Largest College Fair in Iowa is This Sunday - September 29!

The Golden Circle College and Career Fair is this Sunday in Des Moines and if you are a high school student or you're the parent of a high school student you should attend.

College fairs are a chance to start thinking about the future and to explore the vast array of opportunities that exist after high school. The unique thing about Golden Circle is that we include the career side. The trick with picking a college is finding the right college with the right program for your future career. But how do you know what is the right path?

Talking to employers, attending sessions on career planning, and understanding the link between your future career and your selection of college is huge and can really help you avoid mistakes that lead to over-borrowing with student loans, transferring schools, and can even help you avoid changing majors a bunch of times.

Yes college is about exploration, of your self and your options. But you want to have a great first plan so that you can truly explore and avoid mistakes that lead to debt and hardship.

Golden Circle is this Sunday. 16 states are represented by the nearly 110 colleges and universities that are currently registered to exhibit. There are also a dozen different organizations that are ready to talk about career paths, employer expectations, and industry growth and outlook. There are four breakout sessions that will bring focus to the financial aid process, career expectations, college planning, and more. Explore the fair website for more details at

The fair starts is Sunday at the Prairie Meadows Conference Center next to Adventurland in Altoona. The fair runs from 12:30 to 3 with the first break out session starting at 1 pm. Come spend the afternoon with us. This is the largest fair in Iowa and if you are in high school, it's a great way to explore your future.

Brittania Morey - ICAN Hiawatha Center

Get Ready for Iowa College Fairs with your Smartphone

Many college fairs are now automated, which means exhibiting colleges will have scanners to take down prospective student information, rather than having your fill out an information card. Students register online and are given a barcode to bring to the fair. Any college they wish to receive additional information from can scan the barcode from their phone or a physical printout.

In Iowa, the college fairs utilize GoToCollegeFairs for the scanner system. Here's a step-by-step guide to getting your barcode for this year's events!

How To Register For An Automated College Fair With Your Smartphone:

1. From your smartphone, go online to:

2. Scroll to: Register Now, It’s Free

3. Choose a State, Create a Username, Create a Password

4. Enter First Name, Last Name, Street Address, City, State, Zip, Phone, Cell Phone, Email, Birth Date

5. Student Type (High School/ Transfer), Find Your School, H.S. Graduation Year, When do you plan to begin college?

6. Academic Interest/ Intended Major(s), SAT Scores, ACT Scores, GPA

7. Provide Additional Information? This is optional. If you choose yes, you can provide:

a. Ethnicity, Extracurricular Activities, Varsity Sport

b. What is your class rank?

c. Did your parents attend college?

d. How did you hear about the fair?

8. Accept terms and conditions

9. I certify the I am 16 years of age or older, or that I have the permission of my parents to fill out this form.

10. Click Submit, and now you are registered!

At the college fair, share your barcode with colleges of your choosing. When you login again with your Username and Password, you can access the following:
  • Edit Your Profile
  • Reprint Your Pass
  • Add More Fairs
  • Download My Data
  • Schools That Scanned Me
To learn about how to prepare for college fairs and to view a complete list of college fairs in Iowa visit

Troy - ICAN Ankeny and Des Moines Centers

Make the Most of a College Rep Visit to your High School

Did you miss the spring college fairs? Not to worry! College admission reps are once again making their way around the state and stopping at your high school.

Contact your counselor for the list of colleges popping in. Your high school may post this information on the counselor bulletin boards, on the website, your school’s social media accounts, or include them in the daily announcements.

Unlike a college fair, a college admissions rep’s visit to a high school typically involves a much smaller group of students and is far less hectic. The visit is led by the rep, usually in the counselor’s office or meeting room, starting with general information about the school and then you may ask follow up questions. In this relaxed and familiar setting you will have a chance to meet face-to-face with a rep and feel comfortable asking specific questions. So, have a list ready to go.

Think about topics and concerns that are important to you. For example, programs and majors offered, typical class size, residential life, student activities, scholarship availability and deadline.

Most colleges divide their admissions counselors by region, so chances are the person who visits your school will be your contact. Take the time to introduce yourself, especially if you’re a senior who’s planning to apply. Please take advantage of these visits. You want to keep the reps coming back to your high school every year. Make it worth their time as well!

