Study in the US

What’s about this University called UNI?

If you are reading this post, that’s probably because you are interested to learn more about UNI. Is it an acronym to University of Northern Iowa? or does it talk about ‘You’ and ‘I’. Let’s delve deeper into my life as a student in the USA to know the story behind UNI.

Curious to see how UNI looks like?

Well, as an international student, I always aspired to pursue higher education abroad. I scoured the web to find the right university. If you haven’t read my previous blog on choosing the perfect university, click here to learn about the 6 essential steps for serious study abroad considerations.

The University of Northern Iowa is a State University and is the 3rd Largest University in Iowa, renowned for the high quality education it provides for both domestic and international students. To learn more information about the university’s geographic location and more about the city Cedar Falls, click here.

How is the Education System in the USA?

I completed my high school and earned my degree in Sri Lanka, which is an Asian country. Some might say pursuing a grad program is the logical next step since I already have a degree. However, I’ve found that education here in the US is significantly different.

In Sri Lanka, our local education is primarily teacher-centric, meaning we learn what our teachers teach us. In contrast, the US education system is more student-centered. This approach places students at the heart of the learning process, allowing them to gauge their own self-worth and fostering intrinsic motivation.

Student-centered learning flips the traditional teacher-centered approach, giving students a more active role. Teachers empower students to make decisions, believe in their leadership potential, and remember what it’s like to learn. I have to say, it’s a highly effective method, promoting deeper understanding.

But it’s also demanding. Expect regular assignments and quizzes, usually on a weekly basis, to stay on pace with the class. However, the advantage is that you’ll retain more and learn better, even if it means a lot of hard work.

How is the Academics at UNI?

Being a graduate student in the MBA program, I can confidently say that it has been an excellent experience so far. The program is tailored to meet the needs of business professionals, aligning with industry requirements and the job market.

Most of my classes are centered around discussions, and I also have assigned readings and similar activities on a weekly basis. If you’re an accounting student, this is the ideal place for you. UNI is nationally renowned for its high CPA (Certified Public Accountant) pass rates. To be precise UNI is in the top 10 among all schools nationwide for passing the entire exam. If you want to learn more about the College of Business, I recommend watching the video below.

Is the faculty Helpful at UNI?

As an international student, the initial months can be challenging in terms of culture shock and language barriers. However, I’m continually amazed by the support our faculty provides. At times, I’ve struggled with understanding the assigned work, and I’ve found that the faculty always goes above and beyond to assist international students.

The majority of my professors hold Ph.D. degrees and many are industry leaders, serving on director boards or holding chief executive positions. This brings a wealth of new knowledge into the classroom, preparing us effectively for the demands of the industry.

Would you believe it if I told you that they willingly sacrifice their lunchtime, work beyond regular hours, and even devote their weekends to help you? It’s truly remarkable. My experience as a student at UNI has not only brought me closer to my professors but has also allowed me to learn a great deal from them. They are industry professionals with a wealth of knowledge.

I’ve never felt a distinction in the classroom; they treat both domestic and international students equally. However, I must emphasize that they go the extra mile and offer special attention when you’re an international student. Will you believe that they call me by my name ‘ Dee-nee-thi’. But I love how they pronounce my name. In summary, the faculty here is amazing!

My Pillars of Strength in my University Journey at UNI
Left: Professor Chris Schrage. Right: Professor Matthew Wilson.

How about Housing & Dining

Well, I live off-campus because I received my Visa late and I couldn’t secure lodging on campus. However, many of my MBA friends are living on campus. Living in the dorms has proven to be quite effective for them, as it allows them to easily make friends and experience the true student life. There’s a wide range of living arrangements, from traditional dorms to suites and even apartment-style housing. Additionally, if you apply to be a resident assistant, you can enjoy the perks of free meals and lodging.

UNI Dining offers a variety of dining options throughout campus, catering to students, faculty, staff, and guests. You can enjoy a sit-down meal, grab a quick sandwich on the go, and even opt for meal plans so that students don’t have to worry about preparing their own food. There are Starbucks and numerous coffee shops, along with spacious dining centers and cozy restaurants, all designed for the convenience of students.

How about Financial Aid?

Great news! International students are automatically considered for various scholarships at UNI. In fact, around 9 out of 10 students receive some form of scholarship support. What’s even better is that UNI offers very affordable tuition, which makes it an attractive choice for both domestic and international students.

In my case, I was fortunate to receive a tuition scholarship that significantly reduced my financial burden. Furthermore, if you perform well and maintain a good GPA, you have the opportunity to apply for additional scholarships. The university understands the challenges you may face, so this is excellent news for you.

“UNI” or “You and I”

University of Northern Iowa, often referred to as UNI, located in the heart of Cedar Falls, Iowa. I find that, as its name suggests, UNI is a place where you truly feel like you belong. The name resonates with the idea that it’s a place for both ‘You’ and ‘I.’

Interested in learning whether it suits your style, check below video. I know it has a lot to tell you.

Why did I choose UNI?

If you were to ask me why I chose University of Northern Iowa, I’d honestly admit that I didn’t know much about the University until I arrived here. However, I’m extremely grateful that the university turned out to be the perfect fit for me. Had I chosen a different university, I might not have made it through even a single semester. It’s undeniably challenging to adapt to a foreign land with unfamiliar faces all around. Believe me, it’s a tough transition.

Fortunately, I didn’t experience that homesickness here at all, mainly because I was surrounded by people who genuinely care about international students. I felt like I truly belonged to this community. Both UNI and Cedar Falls have been exceptionally welcoming to us international students. The Program I am taking is also amazing. I am learning so much from my Professors. Everyone here in Cedar Falls is making us feel right at home. Listen to our own students to hear why they chose UNI.

If you’d like to discover how host families enrich the lives of international students, please click here.

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