Sessions Suggested for School Counselor Attendees

Subject to change. Dates and times to be announced.


In addition to a robust expo hall, lively events, and thoughtful networking opportunities, NACAC Conference 2022 features over 100 educational sessions.  See all sessions here.

Sessions marked with a are offered for NBCC credit hours.

2 + 2 = INEQUITIES: Crowdsourcing Data to Empower Financial Fit for Youth

One way the NACAC community embodies a commitment to equity and social justice is through collaboration—sharing people, insights, and resources whenever possible to improve college access and success. But no matter the depth of our commitment to supporting one another, no amount of collaboration can make up for an absence of good data. This absence of data is most painfully evident when trying to prioritize financial fit during our students’ college search. As college pricing has become more and more opaque, the most important factor for low-income students—financial fit—has become by far the most difficult challenge to address. Moreover, the daunting lack of pricing clarity often deters the very students we aspire to help from engaging in the college search process in the first place. Learn how Chicago Scholars (IL) partnered with other like-minded organizations to crowdsource a single central data set of the actual prices that colleges offered. Not only has this new data resource significantly strengthened the depth of guidance our programs can provide regarding financial fit, but it also allows Chicago Scholars to hold partner colleges and universities accountable in the financial aid offers they provide to our students.

Learning Objective:
Increase your understanding of college access as it relates to financial fit.

Actionable Insight for College Admission Teams from a National Survey of High School Counselors

In the face of historic understaffing, many college enrollment teams are struggling to give prospective students—and the high school counselors who serve them—sufficient attention. Given this context, as well as the rapid shift in student circumstances brought on by the pandemic, it is more important than ever for college enrollment leaders to have a clear and up-to-date picture of what matters most to their key stakeholders on the high school side. Explore EAB data from a large-scale pandemic-era survey of high school counselors focused on how college enrollment leaders can better serve counselors and the college-bound students they support. Then gain further insight from high school counselors representing three distinct types of institutions.

Learning Objective:
Learn the three most important things college admission counselors can start doing immediately to better support high school counselors.

The Adolescent Brain Goes to College

Research has shown that the adolescent brain is a work in progress and different from a fully developed adult brain. What does this mean for high school seniors applying to college? How does this impact their interactions with adults who manage this process and, ultimately, their decisions on where to attend college? Explore the impact of brain development during the teenage years and gain effective strategies for guiding adolescents through the college admission process.

Learning Objective:
Understand the difference between adolescent brain maturation and adult brain maturation.

Advising Prospective NCAA Student-Athletes

New to the NCAA Eligibility Center process? Get the facts about NCAA academic initial-eligibility requirements, the core course review process, recruiting basics, and the National Letter of Intent. Learn about changes and updates to the NCAA Division I and Division II initial eligibility requirements in response to COVID-19 and how these changes will impact prospective student-athletes.

Learning Objective:
Understand the NCAA's initial eligibility requirements.

Beyond Binary: Supporting LGBTQIA Students in the Common App

In today's political and legal climate, LGBTQIA students face unique challenges in applying to college. As Common App expands reporting options for gender, pronouns, and legal sex, a more inclusive application will raise questions about how students should respond, how counselors should advise, and how colleges treat the information. Learn about the research and principles on which these changes are based. We want to hear what these changes will mean for you and your students. Learn from your peers and help inform future resources and support offerings.

Learning Objective:
Understand national trends in students’ reported gender identity and pronoun selection in college applications as well as the growing range of options for legal sex and gender on state and national documents.

Black Excellence Leadership Roundtable

Hear from a panel of Black enrollment leaders with experience across diverse institutional contexts. Topics to be covered include advice for young professionals, finding a “right-fit” employer, the future of higher education, and reconciling your professional mission with institutional priorities.

Learning Objective:
Reflect on how to retain diverse professionals in the field of college admission.

Breaking Down Admission Barriers for Students from Title I Schools

The Coalition for College’s new partnership with Scoir equips hundreds of thousands of students at Title I schools with tools to understand the college admission process and benefit from a simplified application experience. Hear how this partnership will help the Coalition’s collegiate members strengthen their connections to Title I schools and provide more support to low-income and underrepresented students. Come away with a deeper understanding of the Coalition’s access work, ranging from the new integrated application to engagement opportunities with students and their supporters.

Learning Objective:
Learn about an innovative new partnership that seeks to expand access to college support and resources for underserved students. Understand the Coalition’s access work.

Building Bridges through Dual Enrollment

Hybrid education created the need to explore new learning opportunities for secondary school students. Dual enrollment gives students a chance to build confidence, explore options, and earn credits on a college campus. Explore a framework for dual enrollment using the recent partnership between Catholic Memorial (MA) and Wentworth Institute of Technology (MA) as a case study. The “CM-Squared” (Construction Management at Catholic Memorial) collaboration opened the door for students not typically enrolled in Advanced Placement classes to participate in rigorous college-level STEM coursework. Learn about the latest research supporting dual-enrollment initiatives, discuss logistics for launch, hear input from student participants, and take away a toolkit to help start your own dual enrollment collaboration.

Learning Objective:
Understand how dual enrollment can allow students of all ability levels to engage in college-level academics.

Building Resilience for Students with Learning Disabilities: A Bootcamp for Secondary Educators

Prepare your students as they embark on their postsecondary journeys. Learn about the unique steps of identifying best-fit colleges or postsecondary programs for students beginning in ninth grade and identifying the levels of support available to students with learning disabilities. Explore how to secure and implement accommodations in college, review a timeline of “when to do what,” and much more. Walk away with ready-to-use resources and materials to build resilience for students with learning disabilities, specifically related to executive functioning and self-advocacy.

