If you think you have to wait until you graduate high school to go to college, think again. The Bucksbaum Early Entrance Academy empowers high-achieving students to begin full-time on-campus study at the University of Iowa after their sophomore or junior year of high school. We support you, and a cohort of your peers, every step of the way. Are you ready?

Video of Bucksbaum students Henry and Phuc
Video of Bucksbaum student Tayo
Video of Bucksbaum students Madisen and Keisha

About the Program

Some talented students may be academically ready to start college before they have finished all four years of high school. Early entrance to college programs allow these students to begin college early, often with a cohort of other students doing the same. These programs typically provide various forms of support to help students successfully navigate college life. For more information about early entrance to college programs, see Early entrance to college: Academic, social and emotional considerations, from A Nation Empowered.

The Bucksbaum Early Entrance Academy enables high school juniors and seniors who are ready for university-level work to skip their final years of high school and head straight to college. Program participants will be regular University of Iowa students – taking classes, using libraries and labs, living in residence halls, and being involved in campus life. Additionally, our students are immersed in an enriched academic and social community for young students as they transition to university life.

The Belin-Blank Center provides extensive support to Bucksbaum Academy students, in the form of individual weekly meetings with first-year students, weekly seminars, advocacy across campus, cultural and recreational activities, and access to our staff and resources.

What age are the students?

The majority of students will enter the Academy at 16 years old. Applicants will generally have completed the equivalent of their sophomore or junior year in high school before entering the program.

Will I graduate from my high school if I am selected for early entrance?

Your high school administration will decide if you are eligible for a high school diploma. Nearly all high schools will apply first-year college credit toward their graduation requirements, and the vast majority of students in our program obtain their high school diploma. We encourage students to explore options for meeting their high school’s requirements and can provide your high school with transcripts of your work at Iowa.

What kinds of social and academic support systems are in place?

Students have the full support of staff at the Belin-Blank Center. They have regular individual meetings with a staff member, and also meet as a group for a weekly seminar in their first and second years. In addition, students have opportunities to attend social events organized by the program. There are many offices across campus that are also available to help, including the Academic Advising Center and Honors Program. The most important thing to remember is when you have a question or need something, ask…we'll help you find the answer.

How long does the program last?

Most of the requirements and programming occur during your first two years on campus. There are, however, many opportunities to remain connected with the Center throughout your career at Iowa.

Are You Ready?

We recommend that students have completed the equivalent of their sophomore or junior year in high school, have a composite score on a standardized test (e.g., ACT or SAT) at or above the national 95th percentile, and have earned at least a 3.5 GPA before applying. We interview all qualified applicants to determine readiness.

Ninth Grade Students

Our Bucksbaum Early Entrance Academy empowers high-achieving students like you to begin full-time, on-campus studies at The University of Iowa after your sophomore year of high school. Preparing to enter college early can begin as you start your high school years. Start thinking about the academic, social, and creative opportunities early entrance could bring – will you be ready? The following are suggestions for what you should do during your ninth-grade year to prepare to be an early entrance after your sophomore year.

  • Plan ahead to take as many honors courses or Advanced Placement® (AP) courses as your school offers. Talk with your counselor about your interest in leaving high school early so they can assist you in choosing the courses which will best prepare you for life as a University student. Refer to the Building Your Future Resource (pdf) for entry requirements for the University of Iowa.
  • Talk with your school about your intentions to leave early. Work with their guidelines for graduation requirements. Try to set up your schedule to incorporate as many of the graduation requirements into three years as is possible.
  • Take the PSAT exam. Your high school counselor will probably recommend you take this test as you prepare for the SAT.
  • Attend a summer residential camp to gain experiences away from home. Gaining experience on a college campus will help with the adjustment and preparation to become a full-time university student. The Belin-Blank Center offers a number of residential summer programs that are academically and socially stimulating.
  • If you are involved in extracurricular activities, begin planning to achieve all of your goals during the two years you are in high school (for example: if you want to be the editor of the school newspaper, try to do that during your sophomore year!).
  • Keep track of your achievements so when you start filling out college and scholarship applications, you won’t have to try to remember all of your awards and extracurricular activities.

Tenth and Eleventh Grade Students

Our Bucksbaum Early Entrance Academy empowers high-achieving students like you to begin full-time on-campus study at the University of Iowa after your sophomore or junior year of high school. This year could be your last year of high school. Will you be ready? Use these tips as you are preparing to apply to enter college early.

