To Live on Campus or Not

A lot of students face this question each year regardless if you’re a freshmen or senior going to college.  I'm going to talk about the pros and cons from my opinion.

Pros of living on campus
1) Can walk to classes
2) Reduced car expenses if you own a car
3) Everything is included in your price (examples like wifi and utilities)
4)  A lot of resources at hand
5) Usually more security

Cons of living on Campus
1) Usually more expensive
2)have to share a room and use a community bathroom
3)Usually need a meal plan
4)Have to buy a parking pass
5)Might not be able to live there during breaks

Pro living off campus
1) Usually cheaper
2)No quiet hours
3)No parking pass
4)don't have to share a room usually
5)Usually more space

Cons living off campus
1)You pay utilities
2)Might have to drive to campus
3)You have to prepare your food
4)Might not have as many resources at hand
5) You need to clean the bathroom and apartment

Some things to think about!  If you have more questions feel free to give me email at!

Sean - Orange City/Sioux City ICAN Centers

Why Post-High School Education?

Why? Why go through all of trouble of getting some sort of post-high school education?  Two numbers give two big reasons.  In 1970 28% of jobs required further training after high school.  In 2018, that number has grown to 63%.  That number will not be going down anytime soon and will probably continue to grow.

What is happening to bring this change?  Go to a Home Depot, Menards, or Lowes on a Saturday morning (not during the Christmas season) and see how many people are running cash registers and how many self-checkouts are available.  Commonly you will see the self-checkouts will outnumber cash registers manned by people.  This is on a Saturday morning when many people are doing their weekend fix up jobs on their homes.  Lower skilled jobs are being replaced by technology.  Those jobs that are in the 1/3 that don’t require post-high school education are lower pay, less stable, fewer benefits, and the future may not be bright in terms of employability.

Notice the term in the title: post-high school education?  This is more inclusive of various options a student can pursue after high school.  Those options are: two/four year college, apprenticeship, on-the-job training with a company, military, career and technical education through a community college or technical school, or get a job.  If you are a person who is more of a hands-on learner, check out options available in apprenticing in a trade or skill, the military, or career and technical programs in a community college or technical school.  Many of those job opportunities pay well, have great futures, and benefits are available.  Also consider starting your own business as some specialties will roll into a business well like auto technology, culinary arts, construction technology, etc.

Do not leave yourself short in regard to a good job opportunity for the future.  Americans commonly have a 40 year work career which is a long time to settle for lower pay, fewer benefits, and less ability to provide for yourself and a future family.

Steve - ICAN Council Bluffs Office

FAFSA Time - A Parent's Perspective

For many it's now time to file the FAFSA for the 2017-2018 school year. Have you started yet?

I remember back in the day filing my kids FAFSA via a paper copy and sending it through the mail and having to wait forever to get the results back. Now the system is way better with online submissions, using  prior-prior taxes, and having help file thru  the Iowa College Access Network! My oldest son headed off to a Regent school while my youngest enrolled at a private school. Both schools were a perfect fit for their individual needs, goals, and career aspirations.

The hardest part of the college process for me as a parent was dropping them off at the doorstep of their dorms for the first time. I had so many unanswered questions. Are they going to like their roommate, how will they do with their new found freedom, will they actually study and get out of bed for class? Students need to realize that it’s tough on Mom & Dad too! On that first college drop off day, your parents will want to help you get settled into your new space. Let them!  Once you’ve unpacked and get your room organized, take them out for lunch/dinner. It will make everyone feel more comfortable when you say good-bye.  As a parent, it definitely takes some time to readjust to not having them at home but eventually it gets better. Students, be sure to keep in touch with your family, parents will love to get a text/call/facetime whenever you need a boost or just need to talk!

Have fun with the college process, you’ve done your part in preparing your student thus far, so now it’s time to sit back-relax, and watch them take the next step in their lives. 

ICAN Hiawatha Center

What Got Me Into Working for Colleges and Admissions

The story:

Around a decade ago I applied for my first big time real job ever at Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge Iowa.  Not knowing a thing about higher education, or the college itself, and three interviews later I got the job offer.  You know that first big job and relocating to a new part of the state I had literally never been near.  So my wife and I and our dog rented a U Haul and away we went.  I was excited, and ready to start my first full-time job out of college.  I was wide eyed and eagerly ready to work for a college.  Being a first generation student I knew what it was like to experience college and I knew what it was like to be involved at the college as a student.  But, when I started college I really had no clue on how to get involved or where to start with diving into activities and extra-curricular things that the college offered.  As I look back into the past I really appreciate how the staff at Northern Iowa where I received my undergraduate degree helped me figure out ways to get involved with things even well before I started college.  If you’re interested in ever applying for jobs within a college setting reach out to websites like is a great way to see what jobs are out there or reaching out to the Iowa ACAC website to see what jobs are open in Iowa at

Top five reasons why I wanted to work for a College/University

1) To give back to others
I was the oldest in my family and my parents choose not to go to college so let me be the first to tell you I was rather intimidated by selecting a college to attend.  I was blessed to have good people around me at the first college I attended.  I really feel like this was a calling. These people really made me feel like I wanted to help others with the entire process of choosing a college and understanding how to choose a fit. 

2) To be involved with activities on campus
This is the part of working for a college that I really enjoyed!  I loved to be around college athletics.  It is so fun to be around a young group of people coming together to achieve a team goal.  It’s also really neat to see some of the families and students who you recruit to your college succeed at your college and seeing them succeed at the next level and complete their degree. 

3) To travel with my job and meet school counselors and see all of the high schools in Iowa
Growing up in small town Iowa you only really get to see so much.  I loved traveling to all of the schools in Iowa to see the differences in them.  I couldn’t believe when I started going into some of the bigger schools in Iowa how big some of the auditoriums really are.  I grew up in a k-12 building and that’s all I knew I literally ate lunch with the Kindergarten class my senior year in high school.  

