New Students - Getting Started

Steps you’ll need to take

New students need to take care of all of the following tasks to make sure no administrative issues get in the way of taking  courses.

Select a course and register

  1. Review the courses offered through the College of Human Sciences Office of Distance Education.

  2. Complete the distance education registration form to begin the registration process.

More on registering »

Get your University ID

After submitting your application and registration, new students will receive a registration confirmation letter via mail containing their University ID number and password to login to AccessPlus. If you register for courses within five days of the beginning of your course, you will receive these letters via email. 

The University ID number is a randomly assigned number used for different services at Iowa State as well as for obtaining your Net-ID.

If you wish to have a physical ISU ID card mailed to you, please contact to request it.

Get your AccessPlus account

AccessPlus is your secure and confidential ISU account used to access things like grade reports and university bills (which are not mailed to students). You use your AccessPlus account to:
  • Check your university bill
  • Get your grades
  • Change your address
  • Pay your university bill
  • Check your class schedule

To establish your AccessPlus account:

  1. Go to

  2. Choose University ID for Login Method.

  3. Type your University ID in the Login ID field (no spaces or hyphens).

  4. Enter your password, which is case sensitive. The password is provided via letter sent to you in the mail. It may also come via email if you have registered less than two weeks before classes begin.

  5. Reset your password after you have logged in.

Security question. You will be asked to set up a security question and answer to be used to reset passwords.

Register for a Net-ID

Once you have retrieved your University ID, you need to set up your Net-ID. Your Net-ID is used to set up your email account and to login to the online course portal system, Blackboard Learn. 

  1. Go to
  2. In the left column, click Need to register for a Net-ID?
  3. Follow the instructions on the page.

Call the Solution Center at 515-294-4000 for assistance.

Access CyMail

An ISU email account is automatically set up when you establish your Net-ID. Your email address will be your Net-ID followed by To check your ISU email account, log into the university’s CyMail system.

Additional information on CyMail»

ISU policy requires that communication is done by email. It is important to establish this account as soon as possible. You are responsible for checking this account frequently for important messages.

Forward email from your ISU email account

(This system will not forward to a Hotmail account.) 

  1. Go to and log in.

  2. Click Manage Net-ID.

  3. Click View/Edit your e-mail delivery. The next screen gives three options:
    • Delivered to Exchange
    • Forwarded to email address:
    • Disabled
  4. Select Forwarded to and enter the address you’d like your mail to be forwarded to in the text field to have your email forwarded to another email address.

  5. Click Update Now. You will be taken to a screen that is nearly identical to the previous screen, except that “Database updated” will appear at the top. Note that changes made before midnight will not take effect until after midnight.

Help: Call the Solution Center at 515-294-4000 for assistance.

Get textbooks

Students are responsible for purchasing the correct textbooks and course materials required for each course.

View the Registrar’s distance education textbook page for instructions on ordering textbooks and materials on distance education courses.

Test your computer

Distance education courses require specific computer capabilities. While the requirements may vary by course, your computer should meet or exceed minimum requirements. Be sure to work through the two computer compatibility programs provided with the minimum requirements. 

Access Blackboard

Most distance education courses use Blackboard Learn, an online course portal system, for communications, assignments, testing, and course content. It is imperative that you have access to this site and be able to use it fully.

Once your registration has been processed, your instructor must then give you permission to view the course in Blackboard. Instructors typically have permissions in place one week prior to the course start date (or earlier).

Blackboard Learn

Blackboard tips

Access your first course

Follow the course tips to make sure you’re set to begin your first course.

Follow these tips for success!

Consider the following tips that will make your path to graduation successful:

  • Take one class per semester. More on time commitment » 
  • Log onto the course multiple times a week.
  • Create a plan of study and coursework early in your admission.
  • Check in with your campus coordinator and adviser often.