Learning Objective:
Leave with a timeline of “when” to do “what” when advising students with learning disabilities in seeking out accommodations in college, including variable documentation requirements to have in place before freshman year. Gain a better understanding of the accommodations intake meeting with a college’s office of disability services.

Check Yourself: Addressing COVID's Impact on Stress, Stereotypes, and Bias

The ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic include burnout, turnover, and understaffing, which exacerbate the risk of biases influencing our work. Now more than ever, we as college and admission counselors need to build our awareness of and ability to confront conscious and unconscious biases across our field and in our roles. Explore the state of research on stress and biases, consider the impact of bias on our organizations, and build strategies to address bias on both sides of the desk.

Learning Objective:
Establish a shared understanding of bias.

A Closer Look at Direct-Admit Programs in College Admission

Many colleges and universities have significantly increased the use of direct-admit placements in college admission—in programs for architecture, business, engineering, and nursing, among others. Learn about recent trends from admission directors at three public flagship universities. How have the universities’ enrollment profiles been shaped by direct admission? In what ways have programs benefited from direct-admit decisions? What opportunities exist (if any) for applicants who do not gain direct admission to their preferred academic program?

Learning Objective:
Gain specific information about direct-admit programs at three universities.

Collective Resiliency: Houston CBOs Differentiate First-Gen Supports

First-generation students of color often face intersectional challenges during their educational journey, and these difficulties were exacerbated by the disproportionate consequences of the coronavirus pandemic. This session highlights the differentiated work of four Houston college access organizations (EMERGE, OneGoal, BridgeYear, and Breakthrough Houston), serving first-gen college students in two- and four-year institutions as we continue to navigate the impact of COVID-19.

Learning Objective:
Examine the unique stressors specific to first-generation college students that impact persistence.

College Essay Guy’s Counselor Resource Extravaganza

Take an interactive tour through a wide range of over 200 resources—don’t worry, we’ll take dance breaks—geared specifically to high school counselors. Topics covered will include tips for leading dynamic essay workshops; essential counseling resources for a new office; 50-plus resources for LGBTQ+ students; what/when/how to reach students more effectively via email; social media templates for hyping campus events; and the best darn financial aid guide you’ve ever seen.

Learning Objective:
Gain practical resources to use with students right away.

College Possible: Helping Foster Youth Access Higher Education

Youth in foster care are an overlooked student demographic in college readiness and access. Find out how to make college possible for this important group of students. Develop engaging strategies that speak to foster youth, foster parents, and caseworkers and learn how to identify resources and funding that make attending college a reality for youth.

Learning Objective:
Learn how recruiting foster youth aids in meeting DEI-related goals and objectives.

College Readiness Tools for Those Serving Students with Learning Differences

College counselors and educational consultants play an essential role in helping college-bound students who learn differently to successfully navigate the college search and application process. But increasingly, the path to college readiness for neurodiverse learners needs greater support than these professionals alone can provide. Explore a new model of collaboration supporting professionals who work with students with learning challenges and their families. Learn about new tools that showcase how those working with at-risk populations can increase student placement success through student- and family-centered relationships.

Learning Objective:
Familiarize yourself with tools to help you develop a deeper understanding of postsecondary variables to consider when working with students with learning differences and their families.

College-Ready Counselors: Resources for Resilience

Resiliency asks that we accept change as a part of the process, nurture a positive view of ourselves, and bounce back from setbacks. Since the pandemic we have created systems of support for our students at a rapid pace. But how can we find the space for resiliency for ourselves when we don’t have the time, energy, or resources while supporting our students? Much of the work we do with students requires that we are prepared with a high level of college knowledge. We ask that students be college-ready, but are we as counselors college-ready? Do we have the necessary knowledge and resources to support the needs of our students? With limited budgets and an increase in educators leaving the profession, how are we staying current with college admission updates and processes? The kids are not ok, we are not ok—how can we create spaces of calm, support, and resilience?

Learning Objective:
Understand current changes in admission trends and their impact on the work we do to support students. Identify ways to stay current with the trends and remain resilient during difficult times and ongoing changes.

Counselor Tips and Tools for Helping Students Understand Financial Aid and the College Decision Process

Throughout the college admission process, counselors play a key role in helping students translate the language of financial aid. Learn and share specific ways to help students and families approach the issue of college affordability and understand their financial aid options as well as how to make the most of various tools and resources. Specific topics include net price calculators, the College Scorecard website, the FAFSA (including the mobile FAFSA app), uAspire's College Cost Calculator, steps after submitting the FAFSA (such as verification, reviewing financial aid offers, and common student loan questions), and more.

Learning Objective:
Gain helpful tools and resources to support students in their college selection and financial aid decisions.

Creating An Inclusive Environment for Transgender Students

Learn best practices for working with transgender, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming students, both during high school as they apply to college and after they’ve arrived on campus. Explore strategies and advice on the following topics: guiding students in completing applications and essays; writing the letter of recommendation; identifying trans-friendly colleges, including gender-neutral housing; finding potential scholarships; and more. Examine administrative challenges and opportunities at both high schools and colleges and review the national landscape of challenges faced by students, as well as recent victories and success stories.

Learning Objective:
Identify ways LGBTQIA+ students can best conduct their college search and present themselves in their applications.

