Join us for 45+ breakout sessions and all-conference sessions featuring


Dr. Jerry Lucido

Professor of Practice

USC Rossier School of Education

Executive Director of the USC Center for Enrollment Research, Policy, and Practice

Special Advisor to the Provost 

Dr. Jerome (Jerry) Lucido is Professor of Research and Executive Director of the Center for Enrollment Research, Policy and Practice at the University of Southern California's Rossier School of Education.  Prior to joining the faculty, he served as Vice Provost for Enrollment Policy and Management at USC, at UNC-Chapel Hill and as Assistant Vice President for Enrollment Services and Academic Support at the University of Arizona.  He is the designer and co-founder of the first master's program in enrollment policy and management at a research university.  The author of numerous book chapters and articles, he is widely called upon to speak on admission and enrollment issues in higher education.  As a faculty member and administrator, he has played a leading national role in initiatives to improve access for low-income and underrepresented students and to research, design and execute effective and principled college admission and enrollment management practices.  He is currently the principal investigator in research projects funded by the Joyce Foundation on federal policy for low- and low-middle income students and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on student and institutional choices in the COVID-19 era.

A Look Inside College Admissions in the COVID-19 Era

Dr. Lucido plans to cover testing policy, student flows, and institutional decisions in the face of the pandemic, and the new holistic review paradigm.   First, the inside look. Second, the implications for students and counselors.



Dr. Edward Burger

President and CEO, St. David's Foundation

Dr. Edward Burger is President and CEO of the St. David's Foundation, and President   Emeritus of Southwestern University as well as Professor Emeritus of Mathematics and a leader on thinking, innovation, and creativity. Previously he was the Francis Christopher Oakley Third Century Professor of Mathematics at Williams College. He has delivered over 700 addresses worldwide at venues including Berkeley, Harvard, Princeton, and Johns Hopkins as well as at  the Smithsonian Institution, Microsoft Corporation, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the U.S. Department of the Interior, the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the New York Public Library, and the National Academy of Sciences. He is the author of over 70 research articles, books, and video series (starring in over 4,000 on-line videos), including the book The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking, published by Princeton University Press and translated into over a dozen languages worldwide. His latest book, Making Up Your Mind: Thinking Effectively Through Creative Puzzle-Solving, also published by Princeton University Press, was on several of Amazon's Hot New Releases lists.

Breakout Sessions

A Welcome Future: Exploring Hospitality Management Programmes in Europe

A hospitality management programme abroad is a perfect fit for an ambitious, motivated and adventurous candidate who wants to pursue a career in an international business field. Join representatives from two European Hospitality Management programmes (Netherlands, Spain) to discover what course options are available, the selection process and top tips for a successful application.

All the World’s a Stage: Supporting Performing Arts Students

The application process for performing arts students can be maze-like and overwhelming. In this session, Nita June, IEC and theatre professor, will share insights and tips on the best strategies and practices for supporting students to shine, onstage and off, in their high school programs, college applications, auditions and portfolio submissions.

Around the World in 55 Minutes: University Matchmaking

Are your students interested in pursuing educational opportunities outside of the United States? Travel around the world to England, Northern Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and American universities abroad by listening to a variety of international representatives speak about what it takes to complete a degree abroad and what makes their country unique. We will be hosting this session in a speed networking format, so come prepared to learn a lot in a short amount of time. We hope these brief chats will inspire you to further investigate international destinations. Who will be your students' match?

Australian and New Zealand universities: More than just koalas and kiwis

Beyond exotic animals and stunning landscapes, Australia and New Zealand are home to world-class universities attracting a growing number of U.S. students for their affordability, shorter duration, transparent admissions, quality of life and employment options post-graduation. Learn about entry requirements, admission processes, finances, timelines, as well as the overall experience of ‘uni’ there vs. at American, British or Irish universities. Gain a deeper understanding of the culture and climate of Australian and Kiwi cities and regions as well, all to help you identify universities Down Under that are a great fit for your students--at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Build a Profitable Online Business That Attracts Your Dream Clients

Are you interested in creating a more impactful online presence through a course, membership, or online coaching program? In this session you will learn the fundamentals of building a successful online business. We will examine key decisions that you need to make including nailing your niche, gaining clarity on your big idea, and delivering your content. But just because you build it doesn’t mean they will come. Thus, we will also explore how to use lead generation strategies including social media, lead magnets and funnels that are essential for a successful online launch.