  • Communicate with your school as to whether you will graduate at the end of high school or use courses from The University of Iowa to fulfill requirements for your diploma. You can finish your degree either way; it is up to you and your school how that is worked out.
  • Continue to take as many honors or AP courses as possible. These courses will help prepare you academically for the challenge of university course work.
  • Work with your guidance counselor to make sure you are meeting the specific requirements of the college you plan to enter at Iowa.  Refer to The University of Iowa's first year admissions requirements for more information. 
  • Take the PSAT, even if you do not plan to take the SAT. The PSAT can qualify you for the National Merit Scholarship, National Achievement Scholarship and National Recognition Program Scholars.
  • Register to take the ACT or SAT by November, if you haven’t taken one yet or if you want to try to improve the score you received.  Taking it multiple times allows you to increase your score by preparing for the sections you need. Your guidance counselor can help you find web sites, books, or classes to help you prepare for the tests.  For more information about about scholarships visit the UI admission's scholarship website.
  • Attend an Information Day. Learn more about the program, visit the campus, and meet with the staff members at the Belin-Blank Center.
  • Talk with your guidance counselor about how your school and community will handle scholarships for you—will you need to apply as a sophomore? Or wait until your first year at the University, your "junior year"?
  • Complete the University of Iowa application for admission by December 1.
  • Complete the Bucksbaum Early Entrance Academy application by February 1.
  • The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) determines your eligibility for grants, loans, work-study, and need-based scholarships.  Some financial aid funds are limited and are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis so it is important to file your application as soon as possible after the application opens on October 1.  The deadline for priority consideration is December 1.  Read more on the Office of Student Financial Aid's new student website.
  • Attend a residential summer camp for the experience of being away from home for an extended period of time. It can be an academic program, a sports camp, or any other summer camp offered on a college or university’s campus. The Belin-Blank Center offers a number of residential summer programs that are academically and socially stimulating.
  • Look for internship and job-shadowing opportunities. Admissions officers like to see well-rounded applicants who have participated in high school extracurricular activities, but also consider volunteering or job shadowing in a career area that interests you.
  • Keep track of your achievements so when you start filling out college applications, you won’t have to try to remember all of your awards and extracurricular activities.


This program has certainly enabled my daughter to start the next phase of her education early instead of wasting time treading water in her high school. –-Parent of 17 year old early entrant

Letting your child leave home early to attend college can be a challenging experience. Once your students enter the University, they can always return home to visit, but there’s no doubt that going to college changes your relationships, whether they go after their sophomore or senior year. Parents are included in the information day, interview, and welcome lunch. Parents are encouraged to contact the Belin-Blank Center at any time with questions or concerns. To learn about what your child should do to prepare to apply for early entrance, please see the student sections above.

How can you assist your child in preparing to apply for early entrance?

Preparation for college should begin early. This College Prep Guide offers helpful tips about academic preparation and the college selection process.

Pre-college programs

Each year, Iowa offers a variety of camps, courses, and other programs for students in elementary through high school. Program areas range from music, sports, science, and math to entrepreneurship, forensics, and wildlife. For many students, youth camps are a fun and educational introduction to campus life. The Belin-Blank Center runs a number of excellent summer residential programs as well. These programs are both academically and socially stimulating experiences which are great introductions to the staff at the B-BC and The University of Iowa’s campus. Check out our summer programs.

We asked early entrance parents their advice to future parents. Here’s what they have to say:

  • “We are quite relaxed having our son in the program. If he were a regular UI freshman, he would be without the excellent supervision and guidance that the Belin-Blank staff is providing him. ”
  • “Do it! What they ‘lose’ as a senior is far outweighed by what they gain in getting real challenges and opportunities.”
  • “Listen to your son or daughter…They know best.”
  • “The staff are supportive and act as advocates for the students. They (students) are better off than if they entered as regular freshmen.”
  • “This has given (our son) the opportunity to save an entire year that would have otherwise been largely wasted.”
  • “Our son needed to be in a university setting-he was ready academically and emotionally to be out of high school. This is a great program…do it!”
  • “The program works! She has adapted to the different teaching styles of her teachers and the different learning that goes on compared to high school. She is very happy.”
  • “Our daughter was home last weekend. As I drove her back to campus she said, ‘I’m so glad that I’m not in high school anymore.’ Enough said!”

Counselors and Teachers

The early-entrance program was the partner needed for these students to have a fulfilling senior year... This expert staff advocates, cares, and provides the needed support system. –Chris Schultz, TAG Strategist (retired), Council Bluffs, IA

A student has come to you indicating their interest in attending college early. Now what? Here are some issues and concerns that often come up in our interactions with school officials. We recommend that you consider these issues and have discussions with the student about them as they are making their decision about early entrance at Iowa.

  • Will the student have enough credits by the end of their sophomore year to graduate? Most of our students graduate two years early or use coursework from The University of Iowa to finish requirements for their high school diploma. Nearly all of our students have been able to successfully complete their high school diploma through one of these options.
  • If the student will not graduate prior to entering the program, how will you communicate which courses are needed and which ones at Iowa will count for that credit?
  • Remember, one year of high school credit is equal to one semester of credit at the university.
  • The student may want to come back for events throughout the year, such as prom or the graduation ceremony. How will this be handled? Will they be allowed to serve as a valedictorian for their class?
  • How will the local scholarships handle this student’s applications? Will you recommend them for scholarships when they enter Iowa or after they have completed all of their high school requirements?

