Iowa's Largest College & Career Fair is This Sunday!

The Golden Circle College & Career Fair is this Sunday in Des Moines and if you are a high school student or you're the parent of a high school student you should attend.

College fairs are a chance to start thinking about the future and to explore the vast array of opportunities that exist after high school. The unique thing about Golden Circle is that we include the career side. The trick with picking a college is finding the right college with the right program for your future career. But how do you know what is the right path?

Talking to employers, attending sessions on career planning, and understanding the link between your future career and your selection of college is huge and can really help you avoid mistakes that lead to over-borrowing with student loans, transferring schools, and can even help you avoid changining majors a bunch of times.

Yes college is about exploration, of your self and your options. But you want to have a great first plan so that you can truly explore and avoid mistakes that lead to debt and hardship.

Golden Circle is this Sunday. 20 states are represented by the nearly 130 colleges and universities that are currently registered to exhibit. There are also a dozen different organizations that are ready to talk about career paths, employer expectations, and industry growth and outlook. There are four breakout sessions that will bring focus to the financial aid process, career expectations, college planning, and more. Explore the fair website for more details at

The fair starts is Sunday at the Iowa Center for Higher Education Activites Center on Bell Avenue. The fair runs from 12:30 to 3 with the first break out session starting at 1 pm. Come spend the afternoon with us. This is the largest fair in Iowa and if you are in high school, it's a great way to explore your future.

Brittania Morey - ICAN Hiawatha Center

Check out the Breakout Sessions at Golden Circle College and Career Fair This Sunday!

There are going to be some awesome college and career readiness breakout sessions at this year’s Golden Circle College Fair!

Breakout Sessions. Take the opportunity to listen in a free break-out session on topics like emerging industry, Iowa job growth, career planning, college selection, employer expectations, and the financial aid process. Sessions will be held throughout the event in the Conference Center on the second floor of the Activities Center. The breakout sessions are listed below. Also, Click here for an online list of breakout sessions.

Central Iowa – Top in the Nation for Career Outlook (Greater Des Moines Partnership) Presented by Mary Bontrager - Executive Vice President of Talent Development

From Growella’s #1 Best Place for Millenials to Live in the Midwest to Forbe’s #5 Best Place for Business and Careers, our many national rankings mean one thing - Greater Des Moines is thriving with opportunities for young adults. Learn why the metro area has become the fastest growing Midwestern city in the past decade and what is the outlook for the future. From great jobs to an exceptional quality of life, Central Iowa has it all for you, but will you have what Central Iowa needs?

Free, Personalized College and Career Planning (ACT) Presented by Lew Montgomery - Director, Community Engagement/Center for Equity in Learning

This session will take an in-depth look at ACT College Readiness Benchmarks and subject areas that represent the level of achievement required by students to pursue college and career preparedness. We will show how students can use our 50+ years of research and data to help deliver personalized insights that help people at key transition points in their lives, including after high school to get the results they want both in their career and college planning stages. For the counselors, educators, or mentors, we will also preview our dashboard tools within ACT Profile. With our dashboards, you can identify students’ interest areas, see those potential gaps or challenges, remind students to complete critical tasks, and share relevant resources and information.

Job Interview Tips and Expectations (Hy-Vee) Presented by Hy-Vee

Do you know what to expect in a job interview? Do you know the best ways to prepare so that you get the job you really want? Come and listen from the employer perspective on what is expected from a candidate and how to prepare for your job interview. This session will also touch on what Hy-Vee and other employers look for on resumes and applications. Learn how to put your best foot forward and stand out from other applicants.

How to Pay for College: Understanding the Financial Aid Process (ICAN) Presented by: Erick Danielson - Vice President of Programs

Does the thought of college tuition have you worried? The financial aid process can seem daunting, especially to first-time students and parents. Learn about the process of applying for financial aid and scholarships, effective tools for college cost comparisons, and learn how they can access additional help. The following topics are covered during the presentation.

