Whether you’re a first-year student or a fourth-year, here are some tips to ensure success at Iowa
Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Each year at Iowa is a new adventure that brings new challenges, ideas, and opportunities for students to grow, discover, and change. Read on to learn about scholarships, job and recreation opportunities, and much more available to you at specific stages of your college career.

(Tip: Feel free to look back or skip ahead a year; some of these are good reminders for all students!)

First-year students


2019 fall job and internship fair

An overhead view of an internship fair at the Iowa Memorial Union.

Job and internship tip: Whether you’re looking to build experience or just help pay the bills, you can fit student jobs around your busy schedule. Find the perfect campus or near-campus part-time job by using Handshake, Iowa’s online recruiting system, or check out the Spring All Majors Career Fair (noon to 4 p.m. Feb. 22), where employers will be ready to talk with you or accept your résumé. Other job and internship listings are available on the Pomerantz Career Center website.

Student success tip: With so much going on, it’s important to keep track of what’s expected of you in the classroom. The Academic Advising Center recommends you review all syllabuses for your courses and write down due dates, assignments, and other important items in your planner. Advisors can help you plan classes and connect you to resources you didn’t even know you needed. Make an appointment with an advisor in MyUI under the Advising Appointment button.

Roommate tip: Living with a roommate can be tricky. Residence hall life means getting acquainted with your roommate fast, and sometimes things don’t mesh as well as they should—but don’t panic. Read these tips from an RA on how you can make the most out of living with a roommate.

Food tip: There are more places to grab a bite to eat than just the dining halls. Make sure you stay fueled at these nine on-campus spots to grab a meal and make sure your stomach never rumbles in the middle of a quiet lecture ever again.

IT tip: Information Technology Services screens more than 1 million spam and phishing emails daily, but some still might make it to your inbox. Protect yourself from being scammed by enrolling in Two-Step Login, and check out some of the latest “phishes” arriving in campus inboxes.

Fitness tip: If you think the weight room and fitness areas at the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center are crowded, remember that there also are weights and cardio machines at the Field HouseFitness East, and the Hawkeye Tennis and Recreation Complex. Check them out.

Research tip: Assigned a research topic but have no idea where to start? Never fear. The SEAM (Students Engage at Main) at the UI Libraries is dedicated to helping students become better researchers through one-on-one assistance. Learn more, including drop-in hours and how to make an appointment.

Transportation tip: The campus is extremely walkable, but sometimes weather or time constraints mean you want or need a ride to your destination. Cambus is free and provides service to all parts of campus. Find routes, schedules, and maps here. If you need a ride after hours, Nite Ride is a free late-night transportation service available from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. You can request rides using your HawkID from your mobile device, desktop computer, or by phone. Learn more about Nite Ride.

Second-year students

Scholarship tip: Many scholarships are available based on grades, interests, or background, and the university’s Iowa Scholarship Portal has a tool that automatically directs you to scholarships for which you might be eligible. Applications open in early September and continue throughout the academic year, so visit often.

Finance tip: Living off campus means you may be responsible for rent, utilities, and other new expenses. Financial Literacy Services can help you budget to help your money last the entire semester. Staff are available for one-on-one meetings; see how to make an appointment on the Financial Literacy Services website.

Student success tip: If you’re having second thoughts about your major, or if you’re having trouble picking one at all, don’t fret. You can sign up to talk to an academic or career advisor through MyUI under the Advising Appointment button, or you can take an interest assessment to help identify your values, skills, and abilities. If you are certain about your major, now is a good time to create your individualized road map to graduation using the MyPlan tool in MyUI. You will want to review your plan with your academic advisor. Also, if you haven’t visited during any of your instructors’ office hours, stopping in just to say hello can help you later when you have questions. If you need a letter of recommendation in the future, it will be important for your instructors to get to know you.



Getting outdoors is a great way to stay healthy and relieve stress. Photo by Justin Torner.

Outdoors tip: There are plenty of hiking, camping, and boating opportunities nearby. Think about getting some friends together at the Macbride Nature Recreation Area. You can also hang out with owls and other raptors at the Raptor Center. And hoo wouldn’t want to do that?

Mental health tip: Each year, 85% of students using counseling services report that doing so significantly helped them personally and academically. If you’re having mental health concerns, University Counseling Service (UCS) staff care and want to assist you. Consider making an appointment with UCS. They’re here to help.

Third-year students

Credit tip: If you’re entering your third year, now is a good time to start thinking about building credit. Financial Literacy staff are available to help you pull a credit report, talk through what it means, and figure out ways to build credit responsibly.

Internship tip: It’s important to complement your academic preparation with a range of other experiences, such as study abroad, community service, research, participation in sports and other student organizations, membership in pre-professional organizations, and internships. An internship offers you the chance to learn by doing in a setting where you are supervised by a workplace professional. The Pomerantz Career Center can advise, prepare, and search for an internship in your field.

Student success tip: Graduating in four years is an important way to minimize debt. Do you know when you’re going to graduate? Meet with your academic advisor to review your degree audit and MyPlan and be sure that you are still on schedule. Academic advisors are available to help you plan. Find the advisor for your college here.


Spring Walk-around, Finals Week, May 2022

Nice weather? Try studying outside. Photo by Justin Torner.

Study tip: You might think you know all the best study spots on campus, but check out this list to see some of the most scenic study spots on campus.

Fun for-credit course tip: Hiking, kickboxing, scuba diving, winter camping, yoga, and beginning gardening—you can do all these for academic credit by taking a Lifetime Leisure Skills course. Find more offerings here.

Alcohol safety tip: Did you know that cold, clammy skin can be a symptom of alcohol poisoning? Red Watch Band is a course that teaches students CPR, alcohol bystander training, and other ways to protect yourself and your friends from negative alcohol-related experiences. Learn more here.

Fourth-year students

Loan repayment tip: One of the worst things you can do with your finances is ignore them. Financial Literacy Services can help you plan for your future, whether that means loan repayment, planning for graduate school, or budgeting for life after graduation. Check out a loan repayment calculator and learn more here.


Student speaker Erick Saucedo addresses his peers. Saucedo earned a Bachelor of Business Administration in finance and accounting.

Will you be ready for commencement? Read the graduation checklist on the commencement website. Photo by Tim Schoon.

Graduation tip: The Office of the Registrar offers an easy-to-follow graduation checklist that helps you remember everything required to graduate, including that you have to apply for your degree. Read the graduation checklist or go to Iowa’s commencement website.

Sleep tip: It’s easy to fall into the trap of staying up late or pulling all-nighters to study, but humans function at only 50% to 70% efficiency without adequate sleep. Refresh is a free, online program that teaches general sleep skills and guides you through using a custom sleep-improvement plan. You could get better sleep tonight.

Healthy relationships tip: Iowa offers a variety of opportunities for you to help create a safe and respectful community, including support groups, workshops and trainings, student groups, internships, and campus initiatives. Learn more at the Ending Violence at Iowa website.

Final classes tip: Graduating in four years is an important way to minimize debt. As your college career ends, make sure you have everything you need to graduate on time and that you’re checking everything off your college “bucket list.” Advisors can help you square away your final course requirements and help you find time for that elective you’ve been meaning to take. This may be your last chance to enjoy college life, so take advantage while you can.

Don’t forget about us tip: While you’re preparing for your life as a working professional, remember there is a global Iowa alumni network of almost 300,000 people you can connect with after graduation. Check out these ways to connect. We would love to see you at a local Iowa Club event or in Iowa City for Homecoming!