Creating Inclusive Admission Practices for Military-Connected Students

Although colleges have a desire to be military-friendly their policies and procedures often create unintended barriers for military-connected students. Additionally, students' journeys to college are unique, making a one-size-fits-all approach difficult. Examine the results of a qualitative research study to understand how service members describe their experiences during the predisposition, search, and choice stages of the college admission process. Come away with tangible actions your office can take to remove obstacles and create pathways to higher education.

Learning Objective:
Learn ways to be more inclusive to military-connected students.

Data is NOT a Four-Letter Word: Use It, Show Impact, and Excel

Become more comfortable with data as you learn how to analyze college-readiness indicators, including college and financial aid applications. Become familiar with research-based strategies to reach larger numbers of students while measuring the impact of your hard work. Learn how to construct a data-driven goal and the steps needed to create a collaborative action plan for improvement. Expand your counselor toolkit with case studies of successful practices.

Learning Objective:
Write a college-focused goal statement and assess your school/organization’s college-readiness indicators.

Decolonize Your College Admission Mind

Gain actionable ideas on how to refresh your college admission mindset via the lens of four island communities. In what ways do we unknowingly reinforce colonial hierarchies in our college admission practices? Let’s open a dialogue on how to build assets and strengths-based frameworks, especially with students from these island communities. Learn how to practice a strengths-based mindset and ways to infuse culturally responsive counseling, recruitment, and retention practices into your office. Lastly, learn why your students should consider the institutions of higher education on Guam, Hawai’i, Puerto Rico, and the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands.

Learning Objective:
Gain firsthand knowledge of culturally responsive counseling, recruitment, and retention practices.

The Demographic Cliff: The Impact on Recruitment of Black Students

The national demand for four-year college-bound high school graduates is projected to drop by 5 percent from 2020 to 2030. This is a result of the decline in birth rates during the 2008 recession and financial crisis. While all institutions will have to reckon with this shift, Historically Black Colleges and Universities will have to respond uniquely as more resources are spent to recruit Black and ethnic minority students. Take a deep dive into what this data means and learn strategies to effectively target and recruit Black students.

Learning Objective:
Understand data on the demographic cliff.

Do More Than Survive: How BIPOC Professionals Can Thrive at PWIs

In ​We Want to Do More Than Survive, author Dr. Bettina Love urges educators to embody the rebellious spirit of abolitionists to achieve educational freedom for our students and ourselves. Tapping into our own rebellious spirits, explore how BIPOC professionals can support themselves and each other as we navigate predominantly white institutions. From how to approach self-advocacy to developing support systems within and beyond our school communities, discuss how BIPOC can thrive in professional environments and achieve educational freedom.

Learning Objective:
Identify resources for mentorship, support, and community for BIPOC professionals in cases where those resources may not exist at the institutional level.

Dollars, and Pounds, and Euros…Oh My! Paying for Your Degree Abroad

Many students from the United States feel restricted in their options for pursuing a full degree abroad due to the assumed price tag of studying overseas. Learn common myths about the cost of an international education and discover some options to make this dream a reality, including using US financial aid outside of the US, scholarships, and international work opportunities. Examine some unique financial advantages of studying in the UK, Ireland, France, and Spain.

Learning Objective:
Identify financial aid sources for students pursuing a full degree abroad.

EducationUSA in Action: Strategies for International Student Recruitment

Learn how EducationUSA, a US Department of State network of advising centers in more than 175 countries and territories, promotes US higher education and study in the United States. Explore new, effective developments including working with students in virtual environments and strategies for connecting with international high school counselors worldwide. Gain insight into international recruitment from select countries as well as from secondary and postsecondary educational institutions and learn how to leverage your work with EducationUSA to achieve your enrollment goals.

Learning Objective:
Identify new developments in international recruitment and opportunities to connect with US stakeholders.

Effective Student Support Services for Postsecondary Readiness

As students transition between grade levels and into postsecondary opportunities after graduation, it has become vital to provide comprehensive student support services to meet students’ academic, social/emotional, and physical needs. During the pandemic, student needs expanded to require purposeful wraparound services, increased family engagement, and innovative postsecondary readiness strategies. As a result, we implemented intentional student support services to address and support the whole student and family. Reflect on lessons learned during the pandemic, including the need to meet student and family needs differently to achieve increased student success and postsecondary readiness.

Learning Objective:
Explore effective wraparound services to meet students’ academic, social/emotional, and physical needs.

Engaging Younger Students for College Success

The current admission cycle typically begins in a student’s junior year. Underserved populations, however, may need an earlier jump-start to meet the same levels of readiness as their more privileged peers. Learn the importance of outreach during the ninth and 10th grade years and hear success stories from urban and rural settings. Explore the need for secondary and collegiate partnerships to make these early interactions possible.

Learning Objective:
Demonstrate the importance of early engagement in college and career exploration.

Ethical Implications of Holistic Admission: Doing the Right Thing

College admission is going through a period of profound change. Past practices that were widely accepted are being questioned with respect to equity, ethics, and fundamental fairness. As colleges gravitate toward holistic admission, including the elevation of character attributes, admission offices must address underlying ethical issues. Identify important ethical and philosophical issues, where ethical problems or dilemmas may occur, and implications for the future of college admission.

Learning Objective:
Internalize the idea that admission has ethical implications.

First Year, Transfer OR Community College? Oh My !

