Are we the right fit?

UI REACH recognizes the unique attributes of each applicant and seeks to identify those students who are most likely to benefit from the UI REACH experience. Prospective students should be ready and motivated to embrace all aspects of our comprehensive transition program on a Big 10 campus.

Please read the student profile below. 

Prospective student application materials are reviewed using a holistic approach to determine if the student is an appropriate fit for admission to UI REACH. The academic, social, and adaptive behavior abilities of each student are evaluated to determine if the student has demonstrated baseline capacities needed to make meaningful growth while in the program, and remain safe while on a large university campus.

Applicants possessing the following are most likely to meet UI REACH admission standards:

  • Successful completion of high school and readiness for a collegiate experience
  • Diagnosis of a mild intellectual or developmental disability
  • Motivation to make continued personal growth in areas of academics, career development, social interaction, and/or independent living

The ability to be safely be part of a Big 10 campus community is essential. Applicants should have a demonstrated ability to:

  • appropriately manage unsupervised time independently
  • accurately recall and communicate past-events
  • navigate moderate social or executive functioning challenges independently
  • recognize appropriate social and physical boundaries
  • manage medicinal, basic health, and hygiene needs independently


Teacher talking to group of students

UI REACH offers courses on academic skill building, career preparation, independent living, and student self- advocacy. Reading, writing, and math skills are further developed, focused on helping students attain benchmarks towards independence.

Professional instructors, trained mentors, and education interns provide individualized support where needed.

The UI REACH curriculum is designed to educate the students holistically, provide meaningful and useful
daily living skills, and assist them in reaching their full potential as more independent and productive members of the community.

In addition to the UI REACH curriculum, students may take traditional college courses* for credit or audit. The University of Iowa’s Student Disability Services offers accommodations that increase students’ chances of success in these classes. Students may also enroll

in courses at Kirkwood Community College’s Iowa City campus. *Additional fees may apply for traditional college classes.

The student-centered planning approach is used by advisors to develop goals and monitor individual progress. Students receive academic enrichment and support through our academic success classes, small group study sessions, and personal advising.

Academic Credit


UI REACH courses engage students in powerful applied learning opportunities, integrating classroom learning with structured real-world learning experiences.

Ui Reach Self-Contained Courses

Most UI REACH self-contained courses are split into proficiency based small groups to allow instructors to provide targeted instructions that will maximize student growth. Courses focus on 21st century independent living success, student self-advocacy, and academic skill-building.

Examples of Academic UI REACH courses that all UI REACH students participate in are: Reading Strategies, Expressive Writing, Personal Finance, Computers and Technology, and Health: Positive Choices. Students also have an opportunity take elective courses aligned with their interests. For a complete list of UI REACH courses, refer to the General Catalog.

Integrated Courses

UI REACH students also participate in integrated courses alongside University of Iowa undergraduate students. These courses are tailored to provide all involved learners a meaningful, integrated, educational experience. UI REACH students receive support from UI REACH instructors and staff as part of their involvement in these integrated opportunities.

Traditional Inclusive Courses

UI REACH students may take traditional inclusive courses depending on the interests, goals, and strengths, of each student. This may be an option after completing at least one semester as a UI REACH student 

UI Undergraduate Courses

UI REACH students succeeding in their UI REACH courses have an opportunity to enroll in University of Iowa undergraduate classes for credit, but as a non-degree seeking student. Students taking a University of Iowa course for credit are strongly encouraged to apply for accommodations through Student Disability Services. Students taking traditional courses for credit may only receive support based on accommodations outlined in their Student Disability letter. UI REACH staff can provide support in registering for courses and accommodations, but do not provide academic tutoring if classes are being taken for University of Iowa credit.


Internships are also for academic credit.  There is a classroom and job site element to the scores you will earn. Students are assessed using the same standards based grading scores as the classroom.

Student Progress

Each student's progress, preferences, and goals are monitored.  Grades are given in each class. Passing grades and effort toward achieving goals are part of the graduation requirements. Students must earn a satisfactory grade to earn credit for each UI REACH course. In addition to an official satisfactory/unsatisfactory grade given for each course, students are also assessed on an array of UI REACH content benchmarks. Progress reports are issued for students after each semester.

Students may be placed on academic probation or even dismissed from the program if they do not attend classes or complete assignments satisfactorily.