Case Studies in Admissions 

In the ever changing college admissions landscape, what matters?  How is the personal statement reviewed as opposed to letters of recommendation or resume? Does one carry more weight, or not? Join us and elevate your knowledge to help the students you serve.

Copiloting a Smooth Take-off & Soft Landing to College 

The enrollment deposit is paid. Now what? In this interactive session, college achievement coaches and campus administrators will offer tips for the transition from accepting the admissions offer to arriving on campus. Our experts will lead case study exercises to help determine how to best help students who struggle with the complexities of landing at college softly. We will offer insights on what contributes to academic and personal success for the first year of college.

Creating a Local Consultants Group: Lessons from Colorado 

College Consultants of Colorado (CCC) was established in 2008 and has grown to include over 60 members.  Our purpose is to promote professional development by providing our members opportunities for education, collaboration, and collegial support at our monthly meetings.  Due to rapid growth, CCC’s structure and leadership have evolved to encourage greater member participation.  As current and former presidents of CCC, we seek to share our experience and expertise with the hope of helping other IECs start their own local groups.

Creating Systems & Structures Collaboratively with Complex Children & Teens 

Teens with executive function challenges need structured support; but when they resist structure, how can IECs help? Too often, adults provide solutions without understanding underlying problems. Drawing from change management, the behavioral foundations of professional coaching, and the fundamentals of executive function, this interactive workshop introduces essential components to create and implement effective systems, demonstrating how collaborative management cultivates greater independence over time. The role of Motivation and its application to long term success of any system or structure will be introduced. This session will guide participants to personalize the coach-approach, providing practical solutions and an innovative framework for professionals.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the IEC Practice 

This session will be a follow up to the HECA-DEI institute 2021/2022. Join the HECA DEI committee to discuss the ways in which we our continuing to change our practices using the skills we have obtained over the last year. What has worked? What have been some challenges? What are areas you would like to learn more about?  Attendees will gain more insight into best practices, things to consider moving forward, more DEI resources for both your clients and your practice!

Don't Feel Like an Outlander: Access all areas of Scottish education

An exploration of how Scottish universities offer unique and accessible opportunities for those students interested in having an international experience. This session will explain the benefits of the Scottish 4-year flexible degree structure, and how by adapting our universities' admissions policies, we have been able to provide more opportunities for students whose education has been impacted by the pandemic. We'll illustrate that Scottish education is attainable, wherever you are in the world.

Dual Perspective: An IEC and College Insider Discuss the Transition to Campus

In our new COVID world, the journey from high school to college is more challenging than ever for students and their parents. Studies have found that anxiety about this life transition is at an all-time high. This workshop will provide information that IECs can implement in the college planning process to help prepare families for the unique challenges ahead. These include: advising students on how to begin discovering the college “You;” important conversation prompts for college-bound students and their parents; and creative student exercises for IECs to help first-year students thrive on campus.

Elevate Our Profession: IECs working with school counselors 

Independent Educational Consultants are players and partners in the business of college admissions. For many students and families, IECs provide essential support and advocacy.  For some school counselors, the support may not be welcome, sometimes even counterproductive to the goal of college readiness.  How can IECs and high school counselors work in partnership to guide students and families to the appropriate support they need to navigate their college search and application experience?

