Advancing Professionalism in College Counseling

June 17 - 21, 2019 | Providence, RI


Join us for 40+  breakout sessions on industry hot topics

and two all-conference sessions featuring



Harlan Cohen

Author of the "Naked Roommate" Book Series


Plenary Speaker

Dr. Angel B. Pérez

Vice President for Enrollment and Student Success, Trinity College

With more than two decades’ experience in secondary and higher education leadership positions in the U.S., Dr. Angel B. Pérez  is recognized as a national thought leader on issues of educational equity and access in American education. He currently serves as VP for Enrollment and Student Success at Trinity College where he leads efforts in Admissions, Financial Aid, Career Development, Student Success, Retention, the Individualized Degree Program, and Posse Scholars. He is also a faculty member in the Educational Studies Department.

Angel founded the Office of Student Success and revamped the Career Development Center to help students find meaning and purpose in all aspects of their lives, as well as to prepare for the jobs of the future. For his work in this area Pérez was recently honored by the New England College Personnel Association.

Breakout Sessions

5 Features of Effective College Essay Boot camps & Group Workshops     IECs can expand their reach by offering workshops in a variety of settings: as a kickoff to the writing process for current clients, as a goodwill gesture for community organizations, or as a marketing strategy to build their business. Many are unsure of what to offer, how to present the material, and how to follow up. In this engaging session, we’ll explore those aspects of the essay writing process that work in a group. Participants will receive a leader’s guide and student worksheets, which they will learn to modify to meet their unique needs.

Adolescent Depression and Anxiety: How College Advisors Can Help     The rates of increase in anxiety and depression among teenagers is soaring.   This session will explore the reasons for this epidemic, including social pressures. IECs confront these issues when working with students but may be unclear about  how to alleviate the stress distinguish between today's “ normal” problems with anxiety and mood changes from psychological conditions. Parents can sometimes make the application process much or worse, creating another dilemma. This interactive workshop brings together an author and psychological consultant on college depression and anxiety, a therapist who works with college-bound teens and an independent college counselor to present and facilitate.

Advising Transfer Students: Understanding and Assisting this Growing Population     Transferring. It’s a growing part of the American educational landscape. In fact, a 2015 study reported that more than 33% of all college students transfer and, of that number, approximately 45% transfer more than once. There are many reasons why students decide to transfer, and this presentation will explore several of them while attempting to offer some helpful advice to people working with transfer students. Representatives from the college, high school, and independent sectors will be included in this interactive discussion.  

Alternatives for Students Who Do Not Fit the Mold      Although “gap years”, two-year schools or employment will provide options for many students not yet ready for college, there can sometimes be other challenges, such as executive functioning deficits, anxiety, or learning differences that require a different approach. For these students, juggling all the responsibilities of a college curriculum while meeting the tasks of daily life can create serious barriers to success. This session will provide a wider knowledge base for college advising.   

Anatomy of Brand You!     When was the last time you assessed your current brand strategy? In an era of information overload and social media communication, it is imperative to revisit the materials you have been using and update them to keep up with changes in customer needs and expectations. This session will revisit the goals and objectives of your brand strategy in a hands-on workshop. Participants will be coached through the process of assessing their current branding materials and identifying opportunities for improvement. Please bring printouts or laptop with most current website, social media pages, and business card. Also bring your mission statement.

Applying and Studying in the United Kingdom      Are you interested in learning about university options outside of the United States? Whether you have already advised students, or would like to start broadening your knowledge about options abroad, this session is for you. Hear a panel of university reps from Wales, England, and Scotland speak about the educational structure, admission requirements, and application processes within their countries. The session will be based around your questions and concerns, so please come prepared with those in hand and learn why you can double down on unis across the pond!

Applying to Performing Arts Programs. It’s About Time!     The college search and application process for performing arts students requires lots of advanced planning! Students, families and counselors need to prepare for earlier application deadlines and more "moving parts" to the process, due to prescreen video audition, in-person audition travel and performance scheduling, and additional application supplements. Join us for an in-depth look at the application process for your performers. 