The class schedule, courses, and career experiences change each semester for students.

PDF iconSample Schedule - Year 1 student

Student Life

Students live in a fully inclusive on-campus residence hall and participate in activities facilitated by our staff to help fully immerse them in campus life, while connecting with other University of Iowa students.

Group of students smile at Hawkeye football game

Students live in a fully inclusive on-campus residence hall with a trained UI REACH Resident Assistant on each floor. UI REACH staff are on-call 24/7 via phone for emergencies. They share a room with other UI REACH students and live on co-ed and single sex floors.

The University of Iowa community offers a variety of activities ranging from Big Ten sports to arts and cultural events.

By connecting with others and enjoying all that the University of Iowa has to offer, students gain self-confidence, interpersonal skills, an awareness of personal safety on a large campus, understanding of public transportation, and knowledge of community resources.

Summer Family Orientation is an opportunity for staff to share information with parents/guardians and incoming students. In June, Year 1 students and their families participate in a two-day UI REACH summer orientation. Students meet their peers, register for classes, explore campus life, and learn their way around campus. Parents connect with staff and fellow parents while exploring college transition issues and the UI REACH experience.

Move-in is in August a few days before the University fall semester begins. UI REACH staff assist with registration, navigating the halls for move-in, and supporting UI REACH families as students settle into their new room.

During the afternoon of move-in, UI REACH staff guide parents on ways to support their student living away at college, provide program updates, and address general concerns to make the transition to college as smooth as possible.

Fall Orientation further supports students in their adjustment to college life. For the first week of the semester, orientation events, including informational sessions, small group activities, and campus activities help students learn more about the University of Iowa and prepare for the UI REACH experience. Students learn about the weekly schedule, campus life, and campus navigation. Some of these leisure activities of orientation promote getting to know others and safety.

UI REACH students live on campus with another UI REACH student in an integrated residence hall community with other undergraduate students. The residence hall experience is an engaging and exciting community experience.

Students participate in social activities and educational programs offered in the hall communities. UI REACH Resident Assistants (RAs) - undergraduate student staff - live in the UI REACH community, lead activities for students, support students in their transitions to college, and provide support during situations that may arise in the hall. UI REACH RAs are available to assist students with concerns while on duty. A professional UI REACH staff member is on-call 24 hours a day for emergency situations.

University of Iowa Halls have amenities including a Fitness Room, computer lab, floor lounges, and a multipurpose room where for weekly student activities. UI REACH students are encouraged to get involved in hall and campus organizations to interact with their peers and develop leadership skills.

UI REACH students experience campus life with other University of Iowa students through participation in cultural and social events, student organizations, and sporting events. Students are encouraged to participate in recreational opportunities offered on the University campus to enjoy their current interests and explore new opportunities. The University of Iowa encourages students to apply their enhanced life and independent skills through real-world experiences.

Numerous activities and learning opportunities are offered and attendance at activities is expected of students. Training on skills needed to live and work independently, including healthy lifestyles, and safety, safety awareness, time management and self-advocacy, are emphasized throughout the program.

Students in the UI REACH Program must follow the expectations and policies outlined in the University of Iowa Student Services Handbook, University Housing Guidebook, and UI REACH Program Handbook. UI REACH students will generally have the same consequences and follow the University of Iowa's disciplinary process.

Developing community life skills enables our alumni to live with greater self-sufficiency and to contribute to their community through successful employment and leisure activities. Students gain self-confidence, interpersonal skills, knowledge of community resources, and an awareness of personal safety as they explore the city for work and leisure activities.

The combined Annual Security and Fire Safety Report is available on the UI Department of Public Safety’s website. If you would like to receive a paper copy of this report, you may contact the University of Iowa Department of Public Safety at 808 University Capitol Centre, Iowa City, IA 52242, or by calling (319) 335-5022.  The report contains information regarding campus security and personal safety including topics such as: crime prevention, fire safety, university police law enforcement authority, crime reporting policies, disciplinary procedures and other matters of importance related to security and safety on campus. It also contains information about crime statistics for the three previous calendar years concerning reported crimes that occurred on campus; in certain off-campus buildings or property owned or controlled by UI; and on public property within, or immediately adjacent to and accessible from the campus.  This information is required by federal law.