The road to higher education is filled with uncertainties and opportunities. Even the most informed students may feel lost after high school graduation (especially in a post-pandemic world) and debate the pros and cons of choosing a first-year or transfer enrollment pathway. These feelings can be compounded by low academic performance, access to resources, and fear of financial commitment. Through a lens of transparency, equity, and access, discuss and workshop the advantages of strong partnerships among first-year admission teams, transfer admission teams, and local community colleges to maximize student success. Examine several case studies and a robust model of transfer pathways.

Learning Objective:
Demonstrate positive cooperation between the first-year and transfer admission process.

The Forgotten Applicant: International Students in US High Schools

Due to shifting trends as well as the pandemic, international students are joining high schools at different grade levels than in the past. How can counselors guide international students through the necessary application documents? Hear from counselors, universities, and an educational tech company on supporting international students in the US, particularly with English proficiency requirements and testing.

Learning Objective:
Learn strategies to support international students in US high schools.

The Future is Here: Using Performance Assessment in College Admission

As colleges respond to the holistic and test-optional admission movements—trends that were further catalyzed by the COVID-19 pandemic—the use of performance-based assessment in admission has emerged as one promising way to foster more equitable access and success in college. Learn why and how the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business and others (including the City University of New York and Massachusetts Institute of Technology) already incorporate K-12 performance assessment information in their admission decisions. Discuss the processes and systems needed to support these strategies. Then learn more about the Reimagining College Access initiative, which since 2017 has been working with a broad coalition of K-12 and higher education leaders—including NACAC—to explore and support the use of performance assessment information in college admission, placement, and advising.

Learning Objective:
Understand why incorporating information gleaned from the use of performance-based assessments into college admission is a promising approach for expanding college access. Learn how this practice relates to the trends of holistic and test-optional admission.

The Future of ACT/SAT-Optional and Test-Blind/Score-Free Admission

More than 1,800 colleges and universities did not require applicants to submit ACT/SAT scores for fall 2022 admission. At least 1,650 schools have extended those policies through fall 2023 and, in many cases, years beyond. Why have so many schools dropped testing mandates and what are the initial impacts? How many of these policies will become permanent? What are the long-term implications for equity and inclusion? How will the college application process change for high school students and admission offices? Hear from leaders of major institutions that have adopted test-optional and test-blind policies.

Learning Objective:
Understand the current status of admission testing requirements.

The Future of Race-Conscious Admission: Update on the UNC and Harvard Cases

Hear an update on SFFA vs. University of North Carolina and other relevant cases. How did we get here and what are the prospects of race-conscious admission policies being overturned by the US Supreme Court? What steps are being taken in support of the use of race in admission decisions? What will be the impact of this decision on admission practices? Join us for a robust discussion (with more questions than answers).

Learning Objective:
Understand the context and issues in the US Supreme Court cases involving race-conscious admission.

Grit, Fit and 0ther Ideas that Failed to Help Low-Income Students

Popular academic ideas often fail to account for the lived experiences and preferences of low-income and underrepresented students. Academics often overlook the important influence of cultural and social factors in student choices, which leads to promising research ideas failing in practice. Explore the real-world implications of some popular academic ideas, often almost exclusively applied to low-income and underrepresented students, such as nudges, grit, fit, and undermatching, as well as the rise of test-optional policies.

Learning Objective:
Rethink how you position students in the admission process (both as a counselor and an admission professional).

Helping Transfers Cross the Bridge: Addressing and Destigmatizing University Affordability Concerns

Understanding how to finance an education is a barrier that keeps many transfer students from finishing their degree. Beyond the need for financial aid literacy, differences in receiving institutions' processes and societal misconceptions of financial aid add additional barriers. Discuss how we can communicate and destigmatize financial aid through a critical race theory framework, review current financial literacy legislation, and examine research-based suggestions for receiving institutions on helping students understand their financing options. Share your own insights and hear tips and strategies from your colleagues and current transfer students.

Learning Objective:
Discuss how to use a framework of critical race theory in conversations of financial aid and financing education.

"He's So Articulate": Avoiding Bias in Recommendation Letters

Recommendation letters provide valuable insight and can sometimes tip the scales in admission and scholarship decisions. College counselors are well-positioned to provide unique, first-hand accounts of our interactions with students, but what happens when bias creeps into letters? Learn about a framework for approaching letters through a diversity, equity, and inclusion lens and access an adaptable resource to help you build a resilient and sustainable anti-bias letter-writing culture at your school.

Learning Objective:
Develop a stronger understanding of various types of bias. Examine how bias can affect recommendation letters.

High School Perspectives for Our College Admission Colleagues

Admission folks, we'd love for you to hear our “side” of the story. Whether you want to understand how college policies and procedures play out on the high school side or you are considering a move to the other side of the desk, join us for a panel and Q&A discussion designed to provide a high school perspective on search, applications, and decision-making.

Learning Objective:
Understand how college policies/procedures "land" with high school students.

How to Level the Playing Field for First-Generation, Low-Income Students 

First-generation, low-income students face several barriers and equity issues when applying to and attending college. Examine data and evidence collected from literature, policies, and professional experiences to identify roadblocks and ways to make the admission and education process more equitable. Discuss the correlation between institutional DEI initiatives, student success, and satisfaction. Then explore the roles college counseling plays in diversifying the student body as well as ways counseling and admission can influence student body demographics.

Learning Objective:
Identify and recognize barriers that first-generation, low-income students and students of color face. Understand how removing these barriers provides a more equitable education process for all students.

In Defense of Boundaries

“Love what you do and never work a day in your life.” While a lovely sentiment, this adage can turn harmful–especially for those in “helper” professions like education–if not paired with carefully considered and firm boundaries. Join us for a conversation about boundaries: what they are, how to establish them, and why they are especially important coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hear how developing these boundaries can influence institutional cultures that concurrently value high productivity and effectiveness with sustainability and balance, both for an organization and its personnel.

