From paddle-boarding the Iowa River to Target Takeover, On Iowa kicked off the school year welcoming thousands of new Hawkeyes.
Since 2011, the program has welcomed new students with opportunities to meet others, connect to resources, and learn more about their new lives on campus.
With the program in its eighth year, Tina Arthur, the director of University of Iowa Orientation Services, said there were more than 100 On Iowa events this year. The activities took off Aug. 14 and came to a close Sunday evening with Convocation and the President’s Block Party.
“This is an opportunity to think about how we can really get [new students] comfortable, connected, and ready to start so they can be successful students,” Arthur said.
On Iowa is part of a three-part transition program for new students, she noted. In addition to Orientation programming and the online course Success at Iowa, On Iowa helps new students familiarize themselves with the campus.
There were several new events this year to help students adjust to life in Iowa City. A laser tag maze was set up in the IMU on Aug 17. “Funny Money with Colin Ryan” took place Aug. 16.
“It’s a financial comedian, which you might think those two words don’t go together, but it’s a way for students to really think about living independently and being financially responsible,” Arthur said.
However, she said, many of the staple On Iowa events have been in place since its early years. Freshmen and transfer students flooded the Kinnick Stadium field to pose for a class photo and enjoy a firework display at “Kickoff at Kinnick” on the evening of Aug. 17.
Directly afterwards, many partook of the food, games, and music at “Madness on Madison.” Students gathered on the Pentacrest for Convocation speeches and free food at the President’s Block Party on Sunday evening.
Other events included food crawls across Iowa City, a variety of informational sessions, college open houses, lawn games, films, a dance party in the IMU, among other activities.
Many of the On Iowa events were centered on the five Iowa challenges: excel, stretch, engage, choose, and serve. Each challenge signifies goals to help students succeed. Arthur said the challenges express the expectations administration has for students.
“[New students] are going to learn strategies about how to find their way to class and how to tap into resources,” On Iowa check-in director Michelle Danielson said. “They’re going to hear from a real professor who will give them helpful hints in the excel lecture. Everything is to immerse yourself in the campus culture prior to the first day of classes and feel comfortable.”
Much of the On Iowa programming relies on the multitudes of volunteers. Arthur said more than 300 student leaders helped with the program. They performed such tasks as leading small groups, working at events, helping with move-in, among other activities.
“It’s a testament to the idea that Hawks help Hawks,” Arthur said. “It’s great to see [student leaders] connect with new students and welcome people to the Hawkeye family.”
On Iowa student leader Megan Arps said she learned how to answer difficult questions in her experiences leading small groups.
“I learned how to remain calm and how great it is to welcome the incoming class,” Arps said.