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Sophomore Tips

August Tips

  • Visit an ICAN Center and work on your career and college plan with a Student Success Advisor. Call (877) 272-4692 or visit
  • Prepare for college and career with the ICAN Tip of the Week; sign up at
  • Find a mentor that can assist you through high school and the college process, such as a teacher, parent, family member, or family friend. 

September Tips

  • Attend the Golden Circle College & Career Fair — Iowa’s largest — at the Center for Higher Education in Des Moines the last Sunday in September.  Talk with Iowa employers, colleges & universities from across the country, and attend breakout sessions. Visit for details.
  • Consider taking the PLAN® (a pre-ACT® test) or the PSAT/NMSQT® (Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test) as practice for the actual college entrance exams.  

October Tips

  • Talk with your parents about your college and career goals and how to attain them, including a plan to cover college costs. Start analyzing your Return on College Investment, a tool that helps compare careers and costs.
  • Have you attended a college fair yet? Visit to learn more about these events.
  • Visit and take or update your career assessment. Use the results to help plan your high school courses and activities.
  • Get involved!  Find an activity at your school or in your community that you enjoy.  

November Tips

  • Are you preparing to pay for college? Start talking to your parents now. Read about tuition and other college costs at colleges and universities in Iowa. 
  • Talk to family members, friends, teachers, counselors, and coaches about their college experiences. 
  • Keep a record of your extracurricular involvement in an activities resume — a concise summary of your achievements, talents and interests.
  • What subjects do you like in school?  To search for careers related to those subjects, visit
  • Take advantage and meet with college representatives visiting your high school. 
  • It's not too early to start thinking about how to impress potential employers. Learn about developing the skills employers want today

December Tips

  • College can be affordable!  Don’t let the “sticker price” scare you. With financial aid and planning you can help ensure your out-of-pocket costs are manageable. Visit with an ICAN advisor and evaluate your college list to see what fits your goals and is affordable for you.  Use a budget calculator or download the in-school budget worksheet.
  • Talk to your school counselor about college admission requirements and make sure you take the right classes. 
  • Education after high school doesn’t have to include a four-year degree.  Find out more about apprenticeships, certificate programs, two-year degrees, and other programs here.
  • Think about volunteering during your holiday break. Check out the Iowa Commission on Volunteer Service for a list of options at Be sure to log your volunteer work in your activities resume.

January Tips

  • Happy New Year! Get off to a great start by looking at your study habits. What's working for you? What isn't? Make a study schedule and stick to it.
  • Schedule an advising session at your local ICAN Center by visiting Talk with a Student Success Advisor about your future and develop a plan for success.
  • Become familiar with the types of financial aid available for college.  Financial aid includes grants, scholarships, work-study and loans.  Grants and scholarships don’t have to be paid back.  Work-study enables students to earn money by working.  Loans must be repaid.
  • Review your financial plan for college and make sure it aligns with your career assessment and salary options. 

February Tips

  • Begin thinking about college majors.  Which majors match your skills and interests?  Spend 15 minutes on a career assessment at ACT,  an online tool that can help you find the career pathway that is right for you.
  • Saving money is the best way to prepare for the cost of a college education. Check out for information on paying for college.
    Attend an ICAN career and college planning night this spring. Visit for events at your school or near you. 
  • If you're an athlete hoping to play sports in college, it's important to begin planning. Learn about the requirements for competing in college athletics here.

March Tips

  • Visit for information on Iowa college fairs.
  • Do you know people who work in a job related to your career interest?  Interview them about the educational requirements and what they like most about their work. 
  • Check the status of your College Savings Plans and keep putting money away for college.
  • If your family is planning a summer vacation, try to visit a few college campuses along the way.

April Tips

  • Meet with your school counselor to ensure your junior classes meet college admission requirements. 
  • Get a taste of a future career through job shadowing, volunteer work, or an internship. Your school counselor can help connect you to a career-exploration opportunity.
  • If you have specific majors in mind, talk with an ICAN advisor to explore which schools offer those programs. Schedule an appointment with ICAN.

May Tips

  • Check with your school counselor to see if AP® (Advanced Placement) classes will fit into your schedule.  Challenging courses in high school can better prepare you for college.
  • Ask your school counselor if there are any summer camp programs you could attend to help get you ahead.
    Look for a summer job that’s related to your interests.  Be sure to save some of your summer earnings for college. 

June Tips

  • Compare several careers.  Consider the required education or training, tasks that have to be performed, starting salary, and the characteristics that appeal to you most.  Visit for links to career research tools
  • Start a summer reading list.  Try reading books that will help increase your vocabulary. 
  • Participate in hobbies and activities that enable you to explore your career interests. 

July Tips

  • Are you attending summer camp on a college campus?  If so, take a look around to see if you could imagine attending the school.
  • Talk to your parents about college expenses and make a plan to cover them.
  • Stay in touch with teachers, school counselors, coaches, and community members.  Later you may ask them to write letters of recommendation for scholarship and/or college admission applications.


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