Senior Column | A letter to my sister and the many other prospective Hawkeyes

As I prepare to leave the University of Iowa, I’ve reflected on my experience and have compiled tips for incoming Hawkeyes.


Sophie Stover, Opinions Contributor

So, you’ve found yourself here, a senior in high school with sights set on Iowa City. You already know you’ve made a great choice, and I’m here to affirm that. As a senior, I can certainly say I made the right decision to attend the University of Iowa.

I’ll always be thankful for the people I met at The University of Iowa and in the Iowa City community. Moreover, I learned many lessons from my experiences while pursuing an undergraduate degree here. The following are my tips for prospective students to maximize the college experience at the University of Iowa.

Attend office hours with your professors, especially in classes with less than 50 people. I found that talking to professors is most beneficial when the class is engaging, difficult, or when the professor had experience that aligned with my interests.

Through Zoom meetings, I was able to make meaningful connections with professors during the pandemic. Further, cultivating a strong relationship with a professor is helpful for future references or letters of recommendation.

Later in college when you’re seeking a job or internship, it’s worth trying to directly contact decision-makers. Worst case scenario after emailing a hiring manager or decision maker directly is no response. The best-case scenario is a new connection and avenue to a job application.

Talk to as many people as possible, especially the first year. Talk to your neighbors in class and on your dorm floor because you’ll likely see them again. I knocked on my neighbor’s door the first night in Burge, and the girl that answered is my best friend still today.

Another great way to meet people with common interests is to check all the clubs and groups at the UI. The university and surrounding community boast tons of opportunities for student involvement. Joining a club helps to feel a sense of connection to campus and to find camaraderie with peers and colleagues.

This tip isn’t always fun but find ways to get out of your comfort zone. Reflecting on my college experience, I made huge improvements in personal growth when I put myself into uncertain situations. Take that class you know nothing about, and join that club you’re interested in.

You’ll be better for it in the long run. I never had goals or aspirations to be a journalist, so joining the Daily Iowan was certainly out of my comfort zone. Yet here I am, a year later, with countless incredible experiences and a full-time job lined up in part thanks to the DI. You never know where your new skills or connections will take you.

My final tip might be a controversial one but work a part time food service job during college. Working at Panera Bread for three years during my college career absolutely pushed me to some mental limits.

Food service is both frustrating and hard work, but leaving that job made me appreciate it more. I created relationships with my coworkers that I’ll remember forever, and the stress I endured reinforced my belief that I’m capable of anything.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.