Elevate to Mile High Levels 

Are you ready to soar even higher? You need new business strategies, tech tools and collaborations! Attend this open forum breakout session packed with practical tips and sage wisdom! Voted a session favorite from the 2019 Providence and 2018 Dallas Conferences, we’re back! Three IEC’s from various backgrounds, experience levels and expertise, this dynamic trio is ready to help you climb even higher: Ellen Kuppersmith is the Founder of College Kupp in Los Angeles who has a specialty in helping students apply to universities abroad. Cheri Barad, HECA’s Past-President, is a 23 year veteran with two offices (Kansas City & Boston). She also has teaching experience with the UCLA College Counseling program for 20 years. Dale Price, MBA is the Founder of Access College America in Austin, TX. His multi-member practice has a large caseload which he credits to harnessing technology, heavy local networking and strategic positioning all while multitasking as a father. Attendees are guaranteed to leave HECA STRONGER!

Flying the Nest: How to prepare families for their children studying overseas

Children heading off to College can be a stressful time for parents and guardians, what happens when your child wants to travel over 3,000 miles to Scotland as well?  This session focuses on highlighting some of the key differences in a College experience overseas and how best to support the parents/guardians in preparing both themselves and their child for studying abroad. Using the personal experiences from International Admissions reps and families the session will provide hints, tips and advice on Applications, Admissions & Student Life overseas.

Get the Inside Scoop - College Athletics Recruiting

Karen Fong Donoghue (owner of The Rugger's Edge, a sports-specific college advising company) joins forces with Lauran Williamson (owner of Williamson College Prep) to take you to the next level of College Athletic Recruiting knowledge. Both have experience as college athletes (Karen was a collegiate All-American rugby athlete and Lauran swam at Carleton College), and Lauran has the added insight of coaching D1 at Harvard University.

Karen and Lauran are excited to give you an inside look into how college coaches approach the athletic recruiting process and give you practical ways to apply this knowledge to your practice.

Getting Admitted to Selective Arts Colleges: Tips and Advice from Insiders

Take a behind-the-scenes look at how auditions and portfolio reviews are evaluated at selective arts institutions. The information presented will help demystify the process of arts college admissions by providing a look inside the audition room and subsequent deliberations. We will explore the audition and portfolio review process for: acting, musical theatre, filmmaking, dance, music, and visual and digital arts. Participants will learn how to help students make the most of their audition, including recommended best practices and avoiding common mistakes.

Helping Students Thrive During COVID Learning Loss 

As Covid persists, many students continue to struggle with learning loss, anxiety, and their executive functioning skills.  Come join us as we discuss these issues and give us all a chance to share how they have impacted our experiences working with students and families.  We will also talk about successful strategies that we have implemented to help students and families thrive in this challenging environment.  Let’s all come together and work through these issues as we remind ourselves that these are challenges that we are all facing.

Hidden College Costs

Think the college's advertised COA is the full cost of college?  Think again.  Let's discuss common college costs unanticipated by the majority of families.

How Test-optional/Test-blind Policies Impact Campus Inclusivity and the Role of Extra-curricular Engagement

The number of colleges implementing test-optional policies has more than tripled since 2020. This change coincides with increasing applications and decreasing admissions rates at highly selective institutions. For many students, "test-optional" is ambiguous. Might tests simply become a new extracurricular activity favoring certain students? Do these policies encourage students to seek out other "CV boosters"? Do test-optional and test-blind approaches truly lead to more inclusive admission practices? This panel will share data from a survey of 2021 high school students and cases from admissions offices to discuss what truly makes students stand out in the "test-optional" age.

How to Highlight Language Skills Through Activities and Programs on College Applications 

Learning a language shows mastery of complex structures and cultural literacy and builds global citizenship. We will discuss how students can demonstrate interest in language and culture in concrete ways such as through study abroad, travel, community engagement, summer language programs, and advanced language study. We will also discuss options for proficiency testing and how the Global Seal of Biliteracy can be particularly beneficial for students who speak less commonly studied languages. Participants will engage in hands-on activities to learn how to help students identify the right options to demonstrate their interest in language and culture to universities and colleges.

How to Succeed in Business Without a Business Major

"I want to go into business." What does that cover? How do you get there? Is a business major the only way to go? We don't think it's the only path and we think liberal arts education will give students the skills - hard and soft skills - they need to be successful business leaders, entrepreneurs, employers, employees, consultants, and all the other roles there are in today's economy...and tomorrow's

Is a High School Partnership the Right Fit for You?

