Educational Sessions

Breakout Session 1: Tuesday, May 24 - 10:15 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

Impact of Grit on College Application Process: Teaching Underrepresented Students the Principles of GRIT
Author Neil Gaiman wrote: “People think dreams aren’t real just because they aren’t made of matter, of particles. But dreams are real. They are made of viewpoints, of images, of memories and puns and lost hopes.” Accomplishing dreams is only possible for those with the determination, work ethic, and belief to make dreams come true. Help your students recognize their GRIT and how to use it in the admission process.

Helping Students and Families in the College Transition
Teachers prepare students academically for college, while counselors shepherd students through a college search and application process. What are we doing to help students an their parents with the emotional transition to college? Counselors from two schools—one with a senior class size of 200—discuss programming and resources.

NACAC's "Step by Step" Curriculum
Join an interactive “train the trainer” session to learn tips and strategies for implementing NACAC’s Step by Step middle and high school curricula into your college counseling program.

Guiding Students Through the College Athletic Recruitment Process
Student athletes around the country dream of playing Division I athletics in college. However, only about 2 percent of high school athletes are awarded an NCAA athletic scholarship. Join this session to learn about the NCAA recruitment process, the NCAA Eligibility Center, and how to best counsel your students in the process.

Breakout Session 2: Tuesday, May 24 - 1:00 p.m. - 2:15 p.m.

Learn, Explore, Grow, Focus, Apply: The Common Application and the Path to College Enrollment
The Common Application has long been a leader in the college application transaction—that point in time where students complete and submit an application. Now, with a user base of over 1 million students and recommenders, the association is building on its four-decade legacy by collaborating with educators, researchers, foundations, and like-minded organizations to expand educational opportunities
for all students. Join Common App staff for an update on the application system and a discussion of access initiatives, ranging from virtual advising to FAFSA completion to counselor professional development.

School and Community Influence on Rural Student College Access
Rural student educational aspirations and college access has become a more salient topic for educational researchers. However, few studies explore rural high school graduates’ experience in the college search and choice process. Through 60-to-90-minute interviews with seven rural high school graduates attending a small private college in New York state, researchers discovered how the students gained information about colleges,
selected colleges, and navigated the transition from rural communities to a college setting in a small city. Hear strategies to help rural schools facilitate college access and develop a college-going culture in their districts.

The Access Triangle: Creating an Effective College, High School, CBO Partnership
College admission offices traditionally focus their recruiting efforts on high schools. However, students are increasingly unable to meet with admission professionals during the school day. Many students also seek college access organizations to help them reach their career goals, causing colleges to focus an increased share of their underrepresented student recruitment efforts on developing pipelines to community-based organizations. Presenters discuss effective “triangular” partnership models between college admission offices, high school college counseling offices, and community-based organizations.

Counseling International Students at US High Schools through the US College Admission Process
The number of international students attending US secondary schools is growing significantly, as many international families view American high schools as strategic pathways to admission into US colleges and universities. However, counseling international students is fundamentally different than counseling US students. Language barriers, misunderstandings, rankings, financial forms, testing, and cultural differences can complicate the process. In many cases, counselors are the first to introduce students and their families to the concept of holistic admission, where testing, grades, activities, and leadership roles all play a part in admission
decisions. Join us to gain more information about international student enrollment trends at US secondary schools.

Breakout Session 3: Tuesday, May 24 - 2:30 p.m. - 3:45 p.m.

DREAMERS and the College Dream: Helping Undocumented Students Navigate the Path to Postsecondary Education
Undocumented students face many challenges on the road to college. As a result, less than 10 percent enroll in postsecondary education immediately upon graduation from high school. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) has renewed hope for many undocumented students, but confusion exists regarding its implications for college access. On a state level, legislation both supports and restricts postsecondary access adding to the confusion and uncertainty. This action-oriented session provides counselors with tools to aid undocumented students in the college search and application process.

The Value of Your School Profile: How Does Yours Stack Up?
While a school profile is crafted annually to introduce your school community to admission committees and support transcript data in the application process, it’s rarely analyzed. Have you evaluated yours lately? What story does it tell about your school and your students? Is it comprehensive, readable, logical? How are you using it? What other value does it have? Leave with evaluative questions and a new perspective about this critical and sometimes under-utilized document. Bring your questions and your school profile.

Tips and Tools for the 2017-18 FAFSA
The US Department of Education’s Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) discusses major changes to the 2017–18 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Learn more about tools to help you prepare for the Oct. 1 launch, including a suggested timeline to support students and families.

2016 State of College Admission Report Findings
Hear the latest trends in college admission, including factors in the admission decision, from NACAC’s just-released 2016 State of College Admission report. Attendees also discuss what these trends mean for students.

