Your must-have guide to ISU for the first week of class


Freshmen wait in line for pancakes on Central Campus during Destination Iowa State on Aug. 17.

Do not skip class, attend campus events and avoid 8 a.m. classes. When you are an incoming student, people seem to constantly feed you the same general advice that applies to any college. Although helpful, nobody wants to hear about the Freshman 15 for the 15th time. Instead, here is a college guide that covers some of the basics you need to know at Iowa State.

Navigating CyRide
There are 25 bus routes for students to use listed in the MyState app free of charge if you have your school ID card.

Experience will help you learn the bus routes over time, but if you are looking for a quick way to master CyRide, download the Google Maps app on your phone.

When you search for a building that sits along a CyRide bus stop, select the “Transit” button, and Google Maps will tell you which bus route to look for. After that, you can open the MyState app to check when the next bus is coming your way.

Also, when you are on the bus, remember to pull the yellow cord above your head when you are approaching your destination so the driver knows to let you out at the next stop.

More information can be found on the CyRide website.

Understanding the Meal Plan System
Meal swipes, Dining Dollars and Flex Meals. What is the difference and where can you use each one?

Meal swipes will get you into any dining hall for unlimited access to that location’s food, drinks and dessert. This year’s dining halls are Union Drive Marketplace (UDM), Seasons Marketplace and Friley Windows. One swipe equals one entry.

Dining Dollars are perfect for grabbing a quick snack at a campus convenience store or ordering a cup of coffee at the Roasterie for a quick pick-me-up. These dollars function as regular U.S. dollars, except they are connected to your student ID card and can be purchased with up to a 10 percent discount, depending on the amount.

Flex Meals cover a pre-set dollar amount that changes according to your meal plan. They can be used at any retail location but are commonly used to buy meals at non-dining hall locations. You can also use a Flex Meal to swipe a friend into a dining hall with you.

You can utilize as much or as little of your Flex Meal’s pre-set dollar amount as you want, but be careful. You will not receive any refunds if you use $2 of a $10 Flex Meal. If your total exceeds the amount, you can finish the transaction with cash, Cy Cash, credit or Dining Dollars.

More information can be found on the ISU Dining website.

Managing Immediate Access Materials
College tuition strikes a huge blow to the bank account, so spending extra money on textbooks is never preferable. Luckily, the ISU Book Store collaborates with faculty and publishers to provide students with the Immediate Access program.

Immediate Access is a program that offers students class materials at a reduced cost compared to the national average.

When you enroll in a class that uses the program, you will automatically gain access to your needed materials, and you will receive an email notification and an additional charge to your university bill (U-Bill).

To find your Immediate Access materials, select a course from your Canvas homepage and click “Immediate Access Materials,” or look for directions from your instructor.

These materials are often mandatory, but you can potentially save even more money and opt out of Immediate Access if you can find what you need somewhere else or if a professor informs you that a specific item is optional.

To opt out of Immediate Access, click the “Want to opt-out?” button listed under the item you are looking to drop. If you drop a class with Immediate Access materials, you will automatically receive a refund through your U-Bill.

The last day to opt out is Sept. 2.

More information can be found on the ISU Book Store website.

Accessing Free Resources on Campus
One of the most important skills a college student can have is taking advantage of free stuff, so here is a list of free resources you can use to maximize your time at Iowa State.

Community Writing Center
Counseling Services (Services are free, but charges may occur if a student completes any career or psychological assessment)
Supplemental Instruction
The SHOP Food Pantry

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to clarify that Iowa State Student Counseling Services is free except under certain circumstances.