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Some advice to incoming freshmen

BY CHRIS STEINKE | AUGUST 22, 2011 7:20 AM

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Hello freshmen! You’re looking young this year. Or, wait — am I old? Do I look old? No? Because I can’t grow facial hair in any capacity? Oh, that makes sense.

Welcome to the University of Iowa. I see that you’re getting well-acquainted, what with OnIowa! and all. I hear they try to make you get up at 8:30 a.m. to play Duck-Duck-Goose or whatever. I also hear they make baseless threats in order to get all of you “ducks” in order and out the door. And you have a problem with that? Listen, Duck-Duck-Goose is nonstop fun — though I can’t say I’ve ever played it with an elephantine hangover.

(I read that you get to have dinner with UI President Sally Mason. Just to let you know, I called “dibs” on her in 2008, so don’t try getting too friendly.)

Many of you are probably second-guessing your choice of school, especially with OnIowa! desperately trying to get you to commit like a chunky high-school girlfriend. But trust me, though their methods may be a bit flawed, what they’re saying is legitimate (outside of the baseless threats, of course): The University of Iowa is an excellent school.

I came all the way here from Maine (Please, ask me why. I’ve never heard that question before.), where most of my college-bound classmates dreamed of attending some small private school in the Northeast. In my opinion, those schools are nothing compared with Iowa, or any other school in the Big Ten (Big Seventeen?), for that matter. They seldom have the resources or the opportunities that make it possible for any undecided freshman to make basically anything of her/his life. The University of Iowa does.

Sure, the UI does have an 83 percent acceptance rate, so it is often referred to as a “safety school.” Whatever. That does not mean everyone here is stupid. It just means that there is a good number of stupid people here, and stupid people are F-U-N — just keep ’em at arm’s length.

But for every stupid person on campus here in Iowa City, there is a genius. Iowa City is a UNESCO City of Literature. So what, right? There is a grand total of four in the world — and this is the only one in North America. That’ll give you something to brag about next time you have to deal with those snobs in Tiffin.

(No offense, Tiffin. I like your Christmas lights!)

It’s safe to say you can’t go wrong with any major here at the UI, unless it’s cinema. It’s pretty hard to go “right” with that one.

Even outside of classes, this school is first-class. We have the best college newspaper in the world (according to us, anyway), a top-notch workout facility, the No. 4 college party scene, and a club for pretty much everything anyone could be interested in — there might even be a Rough Pornography Club, though I’m not entirely sure.

My advice? Get your bearings. Take a week or two to project your weekly time commitment between classes and work.

After that, go out and explore. Go to those club meetings that spark your interest, even if they seem kind of geeky. Hey, maybe you want to join the DI Editorial Board; we’re accepting applications now. There’s even an improv comedy group, Paperback Rhino. I tried out for it freshman year, but it didn’t take me. I think the members were put off by my refusal to portray anything other than a billionaire fish with Alzheimer’s.

Last, make friends for the right reasons, i.e., not just because they happen to smoke pot.

Don’t let OnIowa! irritate you into transferring; this university, this city — it’s worth sticking around for.

Also, I have a bit of a Peter Pan complex, so stop making me feel old.


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