Major Tips for success between college athletics and academics

Tip # 1: Time Management
Regardless of whether you’re a student athlete, this is a vital component of being successful in college and later on in life. In fact, the time management skills you develop as a student will be a huge indicator as to how well you manage your time as a professional and in other circumstances. Consequently, this skill is something we should always look to refine. Realize that as a student athlete, academics and athletics will consume the majority of your time.  At the end of the day, your ability to stay motivated will test your dedication to sports and the will to improve, making the obstacles you face worth the reward. 

Tip #2:  Acknowledge Your Responsibility
While you have a commitment to your team and coach, academics must always come first.  You should be a student first, an athlete second.   At the end of the day, athletics will always be an extracurricular activity and does not guarantee you an athletic career after graduation. Of course, some students do achieve this route, but it is simply not realistic to assume that athletics will be your gateway to a successful professional career.

Tip #3:  Determine Eligibility Requirements
Know and understand your college’s requirements to stay eligible on your campus and if you are an incoming freshman being recruited by a college know and understand what requirements you will need to be eligible to participate in college athletics at that college.  Always communicate with your academic counselor.  Use all of the resources on campus like admissions, advising offices, and coaches for help. 

Tip # 4:  Use your success centers on campus
Be assertive, know it’s o.k. to get help early in classes and often.  Procrastination is not going to help you.  Rather than waiting until you run into trouble with your professors, or your grades start to slip, become familiar with academic services. There’s no shame in referring to these services as such centers are equipped to address the needs of student athletes.
Lastly, some sports teams also offer their own academic benefits such as study groups and tutoring services. Enduring the challenges of balancing academics and athletics tends to be more bearable when utilizing the support of your teammates.

Tip # 5:  Protect Your Image and the college’s image
Understand, that because you are now a student athlete you  are the face of the college.  Just know that by being a student athlete on your campus you are the “Big Man on Campus” Everyone knows who you are and where you are at all times on campus.  Be smart on your social media outlets like twitter and facebook.  Remember, everyone is watching you!

Tip # 6:  Give Yourself Some Downtime
Try to get connected to your college campus in others realms outside of the sport you are playing.  It’s a great way to meet new people and this allows you to take a break from your normal routine.  It’s also a great way to meet new people and connect dots outside of your normal comfort zone on a college campus. 

Ryan Ronan

Ryan - Coralville ICAN Center

How I ended up in my career (the long version...)

When I was in high school, I knew I was going to be a civil engineer, and, I knew I was going to go to Iowa State University.  The reason I knew that (actually from about 6th grade on) is because my dad was a civil engineer and he went to ISU, his brothers went to ISU, my older sisters went to ISU, and my older brother went to ISU.  Most of those people became civil engineers.  I wasn’t told I had to go to ISU to be an engineer, however, it was kind of implied that I was going to do that.  That’s what we did in my family.

So, in high school, that was my goal.  I took a lot of math and science classes to prepare myself.  I didn’t think outside of the box and look at other careers.

High school was not that difficult for me, I was able to get to ok grades without too much effort.  After I graduated, I did go to ISU.  When I got there, that’s when I found out how difficult college was.  I was overloaded with homework and there were about 26,000 students enrolled at ISU.  It was very overwhelming.  I didn’t do very well my first year of college at ISU.  I did so bad that I did not go back there.  The next year, I attended a community college, and, eventually, I decided that maybe college just wasn’t for me.  So I quit going to college and worked on a land surveying crew for the next 8 years.

After working for 8 years outside in all kinds of Iowa weather, I decided that maybe it was time to go back to college.  I had a brother-in-law who had been an elementary teacher and then became a principal.  I liked kids and decided that would be a good career for me to pursue.  So, I quit my job, quit earning money, and went back to school full time as a 28 year old sophomore.

When I started back to college, I was fortunate enough to get a job in the financial aid office helping students go through the process of getting money to help pay for college.  I worked 20 hours per week when school was in session and 40 hours per week during breaks.

After a year of being successful in my classes, the time came for me to do a field experience in a 4th grade classroom.   It was kind of like a job shadow experience where I would help the teacher, work with the students, and find out what it was like to be a 4th grade teacher.  After 16 weeks of that experience, I went back to my academic advisor and told her I did not want to be a teacher anymore.  I found out that that career was just not for me.

At that point, I realized what I really enjoyed, what I really wanted to do for a career, was to work with college students.  I ending up getting a master’s degree in College Student Affairs and working at a community college before coming to ICAN to work with students before they became college students.
John Holland

John - ICAN Waterloo

Let's Talk Scholarships

Students, if you need financial assistance to pay for school, you should be applying for scholarships! Prime time for scholarships is typically between October and March, so make sure that you’re checking out all of your possibilities.

Your best bet for scholarships will be through the colleges and universities that you’re considering. Some schools will award automatic scholarships based off of your GPA, test scores, and the classes you’ve taken. If you have received any automatic scholarships, you should get a letter from the school to let you know. You can often apply for additional scholarships through the financial aid office at the school or through your academic program. Some of these scholarships might require essays, interviews, or participation in a scholarship event on campus. Make sure you know what the requirements are when you begin the application!

Local organizations are another great resource for scholarships. Check in with your school counselor for a list of scholarships through your local community. If you have a part-time job, ask your employer if they offer any scholarships for student employees, and have your parents do the same. If you or your parents are a member of a local church or volunteer organization, check to see if they offer scholarships as well. ICAN offers a scholarship for any student who uses our resources (including this blog!), so you can apply for our scholarship as well. Visit to fill out the application.

In addition to institutional and local scholarships, you can also use the internet to search out ways to pay for college. Scholarship databases like Raise.Me,, and are national resources for college scholarships. However, if you’re searching for scholarships online, be careful! There are some scam websites out there. Never pay money to a scholarship website for access to information -- you can get scholarship info for free from lots of different resources, including our website:

Students, the scholarship search is YOUR responsibility! Try to spend an hour or two each week searching for scholarships, filling out applications, and writing essays. If you put in the time, you’ll see the rewards. Apply for every scholarship you come across, especially local ones! Some scholarships will go unclaimed because students don’t apply for them. Don’t give up on the chance for free money to pay for school!

As you fill out your scholarship applications, it’s a good idea to start developing a resume with your contact information, academic information, and a list of the activities you’ve been involved with. This will make filling out applications much easier! Some scholarship applications will ask for letters of recommendation, so have a few teachers, coaches, or employers in mind who would be willing to write you a letter. Make sure to ask ahead of time so they have plenty of time to write! Make sure to circle any deadlines on the calendar so that you don’t miss out on great opportunities to help you pay for school.


Susan - ICAN Hiawatha

Welcome to Career & College Corner!

Welcome to Career & College Corner, the new advice column of sorts from the team here at ICAN. At ICAN we firmly believe that the best way to plan for the future is to have as much information as possible so you can make an informed decision.

Making informed decisions means understanding not only your choices for the future, but what those choices can lead to, both good and bad.

With each post you’ll hear from a different ICAN team member on a different topic. Some topics will be very hard-hitting like how to prepare for paying for college, and some will be more fun like packing for college or the do’s and dont's of dorm life. From time to time you may even get some insight about what’s it’s like on our side of the decision-making process and hear about a day in the life of an ICAN Student Success Advisor.

We hope you’ll follow us here and get a personal taste of college and career planning. And if you have questions or want to learn more you can contact us or visit our website at

We look forward to chatting with you, sharing our stories, and helping you make informed decisions about your future.

Talk to you soon.