Learning Objective:
Gain the ability to articulate why professional boundaries promote resilience.

Increasing Refugee Access to Higher Education

Today, there are 84 million forcibly displaced persons across the world. Many are young people with dreams and aspirations. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, only 5 percent of refugee youth are enrolled in colleges or universities. Significant barriers—including lack of access to internet connectivity, standardized testing, travel documentation, information, and college counseling—prevent refugees from fulfilling their potential. Learn about the challenges refugees face and what we can do to make higher education more accessible to them. Help chart a better path forward for refugees across the world and for universities that stand to gain from their immense talents and skills.

Learning Objective:
Understand the challenges that refugees face in accessing higher education.

Inventing the Financial Aid Case Study

Examine aid awards and use resources to better understand the true cost of college. This is a hands-on session, so bring a laptop! All participants will walk away with modifiable tools they can use in their counseling offices.

Learning Objective:
Walk away with a better understanding of how EFC is determined and how colleges create financial aid awards.

Knowledge is Power: Data Literacy for College Counselors

In an era where it seems like there's access to more information than ever, how do college counselors parse through the noise to find reliable data sources, understand data sets, and convey information to students and parents? Learn about data sources in higher education, including IPEDS, Common Data Set, and College Scorecard and review how to gather and utilize data for use in college counseling. Walk away with recommendations to help you get started and stay up-to-date on the latest data trends in higher ed.

Learning Objective:
Become familiar with the most relevant data sets in higher education and how to find data specific to their students.

Managing Staffing when the Hiring "Cycle" No Longer Exists

Many enrollment leaders now experience the departure of staff throughout the year, rather than during the (former) cycle of spring/summer hiring. This change has impacted the high-volume work periods of recruitment and selection. Engage in a supportive conversation on how we can manage our enrollment priorities and sustain supportive work environments while also managing unstable staffing throughout the year. Our panelists represent three uniquely different institutions with varying leadership and budget structures that influence potential methods of intervention and adaptation.

Learning Objective:
Engage in strategic planning for effective staffing.

Managing the Physical and Mental Challenges of Admission: Ways to Stay Balanced in a Demanding Career

Life can be very hectic on both sides of the desk. Discuss how to address common stressors and how to carve out time to achieve your own work-life balance. Get out of your seat to practice deep-breathing and stretching exercises that can help you with every situation—from long plane rides to sitting in front of your computer for extended periods. (Wear comfy and appropriate clothes!) The movements will be inclusive for all bodies and abilities. No matter what stage in your journey you are at, get on more friendly terms with your stress and learn ways to mitigate it.

Learning Objective:
Learn deep-breathing methods and stretching exercises to help manage stress and physical discomfort while in the office.

The Melt Chronicles: How to Overcome Next Summer’s Melt

The heat is on. So often students work tirelessly to apply to colleges and universities. The students and their families are excited to learn about their acceptances and to commit to a school. Then during the summer months students and families are left to figure out “what’s next.” Because of the limited counseling services students receive, some tend to “melt.” Using the voices of students who melted, learn about student melt, why it occurs, and how to overcome next summer’s melt.

Learning Objective:
Discover how to identify students early in the college process who might melt.

Navigating Identity Intersections Through Leadership and Growth Opportunities

A recent NACAC report, DEI Challenges in the College Admission Counseling Profession, highlights the underrepresentation of BIPOC professionals in leadership positions. Opportunities for growth and advancement often come when least expected and in places we do not anticipate. Successful transitions into these senior roles, especially for BIPOC professionals and those tied to traditionally underserved communities, can be inhibited by unfamiliar institutional contexts and limited access to mentorship. Hear testimonials and guidance on how to transition between academic settings, navigate new institutional contexts, and leverage key networks to promote sustainable success for those seeking leadership roles.

Learning Objective:
Learn how to leverage your personal identity in order to advance your professional goals.

A New Tool to Help Students with the Common App

As we strive to increase access for underserved students, we need to pay more attention to how the actual mechanics of applying for admission can be a barrier. Data from the Common Application suggest that students who use the platform tend to skew toward those with college-educated, wealthier parents. And additional data suggests that hundreds of thousands of students who create a Common App account never apply to a single member institution. Members of the Independent Educational Consultants Association recently partnered with professional instructional designers from Oregon State University’s award-winning Ecampus to create a free Common App Companion video series to walk students through the process from start to finish. Come see how the tool works and brainstorm ways the Companion can serve students most in need of college admission guidance.

Learning Objective:
Learn about a new tool to assist first-generation students.

Not Your Model Minority: Examining the Complexities of Asian America

The model minority myth perpetuates the idea that Asian American students are rule-following academic overachievers who play the piano. Through natural brilliance or their by-the-bootstraps immigrant values, they are achievers of the American Dream. So how is the model minority myth harmful? It treats Asian Americans as a monolithic group, ignores the individuality of each student, and implies that they don’t experience racism or need external support. Explore the model minority myth, discuss disaggregated data, and learn suggestions for working with Asian American students during the college process.

Learning Objective:
Understand how the model minority myth can impact the college process on both sides of the desk.

Outside the Comfort Zone into the Connection Zone: Instagram Essentials

Interested in starting an Instagram account to help your college counseling office communicate with students? If you are new to Instagram, you’ve come to the right place! Discuss how to encourage students to follow your account, how to create simple and professional posts with primarily textual content, and how to use Instagram stories to your advantage.