Breakout Session 4: Wednesday, May 25 - 10:15 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

Postsecondary Transition Counseling for Students with Learning Differences
What tools should diverse learners possess to self-advocate effectively at the postsecondary level? Learn how to establish a solid understanding of how to best match college applicants who have learning differences—such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, AD/HD, and dyslexia, to anxiety and executive functioning issues—to schools that can successfully support their needs. Presenters share a transition curriculum model. Designed to empower students with self-knowledge, the model can guide college counseling sessions at your school and help students gain self-advocacy.

Advising US Students on Pursuing University Options Abroad
Growing numbers of American students are pursuing full degree​ programs abroad. Trends show American students as increasingly willing to consider school abroad and international schools’ desire to recruit American students. Hear from a US counselor with experience counseling students to pursue their postsecondary degrees abroad; gain insights into the UK admission process (one of the top destination countries for
American students); and take away detailed country profiles (which will be presented in a forthcoming NACAC publication, International University Options Guide).

A Gap Year Option on Every College List, and Here's Why
Gap Years are gaining traction among a spectrum of educators for their remarkable ability to help students focus their lives. Unsurprisingly, they are translating to better overall academic success and better overall clarity for employment. We walk through the latest data trends as part of the recent National Gap Year Alumni Survey and share the latest best practices for advising Gap Year students. More of your students are asking about it—knowing how to advise them requires a nuanced approach​.

Summer College Experience: Providing First-Generation College Students with Support and Access to the College Application Process
Learn how to design your own college boot camp program. Based on the Summer College Experience, launched in 2014 by a team of New Jersey counselors to help first-generation college students learn about and apply to college, the session offers professionals with similar school profiles time to discuss launching boot camps at your schools.

Breakout Session 5: Wednesday, May 25 - 1:00 p.m. - 2:15 p.m.

The College Essay: Helping Students Find Their Voice
Writing the college essay continues to be one of the most daunting parts of the college application process for many students. Anxiety about saying “the right thing” can grow so strong that the essay, instead of becoming a powerful and compelling expression of the student’s true self, becomes a roadblock. Learn what makes a strong and authentic essay, and explore the range of strategies and exercises that help counselors and students unearth student’s stories.

Se se puede! Culturally Competent Guidance and Advising for Latino Students and Families
Knowing how you can better serve Latino students and families through the college search and attainment process is crucial to student success. Implementing cultural understanding into advising plans can alter the way counselors work with Latino students to maximize their college search. Presenters share resources (including DACA and undocumented student information), provide insight on Noche Informativas they have created, and discuss their own experiences with Latino students and families.

Engaging the T in LGBT: Best Practices for Secondary and Postsecondary Transgender Students
How do we best serve transgender students? Explore the trans student experience and the ongoing conversation at the secondary and postsecondary levels—examination of the law, language, physical spaces, health care, best practices for the college search, and community resources.

Winning Letters of Recommendation
A weak letter of recommendation may not keep a student from being admitted, but it certainly doesn’t help a student in the admission process. However, a strong letter of recommendation can make a student come alive for the application review team. Gather tips from college admission experts on both sides of the desk so you can compose recommendation letters that are authentic and compelling.

Breakout Session 6: Wednesday, May 25 - 2:30 p.m. - 3:45 p.m.

The Promise of Individualized Learning Plans to Promote College and Career Readiness
Hear results from a multi-year, multi-method study of the nature and promise of Individualized Learning Plan (ILPs) to leverage college and career readiness. Focus on elements of career exploration, career planning, and management skills that enable students and families. Help students create postsecondary goals that match their interests, skills, and values, while considering financial implications and labor market opportunities.

Naviance and The Common Application: Partnering for Student Success
Last year, the Common Application delivered over 14 million school documents to its member colleges, and nearly 60 percent of them were sent by counselors and teachers using Naviance eDocs. Properly serving the students and professionals who use these systems requires extensive coordination between the organizations. Hear how the two teams work together across the life cycle of an admission year and share suggestions for improvement.

The School Counselor Toolkit for the Redesigned Assessments
​​​Learn how to help students, families, and colleagues implement the College Board Readiness and Success System and the redesigned SAT Suite of Assessments. Using the Counselors Guide to the Redesigned Assessments, examine a focused and useful assessment system comprised of the PSAT 8/9, PSAT 10, PSAT/NMSQT, and SAT. Designed to deepen understanding about the redesigned assessments, this session explores critical information and specifications about the assessments, ready-to-use tools, and training and professional development opportunities.

Summer Melt: What is it and How Do We Guide These Students?
Summer melt—a student paying a deposit to attend a particular college, but electing not to matriculate at that college the following fall—is all too common. Learn how to guide these students to the next step after high school, and examine traditional summer melt’s causes and effects.