School partnerships can help you expand your perspectives on the complexity of managing the college journey in a school environment, diversify your business, and provide education to a broader population. But is a high school partnership the right fit for you and your practice? Five IECs with current school partnerships will use interactive case studies and share stories from the trenches to examine the intricacies, benefits, and possible pitfalls of partnering with schools.

Knowledge is Power: Data literacy for IECs

In an era where it seems like there's access to more information than ever, how does an IEC parse through the noise to find reliable data sources, understand data sets, and convey information to students and parents? This session will introduce an overview of data sources in higher education, including IPEDS, Common Data Set, and College Scorecard. It will also review how to gather and utilize data for use in college counseling, and provide recommendations to get started and stay up to date on the latest data trends in higher ed.

Letter of Recommendation: Utilizing Student Engagement to Identify Grit and Non-Cognitive Traits

Learn tried and true methods to gather helpful information from the student that will provide reflective examples to illuminate the student's individuality. Guide the student to share self-reflective examples with the recommender that enable a letter to highlight non-cognitive traits for the admissions office. The presenters represent a collaboration of college admissions, community-based organization with private college prep school experience, and independent education consultant to bring this conversation full circle to include non-cognitive aspects of the letter of recommendation that both inform and support a holistic admissions process. 

Looking Across the Pond: Advising students on studying in Europe

High standards of quality, affordability, and endless opportunities for cultural immersion are some aspects that define higher education in Europe. Now more than ever are European universities offering English-taught programmes to cater for the youth constantly on the move. Join this session hosted by the European Universities Consortium (EUC) to: learn the ins and outs of studying in Europe, enrich your counselling toolkit with country-specific resources and information, build your contact network with European universities, and take away some tips and tricks to better advise students looking at universities across the pond.

Navigating the College Search for Students Who Learn Differently

This presentation is designed to demystify the college search process for students who learn differently. We'll address the wide range of accommodations, supports and programs that exist in post-secondary education today; how to assess the right level of academic support for individual students; the legal landscape and documentation requirements; how the IEC can support the student/family in the process; and whether a traditional 4-year college is the best next step for a particular student.

Our Children's Data is Not for Sale! 

If something is for free YOU are the product. This case companies are taking advantage of cash-strapped schools and offering a free college readiness platform. This is a cleverly disguised data vacuum sucking up student's information. The seemingly benign personality quiz is a look at how the next voter block will lean. The seemingly helpful career assessment is important to the US Labor Department. Educational consultants can be gate keepers. We are in the know and must not shirk from educating parents, students, each other, even our high school colleagues on this very important topic. What you need to know.

Pathways to the UK: Advising students interested in the United Kingdom

From entry requirements to foundation degrees, the UK education system can be complicated when advising the best pathway when assisting students. What if your student's high school doesn’t offer AP exams? What if they are interested in studying multiple subjects in the UK? In this session, we will be going over the type of student that wants to study in the UK, different degree types and pathways, entry requirements, and the timeline from applying to arriving.

Pyramid or Horizontal Hierarchy: Growing your business

Pyramid or horizontal hierarchy? Growing your practice means making decisions. Choose to employ others or contract with others, choose if they’ll invoice their students or pass-through charges. It’s your practice, ensure quality, decide how services should be administered, assign counselors or collaborate? In 30 minutes, you’ll see how answering a few questions are the first steps to scaling your business. These questions apply to everyone thinking of transitioning from solo counselor to boss counselor. I will show you what I used to make my choices and how I decided.

Reaching the Underrepresented Exemplary Student

How can we help more underrepresented students understand the value of college and their potential in college? Johnny Baltierra and Cyndy McDonald share their experiences building a college-going culture for underrepresented students in a low-income community. What are the challenges these students face, and what tools can we as college advisors use to support students and their families? This session provides research-proven methods for supporting exemplary underrepresented students, and a directory of outreach programs and resources.

