For the love of Pinterest

Ok, so this blog is dedicated to my infatuation with Pinterest. Before Pinterest I didn’t know how to do much, now I can do a few things…LOL. I can do more than what I use to, we’ll leave it at that.
Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann summarized the company as a "catalog of ideas," rather than as a social network, that inspires users to "go out and do that thing. – This was taken from Wikipedia, but it explains the website perfectly.

Let’s begin with cooking. I’m not a cook, I’m not good at it and I don’t enjoy it, but not too long ago I decided to take a hard look at my finances. During this time I discovered just how much I was spending on meals. On lunch every day, on dinner every day, on going to dinner on weekends… IT WAS A LOT OF $$$. Again, not being fond of the kitchen, Pinterest had super easy, simple, cheap ideas for meals. Since then my bank account is grateful.

Let’s move on to makeup. I’m a girly-girl. I love makeup and everything that it encompasses. For most of my 20’s I didn’t know how to properly do my makeup (I would line my lips way darker than my actual lip color and had blonde streaks in my hair…I know, right…gross). Thanks to Pinterest now I know better, I’m not a makeup artist quality, but when it comes to foundation, eyeshadow and mascara I can hold my own.

Last but not least, working out. I’m as lazy as they come. I will watch an entire season of a show in one sitting. Working out is not a priority for me, but I also feel really crappy when I don’t move. Pinterest has awesome easy workouts that you can do WHILE watching TV!!!!!. I don’t know how much it’s doing to my body, but I do feel better knowing that I haven’t been immobile for an entire season of American Horror Story.

ICAN has a Pinterst page. Check it out!

Lupe - ICAN Coralville and Davenport Centers

Transfer in Iowa: Very Helpful Website

If you are attending an Iowa community college and looking to transfer one of the Iowa Regent universities (Iowa State University, University of Iowa, or the University of Northern Iowa) the Transfer in Iowa website can be very helpful to you.  To access the website go to  Understand that this website only relates Iowa community college courses transferring to each of the three Regent universities.  It does not include evaluation of credits for transfer to private colleges or out of state colleges.  For that information, a student will need to contact the Iowa private college or out-of-state college or university.

The main purpose of the website is to help students track how their courses taken at an Iowa community college will transfer to a Regent university.  Iowa State and UNI have connections back to their individual university websites in which a student can get an online evaluation of the courses taken at a community college.  By entering in the community college courses by course number, a student will get an online evaluation of how their courses will transfer showing what course at Iowa State or UNI will be given credit at the university level.  Also a student can select a major at Iowa State or UNI, and a student will receive an evaluation of what courses have been completed in terms of the selected major.  The links for the University of Iowa connect the student with transfer information on the University of Iowa website.  It would be wise to be in contact with an admissions advisor at a Regent university before you transfer from a community college.

Besides information on the transfer of courses to Regent universities, there is an excellent section on reverse credit transfer.  Reverse credit transfer is the transfer of credits from a state university to a community college so that a student could earn a certificate, diploma, or a degree from the community college.  There are FAQs on reverse credit transfer and also a link on the value of earning an associate degree.  Also there is information available on distance learning to earn degrees for a Bachelor of Liberal Studies and a Bachelor of Applied Studies for students who attended a community college but cannot attend on-campus at a Regent university.

Check out this helpful website if this corresponds to your individual situation. The website has a wealth of useful information for a student transferring from a community college to a Regent university.

Steve - ICAN Council Bluffs Center

Preparing for Summer Orientation

There are many things that come into play when preparing for what happens after high school. While in high school, the classes students take, the activities they are involved in, grades, test scores, all of these factors help to determine which path a student will take once they graduate.

If a student is planning on attending college this fall, a lot of decisions had to have been made and a lot of details had to be taken care of up to this point. Applying for admission, completing the financial aid process, housing contracts, etc.

Regardless of where a student is planning on attending college, one of the last things that a student must do before attending classes in the fall is to attend a summer orientation. Each college runs the orientation a little bit differently; sometimes the orientation may go on for several days, sometimes it might be a one day event. One thing that most orientations have in common is that the students will enroll for the classes they will take in the fall. Some of you students may have already attended an orientation this summer, however, if you haven’t, here are a few tips to prepare both students and parents. If you are currently in high school, or are a parent of a high school student, you might also pick up some “food for thought” as you plan for the coming years.

