Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Welcome to Seattle! We're Glad You're Here

Welcome to Seattle! We hope you are enjoying this wonderful city and all that is has to offer.

If you have arrived in Seattle and have not been to the Washington State Convention and Trade Center to check things out, remember to bring your badge. You will not get very far if you forget your badge.

Upon arrival at the Convention Center, head to the 4th floor to have your badge scanned and to pick up a badge holder and tote bag full of important information--including your Program Book.

When you get off the escalators on the 4th floor, badge scanning will take place to your right. If you forgot your badge or still need to register, head to your left to on site registration.

Once you have checked in, if you find yourself needing information about the conference, head towards the Exhibit Hall area to the NACAC Information Booth. You can also purchase Imagine Fund raffle tickets at the Information Booth when the Exhibit Hall is not open. You can save yourself some time by filling out the raffle ticket paperwork that is included in your tote bag. Your contribution will support Presidents' Council Grants, research projects and other NACAC initiatives.

Thursday is shaping up to be a big day! Registration opens at 7 am. Preconference Seminars begin at 8:30 am. The Exhibit Hall opens at 10 am. First-Timers' Orientation begins at 11:30 am. And you will not want to miss the Opening Session with our Keynote Presenter, Randy Snow at 1:00 pm.

Other afternoon notables include Exhibitor Presentations at 3 pm, "A" Educational Sessions at 3:15 pm, afternoon Exhibit Hall hours begin at 3 pm, State and Regional General Membership Meetings at 4:45 pm and don't miss out on a fabulous networking opportunity at 6:30 pm when many of your colleagues will attend the Welcome Reception.

Finally, we'll leave you with a little photo tour from downtown, Seattle. Enjoy:

The entrance to Pike Place Market.

Beautiful fruit at Pike Place Market.

A vendor at Pike Place Market peels fresh vegetables.

A sampling of crabs at the market.

Fresh fish at the Market.

The very first Starbucks to open its doors in Seattle.

A view of the mountains.

Tourists take a breather.

The Seattle Aquarium.

More mountain views.

A ferry boat arrives at port.

The catch of the day.

If you have photos to share, send them to and we'll post them in upcoming blog postings.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Homage to the Emerald City

I had been away on a trip the past two weeks and returned to very warm and pleasant late summer days. While the sun is rising later now, as I eat breakfast and read the paper the house gradually became bathed in a soft golden sunrise. You can’t suppress broad smiles from sheer pleasure when experiencing such days. Late summer days are truly amazing in the Pacific Northwest.

Alas, the past two days have marked a return to our traditionally mercurial weather. It dropped from the mid 70s to the mid 60s, and is misty and a bit overcast. We are hoping that during the NACAC Conference the weather it will rebound to that like last week. However, it is cool, pleasant, and autumnal and, like Seattleites, you might learn you don’t need an umbrella in mist. It is brisk and refreshing, and you won’t melt.

As I envision you coming to experience Seattle I remember my first reactions. I had grown up in the majestic Hudson Valley and then lived in beautiful central New York State. My wife grew up in the picturesque Mohican State Park region of north central Ohio where everyone is nice and welcoming. We both, however, were captivated by Seattle.

Fourteen years ago our children were very young and we were contemplating whether we would remain in the East the rest of our lives or make a change. Of course, when you have children you want what is best for them as your goal is for them to be better people than you. So, while we love New York and Ohio (and many days we sorely miss New York wit and Midwestern wholesomeness) factoring our values, and what we hoped our children would become, Seattle seemed a perfect fit. We have never regretted our decision.

Seattle is a place where everyone assumes you are worth something, until you prove otherwise. It is a city that is kind and one that “works”. People wait for the traffic light to change before walking, drivers regard pedestrians as sacrosanct, and folks automatically say please and thank you. Fair play is innate, rudeness or unkindness is regarded as appalling.

People are people first in Seattle; they aren’t hyphenated based upon ethnicity. We have people who are of Asian American heritage, for example, not Asian Americans. Ethnicity and differences are things to be celebrated but are far down the list of characteristics in defining a person. It gives me great satisfaction that my sons have grown up unconsciously regarding those of Latino, African American, and Asian American heritage as role models, that novels by Sherman Alexie and Debra Magpie Earling were part of their education, and that they seek pad thai or sushi when needing comfort food. The power structure is shared in Seattle: people here wouldn’t have it any other way.

My sons have grown up far more sophisticated than my wife and me. They have mastered all the bus routes and navigate the city with ease, enjoying Bumbershoot, other concerts, museums, the Mariners, the theatre, browse bookstores, and thrift shops. Because it is a kind, secure place we more willingly let go of them. They are smart and as a rule the people of Seattle are good.

Like other natives, my boys play sports in the rain, love the music scene, join their neighbors who attend the movies more any other U.S. city per capita, reach for books for entertainment, and are engaged, informed global citizens, environmentally concerned, and are consumed by a powerful sense of social justice. They have grown up enjoying both marine and aquatic environments, and find themselves arrested by the breathtaking grandeur of the Cascade and Olympic Mountains. And, the mild, marine climate assures that they can enjoy the outdoors 12 months a year.

