Quality Food That Doesn't Break the Bank


Summer vacation is here.  Hopefully, you have a job lined up.  Try to save as much of your money from your summer job as you can.  Here at ICAN, we encourage you to not spend all your money eating out, but if you were to enjoy a restaurant now and then, where would you go?  

In college, I remember taking a study break to order five McDoubles off the dollar menu once – not the smartest choice I’ve ever made.   
Here are my top 5 restaurant choices:

5. Chick-Fil-A
·         Simple, yet satisfying.  Family friendly.  Great chicken.

4. Culver’s
·         Two words:  Butter.  Burger.

3. Firehouse Subs
·         Quality subs and they make it easy to donate to support your local fire departments.

2. Chipotle
·         Big burritos, quality food, at a quality price.

1. Five Guys
·         A little pricy, but the BEST burger I’ve ever had.

What are yours?


Shea - ICAN Hiawatha Center

Fun Summer Activities

Here are a few fun summer activities ideas that you can do with your friends and family. Enjoy your time off to recoup and rejuvenate before heading back to school in the fall. You deserve it…Enjoy!

A great place to start is checking the class schedule at the local YMCA/YWCA/City Recreation Center pick up a yoga class; learn a new sport/activity like racquetball, paddleball, tennis, or golf. Sometimes there are classes available in kayaking, canoeing, or paddle boarding. My two sons were active in a local Tae Kwon Do club and both achieved their first degree black belts after several years of training.

Another option is to take a “fun” class at the local community college-photography, watercolor painting, Photo Shop etc. I took a photography class over the winter and loved it. I learned so much about my digital camera that I never knew was possible! Before I took the class, my camera was always set on full automatic but now I can do night photography, portraits, and fast pace action shots.

Summers are made for outdoor activities. Camping, hiking, and biking were always on our family agenda. Find a state park near you and learn about the area and what it has to offer. Here’s a link to Iowa’s State Parks, http://www.iowadnr.gov/Places-to-Go/State-Parks/Iowa-State-Parks and Iowa’s County Parks, http://www.mycountyparks.com/default.aspx . Iowa has over 2,248 miles of biking trails-load up your bike and find the nearest trail in your area; http://www.bikeiowa.com/Trails . Take some advice and carry plenty of water, a first aid kit, and most of all be sure to have a tire repair kit handy. I speak from experience!

Kayaking, paddle boarding, swimming, and canoeing are other forms of summer recreation. Again, check out your state & county parks and dive in. It’s a great way to keep cool during Iowa’s hot summers and another way to stay in shape. Keep the sunscreen close. End the day around the campfire with some hotdogs, chips, and s’mores!

Remember it’s a time to recoup, revitalize, and relax. Enjoy your time off and stay safe.



Cindy - ICAN Hiawatha Center

Thanks DAD!

My son always jokes with my wife about how Mother’s Day seems to be a bigger deal than Father’s Day. She tells him “That is because Father’s Day is every day of the Year.” I am not quite sure if that is accurate but I am also smart enough not to get into an argument about it. J

Last Month I wrote a Thanks MOM blog to my mother for all she had done for me specifically in helping me in getting through college. Well now it is time to say THANKS to the dads out there.

My dad, like my mother, didn’t go to college. He started working in a factory right out of high school and worked there for 30 years. It was a good paying job but took a toll on him physically. He didn’t want the same life for me. Back when I was born in 1973, only 28% of the jobs required education beyond high school. But my dad could see times were changing even when I was in middle/high school. He didn’t say, “I didn’t need college to get a good job, so I am not paying for you to go.” No, he encouraged me to get good grades, explore the majors/career that I wanted and go to college. Right now, 65% of the jobs require education. Times have changed. THANK YOU DAD!

Another area my dad helped me with in college was with finances. I had mentioned in my THANKS MOM blog that one of the biggest sacrifices my mother made was going back to working full-time again to help me with my college expenses. My parents used the money that my mom earned to pay for my living expenses (room & board) so that I did not have to borrow money to pay those expenses. When I got out of college, my amount of student loan debt was only half, if not less of what it could have been because of that sacrifice.

It would not have been possible without my dad being on board with that decision. There are parents who will tell us in appointments and presentations that they don’t plan to help their kids pay for school. I am glad my parents didn’t think that way. They sacrificed vacations, new cars, new furniture, upgrades on the house to help me (and my sister) get through college without a big burden of debt. THANK YOU DAD!

The biggest impact my dad had on my life doesn’t have to do with college. Lou Holtz is famous for saying this, but I had heard it before him and it goes something like this: The greatest gift a Father can give to his children is to Love their mother. I can’t imagine anyone being a better example of this than my dad. It is an example that I hope my kids see today. THANK YOU DAD!

To all dads out there, I hope you have a wonderful Father’s Day this Sunday!



Erick - ICAN Ankeny Center

Be Smart Using Social Media - Harvard & Hy-Vee Tell Us Why

The last few years, we have warned students during our ICAN Career & College Planning Presentation to be smart in their use of social media. We typically had a representative from Hy-Vee give an example of how one of their employees had used a fish bowl at a company event to tweet about how annoying their co-workers were and how they had got really drunk the night before behind an anonymous twitter account. Within an hour they had tracked down who was behind that account and that employee had become a former employee.

I just heard another example of the consequences of not using Social Media wisely that I want to share with ALL students who are going off to college next fall.

Harvard University withdrew admission offers of 10 students who had shared sexually and racially charged memes in a Private Facebook group. The Facebook group had been set up last December for those who had been admitted to the class of 2021. I am not going to share what some of the memes and messages from the group included. You can always google search and find out more specific information but quite honestly it is disgusting.

