Outside University: 19. University of Iowa

Iowa City, Iowa

University of Iowa.    

Hawks don’t let the fact that Iowa’s a landlocked state hold them back. With the Iowa River running right through campus and Lake MacBride State Park a 20-minute drive away, they’ve got plenty of ways to get in the drink.

U. Iowa’s outdoor-education program, called "Touch the Earth," plans an impressive (but slightly expensive) trip roster that covers the range of what you might want to do. Among the offerings: Local camping, paddling, kayaking, and moonlight-canoeing trips (about $75); climbing excursions to Nevada’s Red Rocks ($800); paddling in Florida’s Everglades National Park ($645); and hiking Colorado’s 14ers ($645).

A program called “Lifetime Leisure Skills” maintains a spectacular list of classes that count toward your degree. Enliven your transcript with rowing, mountain (or tandem) biking, trail running, marathon training, orienteering, land navigation, snowshoeing, a team-building challenge course, or a class called “Exploring the Natural Wonders of Iowa,” which involves a weekend of hiking and camping the Loess Hills or the Yellow River Forest. The sailing club offers classes too.

There’s a 52.5-foot, eight-rope climbing wall, and an array of gear available for rent, with water sports, camping, cycling, and cold-weather protection highlighted. Need to strap a roof-rack storage tub to your car? That’s $5.

Academically, plenty of majors offer the chance to do wildlife research in the field: anthropology, biology, engineering, environmental science, and science education among them. Round out your conservation-themed class schedule by volunteering for the MacBride Raptor Project, through which you can help rehabilitate and track hawks, falcons, eagles, and osprey.

In case you become inspired to write of your pursuits, graduate, if you can, into the university’s Writers’ Workshop, a highly prestigious first step to a Pulitzer: alumni include Wallace Stegner, Philip Roth, John Irving, and Kurt Vonnegut.

CONTACT: (319) 335-3500, uiowa.edu
STUDENT BODY: 21,565 undergraduates, 9,328 graduates
TUITION: residents $8,057, nonresidents $26,279, room and board $9,170

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