4) To increase cultural access
Does it feel like there's a never-ending calendar of events to attend on or near campus? It's probably because there is. Universities always have things going on, and colleges intentionally bring in expert speakers and create community programming. Whether it's a classical concert, panel discussion or volunteer event, working in a university environment opens you up to enriching experiences. You may even find yourself more inclined to take advantage of some new ones.

5) Be a part of something bigger
"It's knowing that the work I am doing provides opportunities for others to grow and make an impact" Whether it's working in a admissions, managing a residence hall or advising students, you can believe in what you're doing. In fact, you'll be able to see your work in action by simply walking around the campus.  Every day when working in a college setting I felt inspired as a student and as a professional.  I also loved the story’s from faculty and students with daily conversations. 

Taking Advantage of What a College has to Offer

Before I attended college, I had no idea that colleges and universities had so much to offer outside of the classroom.  No matter what your interests, hobbies, and passions are, students should be able to find something to keep them busy when not attending classes.  Whether it is clubs and organizations, sports, concerts, politicians, entertainment….so many different options.  Each college is different as far as what might be available, so it is up to the student to be aware of and seek out what interests them.

For example, when I attended the University of Northern Iowa, I found out that the university offered some study abroad programs.  The way I found this out was by seeing posters on campus advertising the Study Abroad Office. 

I previously did not have an interest in studying abroad; however, I was curious to see if they might offer a program in the country that my grandfather emigrated from.  My grandfather was born in 1891 and came to the United States from Denmark in the early 1900’s.  I was very close to my grandfather up until the time he died when I was in my early 20’s.  I knew I still had relatives living in Denmark and thought it would be interesting to explore the country of my heritage.

It turns out that UNI did have a program in Denmark, an exchange agreement with the University of Aalborg located in Aalborg, Denmark.  I couldn’t believe it; this was the same area my grandfather came from!  It was a program for business majors where you would participate in their International Business Program with students from different countries.  The classes would be taught in English and you would receive 12 elective credits through UNI.  Since I was not a business major (I was getting a minor in business) I had to get approval from the Business Department Head to be able to participate.  I had to do a little leg work, getting a student visa, arranging air fare and housing, etc., but it was well worth it.  The Study Abroad Office was very helpful in making the arrangements.

Obviously, the cost to study abroad varies from college to college and also depends on the country you would be going to.  At the time I participated (a long time ago….) the agreement between the schools said that I could receive financial aid to help cover the costs and my tuition was at a reduced cost.

I was able to spend my last semester as a college undergraduate in Denmark.  I met students from all around the world, some of which I am still friends with today (25 years later).  I learned a lot from the business courses I took, however, I think I learned even more by living in and learning about a totally different culture.  Even going to the grocery store was an experience when you do not know the language (I bought a lot of fresh foods and canned foods with pictures on them)!  I shipped my bicycle over and I also used a lot of public transportation (buses and trains).  I was able to visit castles, see an opera at the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen, and even visit the U.S. Embassy.

I was also able to meet my 4th cousin and his family, see the farm house my grandfather was born in 100 years earlier, and even saw my great-grandfather’s grave.  During breaks, and for a month after the semester ended, I traveled to Norway, Sweden, Finland, Greece, Italy, Germany, Holland, France, and Austria.

Had I not been willing to explore my options and do a little risk taking, I would never have had this opportunity again in my life, to not only travel to other countries but to actually live there and be a part of the culture for 6 months, get college credit, and get financial assistance to help cover costs.

My suggestion to you is that if you are even remotely interested in outside activities, like study abroad, do some research both before and after you set foot on campus to see what is offered.  My guess is that you won’t regret it!

John Holland
ICAN Waterloo Center

Choosing a Major or Program

Whether you’re a junior starting the college search process, a senior filling out applications for admission, or already a college student, chances are you’ve had plenty of people ask you, “What are you majoring in?” If you already have a good idea of the type of career you’re looking for, this question is probably easy to answer. However, if you have no idea what you want to do, this question can be supremely stressful. Lots of students feel pressured to choose a major as a high school junior or senior, and they worry that they have to stick with that major in college, even if it doesn’t turn out to be a good fit.

If you are still questioning your major, you’re in good company! 30-50 percent of students come into college still deciding on a major, and close to 80 percent of college students change their major at least once. So much changes as you transition from high school to college, and it’s only natural that your interests and career aspirations will change too. Don’t feel stressed if you don’t know what you want to study, or if you change your mind! As a high school student, I thought I knew what I wanted to do, but I wound up changing my mind right before freshman orientation, and wound up going into college undecided. I picked a major in the first semester of my sophomore year, and I still managed to graduate in four years.

There are lots of different tools that you can use to explore potential careers and college majors. Check out to fill out a career interest inventory online -- it only takes about fifteen minutes! Job shadowing and volunteering are also great opportunities to see if a career is a good fit for you. Check out the Iowa Intermediary Network for more information about job shadowing, and for volunteer options near you!

If you’re currently in college, develop a good relationship with your academic advisor. They can help you figure out what classes might correspond with your interests, and they might have good recommendations of activities on campus that can help you learn more about different majors. Talking to your family and friends can also be an easy way to learn more about different careers or college majors. Ask your relatives and friends what they like about their jobs and what their career path has looked like -- everyone’s story is different.

It can seem stressful to not know what you want to major in or what career interests you, but relax! You have plenty of time to explore and learn more about different opportunities. Explore your options with ACT Profile, job shadowing, and volunteering, and spend time talking to your friends, family, and academic advisors -- you’ll find the right fit in no time!

Susan - Hiawatha ICAN Center