By Salwa Janjua
In September 2019, I travelled to Louisville, Kentucky, to attend the annual National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) conference. NACAC is an organization of more than 13,000 professionals from around the world, dedicated to serving students transitioning from secondary to postsecondary education, spanning everyone from professional school counselors and college access counselors, to admissions and financial aid officers.
I was joined by four other advisers and two Regional Education Advising Coordinators (REACS) from the EducationUSA network to learn, collaborate and network at the conference. The REACs were based in Qatar and Mexico, while the advisers represented Pakistan, America, Taiwan, Puerto Rico, and Uganda.
The four-day conference presented a wide variety of educational offerings including workshops, informational sessions, booth displays, and college fairs followed by evening socials. These events provided participants with the opportunity to engage with professionals in the global higher education community. A particularly interesting session was the comparative study of U.S. and U.K. education and application systems. This session compared applications to selective universities in both countries. The panel included Imperial College London, University of Oxford, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Philips Exeter Academy.
The keynote speaker, Randi Zuckerberg, shared how her educational experience shaped her entrepreneurial success. She spoke about constant advancements in technology and their impact on admissions, educational reforms and accessibility to global resources. There were numerous startups at the educational expo, promoting education through college related apps including those for college search, college prep, standardized test prep, etc.
My team and I presented an update on International Student Recruitment from the EducationUSA Network in collaboration with the Department of Commerce. I also spoke about the South Asia tours as well as the different engagement activities EducationUSA Pakistan conducts on international student recruitment. The activities include but are not limited to college fairs, alumni events, school and university visits and counselor networking workshops.
Overall, the NACAC conference was a great learning experience for me. I had the opportunity to learn from changemakers in the field of education, was introduced to new trends and latest researches, and also had the chance to share my own experiences of working as an adviser in Pakistan, with the NACAC community. But more than anything else, the conference reinforced the important work EducationUSA does, as well as the pivotal role educational advisers and counselors play in shaping a students’ future.