Iowa Private College Week: One Visit Can Change Everything

(Iowa Private College Week is from July 31 through Aug. 4. It’s a great way to see what Simpson College has to offer. It may even change your life. In the essay below, senior Laura Wiersema ’18 describes how it changed hers.

By Laura Wiersema

At 5:30 a.m. on an early August morning, my mom and I loaded up in our gray van and settled in for a three-and-a-half-hour trek across Iowa. We were heading to the last of three schools in my search for “the one” during Iowa Private College Week.

As we drove down Interstate 80, we watched the sun reach higher into the sky. I’d already dragged mom to two schools the day before: one that my older sister attended, and the other the school that my best friend would later choose.

Their decisions had seemed so easy. They both knew what they wanted to study while I was virtually clueless. I’d settled on telling people I wanted to study graphic design, but it was mostly so I didn’t have to say I had no idea.

Only a few weeks earlier, I had decided to finally go through all the college mail I had received, weeding them out by size, whether or not they had graphic design and the distance from home. As much as my parents encouraged me to give big schools a chance, I didn’t want to get lost in a sea of people.

My whole life I’d gone to school with the same people, knowing everyone in my graduating class and all of the teachers, even if I never had them. Some of my teachers had even become parental figures to me over the years after having them multiple times. I knew I didn’t want to lose that.

As we got closer to our destination, I fed my mom the directions. And then I saw it: Simpson College. It plays like a movie in my head, driving on campus for the first time. I stared excitedly out the window, marveling at the new football field and fitness center.

“I think this is the one,” I told my mom, and this was before we had interacted with a single person.

“Don’t get too excited,” she said. “You’ll have a lot to consider. Let’s see how today goes.”

We parked outside the Kent Campus Center and went in to be welcomed. We checked in and took our seats in the Principal Black Box Theatre, being sure not to sit too close to anyone else. My mom always made fun of me for being so quiet and shy on visit days, the exact opposite of my personality.

Before long, we were headed out on a tour with our tour guide, an energetic brunette named Addy. She asked us all for our names, hometowns and what we wanted to study. Though she managed a whole group of us, she made sure the tour still felt personalized.

I could see myself in every building. Making a room into a home in Barker and Kresge residence halls, spending hours studying in Dunn Library, grabbing coffee in Holy Grounds, even working out in Steven Johnson Fitness Center (although, admittedly not nearly as much as others.)

The rest of the morning, we learned about living on campus, financial aid and student life. I fell more in love with every word. Before we even left Indianola to head back home in Illinois, I had made up my mind.

“Mom, I think that’s the one,” I said, grinning from ear to ear.

“Don’t make up your mind just yet. You’ve still got time,” she said.

She was right. I did still have time. Time to go back for an individual visit and talk to professors, time to go back for scholarship day, time to go back to audition for a vocal scholarship and stay overnight with a student. And every time I went back just assured me of what I knew from when I first saw the campus.

Simpson College would be my home for the next four years. One where I’d find a second family to encourage me through difficulties and celebrate with me in successes. One where I’d learn, grow and, eventually, leave. But one where I knew I could always come back home.


If you’re looking for a rewarding and enriching college experience, Simpson College is the solution. We’d love to see you during Iowa Private College Week. Just fill out the form and we’ll make it happen.

Register here