Pivot from star gymnast to all-around pro

Who knew the University of Iowa could be a springboard to success on both the high bar and in business? Star gymnast Cory Paterson (BBA17).

In high school, Cory worried there was no way to prep for a finance career while competing on the Canadian National Team—and maybe even going to the 2016 Olympics in Brazil. But then a fellow Canadian gymnast told him about the University of Iowa. After visiting the Tippie College of Business and meeting Iowa’s athletics staff, Cory discovered they would back him all the way to the winner’s circle.

Here are Cory’s top tips for other high achievers on how to land an extraordinary college experience.

#1: Score a business school that has a winning record—and wants to back a winner

While looking at U.S. universities that would let him straddle both gymnastics and business, Cory saw that Iowa stood out. Tippie’s Top 50 rankings impressed him. And thanks to stellar grades and SATs, he snagged a spot as a Tippie Direct Admit, which boosted him into business classes as a freshman and let him take special career seminars.

“When I first started the business school, even people I didn’t know would say hi. And when I talked to professors, they seemed really interested in what I had going on and what I wanted to do.”

“When I first started the business school, even people I didn’t know would say hi," Cory says, "And when I talked to professors, they seemed really interested in what I had going on and what I wanted to do. There’s just a friendly atmosphere.”

#2: Get support for 'Team You'

Cory practices 20 hours a week while taking 16 hours of classes. His secret to mastering time management: breaking big projects into doable chunks. “Balancing school and athletics is almost second nature to me now,” he says.

A major plus: Cory’s advisor and professors helped him craft a course plan that matches his goal—to graduate in four years—with his training and travel schedule. His professors even meet him outside office hours when, for example, he has to catch up after missing a statistics class for a competition. “The professors are always willing to make time for us,” he says.

#3: Work hard, play hard

As determined as he is to be a winner in competitions and classes, Cory knows there’s more to college. Like students who smile and say hi even when he doesn’t know them. And professors who genuinely want to hear about his ambitions.

And what’s the coolest Hawkeye experience of all? “The football games! The atmosphere! The crowds!” Cory says. “They’re so crazy, always cheering on the team, everyone so happy. I never knew American football was so big.”