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ASCA's Conference in 2024 - Should You Attend?

If you are an independent education consultant (IEC or counselor henceforth), attending conferences for counselors is a great way to expand your network, learn about the latest developments in counseling, meet college representatives, and gain new insights in the field. Not to mention, engaging with your peers and learning new skills that better you are a great way to motivate you to do your best for your clients!


Here, we will discuss the American School Counselor Association’s annual conference — what it is, who can attend, the important dates, and whether you should make the trip in 2024!


What exactly do IECs do?

Counselors are integral in bridging the gap between a student’s high school and college lives, ensuring a smooth transition process. They help explore a student’s interests and build their college profile, create college lists that align with students’ academic, financial, and extracurricular preferences, provide college application and financial aid assistance, provide career counseling, and also advise parents, among many other functions.


What is the American School Counselor Association all about?

The American School Counselor Association (ASCA) is an organization that supports and promotes the role of counselors — especially school counselors — across the country, providing professional development, advocacy, networking opportunities, knowledge resources, and maintaining professional standards that address students’ academic, career, and socio-emotional needs. 


Every year, ASCA hosts its annual conference that brings together counselors, students, college admissions representatives, and school principals for a multi-day event that includes talks, seminars, workshops, breakout events, panel discussions, exhibitor booths, and numerous networking opportunities. 


Where will the 2024 conference be held?

The 2024 conference takes place at the Kansas City Convention Center in Kansas City, Missouri, from July 13-16.


How much does it cost to attend?

If you are an ASCA member or school principal, you pay $399 if you register by March 1. Student members, retired members, and conference presenters pay $299. Non-members pay $599. Registration fees increase if you sign up to attend after March 1. Optionally, you can attend the conference virtually at a reduced cost. You can see the complete registration pricing here.


How do I become an ASCA member?

Broadly, ASCA offers four kinds of memberships you can avail of, depending on your qualifications:


Professional memberships ($129) — school counseling professionals/ school counselors who hold a Master’s or higher in school counseling, or professors of counseling in a graduate program can avail of this membership


Retired membership ($69) — professional members who have retired are eligible for this membership.


Student membership ($129) — Students enrolled in a Master’s program in school counseling can avail of this membership


Affiliate membership ($69) — Interested individuals who do not qualify for the above categories can avail of this membership.


As an ASCA member, you can avail of liability insurance, get discounts on ASCA publications and professional development, and receive a bimonthly print copy of ASCA School Counselor, a magazine covering the latest in counseling. 


What will the ASCA Conference 2024 include?

The 2024 conference brings together K-12 school counselors, college professors and admission representatives, graduate students, and other stakeholders for a multiday learning and networking event in Kansas City, Missouri. If you are a counselor, you can use the conference to meet peers from different parts of the country, learn about counseling best practices and new material you can use, and even earn continuing education units (CEUs). 


The conference runs from Friday, July 12, to Tuesday, July 16, and consists of breakout sessions, an exhibition hall, informal networking opportunities, dinners, an award night, and more. Learning sessions planned for the conference include, but are not limited to:


  • Counseling girls, especially BIPOC girls, on their possible career paths in historically underrepresented fields like STEM

  • The need for more BIPOC counselors and minority representation in counseling

  • Implementing college and career readiness programs in elementary schools using books, videos, role-playing, and project-based learning.

  • How to integrate AI into counseling and address the associated ethical and privacy concerns

  • Learn tactics to help college-ready students discover their “Ikigai” — Japanese for “reason of being” — to offer more personalized college and career advice.

  • How to navigate the Supreme Court’s decision on affirmative action and understand its impact on the college application process for BIPOC students, including how it affects admission and financial aid decisions

  • Tips and tools for new counselors to fill the gap between what they’re taught in a counseling program and real-world experience

  • Information on the ASCA-Certified School Counselor Recognition certification, which demonstrates your knowledge of and ability to design and implement a counseling program

  • Understanding the new Better FAFSA (Free Application for Student Aid) process and how to use it to navigate financial aid for students and parents

  • Using the ASCA use-of-time 5-day-calculator to become a better counselor. Learn how to document, analyze, and communicate your available time

  • Using social media and technology for advocacy. Learn how to leverage social media tools to advocate, promote your practice, and raise awareness on issues students face during the college application process.


What was the 2023 conference like?

The 2023 ASCA Annual Conference was held in Atlanta, Georgia, from July 15-18. Its keynote speakers included the actor Henry Winkler and the CEO of the Martin Luther King Jr. Center For Nonviolent Social Change, Dr. Bernice A. King. The conference had nearly 200 breakout sessions on topics that included increasing college and career readiness at the elementary school level, the impact of implicit bias and stereotypes on college admissions, culturally responsible practices when counseling Asian students, generative AI in education, counseling first-generation learners through the scholarship search, and many more related to college admissions. 


What are the pros and cons of attending the 2024 ASCA conference?


Pros:

  1. You can learn about the latest developments in counseling and gain valuable insights The 2024 ASCA conference will have close to 200 breakout sessions spread over three days (the first day of the conference is general registration only) where you can gain an in-depth understanding of themes related to the college application process, like understanding the Better FAFSA process, counseling minority students, and advising girls who want to opt for careers in STEM, making you a better counselor.

  2. You will have a great opportunity to network The conference brings together school counselors, college representatives, students training to be counselors, and other stakeholders. You will be able to learn from your peers and share some of your best practices, interact with college representatives, and give advice to the next generation of counselors.

  3. You can earn CEUs If needed, you can earn up to 8.15 CEUs by attending the conference, which is useful in case you are enrolled in a counseling certificate course, are sitting for professional examinations, or to prove that you are up-to-date with the latest counseling practices.

Cons:

  1. The ASCA conference is aimed at school counselors While IECs are welcome at the ASCA conference and will gain a lot from the networking and learning opportunities, ASCA is an organization aimed toward school counselors. As such, many breakout sessions deal with topics that pertain to school counselors, like drug prevention programs in secondary schools, using literature for cognitive development, dealing with students who have attendance problems, and more. 


Our review — should you attend the ASCA Conference?

The ASCA conference is a treasure trove of information for counselors. You will be able to gain valuable insights and learn new tips to help your professional development. The conference also presents a unique opportunity to meet with and learn from other counselors, counselors-in-training, and college representatives, expanding your network. However, it’s important to remember that ASCA is geared toward school counselors and you may not be able to make the most of the conference if you’re an IEC. We’d also recommend you check out the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) and the Higher Educational Consultants Association (HECA), two associations for IECs that also organize annual conferences.



Bonus — the Lumiere Research Scholar Program!

If you’d like to recommend a rigorous research program open to high schoolers, you may want to consider the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program for students founded by researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 4000 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here. You can also reach out to us at contact@lumiere.education to know more, or to have a chat about possible collaborations!


Also check out the Lumiere Research Inclusion Foundation, a non-profit research program for talented, low-income students. Last year, we had 150 students on full need-based financial aid!


Kieran Lobo is a freelance writer from India, who currently teaches English in Spain. 


Image Source: ASCA logo

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