Learning Objective:
Gain the basic skills needed to create an Instagram account and learn ways to encourage Instagram followers.

The Pontem Path: College Readiness for First-Generation College Students

Learn about the Pontem Path, a successful model that has helped create a pathway to college for student participants in San Diego, California. The Pontem Path is built upon a foundation of connectedness and education. Student participants leverage relationships with program counselors and take part in a series of workshops to help gain a better understanding of the skills necessary to obtain acceptance to and success in college. In addition, the program’s partnership with the University of San Diego allows students to access resources available at the institution and eliminates existing barriers of entry.

Learning Objective:
Learn about a successful bridge program for first-generation college students.

The Power of SIGs: Serving our Membership and Broadening our Reach During the Pandemic

Learn how the Potomac & Chesapeake Association for College Admission Counseling used Special Interest Groups (SIGs) as a way to connect and engage members and provide programming that served a broader group of counselors in Delaware, DC, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia. Discover how this NACAC affiliate designed, promoted, and implemented programing during the pandemic and beyond while expanding the number of SIGs and growing its regional membership.

Learning Objective:
Learn how to build a SIG structure within your regional organization.

Prison to University Pipeline: Illuminating Pathways for Incarcerated and Returning Scholars

While more than 35 percent of American adults have earned at least a bachelor’s degree, fewer than 1 percent of individuals who have been incarcerated have done so. Learn about efforts already underway to assist this population in degree attainment. Then discuss ways admission officers, college counselors, and professionals at nonprofit organizations can tap into their experience and expertise to support aspiring college students who are incarcerated or making the transition back to their communities.

Learning Objective:
Examine the many hurdles that incarcerated scholars and those returning to society face in seeking postsecondary access and success.

Prospective Family Engagement: A Path to Equity Through Access to Information

Using data from a 2022 study conducted in collaboration with 30 institutions from across the US, learn strategies to ensure better and more equitable access to college information for all students. The study includes data collected from more than 6,000 families of prospective college students at an array of private, public, and two-year institutions. Delve into data points that highlight how communication preferences (both in channel and frequency) are tied to income and family college experience (first-generation status)—and learn how these variations can result in a lack of equity in access to key college planning information.

Learning Objective:
Learn how equity in access to college information is key to equity in access to higher education.

Proud to be First: Tools and Strategies to Empower First-Generation Families

We all work with students who are first: first to attend college (or first to attend college in the United States), first to attend an independent school, first to consider colleges that their families have never heard of or never imagined would be possible. How and when do we engage with populations who are first? And how do we instill a sense of pride to be first, whatever first might be? Learn specific techniques to engage with first-generation families. Topics will include understanding the emotions of first-generation students and families, parent weekend programming, exposure opportunities, faculty support, and community-based organization collaboration. In a constantly evolving admission landscape, the techniques we utilize as professionals must cater to the specific needs of our families. Further your understanding of how it feels to be “first-gen” and take away shareable resources to help you serve students and families.

Learning Objective:
Develop a more nuanced understanding of first-generation students and families.

Public School Counselors Demonstrating Resiliency in Tough Times

Hear concrete examples and take away practical ideas on how to enhance or grow your college counseling program and demonstrate resiliency during these challenging times. A panel of seasoned public secondary school counselors will answer your tough questions and provide advice about what to do during this highly interactive session. Online resources and materials will be shared.

Learning Objective:
Access resources specifically aimed at helping public school counselors.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness: What's New

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program has implemented temporary changes in recent months, making this the perfect time to refresh your knowledge of the program and find out what’s new. Learn about the PSLF—what it is, eligible borrowers, eligible loans, eligible payments, how to keep on track, how to apply for forgiveness, and where to get information to share with your students. Then delve into PSLF reconsideration, through which borrowers can request reconsideration of qualifying employment or payment determinations. You’ll also learn about the limited PSLF waiver, which allows borrowers to receive credit for past periods of repayment on certain loans that would otherwise not qualify for PSLF.

Learning Objective:
Understand how the PSLF program works.

Push, Pause, or Pivot: Charting Your Professional Path

We’re emerging from the fog of the last two years and things have changed. In this new world, remote work is a real option and we have higher expectations of institutions to support and develop their teams. Many of us are reevaluating what lights us up professionally. We’re wrestling with how our current positions fit, whether loving our job matters, and what other opportunities may be out there. Discuss when to stay, when to go, how to rebound from a setback, and when it might be time to start over.

Learning Objective:
Develop strategies to tackle typical professional roadblocks.

Quick, Easy, and Actionable College Essay Feedback: Less Frustration. More Focus. Better Essays!

How much time do you spend reviewing college essays? Are your students taking full advantage of your feedback? Giving feedback to students on college essays can be time-consuming and a bit of a mystery. How much or little to offer? Will it make sense to them, and will they know what to do with it? Explore a diagnostic and feedback approach built on a framework professional writers use to communicate clearly and intentionally. You'll leave with printed and online resources to share with students, parents, teachers, and colleagues.

Learning Objective:
Develop a context in which to give feedback on essays.

Racism is (Also) Resilient: How White Supremacy Persists in Equitable Admission

Resilience is not exclusive to the forces of good in the universe. Racism is also resilient. Enter a dialogue with colleagues as panelists pose thought-provoking questions about how white supremacy is still present in our equitable admission practices. This session is not designed to be instructive; rather, it is intended to raise uncomfortable questions for admission practitioners to ask themselves as we dismantle racism and white supremacy in college admission.

