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Member Spotlight: John Liu

John Liu Member Spotlight 

Name: John Yi Liu

Title: Regional Coordinator for University and Career Guidance 

Institution: Yew Chung International School of Shanghai and Yew Wah International School 

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We’re All in This Together

We’re All in This Together


By: Sherrie Huan
Senior Regional Manager (China/North Asia), The University of Sydney

When reflecting upon the two Coronavirus Member Forum Webinars run on the 18th February, I couldn’t help thinking of this scene in “High School Musical.”

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Getting Involved - Thoughts & Tips on 2020 Elections

Getting Involved - Thoughts and Tips on the 2020 Elections

By: Aaron Andersen
Past President & Chair of Governance Nominating Committee
Director, International Recruitment, University of British Columbia 


My daughter is twelve, in grade seven, which here in Canada, is the last year before she heads to high school.  Last week, as our family was going through the regular hectic morning activities – making lunches, last minute homework, finding socks, and eating cereal she thrust a scrunched up paper into my hand and said “Sign this, Dad … Please.” 

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NACAC - What’s Happening ? Questions and Answers.

NACAC - What’s Happening ?  Questions and Answers.

At the National NACAC Conference at the end of the month several major issues are at  play that will impact the National Association - and has the potential to alter the Admission landscape.  The following is a break down of the issues as outlined by Past President and Chief Delegate to the NACAC National Conference, Aaron Andersen.



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Member Spotlight: Claire Wilkins


Member Spotlight 

Claire Wilkins
Director of International Admissions
Temple University

What drew you to the world of international admissions?
Serendipity and a desire to prevent others from experiencing what I experienced. I was a third culture kid and an international student who went to three high schools in three cities across two countries. From a Canadian curriculum to an IB curriculum (in two separate countries) to university in Wales, Canada and England, my educational path was riddled with obstacles, changes and people who didn't understand who I was, where I was from and what I'd studied. I, like many others, fell into admissions after other careers as I was always drawn to education and the chance to be able to be someone who could help international students like myself overcome those obstacles, prepare for those changes and be understood was something I couldn't pass up. 

What is your favorite part of the job?
Seeing the light turn on for a student once they realise their potential and their own agency in the process. 

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Diversity Initiative Update


As many of us begin our academic year (or prepare for summer break depending on your hemisphere!), it seems like a long time ago that we were gathered on the campus of Western University in London, Ontario Canada, learning and growing as an international family. One of the moments where you saw candor and honest conversation was during the diversity and inclusion workshops conducted by trainers from the Council of International Schools (CIS). Part of a larger Diversity Initiative undertaken by International ACAC, these workshops aimed to push the conversation of equity and inclusion to the forefront by having members reflect on their own held biases and speak candidly about how these affect members.

It’s clear that these conversations around equity and inclusion cannot be concluded in one simple workshop. Indeed, a sequence of three workshops were held during the summer Conference - for the Executive Board, Pre-Conference attendees, and for Committee members and the general membership.  They were not always easy conversations - they never are. But they are important to have and the leadership at International ACAC sees this need.

So what’s the next step for these necessary conversations?  As we are all in various parts of the globe, our work will move on-line. International ACAC will be offering Global Diversity and Inclusion webinar training sessions developed from the sessions given at the July Summer Conference in London, Ontario to over 350 International ACAC members!  Three webinars will be offered at varied times to honor global time zones between October 28 and November 3.  Committee members of International ACAC are required to engage in our Association's diversity training within the first two years of their term by attending the workshop offered in conjunction with the summer conference or participating in the above mentioned webinar event. There is no cost for this training, and members will find it also applies to the workplace and personal situations of International ACAC members. The trainers, Eeqbal Hassim, a consultant in intercultural and international education and Inventory (IDI) Qualified Administrator, and Chris Green and Ann Straub, International Advisors and IDI Qualified Administrators from the Council International Schools, will be facilitating the two-hour webinar sessions. The sessions will be highly interactive using individual, small group and whole group constructivist activities to build understanding about Intercultural Competency, the Stereotype Wheel, the Culture Cycle and how this all relates to ourselves and International ACAC.  Soon, times and dates in October and May will be announced inviting International ACAC members to join a free webinar training session that suits their schedule.  Stay tuned!