  • Financial Aid Process 
  • Understanding Your FAFSA Results 
  • Understanding Costs - College Comparisons 
  • Aid Options 
  • Scholarship Process 
  • Where to Go for Help 
Golden Circle College and Career Fair:

Students of all ages are encouraged to visit the annual Golden Circle College and Career Fair. Whether you're a freshmen or sophomore just starting to explore career options, or a junior or senior narrowing your list of college choices, Golden Circle College & Career Fair is the perfect opportunity for you to gather knowledge, make connections, and begin to make informed decisions about your future.

2018 Fair: Date: Sunday, September 23, 2018
Iowa Center for Higher Education Activities Center - 2280 Bell Avenue, Des Moines (map)
Time: 12:30 - 3 pm

Hope to see you there!

Troy - ICAN Ankeny and Des Moines Centers

Why Do You Need an FSA ID?

The FSA ID is a login account for the FAFSA and other Federal Student Aid websites. ICAN stresses to students and parents to create one at to be ready to complete the FAFSA. Why do you need to do this?

1. To file your FAFSA electronically. This is the fastest and most accurate way to submit the FAFSA. The turn around time from the time the FAFSA is submitted to arriving at your college is commonly two days. Make sure you have applied to every college that you list on the FAFSA so the college can download your FAFSA information.

2. To be able to use the Data Retrieval Tool on the FAFSA. This is the electronic import of tax information from parent and student tax returns into the FAFSA. It is quicker and more accurate. The DRT serves as an electronic tax transcript which will make the verification process easier if your FAFSA is chosen for verification. Verification is a process where a college will ask for confirmation of information entered into the FAFSA. The DRT eliminates the step of ordering a tax transcript through the IRS website.

3. The FSA ID gives access to three other Federal Student Aid websites. Those websites are: (Federal Student Loan website), (National Student Loan Data Service), and (Federal Student Aid). At a student will need to do loan entrance counseling and the loan agreement to complete the process after the FAFSA for their Stafford Student Loan. It is also the website where parents would apply for a Parent Plus Loan. The NSLDS is where a student can get specific student loan information in regard to their federal student loans. The FSA website is where a student can retrieve their entire federal financial aid history including loan servicer information on federal student loans. Your FSA ID must fully process and match confirming your identity after you create it (1-3 days) before you can use these three websites. Your FSA ID does not have to match before you can you can use it on your FAFSA.

Your FSA ID is about as important as your car keys are to your car. Without it, you cannot access your FAFSA or file it electronically. If you are a dependent student, one parent who is on the FAFSA will also need an FSA ID. Take good care of it. We suggest for you to write it all down and keep in a safe place. Many students like to put it on their smart phone, and that it is fine as long as it is password protected. But putting it down on paper is the ultimate and most dependable backup.

Steve - ICAN Council Bluffs Center

Useful Websites for Students

As you may or may not know, ICAN has a Pinterest page with many different boards regarding different topics. The other day I came across a “Pin” that had to with websites that are useful/helpful to high school and college students. Here’s a few:
  • – say goodbye to grammar errors
  • – find inexpensive college books and take advantage of free entrance exam prep
  • – need a little with your literature class? Check out SparkNotes
  • – math homework help
  • – assistance with writing research papers
  • – storage website
  • – considering studying abroad for a semester? Check out this website
  • Amazon Prime Student Discount – do you get everything through amazon? Make sure you take advantage of the discount if you’re student.
  • Apple – in need of a new laptop? If you’re a student, you can get a discount through Apple.
  • Banana Republic & Kate Spade – 15% off regular priced items if you’re student
  • Student Universe Travel – discount travel prices if you’re a student
  • Rate My Professor – How are other students viewing professors? This will help when planning your class schedule.
For many more tips, articles and resources follow ICAN’sPinterest page.

Lupe - ICAN Coralville and Davenport Centers

How You Can Help Your High School Counselor

School counselors are great people but they are very, very, very, very, very, very busy! Paper work, new programs, appointments, class lessons, and a lot of miscellaneous details fill their days. Having served as a high school counselor for several years, I would like to suggest some things that you can do to help your high school counselor.