During this last week, I had the opportunity to speak with an academic advisor who works at a university here in Iowa. One of her responsibilities is to assist incoming students, both incoming freshman and students transferring from another college or university, in registering for classes.

Here are some of the insights that I learned from our conversations:

The most important point is that students should have all transcripts sent to the college BEFORE attending orientation! This includes high school transcripts and transcripts from any and all colleges that a student obtained college credit from. This is VERY important! If you do not do this, it is very difficult for the advisor to have you take the correct classes you need for your major. This might result in taking classes you do not need.

Keep in mind that college credit earned while in high school is still college credit. If a student has completed a lot of college credit courses while in high school, they may come in as a sophomore or even a junior their first year. Example: recently, the advisor had a student who just graduated from high school with over 60 college credits. The student was shocked to learn that they would be considered a junior in college and, given her career goals, would be applying for graduate school within the next 2 years. She would be in classes this next fall with 20 and 21-year-old students. This made the recent high school graduate a little nervous and it was obvious that the student had not thought of this while taking classes in high school.

Another insight is that parents should allow their sons and daughters to make decisions on their own. This will give them self-confidence as they start out on their own and also allow them to become more independent. Colleges encourage students to become more independent by separating students and parents at orientations. Parents, this is not a bad thing, the college staff will take good care of your child! Summer can be a good time to begin the separation process…it can be difficult for both parents and students when a student leaves home and goes off to college (another blog topic!!). Be supportive, try not to smother the child. Let them know that know that you will be there for support, however, it is time for them to learn to be on their own and learn from their mistakes.

Once the student signs up for their classes, that is when they should make arrangements to buy text books. Some students try to attend classes in the fall without purchasing the text books, that is not a good idea! And, if you wait too long, some books may be difficult to find at a reasonable price.

Some final insights from the academic advisor…..plan to stay for the entire scheduled orientation. This is a very important beginning to the next step in the student’s life and you don’t want to miss out on important details because you have to leave early for a dinner for a dinner reservation, for example.

Be prepared for orientation with your questions…and…bring a pencil or pen!

Enjoy your summer!!

John - ICAN Hiawatha and Waterloo Centers

College - The Best of Times?

So often well-meaning people say to students, “Oh you will love college! It will be the best time of your life!” Sometimes, that statement is true. Much of the time it is not. For me, it was a fantastic period in my life. I so enjoyed being involved in music and musical theater (music major) and making life-long friendships. I had wonderful and encouraging professors who really cared about helping me become a better musician and person. I had some great opportunities – travelling with the college choir, going on professional trips to regional and even national music conventions, being involved in campus ministries, leading a public speaking lab class, performing in and attending numerous outstanding musical performances, as well as many other very enjoyable and valuable experiences. But was it the “best time in my life?” Hardly.

Probably most of the time, college isn’t the “best time” of a student’s life, and that is ok, even desirable. Sometimes college is a “means to an end:” a necessary training period for reaching a person’s goals and achieving their dreams. I think that at least occasionally, students may feel some pressure to try to make college the highlight of their life, and when you think about it, if college is the best time of someone’s life, what does that say for the next 50-70 years?

College provides many wonderful opportunities. Obviously, the learning, the training, the skills should be foremost the “best” thing about college, as those things are what will propel a student toward a rewarding, fulfilling career. But to make the college experience the best it can be, it is important to get involved in something – a club, an organization, an activity, a cause. This will help you meet people with whom you probably have at least one common interest. It is important to make connections with people, and this will only happen by interacting through your classes, study groups, the aforementioned activities, or some type of experience that will help you get out among people. Sometimes this is a scary “stretch” for students. It may force you out of your comfort zone, but that is good because it is really important to make connections with others. It is necessary. Research shows this time and time again.

If and when college does become stressful, and at some point it is likely to be when, don’t suffer through the stress alone. Reach out. Ask for help if you are having trouble in a class. Ask for help if you are lonely or homesick. Ask for help if you are feeling overwhelmed or helpless in any way. There are usually counselors, advisors, professors, as well as resident advisors and directors who can listen and help or at least point you toward someone who can. Talk with friends, too. Those connections and friends you make from interactions in classes and activities probably are or will be feeling the same way, and often just venting to someone can really help cleanse the soul. Exercise is also a very good way of relieving stress. Something as simple as a walk – alone or with a friend, silently or with your favorite music in your ears – can also be very helpful.

