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The Ultimate Guide to the ACCA Conference in 2024

As an Independent Education Consultant (IEC), you should constantly be on the lookout for opportunities to enhance your professional practice, network with peers, and stay abreast of the latest trends in college counseling. The American College Counseling Association's (ACCA) Conference in 2024 is an event you won't want to miss. Held in Orlando, Florida, from February 22-25, this conference is a cornerstone of professional development and networking in the field of college counseling. Let's dive into what makes this conference a can't-miss event for IECs like you.


What is ACCA?

Founded in 1991, the American College Counseling Association is a division of the American Counseling Association, representing diverse mental health professionals from counseling, psychology, and social work, all united by their work in higher education settings​​. ACCA's mission revolves around the support and enhancement of the counseling profession, with a focus on college counseling. Membership is open to professionals and students working largely in college counseling settings, including a significant number from community colleges.


Membership in ACCA is your ticket to a community of professionals dedicated to supporting each other and advancing the field of college counseling. As an IEC, joining ACCA opens doors to resources, webinars, and a network of professionals dealing with the unique challenges of counseling in higher education settings​​.


How do you become an ACCA member?

ACCA’s membership is open to individuals working in various capacities within higher education counseling, including counselors, psychologists, and social workers. The primary requirement is a commitment to or involvement in college counseling. Here's what you need to know about becoming a member:


  • Professional Members: This tier is for individuals who hold a master's or doctoral degree in counseling or a closely related field from a college or university accredited by the Council of Higher Education Accreditation, and are currently employed in a counseling role within a higher education setting. This tier costs $95 for an annual membership.


  • New Professional Members: Similar to the Professional tier, this one is for IECs who have graduated with a master's or doctoral degree in counseling or a closely related field within the past 12 months. This tier costs $70 for an annual membership.


  • Regular Members: If you’re an individual whose activities, interest or profession are consistent with the ACCA or ACA but do not qualify for Professional membership, then this is the tier for you. This costs $95 for an annual membership.


  • Student Members: Designed for those currently enrolled in counseling, psychology, or social work programs, focusing on preparing for a career in college counseling. This will cost you $65 for the annual membership.


  • Retired Members: For professionals who have retired from active practice but wish to remain engaged with the ACCA community. This membership tier is available for $70 annually.


ACCA members enjoy a range of benefits, including access to professional development resources, webinars, a job board, and opportunities for networking and leadership within the organization.


What is the ACCA Conference 2024 all about?

The ACCA Conference is structured to provide maximum value across its four-day agenda. Here’s what you can expect each day:


Day 1 - Pre-Conference Sessions (Thursday, February 22, 2024):

The conference kicks off with optional pre-conference sessions, available at an additional cost of $70 per session (or $170 for all 4). These sessions are designed to enhance your practical skills in areas such as clinical services, leadership, crisis intervention, and diversity, making them suitable for any practitioner looking to deepen their expertise. You can expect to learn actionable insights and strategies that can be directly applied to your practice, with the added benefit of earning continuing education hours. It's a good opportunity to engage with industry leaders and pick up valuable knowledge and insights. If you can afford the price tag, you should definitely consider signing up for one or more of these sessions.


Day 2 - Opening and Keynote Sessions (Friday, February 24, 2024):

The official opening of the conference includes a keynote address from Scott Strader, Director of the Counseling Center at the University of South Florida. The day continues with breakout sessions offering targeted learning opportunities across a range of topics. The exhibit hall also opens, providing a chance to explore the latest tools and services in the field​​.


Day 3 - Continued Learning and Networking (Saturday, February 25, 2024):

Another day rich with keynote speeches and concurrent sessions, allowing you to tailor your conference experience to your interests and needs. The focus is on providing practical, actionable strategies that you can apply in your practice. The exhibit hall remains open, and the day provides ample networking opportunities, crucial for building professional relationships and sharing best practices​​.


Day 4 - Wrap-Up and Final Networking (Sunday, February 26, 2024):

The conference concludes with a final opportunity for learning through breakout sessions and a closing keynote. This day is crucial for solidifying new connections and reflecting on how to integrate the insights gained into your practice​​.


The conference offers different registration rates based on your membership status with ACCA and the time of registration (early bird vs. regular):


Registration Type

Early Bird Pricing Register Prior to 1/19/24

Regular Pricing Register on or After 1/20/24

ACCA Professional Members

 $                             425.00

 $                             455.00

ACCA Student Members

 $                             324.00

 $                             344.00

Non-Member Professionals

 $                             495.00

 $                             525.00

Non-Member Students

 $                             364.00

 $                             384.00

Retired Members

 $                             324.00

 $                             344.00

A one day registration option is available at a rate of $275


To qualify for member rates at the conference, you must be an ACCA member in good standing. Non-members are welcome to attend but will pay a higher registration fee. Registration can be completed online through the ACCA website, where you can also manage your membership status​​.


Pros and cons of attending

Pros:


  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.

  2. Professional development: The sessions, speakers and workshops that are held at ACCA cover the latest trends and practices in the industry, and provide a platform for industry leaders and veterans to share their learnings in an engaging and interactive manner. It is an excellent opportunity to shore up the gaps in your own skill set and bring yourself up to speed on proven best practices.

  3. Access to a rich resource and information pool: ACCA’s breakout sessions and pre-conference sessions bring a ton of data-driven trends, practices, and tools. These will help you expand your knowledge base and skillset, and help you bring innovations to your workplace or your practice.

Cons:


  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 four straight days of time away from your practice or your workplace, with an additional day if you opt for the pre-conference sessions. While it is valuable professional learning, it is still worth noting that it will impinge upon your professional commitments at the time.

Is it worth attending?

The ACCA Conference is a solid value add for any IECs dedicated to their craft. While the cost and time commitment are significant, the return on investment is immense in terms of professional growth, networking, and the latest insights in college counseling. If you're committed to staying at the cutting edge of college counseling, this conference is for you.



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!


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: ACCA logo

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