  1. Check your email! School counselors send out a lot of information to students informing them about events that will be coming up, scholarship opportunities, important due dates, and a whole array of things. Nothing is more frustrating to counselors than to send out important emails and find out that a lot of students do not regularly check their email. No matter the size of school, sending out emails is a time efficient method of informing people. When you get into the world of work, you need to check email multiple times a day. Also it is important to reply and let your counselor know information back to them that they need. CHECK YOUR EMAIL!
  2.  Put important events/meetings on the family calendar at home so your parents will be aware of those dates. Events such as these are good to have on the family calendar: ICAN financial aid and career and college planning meetings; scholarship deadlines; dates involving graduation deadlines; financial aid priority dates for colleges; anything else that is pertinent.
  3. Give your school counselor plenty of time to get you information that you need. They are very busy. If a deadline for a scholarship is March 10, be sure to contact your counselor at least by March 1 to let them know what you need. 
One last thing, your high school counselor works very hard and is by no means doing this job because they are getting rich! Let them know once in a while that you sincerely appreciate them and all that they do. That is some of the best “pay” they will ever get!

Steve - ICAN Council Bluffs Center

Advice for My 16-Year-Old Self

Dear High Schoolers,

As a new school year begins there are some things I wish I could go back and tell my 16-year old self. I think it is important to remember that at the end of the day, we are all human. At some point, all of us fail, make mistakes, etc. It’s important to learn from our mistakes so that we don’t make them again.

If I were to go back and tell my 16-year old self some “words of wisdom” it would be this…

  • Be Kind. Always. For everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle that you know nothing about. 
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously. 
  • Life is about helping others. Do something every day to make someone else smile. 
  • Step outside of your comfort zone and get involved in something new and different. You might be surprised who you meet and what you learn about yourself through the experience! 
  • Befriend a stranger. Go talk to the new kid across the lunchroom who sits by him/herself every morning. Everyone needs friends! 
  • Stand up for what is right. You may not make friends doing this, but learning to stand up for what you know is right is such an important life lesson. 
  • Go help someone in need. Like I said before, life does not revolve around you. 
  • Put your phone down! Go talk and interact with the world. You’d be surprised what you are missing out on always looking down. J 
  • Save your money! It’s never too early to start saving for college, retirement, etc. 
  • Learn balance. Balance in life is so crucial. Learn to balance your time with sports, friends, family, activities, etc. 
I wish you a great school year ahead! Let’s make the 2018-2019 school year the best yet.

Your Student Success Advisor, Meghan

New Beginnings

I love this time of year. Working in education, my New Year's resolutions come in August with the start of the new school year. As I look forward to the coming year I like to think about what I hope to accomplish and set goals.

As students this is a great time for you to set some goals as well. You are at the beginning of a new year and you'll be experiencing new classes and seeking new opportunities. What are your hopes for the coming year? Maybe it's something small like working on your writing skills or maintaining a certain grade in one of your classes. Maybe it's something a little bigger like seeking out new opportunities in the community. Or maybe this is the year you want to challenge yourself.

As school begins this week think about the bigger picture and take some time to think about your goals for the year. What do you want to accomplish?

Jot them down somewhere and refer back to them throughout the year. For me it always helps to think out my goals and determine a path forward. Here's an example from my goals for the coming year.

1) Goal - Take more time for me:

Action Plan: Spend 30-60 minutes a day for myself (walking/running, meditation, exercise, reading a book)

Notice there are lots of options for attaining my goal. It's about finding something I enjoy and taking the time to actually do it. I find that taking a 30 minute walk first thing in the morning is the best way to jump start my day. I feel more energized and productive when I get out and get that fresh morning air.

Think about what works best for you as you are setting your goals and your action plans to accomplish them.

Another trick to achieving your goals is sharing them with someone. Telling someone your goals gives you an extra push because you're accountable to someone other than yourself. I don't know about you but once I've told someone I'm going to do something it makes it that much harder to say "Nah, never mind, not important."

So this week will be a busy one. You're starting a new year, finding new classes, and planning out the next few months of activities and responsibilities. Look at your new list of to-dos and class assignments and figure out what you want to look back on at the end of the year as your biggest accomplishment.

You have a year of opportunities before you...enjoy the journey.

Brittania - ICAN Hiawatha Center