorms add a little walking time to some classes but not much. That walk over the river could be a little of an ordeal in the winter. </p>

<p>It was nice to be able to fly in and out of Cedar Rapids -- it takes about 25-30 minutes to get to/from the airport, and the airport is super easy to navigate. We used a shuttle service one way and a taxi the other way. Both cost $40 for two people ($35 for one, plus $5 for a second passenger). This is another nice attraction for us OOS'ers -- easy to get in and out, with a few airport choices (also Des Moines and Quad Cities, although further away, but less expensive). Quad Cities/Moline airport is an hour away and flights tend to be cheaper there. I suggest early flights to allow fall backs in case of missed flights/connections regardless of airport. </p>

<p>I am looking forward to reading about your reaction when you finally see the campus!</p>

<p>Izzie, we too are staying at Iowa house. When you speak of "getting there in time" to get parking in the IMU lot, are you talking about the evening prior to orientation or day of? I suspect my wife will arrive at 6-ish the night before.</p>

<p>beastman, I am talking about the day of orientation. We drove in the morning of orientation (4 hours) and got there about 10:30 and the parking garage was full. Your wife should have no problem. Every time you leave the parking garage, you need a new parking pass. They will give them to you at the front desk.</p>

<p>For other who may be flying in and thinking about getting a car, we flew in, and took the shuttle so that my D could get used to shuttling from Cedar Rapids, and to avoid the parking hassles. We stayed at the Sheraton. Really glad we did this. </p>

<p>Orientation without a car is quite easy as long as you do not mind doing a little walking. It was nice to not need to worry about a car and good to get used to getting around by foot. I don't expect she'll need to use the CamBus or Iowa City Transit system much, but wish we had time to use that...maybe a practice run to the Coralville mall would have been good.</p>

<p>Anyone sign up for First-Year Seminars?</p>

<p>Beastman,</p>

<p>My D signed up for a first year seminar, and also will take the College Transition course as part of her LLC. She wanted to do Course in Common as well, but there are no sequences that are a good fit for her interests and constraints. </p>

<p>The first year seminars are phenomenal from what I can tell -- great list of interesting topics. I would be surprised if there were not several of interest to each student. </p>

<p>The only downside for her first year seminar is that it is 2 hours right in the middle of her day, so it made scheduling tricky. She was able to work around that.</p>

<p>
[quote]
Anyway, I hope you love it as much as I think my son is going to.

[/quote]

Thanks

[quote]
I am looking forward to reading about your reaction when you finally see the campus!

[/quote]

Thanks, I definately will write a review.</p>

<p>My son and I went for Orientation this week also. Nothing to add to the comments already made, really. I would suggest arrival on Day 1 by 10 or so, even though the program doesn't begin until 11:30. In terms of a to-do list, I might suggest the following:</p>

<p>Day 1 before 11:30 (all can be done in IMU lobby & 2nd floor):
1. Students check in at their tables, parent check in at parent tables
2. Students should go to "college credit" table to make sure their AP or college credits have been received and recorded
3. Students should get photo ID
4. Student/parent can open optional checking acct at credit union (this is open most of the time so it doesn't have to be done at this time)
5. Buy the $6 box lunch and snarf it down as there are no breaks the rest of the day
6. Buy ticket to Day 1 "Hawkeye Dinner" if you haven't done so ($8)</p>

<p>Day 1, 11:30: general assembly in IMU (parent & student). Opening speeches, welcome...
12:45: students & parents are separated into smaller groups and brought to their respective colleges for college-specific presentation on degree requirements and registration factoids.
2:00: parents and students separate. Students spend remainder of afternoon developing provisional schedule. Parents return to IMU for information sessions on billing, etc.
5:00 students return to IMU to meet parents
5:15-6:30: Hawkeye Dinner in Burge dining hall. Basically just standard food service but with stripped down menu. Come and go as you please, there is no program
Evening: optional information sessions for parents and students. Optional movie at Bijou Theater in IMU. Optional night games for students. By this time student and parent are wiped out! As suggested elsewhere, be sure to discuss provisional schedule with your student at this time to work out any bugs and to OK their choices.</p>

<p>Day Two: singular goal of this day is to finalize registration
9:00: students return to their colleges to complete registration. Parents attend more optional info sessions on campus safety, law enforcement, health service, etc.
Noon: students are done and brought to IMU to meet parent
Afternoon: nothing past noon is required and you may leave when you wish. There is a good information fair where you can deliver your Health History and immunization record as well as get great info on Greek life, the rec center and 40 or so other organizations. This is also a good time to get to the bookstore for t-shirts or have a nice lunch with your student. For us, the formal info presentations looked interesting but after doing the info fair it was 2:30 and we headed out.</p>

<p>One tip for Day 2: go to Tech Connection and check out their pricing on computers and software. You can buy Microsoft Office Pro Plus for $9 and the Mac version for $8. A huge savings. We had an informative chat with the geeks about which computers make sense (hint: everything on campus favors the use of a Mac vs. Windows machine) and where we'd get the best price (sometimes with them, sometimes not). There was no one in the booth but us and it was a very low-key way to have these discussions. They can also tell you what you need for additional equipment (hint: the dorms are not wireless, you need an internet cable, but the rest of the campus is wi-fi).</p>

<p>On a personal note, my son came into this with some trepidation as no one he knows is going to Iowa and many are going to his number 2 choice school. As recently as 2 weeks ago he was "having second thoughts," a trouble revelation which lead to a 2 hour sole-searching conversation between him and me. But he was immediately drawn in and by 10am on Day 1 (we started early because the Honors program has a session prior to the general session) he was on board and asking when we could hit the bookstore for Hawkeye garb. He was attentive in all sessions and asked to sign up for two classes that were above and beyond his requirements. As we drove away from the IMU he said, "I don't have second thoughts any more. I think I'll like it here." I was moved as was my wife when I told her. The really interesting thing about the orientation is that they kept parents and students together only as long as necessary. Then they'd grab the students and remind them that hey, this is your job. This is your education, you're in charge. Mom and dad won't be here with you. And through these proddings and in the simple act of doing his own registration on ISIS, my son was suddenly a different person. He'd puttered with ISIS before but whined about it. Now he was an expert. And though I anticipated pushing him through the Information Fair, in reality he had already been through it by the time I got there, and each time I stopped at a table to ask a question he'd roll his eyes and say, "I've been here already. I know this stuff!" So I credit the orientation staff for designing a program which achieved not only the nuts and bolts of registration but in a way that also instills a remarkable amount of self-confidence in independence in the students. It was really awesome.</p>