Supporting school-based counselors in new (and unexpected) places

With predictions of upwards of 10,000 international high schools by 2020, colleges are grappling with the question of how to best connect with, and support, an ever-increasing and geographically-distributed number of school-based college counselors.

Knowing that Eddie West, Director of International Initiatives at the National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC) has been likewise thinking about the growing population of international students on non-immigrant student (F-1) visas, and related needs of U.S.-based counselors, the 2016 International ACAC Conference at Rutgers University seemed like a great opportunity to bring more people into this important discussion.

Our thesis was simple, really: The future of school-based college counseling looks a lot brighter if current admissions and international school professionals focus on building communities that include emerging schools (in new and unexpected places) and those tasked with providing school-based college counseling, often teachers and administrators.

Amazingly enough, Eddie and I were joined in this rather ambitious panel by some remarkably thoughtful people: Founder of JCT4Education and architect of the inaugural IACAC Regional Institute, Juan-Camilo Tamayo; expert on college counseling in the international school context and founder of Greymatter Hall Consulting, Dan Grayson; and high school counselor at Kents Hill School and current Chair of the NACAC International Advisory Committee, Anne Richardson.

Our panel discussion covered a good deal of ground identifying both challenges, clarifying the roles of agents and school-based counselors; increasing awareness of regional programs and resources; how to develop and update the right content at the right level; how to get the right people to the right places; and opportunities: emergence of regional networks (discussed below), potential certification and associated curriculum, and how to get the word out through awareness campaigns. Below, I will focus on two main areas of discussion: the growth of in-person regional conferences and institutes, and low-cost, high impact online spaces.

In-Person: Regional Conferences & Institutes

If networking and outreach are a natural fit with capacity building and, since international admissions staff travel extensively, we talked about how to encourage our admissions colleagues to bookend their tour or small travel itinerary with regional conferences or institutes.

Upcoming regional in-person capacity building opportunities include: IC3 Conference (Mumbai, 31 August – 01 September); TAISI Leadership Conference (Gurgaon, 29 September – 01 October); CIS – EARCOS Institute (Bangkok, 30 September – 01 October), International ACAC Institute – Africa (Nairobi, 20 – 22 October); Global University Counsellor Connect (Singapore, April 2017). If you are aware of other opportunities, please email me here.

Online: Question-and-Answer Spaces

In reality though, since many of us in this community spend quite a bit of our time engaging internationally from our desks or the occasional arm-chair, our conversation turned to asynchronous, online and distance strategies. Question-and-Answer spaces that support school-based counselors in new, and unexpected, places are on Facebook International ACAC Group or College Admissions Counselors Group for example, and via email list serves, NACAC Exchange Listserve. For the adventurous, try Quora, where under Topic: College and University Admissions, an active discussion on college admissions processes never stops. Parke Muth’s posts on Quora have been viewed a mere 1,671,097 times as of last week.

Please drop us a note if you have thoughts about this topic or if you would like to be more involved in future discussions.

Additional Resources:

For those looking for great free or low cost resources on school-based college counseling for international students, check out Fundamentals of College Admission Counseling, Step by Step: College Awareness and Planning for Families, Counselors and Communities, Guide to the College Admission Process and College Board International Student Handbook.

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