Art + Design (Education) = “Gig Economy” Career Success     Can you imagine a world without Art and Design professionals? Corporate models for career development are old school and not a great fit for the future workforce. Students want to be prepared to thrive in a creative and collaborative "gig economy". Critical thinking and innovative skills learned in art and design programs are transferable to a wide range of industries and fields. Artists are making significant contributions to our global economy and society every day and are prepared to “gig it” when needed. Learn about the benefits of professional development for artists in cross-industry platforms for career success.

Big Fish in Small Ponds: The Benefits of Small Private Colleges     What makes cost of education worthwhile? We would argue it is students taking advantage of opportunities offered to them. At small private institutions, our mission is to ensure students have close faculty relationships, vibrant programs and access to opportunities offered. In “David and Goliath” the author, Malcolm Gladwell states it is often better to be a big fish in a small pond since in some large ponds, it is easy to be overshadowed in the sea of students. While this may not be the case for all, for some, a small private institution may offer the best return on investment.

Consider Canada, Eh?     This session will give attendees a glimpse into the ways Canadian universities are creating opportunities for students to gain relevant real-world experience during their degrees. High-quality options for students across Canada – and specifically at Bishop’s University, University of Toronto, and the University of Waterloo – will be discussed. Participants will also hear from what current students have said about their experiences, and learn about the benefits of participating in these experiential learning opportunities. Become familiarized with opportunities for students to gain experience while completing their degree in Canada.

Coops: Just Who and What is doing all this cooperating?      In the ear of college ROI, Co-ops (and their cousin, internships) fall into college selection criteria. Co-ops, however, are not all the same. This presentation addresses the definition of co-ops, how they impact curricula, graduation time and cost. We also discuss co-ops for all majors (and how they might differ for STEM vs Humanities majors), “remote” co-ops, how business views co-ops, and how IEC’s can present Co-ops to their students and families.

Engineering the Engineering Application     Engineering and Computer Science  majors are amongst the most competitive for admissions, even within elite universities, there is an admissions premium. This presentation will address the academic and extracurricular characteristics which universities looking for and how IEC’s can advise their students and families in becoming competitive candidates. Topics covered will include curricula, testing, and how to demonstrate fit for an engineering major. We will  provide IECs with terminology and content to share with families when presenting the unique challenges students applying to engineering or computer science programs face.

Fundamentals of Institutional EFC Calculations: Comparing FAFSA & Profile Need Analysis     A deep dive into the calculation of the IM EFC, this session will compare Federal and Institutional Methodologies based on the FAFSA and CSS Profile respectively. After defining Need Analysis (the calculation of EFC), we’ll discuss why colleges use a second EFC calculation instead of relying on the FAFSA. We’ll look at differences in elements included in both income and assets under the two methodologies. We’ll discuss differences in allowances and adjustments used in the two approaches. We’ll conclude by discussing differences in the way individual colleges use Profile information to calculate their unique approaches to their EFC.  

Gender Equity - Not Just Pink and Blue      Establish a base of vocabulary and definitions and explore emerging practices to support inclusivity.  Identify strategies to support the college exploration, selection, and transition process for transgender and non-binary students. Gender Identity and Expression "101" and "Toolkit".

Generation Z is Coming: Are We Ready?     Generation Z grew up on cell phones and Xbox. They witnessed the great financial crash of the mid 2000’s. Research shows this upcoming generation of college going students have been shaped by their experiences. How will their experiences affect the college preparation and college matriculation of this generation? Join us as a panel of college and advisors discuss how they see the characteristics of the students they work with changing, and what preparations are being made to meet the needs of the rising generation in both college recruitment and retention practices.

Great Expectations: Best Practices in Managing Clients with Starry-Eyed Dreams      Even the most down-to-earth families can have pie in the sky dreams when it comes to college placement.  As an IEC, how do you have honest conversations without crushing their dreams? Navigating these conversations can be like walking a tightrope, particularly during an initial meeting when you are hoping to sign them on as clients.  At the other end of the process, rejection from a first choice school can feel like a failure if expectations and difficult conversations have been avoided along the way. Join us to discuss ways to successfully manage client expectations from the beginning through decision day.

