The NACAC Annual Conference is among the most important events for those of us in the professional college admissions community. It is a yearly conference which takes place in different locations throughout the United States and even Canada (the first one I went to was in Toronto). School and independent counselors and college admissions deans and other staff members from all over the United States and other places in the world assemble to hear speakers, learn about what is new in the field, and most importantly network with each other. Here are some highlights of this year’s event.

Upon returning to the convention center after my morning visit to Northeastern University (see write-up of my college visits in a previous post), I went to the IECA  (Independent Educational Consultants Association) Luncheon. IECA is one of the professional organizations for Independent College Advisors. It is an important organization and one must meet rigorous standards to be included as a member (I am a professional member which is the higher level of membership). This is a great college admissions networking event and I was seated at a table with representatives from Muhlenberg College and Drexel University. Having the opportunity to sit and chat with them is among the most valuable experiences during NACAC. After lunch and one educational session (more about the workshops later), we attended the Opening Session and heard the Keynote Address. Shaun R. Harper, Clifford and Betty Allen Professor in the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California and Executive Director of the USC Race and Equity Center, spoke about his research on race and student success in higher education as well as boys and men of color in the United States. His talk was challenging, inspiring, and thought provoking.

As one might imagine, a significant amount of time is spent attending workshops and I attended the following sessions:

  • Selective Admissions Offices and Committee Based-Evaluations
  • Five College Essay Questions Every Counselor Should Be Able to Answer
  • William Fitzsimmons (Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid – Harvard College) – The Hundred Year Revolution in College Admission – 50 Down and 50 To Go
  • Supporting Students Using the Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success Tools

While all of these events and activities were worthwhile, for me the highlight  of the conference is the Counselors’ College Fair. This is an amazing opportunity to walk through the huge hall and interact with college admissions deans and directors from schools throughout the United States and beyond. During this year’s event I saw old friends and made many new contacts. There is nothing like being able to speak face to face and have my questions answered while making new connections.

For anyone in this field who hasn’t gone to a NACAC annual conference I highly recommend considering attending. It is always early in the school year which is not the best time for those of us working with students, however it is worth it to take a few days and re-charge your batteries, keep current with new developments, and broaden ones’ network of contacts.