Don’t forget about the Golden Circle College and Career Fair coming up Sunday, September 29th 12:30pm-3:00pm at Prairie Meadows Conference Center in Altoona. Learn more at

Jessica - ICAN Ankeny Center

Chat with a College Enrollment Advisor

For this Blog, I have asked Anne Boyer from North Iowa Area Community College (NIACC) in Mason City, IA to share some of her insights when it comes to preparing for and choosing a college.  Anne has participated in many presentations with ICAN through her work at NIACC and also MC-CAN.  Even though it is a very busy time of year for Anne, she was very gracious in providing answers to the following questions.

Thank you!
John - ICAN Waterloo and Hiawatha Centers

Brief Bio:
My name is Anne Boyer and I have worked as an Enrollment Advisor at North Iowa Area Community College for the last 9 years.  Working in college admissions is incredibly rewarding as we are given the rare opportunity to see students at the beginning of their educational journey; to work through the nerves together, experience the excitement, and to be a part of a moment that so often changes the trajectory of that student’s life.

What kind of trends are you seeing at your college as far college majors that students are enrolling in (vocational-technical/general education etc.)?
NIACC has traditionally provided a great education and environment for students wishing to work on their first two years of general education courses in preparation for a Bachelor’s degree.  We continue to see a substantial portion of our student body pursuing that path.  With that said, in recent years, we have seen many students pursue 2 year career-focused program options.  These educational tracks have been supported more and more by scholarships and federal/state funding programs simply because they are shown to satisfy the growing employment needs of our state.  Two-year programs can also be a more affordable option; yet one that still leads toward careers that are fulfilling.

Has enrollment at your college been on the increase, decrease, or staying level, in recent years and in what areas?
Last year, NIACC saw an increase in enrollment but are looking at leveling off for this current school year.  Again, we are seeing students continue to pursue transfer programs as well as career-focused associate degree options.

Please give your thoughts on students taking college credit classes in high school (Should everyone take them?  How many classes are recommended? What happens if they fail?).
The opportunities that exist now for students to take classes while they are in high school are without a doubt, incredibly valuable.  Taking dual-enrollment coursework can provide an opportunity to sample college-level coursework, explore career paths through introductory level courses, and to save money on the costs of a college education.  While, the opportunity is great, I do not believe that it is the right path for everyone.  Working with your high school counselor and local college will help determine if taking college credits in high school is right for you and how many credits will be best.  While there are many benefits to participating in dual-enrollment, there are consequences too.  Students who don’t do well, fail classes, repeatedly sign up for courses and then withdraw from them; can jeopardize their financial aid and academic standing for future educational endeavors.  It is important to consider the balance of high school expectations and activities when deciding to participate in college credit classes in high school. 

How important is it to be involved in activities in college?
Involvement in clubs, organizations, and activities outside the classroom during college is incredibly important.  In fact, I truly believe it can be just as important a source of personal development as the academic classes you take.  Joining clubs and organizations allows students to meet new people, to learn a new skill or talent, and just might lead a student toward their eventual career.  In fact, in college, I volunteered as a student ambassador where I was able to give campus tours, host students overnight, and help students and families navigate their college exploration – without a doubt, that experience led me to the rewarding career I hold today!

How important are college visits and when should students take them?
Taking college visits is very important to figuring out a student’s college decision.  It sounds cliché but it’s true that you will “get a feeling” when you arrive at your future college.  In fact, we even encourage our local students to schedule a college visit of NIACC despite already living very close to campus.  Visiting several colleges (I recommend at least 3), helps students figure out what is important to them about the college they choose.  Is it the size of school, distance from home, student housing, cost or something else that matters most?  College visits should start during a student’s junior year of high school at the very latest.  This ensures that as a student you are early enough to tackle various scholarship applications, meet financial aid deadlines, and any admission requirement deadlines.

Does your college offer any classes or services to help students explore careers?
NIACC does offer career services to students.  We teach a course called Career Decision Making where students can earn college credit to take career inventories, participate in job shadows, and short-term internships, all while exploring possible career paths.  We offer that course to several of our area high school students as well as our traditional age students.  Our website has some basic career exploration resources.  In fact, during your individual NIACC campus visit, our Enrollment Advisors may even be able to help you narrow down your options.

Is it wise to work either work-study or off campus, for college students?
I believe it is.  Most work-study jobs or part-time college student jobs are flexible and do not require very many hours.  Your main focus should be your studies but there is value in mastering the art of maintaining varying schedules, balancing multiple responsibilities, and practicing life-long soft skills like customer service and communication skills.  Working while in college can also provide an opportunity to meet more people which is always a good thing!  If balancing school and work become too much, don’t be afraid to scale back work hours so that your studies continue to go well.

