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  • Debra M. Shively

1,200 Counsellors at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Last month I had the opportunity to attend the 24th annual conference for the International Association for College Admission Counseling which was held at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio... which is also the home of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. More on that later.

Case Western Reserve is a prominent private research institution with nearly 95 undergraduate degree courses, 140 dual degree programs and over 100 interdisciplinary academic and research centres and institutions. Its combined undergraduate and post graduate student body of 11,000 students represents 91 countries from around the world.

The International ACAC conference is an annual opportunity for over 1,200 members who work in the field of international admissions to come together to discuss current topics and trends. The member attendees were either high school careers advisers, independent counsellors, or working in university admissions. Conference sessions provided learning outcomes for sending and receiving international students - and while the US is the leading destination for inbound students, sessions included a global perspective.

Keynote speaker, Freda Levenson, legal director for the ACLU of Ohio opened the conference with inspirational words on the continued efforts to provide a US education for all qualified students, regardless of their country of origin.

Photo credit: EducationUSA EC via Twitter

The three day conference offered over 79 topic sessions catering to both high school and university counsellors which were led by industry professionals. The sessions were interactive and allowed for audience questions which further encouraged in-depth discussion. Below are a few session snapshots, particularly relevant to Australia:

  • Increase in Aussies going to the US - Australia and the Pacific Islands demonstrated the second largest increase in students attending US intuitions. The 4.9% increase from May 2016 to May 2017 confirms the interest of the regions students seeking US options for their undergraduate education. More than half of the Australian students studying in the US are pursuing undergraduate degrees.

  • Supporting student athletes – Within the US there are three athletic governing bodies: the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA), the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Different levels of play and sports are covered by each governing body, however, there is substantial overlap resulting in increased opportunities for students. Each governing body requires eligibility requirements to be met. Students interested in playing high level intercollegiate sports should create a sporting CV along with a video reflecting their talent which can be sent out to respective coaches. Athletic scholarships are available, depending on the level of play and eligibility, which will cover the cost of tuition and sometimes room and board. Students should undertake substantial research to understand the level of play and commitment required to compete under each of these bodies before deciding which to pursue. Of course, Internationally Educated can assist in this research.

  • The International Baccalaureate (IB) - Australian secondary schools which offer the IB should note that some US universities will waive certain admission criteria for high achieving results. Additionally, some US institutions also grant transfer credit for strong IB results. As institutions are able to define their own policies, student conducted research is encouraged to identify these institutions - and again Internationally Educated can assist with this research.

  • Find your fit - Encourage students to develop a thoughtful college list which may include looking beyond name brand institutions to find their best fit. There are over 4,000 degree granting intuitions in which to choose representing a huge variety of choice. Students are driven by different university experiences and bring varied academic and extracurricular

credentials; encourage students to find their fit where they will flourish.

Photo credit above right Arun Ponnusamy via twitter

In addition to the ample professional development opportunities there was also time to network and appreciate some American pastimes including S’more roasting, a dodgeball game, a 5K run (where I represented Australia), trivia night (we were on the winning team!) and a scholarship raffle.

Photo credit JCT4Education via Twitter

Photo credit International ACAC via Twitter

The conference concluded as we said farewell to our global colleagues with a reception at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. International ACAC members were encouraged to peruse the exhibits at their own pace while a band played in the main floor. Exhibits included rock icons such as Johnny Cash, AC/DC, Simon and Garfunkel, Michael Jackson, David Bowie, Bono, and more recently inducted, Pearl Jam. Special exhibits featured an in-depth look behind the scenes of the Rolling Stones 50 year legacy and an ongoing Elvis Presley exhibit to include regularly updated artefacts sent directly from Graceland. The museum is a must-see if you ever find yourself in Cleveland.

The conference is a great opportunity to learn and further develop knowledge on International and US university admissions. I personally appreciate the opportunity to reconnect with old colleagues dating back to when I worked in US Admissions and first attended the conference as a US university representative in 2001. The annual event is held each year in July at a different US university campus and will have further celebrations next year as we mark the 25 year anniversary of the organisation. Australian career counsellors are welcome to apply to join the association. For more information on International Association for College Admission Counseling, please visit the website.

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