We look forward to welcoming you to this wonderful community. It is a good place to live; it is a good place to raise children. It is about as good as it gets.

Michael K. McKeon
Dean of Admissions
Seattle University

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Treading Water in the Midst of the Slightly Chaotic Lives of My Seniors

With the NACAC conference less than a week away, I find myself in a bit of a panic. I’m treading water in the midst of the slightly chaotic lives of my seniors as they are nailing down lists and working on applications.

A group of schools here in Austin have a college fair that comes on the heels of the NACAC conference. Parents are calling daily with worries of their own. I’m trying to make sure that I greet all of our visiting college reps with a smile since I am genuinely so glad they are here! And I’m staring down Early Action and Early Decision letters of recommendation as if I can will the right words onto the computer screen if I only look at it long enough. Oh…and I’m trying to balance all of this work stuff with some sort of personal life, too. Aren’t we all?!

So why do I think I have time to leave the office (and my life) for five days next week? Because it’s the NACAC National Conference – duh! If you’ve heard that you should go but are a first-timer who is really wondering if this is a good use of your time or if you are a veteran attendee who is trying to remind yourself that this is indeed a good use of your time (I find myself in the middle, by the way!), maybe my thoughts about why we should go to the conference will help.

Here was my pep talk to myself:

1) I get to go to Seattle! I’ve never been to Seattle…I’m so excited to spend some time there. (And although Austin has had cooler weather lately – an odd thing for us in September, as some of you might know from the conference last year – I’m excited for fall weather in Seattle!) And I can’t wait to see some of the colleges in and around Seattle.

2) I’m lucky to get to travel with some of my colleagues. It will be a great time to build our relationships but also some time away from school to process all of the college questions and have those conversations that we never have time for when we’re in the normal routine of our lives at school.

3) Speaking of conversations…you get to have LOTS of them at the conference. (Plan to drink a lot of water and maybe bring a package of cough drops in case your voice begins to go hoarse!) If you’re shy like me, you might be hesitant to strike up a conversation with someone. But every time I do jump into or begin a conversation I’m incredibly glad that I did. I learn something; I find a new way of doing something; I meet a new colleague in the field or perhaps a new friend.

4) The national conference is simply irreplaceable in our lives in this profession. There are other great professional development opportunities out there – on a state or even local level – but at no other times are college professionals from both sides of the desk from around the world gathered together to talk to and listen to one another. And the cool thing about the nature of this conference is that it’s a place where people really do want to hear what others are saying. Some of my most memorable educational sessions have been the ones where it’s really a dialogue between high school counselors and college admissions officers.

5) One final thought about getting excited about going when you’re feeling like you just don’t have the time: take a look at the offerings in terms of the educational sessions…and start planning which ones you want to attend! (NOTE: Be sure to have a second or third choice in the event that the session you want to go to is full!)

So there you have it…rather than moving into full-blown panic last night and even (not very seriously) considering cancelling all plans to head west next week, I reminded myself why we go to the NACAC conference and why we give up precious time to be out of the office and away from our hometowns.

I look forward to seeing everyone there!

Elizabeth Guice
Director of College Counseling and Registrar
St. Andrew's Episcopal School (TX)

Seattle Airport Information

Greetings from the Hospitality Committee. Teri Calcagno and I hope you are excited and ready for your trip to Seattle. The Seattle airport is fairly easy to navigate and we’ve created a PowerPoint presentation to assist you.

The Hospitality Committee will have a table near baggage claim 12 to assist you on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday morning.

Probably the most important thing you need to know is that all taxis, airport vans and shuttle busses pickup on level 3 of the parking garage. To get there from baggage claim you go up one level, walk across the sky bridge and then go down one level in the parking garage. If you are a visual learner you can use the PowerPoint or visit the airport Web site.

See you next week!

Eric R. Pedersen
Dean of Enrollment
Saint Martin’s University

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Tips From a First-Time Conference Attendee

In less than three weeks, many of us will convene in Seattle for the National Conference. Personally, I am excited that NACAC is coming to Seattle as I have grown to really love this city after making many trips to visit various area high schools, community based organizations, and college fairs.

Over time, I have met the locals - thousands of friendly and talented students, faculty, and administrators that will play host and that you too will soon get to meet. I know that Michael McKeon has already shared wisdom of his hometown and in my upcoming blog postings I hope to offer up my own Seattle favorites that might be helpful to you if you’re looking for a good scone, bookstore, or an excellent place near the conference site for a walk/run. Stay tuned…

But for my first blog posting (I know, a bit late!), I’d like to provide a few nuggets to those that will call Seattle their first national conference ever. While I begin my eighth year in admission, Seattle will only be my second conference attended. As a newbie in Austin (last year’s site), there was quite a bit going on all-around and at times I felt overwhelmed. Overall I learned quite a bit, I met and reacquainted myself with other colleagues in the field, and got to see a good part of Austin. It was a blast! From that experience, I offer five things that you should do as a neophyte to the NACAC Conference.

