My University Counselling colleague, Timio Colistro, and I spent 4 days in San Diego last week attending the ‘National Association of College Advising and Counseling’ (NACAC) annual conference. To the surprise of no one (who doesn’t want to spend time in sunny San Diego?), it was the largest event ever with over 7400 attendees, made up of school counsellors and college admissions personnel. This was my fourth NACAC conference and I continue to find it a stimulating and enjoyable, if exhausting, way to take part in professional development.
One of the main themes of the conference was increasing access to college, a big push in the US supported by the First Lady, Michelle Obama. A related but unofficial theme this year was the Coalition initiative, revealed just two days before the national conference began. It is a collection of 83 selective and highly selective colleges who are seeking to change the way students apply for and perhaps even think about college. Watch this space for more information about this to come in the months ahead as the plan is unveiled. A highlight of the conference was the inspiring keynote address given by Sal Khan, founder of the Khan Academy. Timio and I also attended many interesting and informative sessions and came home “full”, both of new ideas to enhance the work we do, and of gratitude for the environment in which we are able to do our work.
In between the conference sessions, the college-sponsored socials, and the search for fish tacos, we also had the chance to go to University of California, San Diego (see this post about a SMUS alum studying there) and the University of San Diego where Paris (SMUS grad 2014) is in her second year as a sociology major with a pre-med pathway that has her taking one science course per term. Paris is a delightful young woman from Oregon who is making the most of her college experience, just as she did when she was at SMUS. Paris has enjoyed the experiential component of her classes and is part of an exciting initiative called ChangeMakers, one of the many groups she is involved with on campus. For those who knew Paris at SMUS, I can assure you that her enthusiasm, energy and effervescent personality continues to shine.