Most of all, don’t ever give up! Everything worthwhile takes some hard work and perseverance. You won’t regret sticking with your education; I am certain of that. Whether or not college is the “best time of your life,” it can be a very good time in your life, and it is definitely a necessary time to achieve the skills and training you will need to reach your career goals. In actuality, I hope it isn’t the BEST time in your life. I hope that it is, overall, a good experience, and I hope that your BEST times are yet to come!

Mary Joan - ICAN Sioux City & Orange City Centers

Campus Visits and Overnight Stays

I am a true believer that through our life experiences, we learn a great deal about ourselves. Looking back, there are some things I was I would have put some more thought into. When I was beginning the college search process, there were not nearly as many options for students as there are today! We now have so many search engines such as College Raptor to help ease our college search process and find colleges that match our financial situations.

My parents were always encouraging me to do an overnight stay at the colleges I was interested in. However, not many people at that time were taking part in overnight visits, and I didn’t feel comfortable spending the night with a total stranger! Little did I know, colleges actually pick certain student ambassadors to house students for an overnight visit. Their job is to make students feel welcome by introducing them to that specific college. This may entail eating dinner in the cafĂ©, grabbing a coffee at the local coffee shop on campus, visiting the college bookstore or going to a play/event/sporting event on campus and meeting other current college students. This is not only a great way to make new friends, this is a great way to get acquainted with the college campus, activities, events and other things associated with the school you are looking at.

I highly encourage students that come in my office to make not only a campus visit during the day, but to plan an overnight stay. This helps students see if they could see themselves on this college campus. I also encourage students to explore the new city that they will be living in. College is a big adjustment, and you are going to have to live in the city where your college is located. These are things I did not think of when I was preparing for college. Looking back, I wished that I would have. This would have saved me from transferring schools partway through my college career.

I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and try an overnight stay at a college you are interested in! You won’t regret it.

Meghan - ICAN Hiawatha Center

Raise.Me Unique Among Scholarship Opportunities

RaiseMe is an online resource that helps high school students connect with micro-scholarships at colleges and universities by tracking student involvement, achievements, and extracurricular activities. An added benefit of having a RaiseMe account is that a lot of the same information could be used to build an Activities Resume, which is useful for completing college admissions applications, scholarship applications, and job applications. An Activities Resume template can be found in ICAN’s Materials Library under College Planning at

Some of the areas of involvement that RaiseMe considers for potential micro-scholarships are listed below. It is also important to keep these areas of involvement updated on a student Activities Resume.

  • Participate in an extracurricular activity
  • Volunteer in your community
  • Have perfect attendance
  • Play a sport
  • Hold a leadership position
  • Get a good grade in a course
  • Take a challenging class
  • Maintain a high GPA
  • Take multiple years of a course subject
  • Take several years of Foreign Language
  • Add an art or media project
  • Score well on an AP test
  • Receive and honor or award
  • Work at a job or internship
  • Take the PSAT or PreACT
  • Take the SAT or ACT
  • Attend a college fair
  • Visit a college campus
  • Attend a college’s unique event or complete a specific activity
  • Complete the FAFSA

Troy - ICAN Ankeny & Des Moines Centers

Career Training - Spotlight on Carpentry

Calling all future carpenters in central Iowa!

On April 2nd the all-new Carpenter’s Union Training Center opened its doors.  The new location is 1555 1st Avenue North in Altoona, IA.  The building includes the training center, Carpenters Local 106 meeting space and offices for Council staff.

So, if you’re at least 18 years old and have a high school Diploma, GED, or high school transcripts, then you can train as a Carpenters’ Apprentice. Whether you have some experience or no experience, you are encouraged to apply. Apprentices learn their trade both in the classroom and on the job, all the while, earning a graduated wage and receiving the same great benefits of a journey-level Carpenter. The phrase “earn while you learn” really does apply.

Carpenter apprentices work right beside Jouneypersons on the job, then go to class on a regular schedule to complete their training. If you like the thought of starting your career, working on a jobsite with your hands, learning a trade, and experiencing different conditions, then contact them today at  515-262-8079. The Carpenters Apprenticeship program is open for anyone to apply.  Apprentices earn at least 60% of the Journeyman wage scale, and receive 100% of the healthcare and retirement benefits available. Carpenters Union Local 106 members earn top industry wages while practicing a career that you can raise a family on.  For more information check out their website.

This is a great opportunity for students who are looking to train in a career field that has lots of potential for the future. To learn about other career training oppotuntiies visit

Jessica - ICAN Ankeny Center