Broke, Busted, & Disgusted - A Documentary Worth Your Time

Broke, Busted & Disgusted is a documentary made in Iowa with a mission to help students graduate from college with less debt.  Veridian Credit Union is partnering with the creators of Broke, Busted & Disgusted to make it available for a limited time for free at  This documentary is well worth your time, and I consider it to be a “must watch” for high school students, college students, and parents. 

There is a ton of info packed into this documentary.  The stats were so compelling that I felt like I should be taking notes!  For example, at the 10:14 minute mark of the video we learn:  “In the midst of one of the greatest economic recessions in history, student loan debt rocketed past a trillion dollars, surpassing both credit card debt and car loans.”  Wow!  There are multiple interviews with college graduates who are trying to manage the repayment of student loans, and there are also interviews with higher education and financial aid experts. 

Stats introduced at the 17:00 minute mark of the video illustrate the importance of post-secondary and career planning:  “80% of college students change their major at least once, and on average, a student changes their major 3 times, leading to a prolonged and even more expensive education.”

Broke, Busted & Disgusted is a very informative and interesting documentary about the challenges presented by student loan debt.  For a limited time, it’s free to watch at:  

Check it out! 

Troy - ICAN Ankeny & Des Moines Centers

What should a high school student do as they approach graduation?

What should a high school student do as they approach graduation?  Hopefully at this point you have determined what college is the best fit for you.  Now is a good time to make sure you have completed all your financial information required for the college.  Examples would be like verification and entrance counseling.  If you have questions talk to your financial aid office and they would be more than happy to help.  Make you sure you keep the college in the loop of all your hometown scholarships.  These few things can make your transition to college a much easier one. 

Housing is a huge part of college and I would suggest if you haven’t started to start now.  Things to possibly check are: acceptance/down payments, room selection, roommate selection, and choosing a meal plan.  Pay attention to when move in starts, ends, and avoid peak times if possibly.  Orientation is a great time to check out your room and residence hall. Speaking about orientation, make sure you sign up early because this will give you first pick of classes.

One part of the college process that gets overlooked but is very important is vaccinations.  Make sure you are following up with your college on your proper vaccinations.  If you don’t get those vaccinations it could lead to holds on your accounts or stop you from registering in classes.

Once high school finishes it is time to start thinking about books and items you will need for college.  Make a list of everything you think you will need and start chipping away at it this summer.  If you are working this summer, think about saving that money for college, or the items you will need in college.  Last but not least, enjoy this break and rest before college starts!

Sean - ICAN Sioux City & Orange City Centers

What are you planning to do this summer? Consider a job shadow.

First, what is a job shadow?  It's exactly what it sounds like. Job shadowing is an opportunity for you to spend a day or more with a professional in order to learn about a career and observe daily work activities. Basically you are trying to find out if this career is right for you.  Can you see yourself working and succeeding in this profession?  Not only does a job shadow help you find the right career fit, it will also help you weed out careers that may not live up to your expectations.  

For example, in high school I wanted to be a Realtor.  I enjoyed many perks of the career such as setting your own schedule, working out of the office and most importantly helping people find their dream home.  I decided to job shadow a Realtor over the summer which in turn eventually led to a part time job completing light office work. I loved everything about the career except one major thing; the compensation.  Personally I am not much of a risk taker when it comes to money.  To rely on a commission as opposed to a steady paycheck was too risky to me.  Something I never thought about until I worked in the office.  Job shadows will help you realize all the aspects of the career good and bad.

Other benefits of job shadows to consider:

A job shadow will help you improve your interpersonal skills.  For example, do you have effective communication skills? How about your work ethic?  Take note of the employees exhibiting effective problem solving skills or how they work proficiently in a team environment.  There are many interpersonal skills that as a new employee, you may not have, when entering the workforce. A job shadow experience can help you realize the importance of those skills and provide you with the opportunity to improve upon them while in high school.

Job shadows will help you make connections and network with professionals in your career of choice. This could help you down the road when looking for an internship during college or ever a job after graduation.  It’s important to start building relationships with these individuals so you feel comfortable asking for a letter of recommendation or a reference for a job application.  

