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  • Charlotte Hagen

Ten Ways to Answer Someone Asking “Why Iowa, Anyway?”

why iowa?

As a new season of college acceptances dawns on us, it’s time for yet another class of Hawkeyes to fight for their lives against their family, friends, and community to justify their decisions for the upcoming school year.


Regardless of if you’re an incoming freshman or current student, you’ve probably had to explain to one confused adult or another about why you’re donning black and gold for the next few years (and, god, I know I have).


So, we’ve made a short list of just some of the ways to respond to non-alumni questioning your decision:


  1. Explain your major. The University of Iowa offers a lot of nationally (or even internationally!) renowned programs, whether you’re in nursing or duking it out as an English major. I mean, who else can claim if they get injured they can get treated at such a great university hospital, barring the fact you have to cart yourself over the river first? It’s a pretty sweet deal to have a school that fits so well with your interests, and if that’s the case, then there’s no shame in showing it off.

  2. Talk about Iowa City. Not all colleges really have that much to offer outside of campus, but walk from Old Capitol and there’s a bustling city with a lot of different places to offer. Movies, theater, restaurants, all within walking distance. Unless you live in an urban center, there’s likely not that much you can get to without using a car to get there. Living in a college town is pretty sick, and Iowa City’s focus on and embracing of the arts is particularly unique.

  3. Completely disengage. Okay, so especially by the holiday season you’ve probably gotten more than your fair share of people asking about college. And maybe it’s getting to you. No, it’s definitely getting to you. And sometimes the best solution is to just end the conversation right then and there. Just walk away, or go mute, or find something impossibly interesting to stare at on your phone. At some point whoever’s asking you might just assume you’ve answered their question already.

  4. Look at someone else in the room. Nothing makes one feel like a jerk more than a pointed expression of mutual disappointment towards anyone else. It doesn’t matter if the other person you’re staring at has no idea what’s going on. Sometimes people just like to be the one to receive a pointed expression of mutual disappointment. You’re bound to have thrown a few around the room anyways, especially if you’re at a family gathering. It’s all part of the festivities.

  5. Start questioning their decisions. After all, you’ve spent enough time defending your college, why not have them spend a few minutes defending theirs? How’s that degree working out? Are you where you’d see yourself back in undergrad? You’re telling me that all that’s in Iowa is corn? You’re from Ohio. Ohio!

  6. Talk about corn. And you know what? Corn is great. It’s delicious, even. Corn on the cob, cornbread, cornmeal, corned beef, whatever it is, it’s good. I’ll take it, no questions asked. Are you ashamed to live where the corn stalks grow? They’re national goddamned treasures. Shame on you.

  7. Cry. Just roll up into a ball and start sobbing. What are they gonna do? Ask again? Nah. They don’t have the guts. You’ve basically won. You’ve obtained the ultimate moral victory. Even if it results in pity. 

  8. Run. You don’t have to answer to anyone. And it’s not like they’re going to chase after you. And if they do, they’re going to look like a menace. No one wants to look like that. Except for you. You know it’s the way to get things done. That is, to avoid having to deal with the same conversation over and over again.

  9. Tell them you won a mysterious scholarship that completely pays for your education, whose only stipulation is to attend the university. It’s oddly specific, long-winded, and answers the question. And it could even be accurate. Scholarships are weird, man.

  10. Give up. You’re not always going to know why people ask. Maybe they’re looking to embarrass you, or genuinely learn more about you, but it can get asked so often you start to blur the difference between the two. A shrug, a muttering, or even an expressive murmuring can do, and someone else you know can cover for you. It’s been a long ride to get here, and honestly, you deserve some peace of mind. Maybe you should have made business cards for the occasion.


Oh damn.


Business cards would have been a pretty good idea.

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