Dual Credit Courses

In my blog I will discuss the pros and cons of high school students taking dual credit courses.

My office in Coralville, is housed out of Kirkwood Regional Center – Johnson County. I get to see a lot of high school students on a daily basis taking advantage of dual credit courses and concurrent classes. Dual credit classes have a lot of advantages, but there are a few things to be aware of as well.

First the pros. Dual credit classes are a chance for students to earn college credit, for free. The school district is paying for the cost of these classes. With the rising cost of college tuition, this is a great way to earn college credit at no cost to the student or the family.

Dual credit classes also give students a taste of the college workload. It gives students insight of what college is like and students can then determine the size of their college workload to take when they move to a college campus. 

Dual credit classes can also let students explore possible majors. For those seniors, who still don’t know what they want to major in, this is a great way to explore options.

Now for the cons. Not all colleges accept dual credit classes. This is something to keep in mind, always. Don’t waste your time taking dual credit classes that will not be accepted at the college you’re interested in. It’s important to start planning early, making college visits; talking to college reps. They will be a perfect resource to determine if taking a certain dual credit class is to your advantage. Keep in mind these classes are college classes; they will be part of your college transcript. Students need to take these classes seriously. If a student fails a dual credit class, it could, potential jeopardize college acceptance, financial aid and scholarship opportunities.

My advice is, keep the school counselor and college admissions representatives in the loop. Take their advice when deciding to take dual credit classes.

Lupe - ICAN Coralville and Davenport Centers

What ICAN Can Do For You

ICAN is a great organization. The whole organization is other directed and simply exists to help students, parents, school counselors, schools, and post-high school organizations and colleges. Let’s take a bird’s eye view of what ICAN can do for you.

Personal Advising Sessions.Students and parents can schedule appointments in ICAN Success Centers all over the State of Iowa. Our most popular appointment is FAFSA assistance where we provide help to families for completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). We also have appointments where we can review and breakdown a financial aid award letter, explore careers and colleges, among many others. Go to to access information on personal advising sessions.

Presentations.ICAN advisors travel to high schools in their regions and provide presentations on financial aid, career and college planning, freshman transitions, and other topics. Go to to learn about the various ICAN presentations and watch your school calendar for the date and time they are scheduled at your school.

Live Stream Events.
ICAN recognizes that not everyone are able to attend a presentation at their school, or that the school does not schedule an ICAN presentation. ICAN schedules live stream events in which a family can watch a presentation from the comfort of their home on their computer. Go to for more information.

ICAN website.
ICAN has a very informative and easy to use website at The website is organized around the topics of: Career Planning, College Planning, Financial Aid, and School Counselors. Families can schedule appointments through the online scheduler, access an event calendar of upcoming ICAN events, utilize a scholarship database, along with a ton of other resources. Also the ICAN website gives great information about the organization itself not to mention a tremendous resource library.

At ICAN, we are very dedicated to serving students, parents, schools, colleges and post-high school education organizations. The overall goal is to create a better future for the great State of Iowa and Iowa families. We invite you to become more familiar with us and to use our services and materials. You can learn more at or give us a call at 877-272-4692.

Steve - ICAN Council Bluffs Center

Advice from My 16-Year-Old Self

Dear High Schoolers,

As the air gets crisper, and a new school year approaches there are some things I wish I could go back and tell my 16-year old self.

  • Be Kind. Always. For everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle that you know nothing about.
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously. Life is way too short for this!
  • Life is about helping others. Do something every day to make someone else smile.
  • Step outside of your comfort zone and get involved in something new and different. You might be surprised who you meet and what you learn about yourself through the experience!
  • Befriend a stranger. Go talk to the new kid across the lunchroom who sits by him/herself every morning. Everyone needs friends!
  • Stand up for what is right. You may not make friends doing this, but learning to stand up for what you know is right is such an important life lesson.
  • Go help someone in need. Like I said before, life does not revolve around you.
  • Put your cell phone down! Go talk and interact with the world. You’d be surprised what you are missing out on always looking down. J
  • Save your money! It’s never too early to start saving for college, retirement, etc.
  • Learn balance. Balance in life is so crucial. Learn to balance your time with sports, friends, family, activities, etc.
  • Make sure to thank those who help you! If you have a mentor, thank them. If you have a teacher who has made a difference, thank them! Kind gestures never go unnoticed.
I wish you a great school year ahead! Let’s make the 2019 school year the best year yet!

Your Student Success Advisor,