CyPix: Freshmen Days

Yesterday morning, the sidewalks around campus were suddenly packed with walkers, bikers, and skateboarders–many toting backpacks and bags–walking purposefully, or sleepily, to their 8:00 am classes. Yes, that’s right. Like many other campuses across North America, yesterday was the first day of classes for the new academic year. For many of the students, this is their first taste of college life. They spent last Friday participating in Destination Iowa State to get to know the ISU campus and learn strategies for succeeding in college. What they probably did not have to do was take a placement exam, like these Iowa State College (ISC) students from around 1954.

Row of freshman girls wearing blouses and skirts with saddle shoes and loafers, sitting at desks in a large building, taking exams.

Incoming freshman taking their entrance examinations in the Armory during Freshman Days, circa 1954.

ISC first instituted “Freshman Day” in fall of 1926, during which entering students took a physical exam, registered for classes, and attended a convocation in State Gym. Later it was expanded to a three-day program, and included, at different times, a psychological exam and an English placement exam. In 1960, “Freshman Days” was changed to “Orientation Days,” and a summer orientation program was created in addition to the program at the start of fall term. Eventually, summer orientation became the main program. For more information on Freshman Days, see the Office of Admissions New Student Program Records (RS 7/2/5).

Special Collections would like to say “Welcome!” to the entering freshmen and transfer students, as well as “Welcome back!” to returning students. We hope to see you in 403 Parks Library to help you with all of your archival research needs, or even just curiosity!

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