Conference First Timers FAQ

By Johanna Fishbein and Michael Maki

Q: Where is the conference information?

You can access all of the conference information from   Everything you need to know (schedules, sessions) is on here so visit it frequently!

Q: Do people really stay in the dorms?
Yep! Reliving your younger years in a dorm room is part of the International ACAC experience, but it is not a requirement. You can find information about on campus and off campus housing here:

If you do decide to stay in the dorms (most attendees do), it can be a really great way to meet people. You can put down the name of someone you’d like to stay with or be randomly assigned which can be fun too. Everyone in the dorms is very friendly and welcoming and you will always have your own bedroom, although you may be sharing a bathroom.


What should I pack for my first International ACAC conference?

A: Dress is casual - jeans are fine and casual clothing is worn at all events so you can leave the business attire at home. If you plan to participate in the 5K run, make sure to bring your running clothes and sneakers!  If you are staying in the dorms, you may want to bring some of your own toiletries, although you will be provided with soap, shampoo and a towel.

Helpful Hint: You may be sharing the bathroom, so make sure to bring pajamas! Also, you may want to bring flip-flops for the shower!

Make sure to pack your business cards (huge piles of them) and a high school profile or university brochure to display on your table during the college or high school fair. Do NOT bring a lot of materials; no one will want to carry profiles or brochures home with them.

 Helpful Hint: some high school and universities bring a little “swag” to display on their tables or to give away (examples: chocolate from Belgium, dates from Dubai...). Feel free to bring something fun from your university or high school but this is NOT required!


Q: What should I do when I arrive?

A:  You will receive directions via email about when and where to register upon arriving in Cleveland.

Helpful Hint: Wear your nametag high so people can see it. Take it off when you leave campus.  It's never a good idea to have random strangers calling you by name!


Q: What things MUST I do at my first Int'l ACAC conference?

A:  Make sure to go to the opening Welcome Session (following the First Timer Session). Important introductions and announcements will be made there, and this year we have a keynote speaker!

Make your daily schedule in advance (over breakfast is a great time for this). Include all of the options you might like so that if one desired session is cancelled or doesn't meet your expectations or needs then you can hop over to another.

Helpful Hint: If a session isn't meeting your needs, leave. Your time at this conference is important and you should get the most out of your investment in time, effort and money. It is more than ok to join a session once it has begun.

Attend the General Membership Meeting to get a sense of what is going on in International ACAC. You are welcome to participate as well. And, make sure to attend the Late Night Hospitality events!


Q: What is the College Fair? What is the High School fair?

A: The college and high school fairs are a great opportunity for you to seek out people at specific institutions, on the high school or college side of the desk. No students are invited to these fairs. They are another way for International ACAC members to network directly with one another.

If you are a high school counselor, bring your school calendar and agenda because many colleges are looking to book visits. 

Helpful Hint: Come to the fairs with a list of universities or high schools you want to find. It can be a bit overwhelming at first, so having a targeted list can help! For high school counselors, it may be a good idea to bring a list of where your students are enrolling or applying next year.


Q: How do I network effectively at an International ACAC conference?

A: Do not be afraid to talk to people!

Come to the conference with specific people or institutions in mind that you'd like to meet. Learn the art of the nametag glance to see what networking opportunities you might find.

You're going to be in lines for food, for coffee, etc. at the conference. Network with your line buddies - don't just stand there.

Leave the office at the office - professional networking does not ALWAYS have to have a 'pure' business purpose. It's great to have professional friends and acquaintances that are outside of your normal 'box'. Turning colleagues into friends is one of the great values of the International ACAC conference.

Don't hoard your business cards - they're not gold in your pocket - they only have value when they're given away.

In general, assume anyone who's on the International ACAC Executive Board is extra-approachable. They will tend to be people who have volunteered to make International ACAC and the conference a success. Help them by networking with them. You can see your board members here:

Invite those people who are looking for a place to sit during breakfast or lunch to join you. Eating is a great networking opportunity.

Helpful Hint: Make sure to make an appearance at the late night socials. It's a great chance to put your feet up, meet some new people, and share a laugh.

Remember, every First Timer will be assigned a Mentor, and feel free to ask your Mentor anything…don’t hold back…he/ she has volunteered to be a Mentor to support you so take advantage of their experience!


Q: Why is there dodgeball at an International ACAC conference and do I have to play?

A: The late night hospitality events at International ACAC are the time when International ACAC members are able to get together in a more casual manner. International ACAC is known as one of the most tightly knit affiliates of NACAC (despite our distance from one another) and that is due to events like dodgeball!

Dodgeball has become a tradition at International ACAC. No prior experience is required, and if you are interested in joining a team, you will be able to do so at the actual conference. If you would rather not play, you are more than welcome to join as a spectator and watch your fellow International ACAC’ers demonstrate some excellent (and not so excellent) dodgeball skills!

Helpful Hint: Don’t forget to bring athletic sneakers if you may want to play dodgeball!


Q: What are some International ACAC Conference hints from the veterans?

A: Don't be afraid to have fun. Take advantage of the "lighter" aspects of the conference to develop lasting friendships and find colleagues you can depend on when you need help. This is not a stereotypical conference; if you just attend sessions and nothing else, you will miss some fantastic opportunities to meet your peers. Attending the late night socials is a must.

Our network of international counselors and admissions officers is our best asset. Our relationships last long after the conference is over.  If you have a question, chances are that someone in International ACAC can answer it. The solution to your problem is probably just an email away so don’t hesitate to be in touch with your Mentor of any Intermational ACAC member.

If you are new to college counseling, ask a veteran for a comprehensive list of their resources. If your library is bare or you find yourself with new college counseling needs, don’t be afraid to ask others what is on their annual ordering list.

If you collect business cards, write where and when you picked it up on the back. It will help you remember the people you meet better and may help you figure out if it is outdated later on.

Consider developing a 'team approach' if you're attending the conference along with other counselors from your city/country/region (especially if this area is underrepresented). Work with your region's colleagues to split up the targeted list of uni reps to meet, for example. Or collaborate so that you can make coordinated invitations. Offering to host uni reps for a joint visit so that they'll talk to students from multiple high schools, for example, is a great way to encourage visits!

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Comments on "FIRST TIMERS FAQ"

Comments 0-5 of 4

Kathy Dixon - Monday, June 22, 2015

Thank you Bobbe.

Bobbe Fernando - Monday, June 15, 2015

Hi Kathy - I'd suggest just a handful, maybe 25 or so, but lots of business cards. Most of the counselors in attendance have a long trip home and would prefer not to weigh down their luggage with college materials. You can always offer to mail them instead.

Bobbe Fernando - Monday, June 15, 2015

Hi Kathy - I'd suggest just a handful, maybe 25 or so, but lots of business cards. Most of the counselors in attendance have a long trip home and would prefer not to weigh down their luggage with college materials. You can always offer to mail them instead.

Kathy Dixon - Thursday, June 11, 2015

Hi- I'm trying to gage the amount of brochures to bring for the fair from my University. I know the attendance at this conference looks to be very good. The blog suggests, not to bring too many, but what would be a fair estimate? 150 or 200? Suggestions would be appreciated. Thank you.

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