Thoughts and Insights from #NACAC19

GeckoEngage at NACAC 2019

There aren’t a lot of higher education conferences that I haven’t been to over my 17 year HE career. However, until recently, I hadn’t ever been to a NACAC (National Association for College Admission Counseling) event. Fortunately, in my new role with Gecko, the opportunity came about to attend this years NACAC National Conference in Louisville, Kentucky.

Chatting about chatbots

Our booth was all about chatbots this year. We even had copies of our new book, The Ultimate Guide to Chatbots for Higher Education, for anyone who hadn’t already been sent a complimentary copy. There definitely was a palpable buzz about the many benefits that chatbots offer for college admissions/recruitment.

If you want, you can preview Gecko’s chatbot on the web, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, or via text message.

The Ultimate Guide to Chatbots for Higher Education

Insights from Louisville

So what were some of my key takeaways from this year’s NACAC National Conference?

Interesting Times: The main policy issues / current events that were definitely top of mind for a lot of attendees were the Varsity Blues scandal as well as the vote to change the association’s Code of Ethics and Professional Practice. Both of these issues provided opportunities for discussion for how admissions/recruitment goes forward in the year’s ahead.

Data Capture and Integration: If you’re in admissions/recruitment, data capture is absolutely essential…and how that data integrates in to existing systems in useful ways is even more important. NACAC was filled to the brim with conversations about the importance of sophisticated data collection/use in a higher education admissions landscape that has gotten increasingly competitive.

Getting Social: Digital engagement continues to play a major factor in how colleges recruit and engage potential applicants. Social media apps continue to be vital avenues for communication, recruitment, and engagement. Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, WhatsApp, reddit, and Twitter were the main channels that were brought up most often in presentations and informal conversations. The concept of social listening was particularly important given that students often share whether or not they are going to commit to a school by way of their social shares.

Final Thought

The breadth and depth of expertise at NACAC was truly impressive. It was great catching up with old friends, making new ones, and learning more about an association that plays an important role in the health and vibrancy of higher education. Next year’s national conference in Minneapolis promises to be another must-attend event for admissions officers.

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