 A job shadowing experience is a valuable detail to include on your activities resume, especially if you don’t have a part-time job. This entry on your resume will show college recruiters that you researched your intended major and made an informed decision.   It will also show employers that you observed a company’s day to day operations and have a better understanding of the career and what is expected of employees.  In In today’s competitive job market, employers will see you have a sincere interest in the career which makes for a good hire!

Jessica - ICAN Ankeny Center

The Last Few Weeks of High School

In just a few short weeks you’re going to graduate from high school and begin a new chapter. That’s sounds like the beginning of a graduation greeting card which would normally be followed by some sappy advice and attached to a copy of Dr. Suess’ “The Places You’ll Go.”

I’m going to save the sappy stuff for your relatives and I promise not to provide any advice that rhymes. Today I’m simply going to give you a few tips on how to spend these last few weeks before graduation, and how to prepare for your next step – whatever that step may be.

Every class and every assignment matters until the last day of school. It may seem like the time to skate through the final stages of high school. You’re so close to the end that you may even feel like you’re already there. Now is NOT the time to rest on your laurels. You work until the final day because the final day counts toward your grade and your final grade counts toward your admission to college.

That’s right! You have to submit a final transcript before your admission is confirmed so work hard right up through your last final so that all your hard work pays off.

For those heading off to college in the fall, now is the time to finalize all your paperwork. Decision day is May 1 which means you need to let the college of your choice know you are accepting their offer of admission and sign the dotted line on your financial aid. If you need help understanding your award letter or accepting your aid, talk to your financial aid office or make an appointment with the Iowa College Access Network. ICAN offers free award letter review appointments – visit to schedule.

Once your paper work is signed for financial aid, sign up for an orientation session and get your paperwork for your housing, meal plan, and anything else you need to setup for next year going.

Have some fun. It’s an odd thing to look back on for me. I’ve been out of high school for almost 20 years and outside of social media I don’t see most of the people I spent every day with for my first 18 years. This is your time to hang out with friends and have fun. Enjoy these final weeks of high school. I won’t say they are the best years of your life because you have so many opportunities ahead of you that it would be false to tell you the best is almost over. These last few weeks are important though because this is your foundation. These are your memorable moments and you should let them sink in. Try not to rush through and hurry time. The next step will be here soon enough. Soak in these last few weeks with your friends and just enjoy it.

My last note before I send you off is related to having fun and not rushing, but it’s an important thing step to remember. Take some time in these weeks to be with your family too. Especially if you are moving out at the end of the summer and heading off on new adventures. This is very exciting for you, and your parents and other family members are excited for you. But it is also a really hard time for them. They have raised you to this point, and while they watch you grow they have also been dreading the day that you say goodbye. It’s a huge milestone not just for you, but for everyone in your family. Remember to give them a few moments now and then and acknowledge that this is going to be hard for them .

Ok, One Rhyme.
I’ll leave with the wise words of our favorite Dr. Suess
“You have brains in your head, you have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose”

Brittania - ICAN Hiwatha Center

Success Advice from Mike Rowe

At ICAN we talk a lot about doing things to prepare for college, college planning, being a success in college.  But what about once you have completed your post-high school education, how can you be a success in your job?

Mike Rowe is the no-nonsense host of “Dirty Jobs” on Discovery Channel.  He has a common sense approach to things that is very refreshing.  Here are his three pieces of advice for being successful in your job.

  • Show up on time.  Employers want an “honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay”.  Part of that is being at work when you should be.  That doesn’t mean showing up one minute ahead of time.  Show up 15-20 minutes ahead of time and prepare for the day.  Your employer will notice that habit.
  • Work hard.  Apply yourself and give your job your best effort each day.  Part of that is if your work flow is slow, have initiative and look for things to keep you busy and productive.  Don’t do the minimum.  Do your job and also take the initiative to do more than you are required to do with a high standard of quality.  Your employer will notice and appreciate that, and when you need to get some time off to go to an appointment or need to leave early, you will find your boss will be much more cooperative.
  • Volunteer for hard things.  When there are tough projects available, volunteer to do them.  It will show initiative and attract your employer’s attention.  When you take on tough projects and complete them, employers see you as someone dependable who is a problem solver and someone who can be relied upon to get a job done.  You will see yourself being promoted to higher positions of responsibility and hopefully higher pay.

Steve - ICAN Council Bluffs Center