Helpful Hints for Students: Possible Uses for ICAN’s Activities Resume

ICAN’s Activities Resume template is a free resource for students on ICAN’s “Find It Fast” webpage:  Students can use ICAN’s downloadable activities resume to document their contact information, academic achievements, activities/ athletics, and volunteer experience.  ICAN encourages students to start an Activities Resume their freshmen year and update it regularly as they add achievements.  Students should strive to create accurate, up-to-date resumes and proofread them regularly.  Here are some possible uses for ICAN’s activities resume:

  • 1.      College Applications:  Refer to your activities resume as you complete college applications online.  You’ll find the information on your resume will help you to answer many of the application questions.  It won’t provide all the answers, but it’s a great starting point.  
  • 2.      Scholarship Applications:  Often, scholarship applications will require you to write about your high school experiences, activities, involvement, and achievements.  Your activities resume provides a lot of this information.  Use it as a reference to help you organize your thoughts and detail your experiences as you complete scholarship applications. 
  • 3.      Seeking References: If you’re seeking a reference for a scholarship or a job, provide your teacher/ counselor with a copy of your activities resume.  Your resume can help your reference to know more about your activities and accomplishments.  Please allow your reference to have several weeks to complete your request.  Please don’t ask them the weekend before your scholarship is due.
  • 4.      College Fairs:  If you’re planning to attend a college fair, and the college fair offers online registration, ICAN’s activities resume can help:  Go to, input the requested information (most of which can be found on your activities resume), print out the registration barcode, bring the barcode to the college fair, and share your information with schools of your choice.  The barcode is a great time saver, because it allows you to focus on interacting with college reps at the fair instead of filling-out inquiry cards.   
  • 5.      Creating An Elevator Speech:  Let’s say you’re attending your first college fair, and you’re stressing about interacting with college reps.  How do you break the ice?  Consider utilizing your activities resume to craft an elevator speech.  Here’s an example:
    • Greeting:  Hello.
    • Name:  My name is Casey Smith. 
    • Affiliation:  I’m a junior at West High School.  I’m taking college prep courses, and I plan to take the ACT exam this spring.  I’m involved in speech, the school play, band, and basketball.  I also volunteer with our school’s youth sports programs. 
    • Purpose:  I would like to learn more about your admission requirements, scholarships, and community engagement opportunities.
    • Follow-Up Question: Could you tell me about your application process?

ICAN’s activities resume is designed to help students to document and highlight their high school involvement and achievements.  Feel free to check out ICAN’s activities resume today!  


Troy - ICAN Ankeny Center

Looking Back - A Paren'ts View of Going Off to College

We're in the midst of filing FAFSAs here at ICAN and it makes me remember back in the day filing my kids FAFSA via a paper copy and sending it through the mail and having to wait forever to get the results back. 

Now the system is way better with online submissions, using  prior-prior taxes, and having help file through the Iowa College Access Network! My oldest son headed off to a Regent school while my youngest enrolled at a private school. Both schools were a perfect fit for their individual needs, goals, and career aspirations.

The hardest part of the college process for me as a parent was dropping them off at the doorstep of their dorms for the first time. I had so many unanswered questions. Are they going to like their roommate, how will they do with their new found freedom, will they actually study and get out of bed for class? 

Students need to realize that it’s tough on Mom & Dad too! On that first college drop off day, your parents will want to help you get settled into your new space. Let them!  Once you’ve unpacked and get your room organized, take them out for lunch/dinner. It will make everyone feel more comfortable when you say good-bye.   

As a parent, it definitely takes some time to readjust to not having them at home but eventually it gets better. Students, be sure to keep in touch with your family, parents will love to get a text/call/facetime whenever you need a boost or just need to talk!

Have fun with the college process, you’ve done your part in preparing your student thus far, so now it’s time to sit back-relax, and watch them take the next step in their lives. 

Cindy - ICAN Hiawatha Center

How I Chose My School

I come from a very small town in Illinois called Dallas City (Go Bulldogs!). It is a town of a thousand people. My graduating class was 34. Yes, I know some of you are laughing.  