Attend the First-Time Attendees’ Orientation: You’re not alone! When I attended the orientation in Austin, I was surprised to see hundreds of other first-timers at the event. This will also be a great opportunity to ask questions about the schedule, locations, etc. They might give you some “flair” that reads “first-timer” – don’t worry or feel embarrassed about wearing the pin. People actually treat first-timers really nice at these conferences, so wear the piece of “flair” proudly!

Keynote speakers should not be missed: Yes, you should definitely make time for a number of educational sessions. But after a busy day, it might be in your mind to call it an early day and not attend the keynotes. Don’t – you may be missing out on one of the best things about the NACAC Conference! I was so moved and learned so much by hearing the keynote speakers last year in Austin. I anticipate that this year’s lineup of speakers will not disappoint: Randy Snow, Sherman Alexie, and Dr. Zenobia Hikes.

Take some time to explore the host city: Seattle is an awesome city, home to great sports, a vibrant arts scene, and incredible city parks. I will offer up some suggestions in upcoming blog postings but for now the advice is to take some time out and explore!

Be social: One of the most important reasons to attend the National Conference is to meet new people and catch-up with those that you already know. Attend the many social gatherings that are planned throughout the conference. Schedule coffee with a colleague at one of Seattle’s cafes.

Represent: I don’t mean to sound like a huge prude but this last to-do is an important one. Remember that while the National Conference is a time to celebrate all of the amazing things that make our profession so great, it is also a chance for you to represent your home office/organization.

One last important piece of advice: don’t do anything at the National Conference that you wouldn’t want your boss to know about the next morning. I cannot speak from personal experience, but I have heard a handful of stories of things that have happened at these conferences that have negatively impacted professional reputations. Have fun (you better!) – but remember to be responsible.

Take some (if not all) of these things into consideration as you begin your first National Conference and you should not feel as anxious as I did last year. See you there!

Solomon K. Enos
Associate Director of Admission
Stanford University

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Two Weeks To Go: My Memorable Moments

Just over two weeks to go and I can’t wait to get to Seattle for my eighth NACAC Conference!

I think that my most memorable NACAC moment was when I was elected to the Board of Directors, but I also vividly recall hearing Jonathan Kozol speak in Pittsburgh (PA) and meeting Hugh O’Brien. For me, the Rising Star Awards are always a highlight.
In terms of sessions, there have been too many great ones to name, but I will tell you that I have learned a lot of things at NACAC conferences that have made me better at my job. I also like the socials…

I’ll be welcoming all of the Conference First-Timers at their special conference session on Thursday, September 25 at 11:30am and I’ll encourage them to take advantage of the many things that NACAC has to offer: varied programming, networking opportunities, exhibitor information and the chance to experience the great Pacific Northwest.

I’ll also be sure to remind them to attend the meeting of their state/regional affiliates. That’s not just a good tip for first-timers, but for everyone. It's more than an excellent way to catch up on all the activities at home, it’s also an ideal way to connect with friends and colleagues from your own region.

The real trick to making the most of the conference is to do everything. If it’s on the schedule – go. If you’re invited – go. If it sounds interesting – go. That’s really the best conference advice I can offer – meet people and do things.

In my last posting I told everyone that I had started my “NACAC 2008” folder and I am happy to report that it now contains my BADGE (so that I will be sure to bring it to Seattle!).

See you in a few weeks!
Lisa Sohmer
Director of College Counseling
Garden School, NY

NACAC Endorses a Presidential Candidate (Find Out Who)

Now that we have your attention...

NACAC will remain nonpartisan, of course. However you should be doing your homework about how our presidential candidates stack up in their support for higher education. Your NACAC Government Relations Committee will make it easy for you. We've prepared a special session at the upcoming conference called "ELECTION 2008". Come and find out where they stand and dialogue with your colleagues about who you support and why:

Election 2008: How the Candidates Stack Up on College Admission Counseling Issues Session
A110 ('A' Education Session)
Thursday, September 25
3:15 - 4:30pm Room 4C-3

Related Links

Check the blog weekly for more information, and perhaps something even more catchy!

See you in Seattle,

Craig Dodson
Associate Director of Admission
La Salle University
Chair, NACAC Government Relations Committee

Joe Tweed
Director of College Counseling
Trinity-Pawling School
NACAC Government Relations Committee

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Support the Pathways to College Act: Urge your Senators to Co-sponsor

Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) has introduced the Pathways to College Act (S 3326), a bill designed to increase the number of low-income and first generation students enrolling in and succeeding in college.

The bill draws on research and recommendations from NACAC and our coalition partners, and would provide grant funds to high need school districts to improve school counseling services and increase students’ access to postsecondary planning and information.

Use NACAC’s Legislative Action Center to contact your Senators and urge them to join Senator Durbin in co-sponsoring S 3326. If Senator Durbin is your Senator, please edit the message to thank him for his sponsorship of this critical legislation!

Craig Dodson
Associate Director of Admission
La Salle University
Chair, NACAC Government Relations Committee