Thank you from the ICAN Team

 Thank you for checking in with the ICAN blog - Career and College Corner. After many years we have decided to transition this service into a format that is more widely accessible. Stay tuned Fall 2021 for new resources to be announced.

In the meantime, if you are looking for planning information visit our website at or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

You can also schedule a chat with an ICAN advisor at - we offer both virtual and in-person appointments.

Thank you again for your continued interest in helping Iowa students find their future.

The ICAN Team

Congratulations to the Class of 2021!

 High school graduation is a milestone that we at ICAN are thrilled to celebrate each year as another class of students moves the tassel and takes their next steps into the future.

Whether you completed graduation last weekend or are in your final day and will walk across the stage over the Memorial Day weekend, we congratulate you on your success and offer these final tips for your future.

  • Take it all in. No matter what your next steps are things are going to be different. Over the next days, weeks, and months before Fall, take it all in and enjoy the time with friends and family before you take your next steps. For some you may be moving out right away and beginning a career, for others you have the summer at home before heading off to college or a training program. Enjoy this time and enjoy the people around you. 
  • Say thank you. Be sure to take a moment and thank all those in high school and your community who helped you get where you are. 
For those college-bound seniors we offer some additional tips and the reminder that as you move into your next phase of academics, ICAN's team is still here whenever you need us.
  • College Orientation. Be sure to sign up for college orientation as soon as you can, and sign up for an early session if you can. Part of orientation is picking classes for your first semester - the earlier you attend the more classes you have to choose from.
  • Finalize Financial Aid. If you haven't finalized your financial aid for next year, make sure to review your paperwork and connect with the college to ensure you've taken all the steps necessary. If you need help with loan paperwork or setting up your college budget, schedule an advising session with an ICAN advisor - We can help you in-person or virtually and make sure you have all the necessary information to find success next year.
  • Renew Your Financial Aid. Remember that financial aid is a one year at a time process. You have to reapply each year you enroll in college. Which means come October 1, 2021, you need to file the FAFSA again. Remember that ICAN is here to help and keep our number or website handy so you can schedule a renewal appointment with us. One of the biggest mistakes college students make after their first year is not renewing their FAFSA and losing out on aid. Don't let that happen to you!
  • Still Need to File the FAFSA? If you haven't file the FAFSA yet it's NOT too late - just contact us at 877-272-4692 or visit to schedule an appointment. We can have your FAFSA filed in under and hour and have you ready to go to campus next fall.
As you head off to your next destination remember that ICAN is not here just for high school students - we help everyone with their planning needs. So over the next few years, if you have questions, your plans change, or you just need to renew that FAFSA, ICAN is here to help.

Congratulations on your graduation! And here's to your success where ever your next steps take you.

 Brittania - ICAN Hiawatha Center

Self-Advocacy for our Youth

Self-advocacy in young people is extremely important. Mom & dad will not always be there to take care of certain things. Young people can start to advocate for themselves by simply calling to make an appointment with ICAN *wink*.

Start small, if there are certain things that need the attention of a parent or another person, then bring them in, but start to speak up. If you have trouble with homework, talk to the teacher. If you’re having issues with friends, talk to your school counselor or another trusted adult. If you need to take your car in for a tune-up, call to set up the appointment. These are small, simple things that young people can do to start to build up their confidence. When they move on to college or the work force, they will have the skills needed to ask for what they need and deserve.

The idea for this blog was found in a University of Wisconsin-Madison article. To read the entire article, click here.

 Lupe - ICAN Coralville and Davenport Centers

Utilizing Your Resources

The 2020-2021 school year is finally winding down! And what a year it has been. There have been a lot of changes over the last 14 months or so due to the pandemic and it has made for a difficult year. There have been a lot of changes at ICAN as well as we try to deliver resources to students and families and while keeping everyone safe.

Most of our presentations during this previous school year were held virtually using Zoom technology. While many families attended these presentations and received good information about preparing for life after high school, many families may have missed out.

I want to remind you that through this link:, you will find a list of upcoming presentations that you can attend, and through this link:, you can find recordings of previous events that you can view whenever you like.

We have presentations on many topics including Making the Most of Summer Break, Exploring Careers: Finding the Right Fit for Your Future, Freshman Transitions: Prepare for High School just to name a few. You can also find many videos at our facebook page:

Take advantage of our resources now and throughout the summer. It is not too late!

 John - Northeast Iowa Advisor

Summer College Visits

Over the years, in normal years, advice to students and parents about college visits has typically been, “Make your college visits during the school year, not during the summer. You need to see what the college is like when campus is in full swing.” Although that still is the very best time to visit colleges, due to the lack of ability to get onto a college campus for a visit in the last year+, I would have to say that in my opinion, if you can get some college visits in this summer – GO FOR IT!

Typically, 2nd semester sophomore year and all of junior year are the best times to do those college visits. It’s so important to get on a campus to get a “feel” and see what the school has to offer. That “feel” is just a gut-feeling, which usually tells a student that they would feel comfortable, or they would not feel comfortable, on that campus. Sometimes it can be an overwhelming feeling; sometimes it might be just a slight feeling. I would never recommend a student choose a college without an in-person visit. But the last year has changed many aspects of our lives, including many aspects of college planning, and sometimes students have had to do a Plan B or even a Plan C for visiting and choosing a college.