Learning Objective:
Identify and acknowledge white supremacy in the college admission process.

The Real Scoop on Paying for College: Students’ and Families’ Expectations vs. Reality

While most families agree that college is an investment in their student’s future, many are confused and stressed about paying for that education. Learn what college-bound high school families know and expect when it comes to paying for college, and how that compares to the realities experienced by currently enrolled undergraduates. Then investigate how families’ understanding of available funding sources, attitudes, and behaviors change as they progress on their higher education journey. Gain insights from two new research studies by Sallie Mae and Ipsos, College Confidence: What America Knows About Paying for College and How America Pays for College 2022. Take away tips and best practices to help your students successfully plan to pay for college.

Learning Objective:
Learn what the families of college-bound high school students know about paying for college.

Resiliency Through Collaboration: Delivering an Effective Developmental School Counseling Curriculum at the High School Level

Research shows that comprehensive school counseling programs have positive outcomes on student achievement and increase the likelihood of students enrolling in college. We also know that counselors are stretched thin in many high schools, particularly in public high schools, and must find creative ways to expand their bandwidth. Learn how a large, urban, public high school is developing an effective comprehensive counseling program in collaboration with counselors, administrators, and teachers and see how skills developed during the pandemic ultimately enriched in-person learning. Come away with useful resources that can be adapted for your own counseling program and gain beneficial insight into developing a school counseling curriculum. Those on the admission side of the table, meanwhile, will gain a bird’s-eye view of challenges that high school counselors face and ways that they may be able to collaborate with their local high schools to help enrich school counseling programs.

Learning Objective:
Understand how to develop an effective school counseling program in a public high school.

Rethinking the School Profile: Are We Sharing What Colleges Need?

Emerging research suggests secondary school profiles and the needs of admission offices are poorly aligned. From grade distributions and course offerings to matriculation lists and graduation rates, assembling a lean school profile is difficult and nuanced. Discuss common disconnects and best practices for constructing a high school profile that tells the story of your community and also gives admission offices what they need.

Learning Objective:
Identify the most critical pieces of information to include in a school profile.

Shaping Global Citizens: The Role of International Ed in a Changing World

The past two years have taught students to be resilient, adaptable, and ready for the unexpected—precisely the skills that will help them be successful college students in a new country and culture. International education shapes culturally competent, forward-thinking global citizens. With ever-selective admission processes and annual tuition hikes, the list of affordable and attainable bachelor’s degree programs in the US is shrinking. Students are looking for better options, focusing on affordability, student body diversity, and exciting post-graduation outcomes. Explore the various benefits of pursuing degrees abroad and tackle the perceived barriers to an international education.

Learning Objective:
Gain an understanding of the accessibility and nontraditional benefits of international education.

"Should I Stay or Should I Go?": Supporting Students Through Challenges in Their First Year of College

Even when a student finds a great college match, no first year is perfect. A student might return to their admission or college counselor with questions about fitting in, handling college work and professors, paying for college, or what to do after getting passed over by the fraternity or sorority they dreamed of joining. Sometimes they just miss home. Professionals in student success, college counseling, and enrollment management draw on research, theory, and experience to discuss how admission counselors and college counselors can support student resilience through the difficulties of the first year of college.

Learning Objective:
Gain insight to prepare you for conversations with former advisees about overcoming adversity in the first year of college.

Started from the Bottom, Now We're Here: Maintaining Resilience During Organizational Change

In his 2013 hit, Started from the Bottom, hip hop artist Drake recounts his journey from humble beginnings and his meteoric rise to fame. In a similar vein, learn about the many challenges faced by one team as they attempted to rebuild a dormant alumni advising program. Hear their story and examine ways alumni advising can remain steadfast amid organizational change. Discuss major accomplishments, opportunities for future growth, and how other high school and college preparatory professionals focused on alumni advising can start from the bottom and work up to the top.

Learning Objective:
Understand best practices for alumni advising within the context of a college preparatory school that serves low-income, first-generation students.

Steps to Flourishing: Using Lived Experiences to Inform Programming for Former Foster Youth

Only 50 percent of youth served by the foster care system graduate from high school; 3 percent earn a college degree. What are the most common barriers to matriculation and eventual graduation? Despite previous programs and efforts, the college graduation rates are not improving as hoped. Hear how one child welfare agency is connecting with former foster youth and making changes in career and college exploration based on students’ lived experiences. Then learn how a community college has created spaces to provide students with wraparound services and options that empower them to persevere and work toward personal independence and educational success. Both programs are meeting students where they are and reducing barriers to career success and degree completion.

Learning Objective:
Increase your knowledge of the statistics surrounding former foster youth and postsecondary educational success.

The Story of Us (and Them): Personal Narratives and Recommendation Letters

We all love a good story. Our personal narrative tells the story of each one of us. Explore how counselors can effectively employ the use of self in their relationships with students to write effective and compelling letters of recommendation. How does thinking about and writing our own stories guide the questions we ask our students to help draw out stories that matter from their own lives? Ultimately, how might our own self-awareness help elevate self-awareness among our students?

Learning Objective:
Understand how to tell your own stories in a way that encourages students to share theirs.

Think Globally: An Exploration of First-Year Abroad Programs

Hear perspectives on first-year abroad programs and global engagement opportunities available at the very start of a student’s higher education experience. Explore access, value, benefits, challenges, and outcomes associated with these unique study abroad experiences as well as details surrounding the various admission processes used by such programs. Broader topics and trends pertaining to first-year study abroad and experiential learning will also be addressed.

