By Emily Barske, Iowa State Daily
At the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences orientation this June, parents were asked to stand if they’d sent a student to Iowa State in the past. Then they were to remain standing if they’d sent two. Then three.
One by one the parents sat.
When the leader said “seven kids,” one woman was still left standing. The mother, an Iowa State alumna, had sent seven students to Iowa State before attending the current orientation with her eighth child.
Seeing this ISU mother was just one example that Cody West, vice president of the student body and the Cyclone Aide for CALS who was at that orientation, has seen showing the pride and confidence many Iowa families hold for Iowa State, he said. A native of Altoona, West identifies with the Iowa State tradition that draws Iowans to the university.
“It speaks volumes about Iowa State as a whole,” West said. “Ames has the small-town Iowa feel … with a close, tight-knit community.”
Of the three regent universities, Iowa State remains the university serving the most Iowans.
- Iowa State University as of fall 2016: total enrollment 36,660; resident enrollment 20,713; 56.5 percent of total enrollment is Iowans.
- University of Iowa as of fall 2015 (UI’s registrar’s office does not yet have fall 2016 numbers of resident students available): total enrollment 32,150; resident enrollment 17,531; 54.5 percent of total enrollment is Iowans.
- University of Northern Iowa as of fall 2016: total enrollment 11,905; resident enrollment 10,528; 88.4 percent of total enrollment is Iowans.
History as a land-grant institution
Iowa State’s pride in being a state university dates back to its history as a land-grant institution, meaning it was created to serve the needs of the state of Iowa.
The land-grant institution was to focus “on the ideals that higher education should be accessible to all and that the university should teach liberal and practical subjects,” according to university archives.
Agriculture, engineering and home economics were some of the key academic programs first offered by the university. Iowa State now offers more than 100 majors, according to Iowa State Admissions.
Recruiting and extension within Iowa
Katharine Suski, director of admissions, said recruiters don’t give a different pitch to in-state students than they’d give to out-of-state students, but said some recruiters are focused on Iowa high schools and community colleges.
“We recruit at every high school that will let us come,” Suski said of their efforts to recruit in Iowa, also adding that the places recruiters are placed around the country are based on analytics.
The Admissions Office is just one way the university attracts prospective Iowans. Through various programs for all ages, the Extension and Outreach office creates visibility for the university across the state.
“For Iowa State University, it’s a tremendous advantage to have us in all 99 counties,” said Vice President for Extension and Outreach Cathann Kress, adding that the office’s programs touch 1 million Iowans each year, which is about one-third of the state’s population.
Those extension efforts can include projects such as partnering with Iowa State Athletics on the #ISU99 Scavenger Hunt, 4-H or discussing new university research findings throughout the state, among many other areas.
While creating an accessible public education for Iowans, Iowa State also focuses on recruiting and fulfilling the needs of non-resident and international students, Suski said.
Vice President of Student Affairs Martino Harmon said that when providing resources to students, the university doesn’t look at where they come from. Student Affairs does take into account the experiences students might find based on where they come from, which for some Iowans may be adjusting from living in a small rural community to a campus of more than 36,000 students, saying the land-grant mission of the university is part of the enrollment growth.
“The land-grant mission is really sort of the backdrop to our growth,” Harmon said.
A service to the state
Beyond extension functions, the programs Iowa State offers students reflect the growing industries of the state, said Tina Hoffman, marketing and communications director for Iowa Economic Development.
“Having great universities in our own backyards … is something important to all Iowa taxpayers,” she said.
Being involved in 4-H exposed West to the university at a young age, and ultimately, he ended up choosing Iowa State because he felt it offered a great in-state agriculture program.
Suski said trends show that most Iowans who go to school in Iowa end up getting a job in the state.
“Iowa has a low rate of people leaving the state — which is a good thing for Iowa,” she said.
Accessibility can come in many different forms, including working closely with Iowa community colleges to make transferring easier, Suski said. Currently, 70 percent of transfer students are from Iowa, she said.
“Iowa State is an institution that’s important to all Iowans,” Kress said. “The land grant was created to serve the people of its state.”