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BEST Learning Community

Interested in Becoming a BESTie?  We're hiring peer mentors for the 2024-2025 School Year!  

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The Biology Learning Community, Biology Education Success Teams (BEST), is designed to support first-year students entering the Biology Program. The BEST Learning Community seeks to help navigate students through their first year in the Biology Program and facilitate lasting connections with peers, program faculty, and staff, both in and outside the classroom setting. 

It is our hope that after participation in the BEST Learning Community, students will feel a strong connection to the Biology Program, feel more comfortable approaching and interacting with faculty and staff, know and utilize ISU resources, and demonstrate academic success during their time here at Iowa State.


  • This fall semester-long program is open to all incoming first-year Biology students, regardless of their place of residence.
  • Students will enroll in our Biology orientation course, BIOL 110, where they will meet and interact with other new first-year Biology students.  In this course, students will build connections with various resources across campus, such as the Study Abroad Center, Academic Success Center, and Career Services.  Students will also learn to create their own four-year plans, run and interpret degree audits, and review the requirements for the Biology Program.
  • All BEST members will be invited to participate in various social events throughout the fall semester.  Previous social events have included an Ice Cream Social prior to the start of fall classes, Movie Night on campus, Flower Pot Painting, board game night, study sessions for Principles of Biology, and trips to Reiman Gardens.
  • Students will also interact with BEST Peer Mentors (the BESTies). These upperclassmen in Biology help to organize and coordinate BEST social events, facilitate the BIOL 110 orientation course, and provide individual support by meeting one-on-one with BEST members. Our Peer Mentors also act as resources for first-year Biology students to consult with on academic topics ranging from course recommendations to internships and research experiences, as well as personal topics such as strategies to cope with homesickness or roommate differences, fun activities offered around campus, and dining center favorites.

Learning Outcomes

In BIOL 110 and BEST, students will:

  • Connect with peers, peer mentors, staff, and faculty
  • Define their identity and purpose within the Iowa State community
  • Establish a professional relationship with a peer mentor
  • Participate in events hosted by BEST
  • Engage in various campus experiences such as clubs, academic services, diversity events, etc.
  • Locate campus resources available to students and identify how they can be of service
  • Analyze their personal degree audit with respect to the courses they have taken and plan to take
  • Explore courses and experiential learning opportunities that will support their professional goals
  • Develop a personalized degree plan centered on their intended career outcome
  • Describe campus and academic policies and procedures that apply to them
  • Prepare for their first course registration academic advising appointment
  • Reflect on their first experiences at Iowa State

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The BESTies have some great advice for new students starting their journey as a Cyclone!


Check out the Peer Mentor Pro Tips here!