Learning Objective:
Gain a better understanding of how students spend their first year abroad and pursue this opportunity intentionally.

Tools of the Trade

Are you a new or nearly new secondary school counselor? Come "fill your toolbox” with strategies, best practices, and effective counseling techniques to help guide students through the college admission process. Topics include how to create the ideal college counseling office, essential resources for providing effective college counseling services, writing impactful letters of recommendation, ethical issues in college counseling, the use of technology, counseling the college-bound student-athlete, the role of standardized testing, and the financial aid process.

Learning Objective:
Learn how to create an effective college counseling program.

Transforming Admission to Expand Opportunity for Underserved Students

Expanding access requires not only lowering complex logistical, financial, and systemic barriers, but a revolutionary shift in the admission process altogether. What if we could develop a more equitable system from the ground up? What if we could create a system that does a better job of helping students match with and enroll at colleges and helps colleges recruit a new set of students? This past fall, a pilot project called Greenlight Match (which included 25 CBOs/schools and 10 institutions) increased college access for first-gen and lower-income students by flipping the script on traditional college admission. Could this be the future of more equitable, accessible, and inclusive admission?

Learning Objective:
Understand the challenges first-generation, lower-income students face in the current college application process.

Tuition Pricing and Discounting Through and Beyond COVID-19

Gain insight into tuition discounting, tuition resets, and other pricing strategies that took place leading up to and during the COVID-19 crisis, then explore the outlook for these strategies as institutions move beyond the pandemic. Discuss the various institutional reasons for and outcomes related to discounting and resets and examine doctoral research findings. Hear how institutions’ pricing and discounting structures are changing in light of COVID-19 and how the higher education business model may shift as a result.

Learning Objective:
Understand the landscape of price sensitivity and elasticity and how each impacts enrollment and revenue. Use the data to make decisions regarding pricing and discounting.

US Service Academies: A Guide for School Counselors and School Officials

Join the US Naval Academy's admission team for a deep-dive into the application process for a US service academy. Explore the process from the perspective of school officials, gain more information about the academies as a college choice, and learn about summer programs for pre-college students.

Learning Objective:
Summarize the five US service academies and their missions.

Using Data to Improve College Readiness

Discuss best practices to utilize, disaggregate, and apply data to improve college readiness with indicators such enrollment in honors, Advanced Placement, and dual-credit courses; SAT/ACT scores; and career and technical education certifications/licensures. Learn how to encourage rigor and readiness by harnessing the power of your student information system to collect data and systematically target students "on the bubble."

Learning Objective:
Identify types of data to collect to improve college readiness.

Voices of Asian American Pacific Islanders: Shared Experiences of Resilience in High School and College

Learn about the history of Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) in education, the assumptions and stereotypes associated with this community, and ways to support AAPI students and staff. Then delve into the recent rise of anti-Asian crime and violence as well as discussions surrounding recent secondary and postsecondary admission lawsuits. View survey results that reflect resilient voices of AAPI members from high school and higher education and identify ways you can actively support students and professionals.

Learning Objective:
Understand how the historical and current rise of anti-Asian crime and violence impacts AAPI students, families, and professionals today.

What's New in FAFSA World?

The FAFSA Simplification Act and FUTURE Act require a number of changes to the FAFSA form and aid eligibility calculation. Review the basics and take a big-picture look at the changes. See what’s already been implemented, preview of what’s coming soon, and learn what will be finalized for the 2024-25 application cycle. Discover reliable sources for updates, further information, and student and parent outreach.

Learning Objective:
Familiarize yourself with features of the FAFSA Simplification Act and features of the FUTURE Act that are already or about to be in place.

“Why Us?”: What Colleges are Looking for in Supplemental Essays and What Students Reveal About Themselves

Character plays a prominent role in holistic admission, with many colleges asking increasingly nuanced supplemental essay questions. This opportunity for students to elaborate on their personal qualities can also add stress to the application process. “Why Us?” essays, among other related questions, ask students to showcase their understanding of a school, demonstrate their fit, and reflect on their personal values. Listen in as admission officers and counselors discuss why colleges ask these questions, the importance of answering them thoughtfully, the role of purposeful college research, and best practices for an effective approach to supplemental essays.

Learning Objective:
Understand why colleges ask supplemental essay questions and the critical role they play in the admission decision-making process.

Win the Battle: Time Track Your Way to Actually Advising Students

School counselors across the country continually face a similar battle—being used for non-counseling duties. From campus testing to lunch duty to data entry, schools seem to find many ways to utilize counselors for all things—except the actual counseling and advising of students. Learn how school counselors in one district successfully utilized a simple (and easy to use) time tracker to gather data to share with decisionmakers. The result? Lower caseloads, guidance instead of test administration, and more time advising and helping students. The American School Counselor Association recommends 80 percent of a school counselor's time be spent in direct and indirect services to students. Are you there yet?

Learning Objective:
Learn how time tracking helped school counselors in one district successfully advocate for lower caseloads and more time advising students.

The Write Approach to College Admission: Resilient and Responsible Reporting

Covering college admission for a national news outlet requires a willingness to probe deeper than clickbait and a refusal to settle for facile conclusions. Reporters must seek transparency and help cut through the noise. In a climate of information overload, what data matters and how can writers responsibly go to the heart of the issues? Hear from three veteran higher education reporters as they reflect on the current landscape of admission and look forward to the big stories of 2023.

Learning Objective:
Learn which sources are most reliable for journalists covering college admission.

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