Guiding Your Students To Military Service Academies and ROTC Scholarship Programs     Confused about who is a good candidate for these officer commissioning programs? Overwhelmed with the lengthy application process? Learn from two former officers who have dedicated their careers to leadership and officer development. We will walk you through the application and review process, highlight pitfalls, and give you tips on how to make your candidates competitive for admission. We will end with time for Q&A.

Managing a Full Case Load (Without Losing Your Mind!)       Even in a perfect world, application season is stressful. When you throw in last-minute essays edits, college lists that won’t stay “final,” and students who treat appointment times like suggestions, all while juggling a full caseload of seniors—it’s enough to drive even the most patient IECs crazy. In this session, two veteran IECs will provide tips, tricks, and best practices to help your students move through a thoughtful application process without sacrificing the quality of your work (or your life!). We’ll tackle practical tools and actions that will help you make your families happier and, in turn, grow your business.

Managing Expectations in a Data Driven World     Counselors once stood alone in matching clients to “great fit” colleges based on experience and a good guidebook.  Today, thanks to the Common Data Set, Naviance, College Scorecard and institutional websites, the volume of admissions data available for public consumption is astounding.  How can counselors harness this data to better manage student and parent expectations? Join your fellow counselors to explore using data to help students navigate the college planning process with greater confidence and clarity.  Moderated by EdTech leader George Fan, panelists discuss today’s data uses and what promise the data-rich future holds for managing expectations even better.

Managing Your Educational Consulting Practice Through Growth and Change      As professionals in an ever-changing field, optimal practice management can be a challenge.  Many consultants share a similar vision: build a thriving business that serves students well, while achieving meaningful balance. The journey is unique for each consultant, but we can learn from other’s experiences. What decisions have my colleagues made along the way?  How did they gather and weigh options? What resources, practical tools, or hidden gems were helpful? How did they find mentors and develop team members? Join us - a panel of experienced IECs and business managers - for a dynamic discussion, covering these questions and more.   

More Than Just Bathrooms: College Consulting for LGBTQIA      A survey from July 2018 shows that about 1/3 of Generation Z students identify as LGBTQIA+, which is the largest percentage of any generation. The college choice for LGBTQIA+ students involves more than academics and location. Students may need additional support and resources. Learn how to assess what students are looking for and how to communicate effectively with students and families. Presenters will help IECs understand current vocabulary and resources for these students, as well as present case studies of students they have worked with. Learn about best practices for working with LGBTQ, Trans and non-Binary students. This includes identifying college environments that Tolerate, Accept or best yet Affirm LGBTQIA+ students.

Oh the Places You’ll Go:  Benefits of adding Career Advising      Increasingly, career counseling is incorporated into college counseling models. There are many different career models. How do you pick the best one to use for your students? This session introduces data supporting the value of early career guidance,and how to deliver it using technology. A resource list with career and technology choices will be provided. A panel of consultants share the benefits and challenges of using career guidance and technology as a delivery system.

Once an Expert, Always an Expert? Why Continued Professional Development is Essential     IECs are lifelong learners. But what learning options should I prioritize? How do I instill the habit of ongoing learning into my busy life? Categories covered: best websites; guidebooks; cost, career, LD, and parental resources; podcasts; blogs; newsletters; webinars; summer programs; classes and newsletters. Discussion will also include association involvement, mentoring opportunities, publishing and certification.

Oy Vey!  The Jewish Student’s College Search      Jewish students and families are increasingly concerned about anti-semitic and anti-Israel incidents on college campuses. This session is designed to explore some of these incidents and explain how colleges are responding to them, both proactively and reactively, so that consultants can better address their clients’ concerns. This session will also provide an overview of some of the Jewish cultural and religious opportunities available on campuses across the country, with specific examples from RISD and Brown University. Consultants can use this information to better advise students and families on how to assess the range of Jewish life available on college campuses.     

