Graduate students get acquainted at orientation


Emily Blobaum/Iowa State Daily

A graduate student takes a selfie with Cy at the 2015 graduate orientation. Over 400 students registered for the orientation. 

Ellen Bombela

Graduate students, both new and returning to Iowa State, gathered at the Alumni Center for food, presentations and a chance to meet other students at the graduate college orientation Thursday.

Students were welcomed to campus and informed about different resources available to them at orientation. For many of the students attending the event, including Erica Baken, graduate student in ecology, evolution and organismal biology, being a part of the graduate college is giving them the opportunity to further themselves in their career.

“I want to be a professor at a small, liberal arts college, and so in order to do that I need to have the actual degree,” Baken said. “But more than that, it will give me the expertise to be a skilled and qualified professor.”

Baken said her graduate program will be a great opportunity for her to be around students who are on the same track as she is and take their education just as seriously as she does.

“It is more specific,” Baken said. “It is good to be able to work with people who are heading in the same direction as you are.”

Philippe Meister, graduate student in English, agrees that the graduate school will be a positive one in which to take part. Meister also likes the way the courses are structured.

“Our classes are once a week for three hours,” Meister said. “I expect to be doing a lot of the learning on my own. I’m sure there will be a lot of good in-class discussion, but as far as learning the concepts, I will need to learn those on my own before I get to class.”

Although being in the graduate college has multiple benefits, it can take some time to adjust.

“It will be interesting to see how I fit into Ames and Iowa State socially, but it will just take a little bit of time and a little bit more effort,” said Baken, who completed her undergraduate degree at Pomona College in southern California.

While it can be easy to feel alone at a new school in a new community, Baken said she can see a benefit to being in the graduate college.

“With [undergraduate], you’re kind of handed on a silver platter all of these people that are on the exact same page as you, but this is a little bit different,” Baken said. “People are more settled in on their lives, so it will be very interesting.” 

Graduate students who were unable to attend orientation can complete an online orientation. Orientations are also available for most of the specific graduate programs, which include tours, lectures and discussions.