The Road to NACAC: How To Make This Year’s Conference the Most Productive Yet

For many of us enrollment professionals, the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) National Conference highlights our year and kicks off the fall recruiting season. As a veteran of the conference, I think this is the most wonderful time of year in our profession.

Here are some tips on how to make the most of NACAC 2017.

Learn, Learn, Learn and Share

The conference is fully packed with educational opportunities. Dr. Shaun R. Harper’s keynote address during the welcome session promises to be one for the books; be ready to take notes to share with your team. Of course, vast options of educational sessions are offered in every imaginable higher education topic. If you have yet to venture out to the special interest group sessions or learning lounges, I highly recommend them.

Catch Up with Colleagues

We often share with our newer team members that, as admission professionals, we spend more of our waking hours with our colleagues than anyone else. How fortunate are we to be able to connect with colleagues from days past! Some folks may switch sides of the desk, or sides of the business, yet we are all still in this great profession together. Enjoy your time reconnecting with old friends as well as making new friends.

Taste the Flavor of the Host City

NACAC truly possesses a knack for choosing host cities with lots of excitement. At some point, if your schedule allows, explore Boston. Without the NACAC conference, I would never have walked down Bourbon Street with my colleagues in New Orleans, cheered the Padres on to victory in San Diego, or marveled at the Toronto skyline.

Exercise Your Voting Privileges

Your votes for NACAC candidates make a difference. I recently learned about the extensive and time-consuming process for candidates — very impressive. Meet the candidates, research and please vote!

Take Advantage of an Opportunity to Introduce Our Profession

While many may be attending their 10th, 17th, 31st NACAC conferences, others are newbies. Remember your first NACAC conference? It can be overwhelming! A great opportunity presents itself to help welcome the newer professionals and demonstrate the various paths to which this profession leads. If this is your first NACAC conference, don’t miss the First Timers’ Orientation on Thursday morning.

Visit the Exhibit Hall

What an opportunity to visit with vendor partners and potential vendor partners to learn new cutting-edge technology and trends in our field. In the same vein that we encourage our prospective students and parents to explore at a college fair, take some time to do the same at the exhibit hall [link not available]. (Don’t forgot to stop by Capture’s booth — 612.)

Additionally, my mentor taught me at my first NACAC conference to bring swag back for team members in the office; don’t underestimate the appreciation your team feels from this gesture.

Experience the Counselors’ College Fair

While we love representing our colleges and universities, we also like visiting with one another. If your institution is fortunate enough to have more than one team member at NACAC, then take a few minutes to visit your colleagues. A relatively captive audience exists for this two-plus hours during the college fair to reconnect and meet colleagues on the same side of the desk.

Enjoy Socializing

The conference presents an array of socializing opportunities, which is not news for any veteran of the conference. It is impossible for me to pick a favorite; however, a few of my top picks are socials from your vendor partners, the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) luncheon, affiliate membership meetings, the welcome session, and the conference social. Some of these double as educational too!

In fact, Capture will host a great socializing opportunity Friday evening (Sept. 15) at this year’s conference. Be sure to join us for Capture’s Happy Hour from 7–10 p.m. at the City Bar at Westin Boston Waterfront (just steps from the convention center). You can RSVP here to let us know you will be joining us.

Here’s wishing you the most productive NACAC conference yet. I am hopeful that you will find a match or two with the NACAC matching game, and feel free to share your favorite NACAC experiences through the social media challenge. Enjoy Boston!

By Gretchen Tucker, Senior Enrollment Solutions Advisor, Capture Higher Ed