Resilience Through COVID: Preparing neurodivergent students for post-secondary success

As more students with learning differences enter the college world and seek the guidance of educational consultants, it is imperative that IECs be prepared to successfully navigate the complexities of working with both the student and the parents. 

In this interactive workshop, participants will become more knowledgeable about how to prepare students for their transition, address the mental health challenges of neurodivergent clients and understand the impact of these challenges on their clients' potential for college success. Several practical strategies for building self-reliance, resilience, and self-confidence will be outlined and discussed.

"Sapien Skills": Preparing students for interviews and other important interactions 

Using information gleaned from years of experience interviewing and interacting with thousands of applicants, we will discuss how to help students improve what we've begun calling "Sapien Skills". More than just soft skills, these are the very skills that make important interactions successful: how to be respectful, how to be conversational, how to listen, how to insert one's voice, how to be convincing, and how to be interesting. We'll look at lighthearted videos of students in the midst of these interactions, and discuss tangible exercises that your students can use. All participants will receive a draft "Sapien Skills" curriculum.

Scaling Your Business: What’s next?

Moving your business to the next level is both exciting and frightening.  What are the steps you should take? What pitfalls should you avoid? When is the best time to scale up your business?  What are your goals for scaling your business?  What approaches work best?  What technology can help you? A panel of IEC’s will share different ideas and approaches to scaling your business, with resources and time to ask questions.

Scholarships for All! How to Make College Affordable

Participants will take away the understanding of how integrate the three pillars of practical college selection: Academic, Personal, and Affordability "fits" 

Content will review need-based and merit-based formulas and and show how students can obtain discounts by focusing their searches on appropriate schools for them.

Strengthening IEC-School Counselor Collaboration for LD Students 

A well-coordinated team is a centerpiece when it comes to serving the needs of students with learning differences. The presenters, including school counselors and IECs, will report the findings of a survey of professionals on how to build school/consultant collaborations, and will facilitate a brainstorming session on opportunities for enhancing these relationships.

Supporting Students Through Transitions: How UK universities assist students post pandemic 

The international student journey can be daunting, especially over recent years with the pandemic.  The influence of what counsellors and university staff do has a huge impact on the student experience. The aim of this session is to provide information on the personalized student support that UK universities offer to ensure a smooth student journey for applicants from start to finish, and beyond.

Teamwork: Helping families find the right college AND the right price 

This session will be an interview format. As an IEC, Cathy will pose questions to Beth about her process as a fiduciary and college planner. Self-described as a “mom on a mission,” Beth works alongside IECs to provide families with a plan to pay for college without compromising retirement or current lifestyle. She tames the elephant in the room surrounding college affordability and, paired with a knowledgeable IEC, shows families the best way to avoid being part of the debt crisis. IECs will learn when to bring in a financial expert versus managing it themselves.

Test Optional: College perspectives 

There's much uncertainty around test optional policies. Students wonder whether to take the SAT or ACT test or not. What does Test Optional really mean? How does it impact an incoming class? Is test optional/test blind here to stay? Join a panel of liberal arts Directors of College Admissions and the CTCL Director to discuss these questions and more regarding the current and future status of test optional in college admissions.

The 3 R’s of Essay Coaching: Requirements, Requests and Recommendations

It's easy to say we require on-time assignments, student engagement, parental respect for student writing, etc. but unless those requirements are backed up by meaningful carrots or sticks, they are not requirements at all; rather, they are requests or recommendations. Using case studies and audience examples, we will explore these 3R’s of accountability. Participants will practice determining when and how to require, request or recommend tasks and assignments, based on their unique temperament, student population and business model. This approach makes essay coaching smoother for counselors and students alike, reducing stress by clarifying expectations and consequences for everyone involved.

The ABCs of JDs: Intro to Law School Admission

We all encounter high schoolers who are already thinking about law school. What should IECs know about law school in order to guide pre-law college applicants? How can we help our clients become stronger law school candidates down the road? Can you really "do anything" with a law degree? This session will offer non-lawyer IECs an overview of the law school admission process and legal industry with an eye to better serving our college-applicant clients.

