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HECA's Conference in 2024: A Deep Dive

For Independent Educational Consultants (IECs), attending conferences is a pivotal step in staying abreast of the evolving landscape of college admissions. It's an opportunity to deepen one's knowledge, network with peers, and discover new tools and strategies to aid students effectively. The subject of today’s blog post, HECA's annual conference, is a strong  professional growth opportunity, packed with career-enhancing experiences, breakout sessions, and networking events that will equip you to navigate the complexities of college admissions with renewed confidence and insight.

What is HECA?

With over a thousand members, the Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA) is a professional organization exclusively dedicated to supporting high school students in their quest for the right fit college. Since its inception, HECA has been committed to fostering ethical practices, professional development, and access to higher education for all students. This commitment is reflected in its mission to empower IECs through education, collaboration, and advocacy, thereby ensuring students receive knowledgeable and ethical guidance.

HECA members assist more than 40,000 high school seniors annually, advising families across the United States and numerous other countries. HECA's mission revolves around providing its members with the tools, resources, and community needed to support students effectively in their college search and application journey.

How do you become a HECA member?

HECA offers three tiers of membership - Member, Provisional Member, and Retired Member. As the wording implies, their requirements are also tiered, moving as follows:

  • You will need a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited, not-for-profit college or university.

  • Demonstrate experience as an educational consultant for 2 years, or as a high school counselor or college admissions officer for at least 2 years and as an independent educational consultant for at least 1 year and served a minimum of 10 students in that practice

  • Along with your university degree documentation, you’ll also need to provide a copy of an approved certificate program (e.g. UCLA, UC Irvine, UC Riverside, UC Berkeley) if/once available.

  • ONE professional reference whom you have worked with for at least one year who can attest to your work ethic and career.

  • You will also need to demonstrate intent to becoming a full Member 2. Member

  • Attend a (virtual) New Member Orientation.

  • Attend at least one HECA Conference.

  • Attend at least two HECA webinars during the first year of membership.

  • Complete at least 20 college visits within the maximum two-year period. Virtual visits are accepted at a 3:1 ratio.

  • Note that you MUST meet these requirements in a two-year period of being a Provisional Member, else your membership will be terminated. 3. Retired Member

  • Meant for professionals who have retired from active practice but still intend to hold a place in the association.

What is the HECA Conference all about?

The HECA Conference, held in Atlanta, GA, from June 10-14, 2024 is HECA’s highlight event of the year. Here's a closer look at what you can expect from the schedule:

  • June 10:

  • Registration opens on day 1, followed by exhibitor setup and a special reception for first-timers, new members, and HECA leadership. 

  • The opening reception sets the tone for the conference, offering an initial networking opportunity. The keynote and plenary sessions are particularly valuable, offering deep dives into current trends and future directions in higher education, with insights from industry leaders like Rick Clark from Georgia Institute of Technology and Thelbert Snowden, Jr., from Morehouse College.

  • June 11-12: 

  • You will be attending over 35 sessions covering the latest trends, tools, and strategies in college admissions.

  • There will also be two days of interactions with exhibitors showcasing innovative services and products. The exhibitor fair introduces attendees to the latest resources in the field.

  • You’ll also get an opportunity to meet with college admissions officers and learn about different institutions, facilitating direct communication with college representatives.

  • There are also plenty of breakout sessions to provide dedicated networking opportunities and time slots for networking with peers and exhibitors.

  • June 13-14:

  • Post-Conference Tours - Exclusive tours of colleges and universities for HECA members, offering a firsthand look at campuses and their offerings.

The cost of attendance is as follows:

  • HECA Member Regular Rate - $650 (Register by May 10, 11:59 pm ET).

  • Non-Member Regular Rate - $825 (Register by May 10, 11:59 pm ET).

  • This is above and beyond the cost of the $450 annual membership fee of HECA itself.

Note that these costs do not include housing or college tours, the latter further being restricted only to active members.

Pros and cons of attending


  1. Extensive networking opportunities: The conference hosts dozens of educational sessions, keynote sessions, exhibit fairs and breakout sessions to help you connect with peers and leaders. If you value expanding your network and making meaningful, valuable connections, then the HECA conference is a no-brainer.

  2. Professional development: The Conference hosts sessions and workshops that cover the latest trends and practices in the industry, and provides a platform for industry leaders and veterans to share their learnings with newcomers and first-timers. As you can imagine, it is an excellent opportunity to shore up the gaps in your own skill set and bring yourself up to speed on global best practices.

  3. Access to a rich resource and information pool: HECA makes a serious effort to bring the latest tools, resources and insights every year to its existing members while also bringing new joinees up to speed. These will help you expand your knowledge base and skillset, and help you bring innovations to your workplace or your practice.


  1. Cost: The registration fees, travel, and accommodation can add up quite quickly, especially if you have a newly established practice.

  2. Time commitment: The conference is three straight days of time away from your practice or your workplace, with an additional two days if you opt for the post-conference tours. While it is valuable professional learning, it is still worth noting that it will impinge upon your professional commitments at the time.

Is it for you?

Attending the HECA Conference is highly beneficial for IECs committed to professional growth and ethical practice. It offers unparalleled opportunities for learning, networking, and professional development. While the cost and time commitment are considerations, the return on investment in terms of knowledge gained and connections made is substantial. Whether you're new to the field or a seasoned consultant, the HECA Conference is a valuable opportunity to elevate your practice and better serve your students.

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 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!

Stephen is one of the founders of Lumiere and a Harvard College graduate. He founded Lumiere as a Ph.D. student at Harvard Business School. Lumiere is a selective research program where students work 1-1 with a research mentor to develop an independent research paper.

Image Source: HECA logo



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