Political and Social Climates on Campus: Where Do Our Students Fit In?      Current political and social landscapes on college campuses are rapidly changing, and are often confusing. As educational consultants, we visit campuses, take sponsored tours, talk and listen to students, alumni, and admissions officers, and try to get a sense of place. Despite our best efforts, it is extremely hard to keep up with the complicated political and social forces on campuses today, and how these forces influence campus climate. Using individual institutions as examples, this session will define terms and explore concepts that will enable participants to understand the political and social climate on an individual campus.

Practical Pointers for Your Practice-- lessons learned the HARD WAY      This session will address many issues faced by IEC's including but not limited to: Approaching parents of students with mental health needs.Gaining control of IEC time-schedules.Improving/simplifying the business aspect of the practice.Managing parent expectations.Addressing students who "ghost." Staying steady in the face of demanding parents.Generous Q & A session will permit participants/attendees the opportunity to respond to the presentation topics as well as to have their own specific questions fielded by two seasoned professionals with more than 40 years of combined practice experience.

Quick College Essay Reviews: Get In, Get Out, and Get It Right     It should never take more than 30 minutes to review a student essay if you know what to look for and what to set aside. In this session, you'll learn to create guidelines and templates to simplify your review process so you can comment on content first, followed by structure and then polish. You’ll learn to clarify content issues up front, encourage more creative structure and address poor writing skills, all while helping students create meaningful, effective college essays.

Same Mess, Different Day: Executive Functioning Strategies that Work      In this engaging and interactive workshop, you will learn organizational and executive functioning strategies to add to your real life toolkit. Participants will learn the proper tools to create an effective plan that can be implemented to address daily challenges. This session will allow for interactive case study reviews, pairing and reflection.  Attendees will leave with valuable resources and insightful takeaways to support both parents/professionals and student(s) immediately.

Scholarships for All! How the Discounting System Can Work For Your Clients     With the cost of college becoming more egregious every day, it makes sense to know how to help the students you work with, get the discounts they deserve. What is a scholarship or grant? A discount. This session will teach counselors about the tuition discount system and offer solutions you can use to help your clients achieve college funding success. After this session, participants will gain a broader understanding of how a college uses their office of Enrollment Management and financial aid leveraging to build a class.Financial aid leveraging is a technique that enables a college to learn how cost influences students’ and parents’ decisions to enroll or not enroll. It assesses the degree of price sensitivity among students and helps to establish the profile changes that might be necessary for an institution to achieve over time to become less dependent on students who require large amounts of institutional aid to enroll. The primary focus of leveraging to relate institutional financial aid to the net revenue generated by students who enroll.Teaching families how to take control of this process is an essential component of the college selection process today and something all independent counselors should be aware of.

Sleep Better At Night: Strategies to Protect Your Practice and Manage Expectations    What keeps you up at night?  Do you worry about keeping clients satisfied and meeting expectations?  Do you find yourself rehashing conversations or composing emails in your head when you should be sleeping? In this session, we will examine and discuss best practices for clearly defining scope of work and setting appropriate expectations for students and families. We will also take a deep dive into insurance needs, contracts, and details that can keep us all from better enjoying our work with students and families.  Specific strategies for setting boundaries and managing expectations w/ clients.Tips and samples of contract language.Considerations for insurance and ethical practice. This will be a variation of the popular "Covering Your Tushie" session co-sponsored by the Standards and Ethics Committee last year. We will spend more time this year discussing the new insurance options available to HECA members and will provide some contract samples as well.

Staying Ahead of the Changes to Colleges Admissions Testing     The landscape of admissions testing continues to evolve with changes that will affect the majority of college-bound students. The ACT has added a mandatory experimental section and eliminated self-pacing for extended-time students. Paper ACTs are a thing of the past for international students, computer adaptive testing is coming, and the move to digital testing is arriving in the US. The SAT/ACT essays are fading fast, the SAT Subject Tests are hanging in, and UChicago is test optional!  Let’s take a beat to process all the moving pieces to allow you to confidently coach your students about all things admissions testing: forthcoming changes to digital testing, policy shifts towards the SAT/ACT essay and SAT Subject Tests, and legal challenges to testing and affirmative action which may lead to more schools going test optional.

