Thoughts and Insights from #NACAC19
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.
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.
Great panel thus far. Digging in to an important topic…particularly how the scandal brought forward the need for better transparency in admissions. #NACAC19 #BeyondOperationVarsityBlues pic.twitter.com/p3T3Jd27zg
— Eric Stoller (@EricStoller) September 27, 2019
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.
— Jim Olick (@JimOlick) September 27, 2019
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.
You have a lot of things to do, but you can’t afford to ignore these engagement opportunities. The potential cost is lost students who would have chosen your institution if their questions were answered or they felt a stronger sense of connection. #nacac19
— Liz Gross (@lizgross144) September 26, 2019
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.
— Gil (@gilrogers) September 26, 2019