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Scholar Program 2019

Scholar Program 2019

By: Kate Dobson, Assistant Director of International Admissions, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis; Joe Tavares, High School Counselor, Jakarta Intercultural School

As an International ACAC member, you’ve surely heard about the Scholar Program. Now in its sixth year, it fully funds professional development for counselors who work with high-achieving, low-income students in under-resourced schools or community organizations around the world.

Each year’s cohort of Scholars are selected through a competitive nomination, application, and review process.  They attend the annual International ACAC conference and post-conference bus tour, and are paired with mentors who will support them for a year.

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President's Corner: Finding Words to Live By

President’s Corner:  Finding Words to Live By

by Aaron Andersen, International ACAC President
June, 2019

As we close out another academic year in much of the world, and many of us are preparing for a restful break - - and the start of our annual conference - - this is always a good time to reflect upon the past year of our Association.

Immediately I’m drawn to recall the list of highlights shared by our executive board members, in our final bi-monthly meeting last week.  To me, a fan of ‘All Things Listed’, I mentally drew up a 2018-19 Top Five for International ACAC list in my mind:

1) Regional Institutes in India and Eastern Europe – hosting successful PD events in two vibrant and engaging countries.  India and Bulgaria both represent critical important sectors of international education.

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Conference Networking Tips


"Best part of the conference - - oh the NETWORKING!"  This is often a common refrain by conference attendees, not just International ACAC's annual event, but most professionals will often claim the No.1 aspect of a given proffesional development event is the chance to meet and share with colleagues.  Now the benefits of networking are not disputed, however it is the act of networking that often is taken for granted.  In fact just as many people likely will say how exhausting a conference is because of all the networking.  If the very thought of talking and puting yourself out there is making you sweat, here are a few helpful tips to get you prepared for the next International ACAC conference.

1. Do Your Homework

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Member Engagement Survey

The field of international admissions and counseling has multiple topics and trends that influence and shape our profession. With the 2018/19 academic cycle nearing an end in many parts of the world, now is a good time to review which of these topics that relate to our Association are most on the minds of our members. International ACAC seeks feedback on membership status, the pillars of our strategic plan, regional networks, and voter participation to ensure we focus our energy in the right areas as we head into planning our summer Executive Board meetings.

Please take a few minutes to complete this brief survey

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Grant Application Period for Europe Regional Institute Extended until April 15th

Grant Application Period for Europe Regional Institute Extended until April 15th

The 2019 Europe Regional Institute is fast approaching. Just over a month from now, colleagues from around the world will meet at the historic American College of Sofia in Bulgaria for International ACAC’s first-ever dedicated professional development conference focused on international university admissions in this region of the continent. We’re honored by the positive response we’ve received from you as registrations continue to grow.

The Faculty Co-Chairs have put together a stellar faculty to address compelling topics that are key to understanding the region’s students and university systems. We’re keen to share this learning, networking and recruiting opportunity with as many colleagues as possible. To that end, we hope you’ll take us up on our request that you share the attached invitation to attend the Europe Regional Institute with those contacts you know would benefit from the International ACAC brand of professional development. Some of them might not even be members (yet!), but we bet that, if they got to know us at our best- when we’re generously sharing our knowledge with others or engaging in effective and enjoyable networking with colleagues- they’d be just as hooked as those of us who are already members.

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"IB very confused": the new math courses and me

"IB very confused": the new math courses and me

by Tu Anh Gilmore


Sitting behind my counselor’s desk, I often find my days in conversations with the Grade 10s as they decide on which IB Course selections they ought to choose to best fit their life’s trajectory. It is easy to simply say, “Just do what you are good at...pick the courses that you are naturally talented in and like.” Well for me, this answer isn’t good enough. Whilst I have now found my life’s calling in a career that is almost perfectly in tune and playing to the strengths of my Via Character Analysis and true passions, the journey here wasn’t without great financial costs and extra dedicated time.

I picked a first career that I was good at: Maths. But after advancing to lead IB workshops in mathematics, I realised the greater intersection was yet to come. And after taking the full plunge, I find myself in my happy place. In this intersection lies my responsibility within my own communities and the greatest impetus for my change in career: IB recognition in math through high school and college counseling, in order to change one life at a time.