Many of our students will be National Merit finalists. They complete the process at the University of Iowa, and the scholarship begins applying to them as they enter their third year.

Information Days

Are you ready? Whether you are in eighth, ninth, or tenth grade in high school, our information days are designed to give you the information you need to decide whether applying for early entrance is right for you. Come to one of our Information Days to learn more about our program, the University of Iowa campus, and the Iowa City community.

This is a great way to experience what being a student at the University of Iowa is like – eat where our students eat, visit where our students live and study, and have your questions answered about our program and the University of Iowa. You will also go on a campus tour to see all that Iowa has to offer.

Spring 2023



Fall 2023

06:30PM CST

06:30PM CST

01:30PM CST
On Campus*

01:30PM CST
On Campus*

* Families should sign-up for a morning UI daily Visit at https://admissions.uiowa.edu/daily-visits-first-year-students. At 130PM CST, they should meet Belin-Blank Center staff at the Blank Honors Center, Floor 6.

How to Apply

While the application process is straightforward, planning ahead is essential. Here's all the information you'll need in order to submit your application..

Application Process

  1. Apply online to the Bucksbaum Early Entrance Academy by January 1. The application includes:
    • Log in and click "Home" to continue an existing application.
    • Student essay and parent/guardian essay
    • Two teacher/counselor/administrator recommendations
    • An official transcript of your high school grades and class rank
    • If you’ve taken college courses, ask each college to send transcripts
    • Your ACT or SAT scores (the University of Iowa’s instructional code for ACT is 1356; for SAT it is 6681)


Finalists from the applicant pool who meet the qualifications will be scheduled for interviews by Belin-Blank Center staff on a rolling basis. Applicants will learn of their admission and scholarship status by March 1 and must accept or decline by May 1.

UI Office of Admissions

For information or questions about admission to the University of Iowa, please visit the Office of Admissions webpage.

After You're Accepted

Bucksbaum Scholarship

For incoming first-year students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents and who have been selected for the Bucksbaum Early Entrance Academy at the Belin-Blank Center.


$2,000 to $8,000 (amount may increase based on demonstrated financial need)

Minimum Requirements:

Students must be admitted to the Bucksbaum Early Entrance Academy. The award is based on merit (test scores and GPA) and demonstrated financial need.


None. Students are considered automatically upon acceptance to the Bucksbaum Early Entrance Academy.


Renewable for one year or until the time when you would receive your high school degree (whichever comes first), provided you maintain continuous full-time enrollment and a 3.0 cumulative University of Iowa grade-point average. The Bucksbaum Scholarship may be renewable beyond this based on the discretion of the Bucksbaum Early Entrance Academy.

Financial Aid

We encourage students to apply for financial assistance through grants, loans, and scholarships. You will be sent information about financial aid after we receive your application. Scholarship deadlines at the University of Iowa begin in December, so it’s a good idea to start the application process early in the academic year.

You will receive instructions on how to complete the financial aid filing process after you’ve been admitted. Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

For information about cost and financial aid available through the University of Iowa, visit the university's Finances website.

Structure and Support

The Bucksbaum Early Entrance Academy includes the following structure and support:

  • During their first year, students have individual weekly meetings with a Belin-Blank Center graduate assistant to discuss any issues or questions they have as they begin their studies at the University of Iowa.
  • A first-year weekly seminar with Belin-Blank Center staff. Topics in this seminar include study skills, learning styles, time management, communicating with faculty, study abroad opportunities, preparing for graduate school, and many other issues and topics associated with the successful transition to college.
  • A second-year seminar for students who enter two years early.
  • Access to the Blank Honors Center, which includes a computer lab, library, commons lounge, classrooms, and study rooms.
  • The Belin-Blank Center advocate for our students across campus. This advocacy continues throughout their time on campus and comes in many forms, including letters of recommendation and connections to other offices across campus.
  • The Belin-Blank Center staff plan field trips, cultural and social events throughout the year. These events, which include theatre productions, dinner salons with university and Iowa City community members, and our annual graduation luncheon, provide opportunities for students to get to know our upper-class students as well as interact with each other and the staff of the Belin-Blank Center.
  • The Belin-Blank Center staff work together with students and parents. Communication is open between all parties, and all are working towards a shared goal: the success of the student.


First-year students all live in Daum Hall, the honors residence hall. Daum is attached via a skywalk to the Blank Honors Center, which houses the Belin-Blank Center. Second-year students may live in any university residence hall. For more information about the residence halls, visit the University of Iowa's Housing website.

Honors Program

Many of our students may be interested in applying for Honors at Iowa, the University of Iowa's honors program. Check it out at honors.uiowa.edu!

Contact Us

Ready to Apply?

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