Success in Counseling Athletes - focus on Timing and Initiative is Imperative!      To achieve their college recruiting aspirations, high school athletes must take the INITIATIVE, and do so on a TIMELY basis. These athletes are best supported by knowledgeable counselors providing effective guidance to avoid Lost Opportunities. We will share with you how to accomplish these goals as well as discuss the unique factors involved in counseling high academic athletes as well as navigating the Dual Standard for admissions and financial aid.

The Aspiring Health Professional: How to find Fit in Today’s Admissions Landscape     With strong job growth in healthcare projected for the foreseeable future, it is little wonder there is much interest among college-bound students to pursue undergraduate programs in nursing, allied health, and the ubiquitous “pre-med.” This session helps IECs gain insights and tips for how we can translate student interest into actionable educational and career paths that also reflect the realities of today’s admissions landscape. This session provides a tour of that landscape through the lens of the aspiring health professional with greatest focus on the B.S.N. Case studies will underscore special nuances involved in finding fit and evaluating programs.

The Quieter Application: How to Help Introverts Create and Find Meaningful Activities     Though often thoughtful and accomplished in their pursuits, introverted students may not amass the same robust list of leadership activities and awards as their extroverted peers.  In this session, we'll discuss how our introverted students can initiate, pursue, and document activities that they find authentic and meaningful. We'll look through some sample projects initiated by students and talk about how admission counselors evaluate these "quieter" applications.   

Title IX Enforcement: A View From the Trenches     What’s really going on behind the headlines about sexual assault on campus? An admissions consultant and a Title IX coordinator will talk about their real-life experiences working on campus sexual assault cases.  We will talk about the evolution of Title IX, the federal law banning sex discrimination in education, and the changes in enforcement under Obama and Trump. We examine the (thin) literature available on interventions that work and call for more research seeking solutions.    Participants will have a more nuanced understanding of the laws and practices affecting American students. Participants will learn how to help protect students from having their educations derailed by a sexual misconduct allegation -- as accuser or accused.Participants will learn best practices for institutions to avoid lawsuits arising from action or inaction under Title IX.

Today’s College Interview--Preparing for Success     This session will describe interview structure, and how best to convey this to students in your coaching process. We will discuss the various forms of interviews including informational, evaluative and the new MMI format being utilized by admission offices around the country.  Practical advice will be examined to use this structure to articulate an authentic match between the school and the candidate. There will also be a Q & A opportunity.

Turning the Tide #2, The Character Collaborative, Social Media, & College Admissions     When it comes to certain college and graduate school admissions, today's students will be assessed on factors beyond their grades, test scores, and resumes. While the ascent of character assessments as a metric for admissions is not a new phenomenon, some 70% of colleges now consider social media to be "fair game" when assessing an applicant's character. Students can help their admissions chances by learning how to use social media to take control of their digital narrative.   

“What? Wait a Minute! The Liberal Arts includes Science?”  Yes!     The sciences are an integral part of a liberal arts degree.  Our panelists will talk about research opportunities, preparation for graduate school, and health professions while giving counselors tools to help skeptical parents and students see the immense value in studying STEM fields at liberal arts colleges.   

Wicked Smaaht Ways to Build Your Business     Brand new to the IEC world? Looking for ways to build a business while creating a lifelong brand? This workshop has been designed for you! We will have an open forum of discussion to share our advice on marketing, social media, document need-to-haves plus how to run a student centered practice. We will provide very different business models that attendees can compare and contrast. We represent different parts of the country and came from different backgrounds prior to entering the IEC world. We encourage open dialog and sharing so that all attendees leave feeling "Wicked Smaaht!"

Working Together in a Sea of Opportunity     On a college tour? A counselor fly-in? Regional ACAC meeting? These are amazing opportunities to 'put yourself out there', introduce yourself and network with counselors from different settings. There is a lot of chatter about counselors 'not working with one another'. Let's explore ways we can open up lines of communication to better work on behalf of our students in common. Presenters are from a parochial boy's high school, public high school (formerly from the college admissions/resident life) and independent practice. Come learn and share with us!    

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