Brenna - Iowa State University - Class of 2015
student photo

When I thought I would not get into my top choice, I toured more colleges. I found my dream school!

I applied to five different schools, all public colleges. I decided to go with public schools because the tuition is lower and they tend to have the big student populations that I love. They all were within a 200-mile radius from my home town, since that is close enough for a weekend visit but far enough away for me to feel independent.

Hometown: Burnsville MN

High School: Public

GPA: 3.7

ACT: 25

Major: Apparel merchandising

Goal: A career in fashion



Iowa State UniversityAttending
Minnesota State University MankatoAccepted
University of Wisconsin, StoutAccepted
University of IowaAccepted
University of Minnesota, Twin CitiesAccepted
Freshman Year Update

My studies are awesome! I love my major and even declared a double minor in entrepreneurship and journalism. One of my achievements was getting a 3.62 GPA despite all this coursework and having two jobs. I love being at a big school, with lots of opportunities and connections to advance me in my field. In fact, I've got study trips to Chicago and London in the works. When that bill for out-of-state tuition comes, I don't regret it at all.

Sophomore Year Update

This year I am a fashion director for ISU's fashion magazine Trend, I work at the retail clothing store Express, and I started a fashion blog that has really taken off. I am actually experiencing the fashion industry versus reading about it. On the downside, I haven't secured an internship yet, and I miss the city. My GPA also dipped to a 3.5 due to extremely difficult classes and overworking myself. But I truly believe that what you learn outside the classroom is more important than what you do in it. Next semester, I will be studying abroad in Florence, Italy.

Junior Year Update

The fashion blog and personal styling company I started is now a thriving success! I just hit 1.5 million views and have clients in the U.S., U.K., and Canada. Besides working on ISU's fashion magazine, I worked on the school's fashion show—which had 5,000 attendees and was featured on MTV. Best of all, I landed my dream internship as a buyer at Nordstrom's corporate headquarters in Seattle!

Despite my reservations about going to fashion school in the middle of "nowhere Iowa," I love going to a large university. I like the diversity of majors and passions within the students. I love having sports teams (our basketball team is on FIRE!), and I would have never met my mechanical engineer boyfriend if I were going to a fashion institute, that's for sure! I also get an extremely low cost of living. Iowa State was undoubtedly the right choice for me!

Senior Year Update

My last year has been a whirlwind! After my internship at Nordstrom, they hired me to be a full-time apparel buyer after graduation! I was thrilled to start my senior year with a job offer on lock.

But now that I've had real-world experience, college has been difficult. I am still pulling good grades (and graduating summa cum laude), but it's hard to stay motivated in class. I am focusing on being editor in chief of my school's fashion magazine, running my blog and styling business (with the help of two interns), and planning to move to Seattle to start my dream job (with my fiance in tow)!

I could not be happier with my college choice. Iowa State got me exactly where I wanted to be.

A discouraging word from my top choice

I was convinced that I would attend my top choice, the main campus of the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, as a business major. I had grown up hearing nothing but praise for that school, although to this day I am not exactly sure why I wanted it so much. After applying early and waiting for months, I was devastated when they sent me a letter saying that I should check out their other campuses! I took that letter to mean I would not get accepted to the Twin Cities campus.

What a difference a college tour makes

I decided to take matters into my own hands. I set out on a tour of the schools I had been accepted to. One day at Iowa State University changed everything! After learning about this amazing major and seeing the beautiful campus and friendly people, I was sold. I went from being an unlikely business major at the University of Minnesota to an actual apparel merchandising major at Iowa State. I have always been very passionate about business and fashion, and this major is the perfect fusion of both. Students in apparel merchandising learn how to manufacture, buy, promote, and sell fashion items, from clothing and jewelry to cosmetics and furniture.

It just shows you that everything happens for a reason. Because I got so discouraged about University of Minnesota, I found my true dream school.

My ups and downs

The minute I stepped onto the Iowa State campus I had that giddy feeling—the one you get when you know it is the school for you. Eventually, I was accepted to the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, but not as a business major. When I heard this news, I simply felt relieved. It was just another indicator that the school was not for me.

What I learned

I should have kept an open mind and reminded myself that I was not trying to get into the "best" school. I was trying to find the school that is best for me. When I thought I would not get into my top choice, I toured new schools and followed my heart! I am now pursuing a major that I am really passionate about. I am so excited to start in the fall!

The money factor

The cost of attendance for an out-of-state student at Iowa State is about $30,000. I was awarded a work-study job for $2,500 and $16,000 in grants and scholarships. To cover the rest, I will take out loans and work during the summers to earn money.