The Future of Financial Aid

Significant changes are coming to financial aid with the implementation of the FAFSA Simplification Act. Come learn what families will be facing with these changes and how they should adapt. With this knowledge you can better help students discover the colleges that are not only a good personal and academic fit but are also affordable. This workshop will teach you how families can craft a college funding plan that will enable them to afford the cost of a quality education. Come learn about the process that every family goes through and how they can navigate this process with less stress.

The Golden Ticket: Applying to the California State University System 

Curious about the 23 campus CSU system and its unique application? Leann Schmitz from Cal Poly SLO and Brian Zaun from San Diego State will provide an overview and updates regarding Cal State Apply. The conversation will tackle the basic outline of what is required (including the dreaded A-G), new updates for the upcoming cycle, and the importance of understanding individual campus guidelines, expectations, and distinctions.

The Labor Market: The tail that wags the higher-ed dog

The assumption that students must acquire bachelor’s degrees for qualified entry into the labor market, in order to get a shot at the country’s best and emerging jobs of the future, is beginning to lose credibility. The aim of this presentation is to open up discussion around the emerging needs of students, and how IEC's can help meet these needs in a fluid and uncertain future economy.

The New Deal (or No Deal): Submit or don’t submit 

NBC describes "Deal or No Deal" as "a high-pressure, high-stakes game of risk and reward in which contestants face a series of potentially life-altering decisions." Sounds like applying to college, right? Instead of making the application process less stressful for students, test optional policies seem to have had the opposite effect for some test takers. Join a panel of IEC colleagues and college admissions experts for a fun and interactive discussion about whether “To Submit or Not Submit.”

The Role of Financial Aid in the Admission Process

Institutions today are balancing enrollment priorities, issues of changing demographics and expectations around who we serve, and how we measure success. Hear from two financial aid professionals on how we direct resources to deal not only with internal pressures of discount rate, revenue, and headcount but also the changing face of America, the world and the role that higher education plays in society.

Under Pressure: How to guide the ADHD brain to thrive in college 

This session will provide an overview of how the emerging adulthood brain develops for the ADHD student. Participants will gain insight into preparing students with ADHD for post-secondary education. In addition, panelists will share meta-cognitive strategies, insights into social and emotional challenges commonly paired with ADHD.  Best practices will include how to help students with ADHD develop executive functioning skills, stress management, self-advocacy, and anxiety coping mechanisms. The session will also explore how to communicate effectively with students and their families about the challenges that lie ahead while encouraging the student to gain a greater sense of independence.

Unpuzzling Canadian Applications 

Canadian universities offer excellent academic programs at relatively affordable prices. While the application process is uncomplicated, many popular universities require personal statements and supplements, including evaluative interviews. Through this presentation, we’ll provide an overview of the application process, how application elements are used, and insight into what your students can expect.

Varsity Blues? Maybe only the tip of the iceberg

We are all aghast at what happened with the Varsity Blues scandal, but we also know that many students are able to gain admission to universities thanks to advantages, privileges, and connections. Though these situations may be much less egregious than what happened in "the scandal," they bear examination.  Should colleges be open about what happens?  Do these "unspoken" advantages skirt ethical standards?  Differences for domestic and international students? And many colleges "bait and switch," urging students deferred EA to apply ED 2 to their school only to be denied, making the situation even murkier for students and counselors.

When Plan B Can Still Feel Like Plan A

Whether a student is just finishing up high school and is concerned about their college readiness or they’ve gone to college/university and have experienced some setbacks, these students have options.  Executive functioning deficits, anxiety, and learning differences are creating unique and lasting challenges for students in higher education.  The challenge for their support systems is in finding a place for that student to develop needed skills without the sense that they’ve taken two steps backwards.

Whose College List is it Anyway? 

We will share valuable instructions for teaching students how to present their college list to their parents as the most important tool for building thorough knowledge and ownership, which is the most vital aspect of the college list. We will address the theory of knowledge, provide resources for how-to, share our experiences (benefits, challenges, dos/don’ts) and hear perspectives from the college admissions side to empower IECs to use this technique effectively and efficiently.

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