Harvard administrators learned of the group and its contents and rescinded their admissions decisions in April.

Social Media can be a wonderful tool. Twitter and Facebook, used properly can help you to keep up with what is happening in the world, and with your friends and family.

But it can bring severe consequences if not used properly.

Always think before you tweet/post. A good rule of thumb is the “Grandma” test. If you would be embarrassed if your Grandma saw a tweet/post, then you shouldn’t hit the submit button.

Also remember that nothing is guaranteed to be PRIVATE on social media. No matter how PRIVATE you think your group or interactions are, consider everything could go public. That is another test that may save you from sharing something you shouldn’t.

It is obvious from the examples above colleges, universities, and employers are checking prospective student/employee social media accounts to help make decisions whether to accept or hire them. Be SMART and don’t let your use of social media keep you from being able to go to the college of your choice or from getting the job that want.



Erick - ICAN Ankeny Center

Beauty Buys Under $10

When you're living on a budget - especially in college, knowing the good buys from the cheap knock-offs can be a huge savings. Beauty items are a category where if you buy the cheap stuff your skin can suffer, but the high-priced stuff can be out of reach. These are my all-time favorite beauty items to have. I have these either in my purse, my car or my dresser. They’re inexpensive and best of all they work!

  • Neutrogena eye makeup remover - $6.15
  • Burts Bees tinted lip moisturizer - $5.25
  • Aveeno makeup remover wipes - $5.69
  • Maybelline New York Lash Sensation - $5.69
  • St. Ives Timeless Face Moisturizer - $8.71 (I swear by this one)
  • Clean & Clear Advantage Acne Spot Treatment - $5.50
  • Maybelline New York Fit Me Matte Plus Poreless foundation - $5.69 (amazing if your skin gets oily throughout the day)
  • NYX Cosmetic Powder Blush - $4.75
  • Cover Girl Eyeshadow in Sheerly Nudes color palette - $5.99 (can never go wrong with nude colored eyes shadows)
  • Wet & Wild Nail Polish (any color) - $3.48 (awesome price, great colors)


Lupe - ICAN Hiawatha and Davenport Centers

Stay Involved, It's Worth It! - Music in College


If you’ve been involved in band or chorus throughout high school, you should consider continuing your involvement in college! Participating in your college’s band or choir is a great way to get involved on campus and meet people who have similar interests. Some students find that getting involved in a familiar activity like band or choir can help with homesickness, since you’ll be in an environment that you’ve been involved in for a long time, and you’ll be spending time doing something that you love.

Being involved in music in college can also provide a little more structure in your schedule. Some students struggle with the amount of free time that they suddenly have in college, and spending a few hours a week in rehearsal can help tremendously with that transition.

If you’re looking for another reason to get involved, sometimes students in these groups have opportunities to travel around the country or across the globe to perform! The year after I graduated college, my college marching band went to London for a week and performed in a New Year’s Day parade. You never know what opportunities these ensembles might bring!

Check out your college’s website for more information about instrumental or vocal music groups, and call or email the contact person to learn about how to get involved! Many schools will have representatives from different groups at summer orientation, so keep an eye out there as well!

I participated in the UNI marching band for all four years of college, and to this day, I’m so glad I did! I moved to campus early for a week of rehearsals, so by the time classes started, I was already familiar with campus and had met dozens of people through the band. It definitely helped me feel more comfortable on campus, and it helped so much when I was feeling homesick. Performing at every football game helped me feel more connected to the university, and I always had a lot of fun. I still love going back to campus in the fall to watch the band perform.

There are so many great reasons to be involved with music in college, so make sure to consider!



Susan - ICAN Coralville Center

School's Out - Ready for Summer?


The school year is at its end once more and many students are thinking about summer vacation and all the things they can do to fill up those sunny days.

For some this means actual vacation and a fun trip somewhere with family or friends. For others, this could mean activities around the community or a weekend road trip. For many, this means a summer job, and finding that perfect mix of work and fun.

Having a summer job is a great benefit no matter your age. For younger high school students, it’s a great way to start earning some extra cash and building some employment experience. For older students closer to graduation, this could be a time to explore future job opportunities and to save some money toward college expenses.

No matter your stage in the game – here are some great benefits to summer employment and the best ways to prepare.

Start early. If you want more than just a summer job, start early and make some connections. You could use your summer work experience as a job shadow or internship in a career field that interests you. Use your summer to experience a day in the life of a potential future career. Talk with your school counselor about local connections, or contact a local business that interests you about summer openings.

Experience. Even if your summer job doesn’t end up being in a field or industry that truly holds your passion, any work experience can be meaningful. You’re starting to build employment history and you’re going to learn about responsibility, time management, teamwork, and maybe even leadership. These are all important skills to develop and will help you when you start looking for work in areas that peak your interest.

Save. Summer jobs are a great opportunity to put some money in the bank for college. I’m not saying save every penny and don’t have fun. But a good chunk going towards savings can save you a lot when it comes time to look at college tuition, books, or apprenticeship and job training programs. Try and save 30-50% and get a jump start on the future.  The more you are able to save, the less you have to take out in student loans and the more options you’ll have in planning your future.

Balance. With all that said, be sure and find balance. Because the saying “You’re only a kid once” is very true. Don’t work all summer long and forget to have fun. Life is all about balance and that’s a good skill to learn young. Take a weekend road trip. Go on vacation with your parents. Do a movie night, hang out with your friends, and be a kid while you’re gaining some work experience.



Brittania - ICAN Hiawatha Center