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Conference Funding Request Template

Many counselors attend the International ACAC Conference thanks to the support of their school's administration. However, sometimes just finding the time to write a letter of request can be a challenge.
If you need help requesting funding for this valuable professional development opportunity, International ACAC has drafted the following letter template to get you started. 

INSTRUCTIONS: Simply access the template from this blog post, copy the content into a word document, edit and personalize, mail to your principal/superintendent, cross your fingers ... 


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The Mystery Fair

by Barbara Chen

In 1998, every Friday a mystery guest would come and read a book to my daughter’s entire kindergarten class. This ritual was the source of great excitement as each week, students would try to figure out who would be coming in to read, and what type of book they’d chose. The mystery guest was usually a parent, aunt, uncle or grandparent of one of the students. The teachers loved this tradition because it exposed students to a variety of styles of books from multiple English-speaking countries. Books and authors previously unheard of were now sought after in the weekly library visit, and given as birthday gifts. In a nutshell, this was story-time on steroids.

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By Aaron Andersen, President International ACAC
1. Our Voices Matter: Proposed Membership Plan Withdrawn.
The proposed membership plan that NACAC Board & Staff had developed over past 16 months was sent back to the drawing board after it faced considerable pressure at the General Membership meeting. The amendments to the NACAC bylaws, that would have set the plan in motion, even after adjustments to individual counsellor & retiree categories in the days before and a delayed rollout to 2021, met numerous friendly amendments on the Membership floor. After nearly 90 minutes of debate on the floor, it became clear that there would be trouble with the numerous changes, and lengthy deliberation exposed the concerns many members felt about the process. Finally, a NACAC Board member made a motion to withdraw the entire amendment… and that motion was nearly unanimously passed on the floor.
2. International ACAC: Making Noise on the Assembly Floor
Earlier on Saturday, your International ACAC delegates were very active during the five-hour Assembly Meeting. “The NACAC Assembly functions as a governing body that initiates, advises and provides consent on association and professional issues. Assembly delegates are elected for three-year terms by the NACAC voting members in the Affiliates.” It is during Assembly that the NACAC Board of directors and president is elected, and changes to the SPGP: CEPP are debated and voted. International ACAC made two formal motions. The first involves a request to NACAC to review the affiliate jurisdiction of the Admission Practices Procedure - to better allow a voice for our AP Committee team to represent our members in National AP cases. The second motion made was to form a NACAC Commission to review standardized testing access and barriers to International students. After considerable debate, which helped to draw the attention to both, particularly the testing access issues international students, both motions passed!
3. Diversity: Three Year Training Commitment
During the International ACAC Membership meeting the Association announced that we will be providing diversity training workshops in advance of the annual conference, free of charge to all members. The Executive Board, HQ staff, and committee members will be all required to participate. For those who cannot attend, and/or also want to engage throughout the year, we are researching an online training program. To fund this commitment, we have added $50,000 in the 2019 to cover costs of the program to ensure all members will have access.
4. Opportunity Grants: Launching This Month
Those in attendance at the International ACAC Membership Meeting learned that the latest initiative of the Global Fund, Opportunity Grants, will be launched in October. It was announced that members would be able to apply for funding for projects and events for a total of $3,000 each. Funding requests will be made online through the Association website, and can cover anything from local student information events, bus programs for college fairs, or professional development requests.
5. Collective Power of NACAC
Overall this was one of the most powerful NACAC Conferences i have ever attended. Likely it had much to do with my position this time as a President of an affiliate, but in addition, it was something else that I know many others felt. It was the inspiring opening speech by NACAC President David Burge and the high quality of sessions (many focusing on student access and a growing number on international issues). It was the energy in our own membership meeting attended by well over 200, and above all it was the buzz throughout the week collectively knowing that we can make a difference, not only by having a voice in our own profession, but helping our students who will be the change for tomorrow.
Yet I am reminded that many of our colleagues have never experienced the National Conference. So let’s continue to find ways to share our collective voice and power with one another. And as my fellow President Class friend and SACAC president Jessica Jaret Sant put it: “I’m inspired by so many of you who are as committed to supporting the new faces in our ranks as you are the kids you serve each day.” She put out a challenge for all of us to how we might serve and support one another better. Let us all take up that challenge, and focus on just being the best you can be to one another.
I’m deeply grateful for the chance to represent International ACAC and am all the more committed in the continued work we will do together!

