University of Iowa Top Questions

What are the academics like at University of Iowa?


A lot of academics are good. Teachers are there to teach well. It is very independent though so a student should go in for help if theyre stuck. Professors won't ask if you need help, you need to meet with them if you're confused.


As a part-time freshman, I have little to say about the academics. But, from what I hear there is a language barrier between some professors and students. Some classes are difficult and others not so much.


Academics are what you make of them at Iowa. Admissions are easy so there's a lot of people who aren't very intelligent or don't care enough to try, but with some top notch programs like nursing, you'll also find some of the smartest people in Iowa (and Asia). If you want to get the most out of Iowa academics, you've really got to show you care. Talk with professors, advisers, and other connections. If you choose not to engage yourself or get involved, no one will notice and you can slip on through with minimal effort. I have yet to take an extremely difficult class as a journalism student. Gen eds are not very challenging for the most part. Students are usually more interested in having a good time at Iowa and graduating with a solid degree than they are in having top notch grades or honors.


Speaking as a student who came from a very competitive high school, I love the more relaxed atmosphere at Iowa. While I am in the honors program and therefore have to keep up my GPA, when I'm in class it doesn't feel like I have to struggle against other students to be the best. I'm an English major, so most of my classes involve discussion of the reading; I've found that students here are quite willing to pitch in with their thoughts, and classes have gone in some pretty interesting directions. Another plus is that many of the classes have less than thirty people, so the professor always knows your name. Even if you take a class in a big lecture hall, there will also be a section with a T.A. where everyone gets to know each other pretty well. In addition to being comfortable and enjoyable, I also feel that the classes here are appropriately challenging. I spend about three hours each night reading or studying, and the assignments encourage me to think critically instead of just repeating a string of information. I enjoy learning, so for me this actually adds to the fun. (I'm a nerd, I know. I regret nothing.)


There are always office hours for every professor so students can meet and ask for help if they don't understand something or even to get to know their instructor a bit more. Its quite possible to get most of your studying done during the week days so you have most of the weekend to yourself. The thing I like most is that I have never had a Friday class yet! you get to choose the classes you attend as well as picking the time and days that best fit you.


Classes usually consist of a lecture section that contains a couple hundred students and a discussion section where you meet usually once per week in a class size of about 20. The professors in lecture usually will not know your name unless you introduce yourself to them or go to office hours regularly, which I highly recommend doing. The amount of studying students do usually depends on what their major is or how many semester hours they are taking. Personally, my major is Health and Human Physiology and I am Pre-PT. As I have progressed through this department, classes are gradually becoming more difficult, therefore I must study on a nightly basis. My favorite class right now is Principles of Biology 2 because I really enjoy sciences and learning how biological systems work. My least favorite class is Spanish. Most majors require 4 total semesters of a foreign language. Most students are pretty competitive and care a lot about their academics. Many classes have final curves on them so that creates a lot of healthy competition between students. The primary educational route at Iowa is geared towards getting a job or preparing students for graduate work.


I am in the college of engineering I lack opinions for many of the departments that Iowa has but my opinion for what departments I have dealt with over the years is as follows... Engineering Department: All professors are more than competent in there areas of teaching but for conveying the information to there students can be a challenge for some teachers. I am an American who can only speak English (unfortunately) and have ran into no language barriers in this department. Facilities for engineering majors are up-to-date and accessible all hours of the day. Professors are very often more than accomodating if a student can not make it to their set office hours. Through experience they are more helpful in person than in class. Get to know them! It can be very rewarding to know your professors. This a very competitive department that will require a strong work ethic and knowledge in the subject matter. Chemistry Department: Again professors in this department are well educated but some can have difficulties conveying information. The lecture hall for the chemistry building was newly renovated in 2010 so is new and very nice for incoming students who will have to take a chemistry class of some sorts. Professors are open for office hours and enjoy students who take advantage of them. This is also a very competitive department. Physics department: Professors are well educated and perform amazing research but their teaching abilities are bad. Intro to Physics taken by physics majors and engineering majors run into professors who lack teaching abilities severely. Facilities for students are old but are slowly being revitalized. Every student at Iowa is required to complete a "Rhetoric" requirement. This is a class that encompasses literature reading and analysis, public speaking, and writing abilities. There can be a wide variety between the topics to be covered since the class isn't managed to follow a particular curriculum. Its graduate student who follows loose guidelines and grading criteria. My point is this class can vary between teachers and professors. Is the education at this school geared toward getting a job, or learning for its own sake? Depends on the major. Engineering becomes very job applicable after the first year and a half of classes. As for premeds, they're undergraduate studies don't fully transfer to jobs but they hopefully make it into medical school. Writing/journalism majors here probably have a very good start since Iowa is world renowned for their creative writing programs. Quite a few of physics and chemistry majors end up in the engineering college so they can be more geared for real-world applications or jobs. Overall University of Iowa has good academics for undergraduates.


The academics at the U of Iowa are secretly competitive. Everyone is looking to get the best grades in their courses, but it's not really obvious. My suggestion for this is to seek support from professors if you are worries about a course, make them remember your name! I had a rocky start in my organic chemistry course but after seeing the professor during office hours, I got all my questions answered.


Professors are mainly involved in research, and to be honest i feel like a lot of professors aren't that interested in teaching. Students study according to their major. Pre-health students rarely go out, whereas business students go out more frequently. Pre-health is very common at Iowa and its extremely rigorous. Overall I think Iowa is a challenging school, if you had a 4.0 in high school don't expect that your first year on campus.


Many of the classes here are very large in for first two years of undergraduate. This can make it difficult to get to know your professors without a little extra effort on your part. Most of the professors are happy to spend their office hours talking to anyone about any subject that comes up. I majored in Microbiology, a very small major. This department made it extremely easy to get to know all of your professors, which was great when it was time to get letters of recommendation for graduate school, dental school, medical school, etc.. The only complaint about the department of Microbiology is that the professors are not always up to par, and the courses don't always offer a challenge.