If you can find some time to squeeze in some college visits this summer, do it. Ask for a campus tour and see the dorms. You might be able to sit in on a summer class, if there are in-person classes going on and protocol will allow it. Hopefully, you could still meet with a professor in a program of interest and/or a coach or activity sponsor, if there is some extra-curricular activity in which you would like to participate. You definitely can see the campus and get a “feel,” which again, is important, and I’d assume you could find out much information from the admissions office and someone in financial aid. So, contact the campuses in which you have an interest and make an appointment for a visit. Be sure to check out the town as well, as that can make a difference in your decision.

As you visit campuses over the summer, you can keep track of those that still interest you, and you can take the ones that didn’t seem to fit you off of your list. Then, hopefully, in the fall you will be able to make some 2nd visits to the ones in which you are truly interested. You can apply for admission and do your financial aid application (FAFSA) in the fall – including any or all of these schools. You aren’t committing to them by applying and having your FAFSA sent to them. Then, as the year goes on, hopefully it will be more and more clear where your new “home away from home” will be!

(Side note: I was a high school counselor when my three sons were visiting colleges, and we did make some summer visits (gasp!) because, frankly, the school year was so very, very busy that we couldn’t squeeze them all in. You know what? We learned a LOT from those summer visits, and it was definitely enough to give my sons an idea of whether they thought it was a possible fit or not, which then either led to another visit during the school year or taking the school off their list. I guess what I’m trying to tell you is that summer visits can be helpful, even if school-year, school-in-session visits are the most ideal!)

 Mary Joan - East Central Iowa ICAN Advisor

Types of College Degrees

This article intends to enlighten students and parents about the various types of college degrees.

Certificates and Diplomas – Many community colleges offer more short-term training for those students who do not want to spend much time in training. A certificate or diploma program may last 1-2 semesters and zeroes in on a very specific skill set.

Associate Degree – there are two types of associate degrees.

1) Associate of Arts or Science. This is commonly a transfer degree that enables a student to take the first two years of a four-year bachelor’s degree at a community college and then transfer to a four-year college or university.

2) Associate of Applied Science. This is a degree offered at community colleges and some private colleges. It usually involves career and technical programs which focus on a narrower skill set and finishes after about two years. The intent of this degree is to offer a two-year degree that enables a student to be job ready and will not require transferring to a four-year college. Many of these programs involve hands-on learning.

Bachelor’s Degree - This is well known as a “four-year degree”. The program of study consists of one to two years of general education courses in the areas of math, science, English, social science, humanities, foreign language, physical education. This is the “liberal arts” education of a bachelor program which helps a student to be well-rounded in all areas of academics as the student learns to be a critical thinker. In the final two to three years, a student specializes in their major area of selected academic study to be trained to work in a career in that field. It is called a bachelor’s degree in that by finishing the academic program the student is now able to “work on their own” having the skills necessary to work in their chosen field. Many colleges offer a “minor” program which in addition to the major, the student will have knowledge and skills in a connected field. For example, a student might major in business but minor in accounting. In finishing a bachelor’s degree, a student will commonly meet state or professional standards for professional licensing. Completing this degree completes a student’s undergraduate education.

Master’s Degree – This degree is part of graduate education in which the student has graduated with a bachelor’s degree, and the student seeks to enhance their knowledge and complete professional standards for higher positions. The master’s degree enables the student to understand and apply research. Written and oral exams may be required along with a graduate research paper.

Professional Degree – This is a degree that trains the student in specific professions such as, but not limited to, law, medicine, pharmacy, dentistry, etc. Usually it will require a bachelor’s degree as an undergrad and then law school, medical school, pharmacy school, dental school, etc. Some colleges do offer combination programs such as 3 + 3 for undergrad and pharmacy or law school.

Doctorate Degree (PhD, EdD, ThD) – This graduate education trains the student to do original research to discover knowledge never known before. As an example, Dr. James Van Allen discovered the radiation belts surrounding the earth and this was knowledge not known before. After research methods classes, the student will finish with a written dissertation completing an original research project and passing oral and written exams.

If you have questions about a degree or career path, reach out to ICAN at (877) 272-4692 or visit

 Steve - ICAN Council Bluffs Center

What Have You Decided?

It's the first week of May and the end of another school year is so close we can almost taste it. But we're not there yet and it's important to stay focused, despite the beautiful weather, until the very last test is taken and the very last paper is handed in.

Seniors - this is especially important for you. You have to submit a final transcript to the college you've selected and so everything you do until the very last day will count. Don't fall behind or let your grades slip. 

  • If you have been given an academic scholarship and your GPA slips, you could lose it. 
  • If you fall below admission requirements in your final semester, your admission offer can be revoked. 

Yes, it's that important to stay focused and vigilant through the very last day of senior year.

Now that I've gotten the doom and gloom out of the way - let's talk about decisions for the future.

This is the time of year for seniors known as Decision Day or Decision Week - where seniors decide what their plans are for next year. 

It's important to note if a college has a decision day deadline - a day by which you have to let them know you plan to attend. You don't want to miss this deadline and lose out on any financial aid.

Making a decision about a college or university is the first step toward next Fall and your future education and training, and your future career. Once you've made a decision on where you are headed, you'll have the opportunity to sign up for orientation where you sign up for classes, learn about on-campus programs and housing, and sign up for a roommate.

You'll also find out about any additional deadlines and important things to note before getting to campus next Fall.

The final weeks of high school are full of things to do - make sure you have list that keeps you on track so you don't miss any of the things we've talked about. 

Be sure to also take time for the final fun things too - thank your favorite teachers, seek out your freshman year locker or old haunts and reflect on your high school days and accomplishments. Above all, just take it all in and enjoy these last few busy weeks of high school. While the best is yet to come, it's always good to stop and enjoy yourself in the moment too.

 Brittania - ICAN Hiawatha Center