2018 Association Annual Award Winners: In Their Words

Association Annual Award Winners: In Their Words

Last Spring the International ACAC board placed their votes for three awards that honor leaders in our field. These include the Distinguished Service Award, the Rising Star Award, and the Peter Hauet Lifetime Achievement Award. This year the awards went to some inspiring individuals who have made big contributions to International ACAC over the years.

Jenny Tassell and Christine Grover were selected for the International ACAC Rising Star Award for their service to their students and our community, especially due to their tireless work in organizing the recent International ACAC Regional Institute in Panama City.

Jenny writes, “Thank you from the bottom of my heart for this great honor.  There is really no other association like International ACAC.  I have been lucky enough to have some amazing mentors who have encouraged me to keep pushing myself towards goals that have seemed too challenging at times.  Fred Johnson, Juan Camilo Tamayo, Ray Marx, Meg Mahoney, Christine Grover, and Jolynn Vallejo to name a few.  Everyone in this association wants its members to become more involved and they will encourage you every step of the way. 

In Panama it all started with helping to create the Panama School Counselor Association (PASCA).  With the amazing counselors in Panama we worked hard to help Panama become a place that was easy to navigate and welcoming to all university reps that came here.  We created the PASCA website which has become a model for other countries. 

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What characteristics do colleges seek in an applicant? Ask Amazon's Jeff Bezos.

What characteristics do colleges seek in an applicant? Ask Amazon’s Jeff Bezos.

Written by Barbara Carletta Chen


A recent article on CNBC’s website revisited Amazon Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos’ 1998 Letter to Shareholders in which he shared his three essential interview questions for new hires. The article struck a chord; not because I am seeking a job with Amazon, but because it was published on August 1st, the day The Common Application went live for the 2018-2019 application year.

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Calling all members with an interest in UK Advocacy

Calling all members with an interest in UK Advocacy

A UK All Party Parliamentary Group is currently conducting an inquiry into international students in the UK. Details of the inquiry:

The Advocacy and Outreach Committee are keen to submit a written response to this by the deadline of 3rd September.

The focus of the response will be from high school and independent counsellors as our UK HE members views will be represented by UUK. We will however work with UUK to ensure our responses are coordinated as much as possible. In order to capture the views of high school and independent counsellors AOC have developed a brief survey for high school and independent members:

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Top Ten 2018 Conference Moments

By Aaron Andersen
President, International ACAC 

In July 2018, International ACAC hosted our 25th annual Conference at Tulane University and Loyola University New Orleans.  It was an incredible week of learning, sharing, connecting with friends, and southern hospitality in New Orleans.  You can read the official Press Release HERE... but I thought I'd take a minute to share my personal favorite moments from the no particular order...

Top Ten 2018 Conference Moments

1.  Dr. Michael White creating and performing a song for our conference on the topic of Peace, right on the spot during our Conference Opening session.

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Conference Pin Trading - History & Tips

This year for the first time we are inviting all attendees to bring lapel pins from their home country or state or institution to kick-off a tradition of conference pin trading.  Collect and exchange pins from new-friends you meet during breaks and sessions, and wear them on your ID lanyards.  Another great way to connect with colleagues around the world.

Pin trading has a history that dates back to the early modern Olympics. In advance of the 1896 Games, three pins were designed, one for judges, one for athletes, and one for officials.  Since then, pins have become highly collectible and a favourite tradition of the Olympics. Spectators and athletes come prepared to share and trade pins from their home countries, a custom of exchanging international greetings and a simple pin as an gesture of friendship.

For the International ACAC Conference, pin trading can serve the same role... with over 70 different countries represented our annual event can rival an Olympics for global scale.  With the number of new comers each year to the summer conference Pin Trading can also serve as an excellent way to 'break the ice' with a stranger as the exchange of collectibles can lead to a great conversation.

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