One of the major factors in the choosing a college/university for me was the size of the school. I did NOT want to go to a larger school because I knew I would feel overwhelmed and uncomfortable. So when I began my search, I looked at community colleges and private schools.   

I had friends, very good friends, in my graduating class that was the complete opposite of me. They were looking for something different than the small town atmosphere.  They looked only at larger universities.  

When it came down to my choice, I decided on going to Southeastern Community College in West Burlington, IA.  I took my first two years there and then transferred on to William Penn College (now University) in Oskaloosa, IA for my final two years.  Those two schools were the right choice for me. Both are smaller schools, which is what I had to have, but they also had the right academic programs and extracurricular opportunities which were important too.  

How about my other friends that went to the larger universities? Turned out those were the right fit for them. One went to Western Illinois University in Macomb and is now a school teacher. Another went to a large school in Texas and is now an English Professor.  

There will be many factors important to you in choosing a college. Make a list of the ones most important to you and then investigate colleges that meet all those factors.   

Erick - ICAN Ankeny/Des Moines

November is Financial Aid Awareness Month

November is financial aid awareness month. So what does being aware of financial aid mean? It means clicking off the to-do’s on your list of ways to pay for college.

If you aren’t a senior yet you can’t apply for very much, so your main focus should be on building up the things that will qualify you for scholarships and grants. Focus on your grades and the classes you are taking, and focus on your extra-curricular and community service projects. You can earn scholarship money for both. You should also be putting every dollar you can into a savings account for college – every penny counts when we’re talking about the ins and outs of college costs.

If you are a senior your list is a little bit longer. In addition to the three main points discussed above:

  • Grades
  • Extracurricular/Community Service
  • Savings

You also need to be working on your actual applications and determining a budget for college. Let’s start with applications. The biggest and most important applications you need to complete is the FAFSA. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the first step towards earning federal and state aid, and in many cases the FAFSA is required for scholarships and aid provided by the college you attend. Visit to file the FAFSA. If you want help, you can take part in a FAFSA Ready Iowa event (, which provides free assistance in completing the FAFSA. You can also schedule a free appointment and an ICAN center by visiting To make sure you are prepared, download a list of the documents you need to complete a FAFSA at

Following the FAFSA, you need to be working on scholarship applications. As a senior you should talk to your school counselor about local scholarship applications. Also check with each college you have applied to about their scholarship process. Some colleges have a separate application for each scholarship; some have one form for all their opportunities, and some make the admission application the scholarship application as well. So you need to clarify what additional steps you need to take at the colleges you are considering to make sure you take advantage of every opportunity available.

After local and institutional scholarships it’s time to start hitting the web. Visit to explore our online database and to take a look at a list of recommended scholarship search sites. You should also register for Raise.Me, which provides micro-scholarships to different colleges based on things you’ve done throughout high school such as taking certain courses, participating in extra-curricular activities, or attending an ICAN event.

So – the last and perhaps most important aspect of preparing for college financially is creating a budget, or determining how much you can afford based on current circumstances as well as your future potential earnings. Your future career’s starting salary is your budget for student debt. You should not borrow more than you will make in your first year. Keeping this figure in mind as you explore colleges and evaluate prices and award packages will help keep you on the right track for a successful, financial future.

Well, this has been a lot of specific information about a not-so-fun topic. I promise to make my next entry more fun. Until then...

   Brittania - ICAN Hiawatha Center

Interesting Information in 140 Characters or Less

Where do you get your information on topics you’re interested in?  For me, it’s Twitter.  Twitter is a beautiful thing because you can get information directly from whatever source you want.  If you’re not interested, you don’t have to follow.  And because Twitter limits tweets to 140 characters or less, you process a lot of information in your feed pretty quickly. 

Do you use Twitter?  Feel free to follow me @SheainIowa, although I only use my account primarily for personal use.  More than anything, you’ll get an occasional picture of my son or something going on in my family’s lives.  

If you’re interested in following the ICAN account, the twitter handle is @icansucceed.  Think about other topics you’re interested in and search for accounts that will provide information on them.  Information is out there if you’re willing to do a little searching.

 Shea, ICAN Hiawatha Center