Interesting, my employer is listed as second in the US News & World Report ranking of Midwestern public universities granting Master's degrees. See, if you get specific enough, you too can be in the top 5! For instance, I'm the number 1 search result on Google for "Seth Bokelman", what are the odds? Actually, there is another Seth Bokelman in the world, believe it or not, but he lives in West Virginia, and I think he's in high school still, but I digress. Why UNI is second, I don't know. I can certainly think of several dozen other schools in the Midwest I'd attend before UNI. In the state of Iowa, here are the valid reasons to attend UNI, in my opinion:
1. You're majoring in Music, Education, or Business. 2. You got a free ride scholarship. 3. Your mommy wouldn't let you leave the Cedar Falls/Waterloo area, so you're living at home. 4. You went to ISU or the U of Iowa for a year, but couldn't hack it, because the profs didn't babysit you, or you couldn't make friends, even with 25,000-30,000 fellow students to pick from. 5. You couldn't even get in to ISU or the U of Iowa.
And that's pretty much it. UNI is not a research school, the focus is on undergraduate education here (not that there's anything wrong with that). UNI doesn't seem to focus on being a leader in anything, however, and I've jokingly proposed several times that our school motto should be "Good Enough" as that's the prevailing attitude here. That's not to say I'm not grateful to work here, it just means I wouldn't encourage others to attend this school, given the other two excellent schools in our system, unless one of the above 5 conditions are met.
But still, the students come, though I don't know why. For instance, UNI has a Biology program, but the U of Iowa is a medical school, with a teaching hospital, and ISU is one of the best agricultural schools in the nation. Given that tuition costs for the schools are within 2-3% of each other, why would you choose UNI?