Career Development

Young man disassembles fan at Habitat Restore

UI REACH students explore career options, prepare for internships, and build workplace readiness skills through course work, setting realistic career goals, mock interviews, field trips, and special guest presentations.  

In the first year, UI REACH students explore career options, prepare for internships, and build workplace readiness skills through course work, setting realistic career goals, mock interviews, field trips, and special guest presentations. The second year involves job search strategies and work experience internships.

UI REACH staff supports students in their interviews, first day of work, and over time as needed. Hard skills are learned on the job through training provided by the internship site. Regularly scheduled site visits from UI REACH staff that include reports and data analysis help guide any interventions and feedback needed for the students’ improvement and success.

With one of the highest placement rates in the nation among similar programs, most UI REACH students are employed a year after graduation.

UI REACH includes two key factors for success in career development:

  • Classroom Study – Core career education classes taught by UI REACH instructors

  • Experiential Learning - Job Shadows and Internships – Opportunities to build and practice the necessary skills and confidence to enhance career potential in inclusive work environments 

Year 1: Students focus on career exploration and expected workplace behaviors through classroom experiences and field trips.

  • The focus for year 1 is on learning and using general skills needed to successfully enter the workplace. Basic communication, problem solving skills, job expectations and performance expectations are emphasized.

  • Activities to build self-confidence, self-esteem and self-advocacy are offered. Year 1 includes exploring job interests through tours, community business member panels, informational interviews, and job shadows.

Year 2: Students identify areas of work interest and gain work experience through internships.

  • Opportunities to work in their chosen fields occur through internships in either volunteer or paid positions on campus or in the community. Starting in year 2 student have internship experiences two to three afternoons per week.

  • Students learn how to job search, develop a resume, practice interview skills, network, and learn about work place expectations, policies, and benefits.
  • Students research job opportunities in their home communities.

Students participate in selected job shadowing and internship experiences.

Internship shifts vary based on the needs of the business and the abilities of the students. Typically, internship shifts are 6-12 hours per week.

UI REACH staff provide drop in internship site visits based on the needs of each student and employer.  Staff accompany students to their interviews, first day of work, and for transportation training.  Drop in visits occur at least weekly at first but then taper off to once every two weeks. An emphasis is placed on natural supports in the workplace wherever possible, but UI REACH staff do not provide job coaching for the entire shifts during the semester.  Career staff carry an on call phone for students and employers during internship hours and can respond in person if needed.

Every effort is made to match students’ strengths and interests to an appropriate internship. Internships may be limited by availability of sites. Possible internship areas may include, but are not limited to:

  • Adult Care
  • Animal Care
  • Clerical
  • Child Care
  • Health Care
  • Hospitality
  • Landscaping/ Outdoor Work
  • Marketing/ Retail

We ask that Year 1 and year 2 students do not have an outside job during the academic semester. Students are encouraged to have jobs or volunteer experiences back home during breaks from school.

To earn a career focus area students complete a 60 hour internship and a career seminar in that career focus area.

Career Seminars

Each spring semester, students take two career seminars.  Examples of career seminars include:

  • Education (childcare)
  • Skilled Trade
  • Information Technology
  • Culinary Arts
  • Business Support
  • Hospitality
  • Health Services
  • Human Services
  • Parks and Natural Resources
  • Retail and Marketing

Employment Advisory Council

An active Employment Advisory Council (EAC) comprised of volunteer employers and business people from Iowa meet regularly to offer guidance to the UI REACH Program regarding internships, curriculum, community awareness and marketing.

Post Program Collaboration

After program completion, alumni, their families, and employers have access to consultative services through UI REACH. These services will help alumni identify resources that will help them with career development and independent living.

EXTEND, is the family alumni association. The goal of the group is to keep families connected after their UI REACH experience through positive social networking.

Some Employers Partnering with UI REACH

The University of Iowa

  • Bookstore
  • Dining
  • Facilities Management and General Stores
  • Hawk Shop
  • Landscaping

Community Partnerships

  • City of Coralville Parks and Recreation
  • Handicare Child Care and Preschool
  • Hy-Vee
  • Iowa Cubs
  • Pathways Adult Day Health Center
  • Retail Stores (e.g., Target, Best Buy, & Olive Garden)
  • Sheraton Hotel
  • Veterans Affairs Medical Center
  • Wellmark