The 68th annual national conference of the National Association for College Admission Counseling takes place this week in Denver, Colorado. The conference brings together more than 5,500 of the nation’s deans, directors and admissions counselors from leading colleges and universities, high school and independent counselors, and leading innovators in the higher education industry. While conference traditions remain in place, there are a few things to especially look forward to this year.

Jane McGonigal

Her keynote write-up doesn’t use the 2011 buzz word “gamification,” but if that is what is in store for this keynote- we are all in for a treat. Jane McGonigal is a game designer who tackles 21st century issues with the same energy and determination as a gamer trying to solve a problem and win. Intrigued? Here’s a bit more. In her bio, McGonigal says, “Her #1 goal in life is to see a game developer win a Nobel Peace Prize.” She creates games that challenge players to solve the world hunger, poverty, and climate change. Why not tackle American education? The keynote will be streamed live on Thursday, October 4th at 1:00 pm Mountain Time (3:00 pm Eastern.) Follow along on twitter during the keynote with the hashtag #NACAC12Live.

Real Talk

Expect speakers to bring real issues to the table this year both in educational sessions and in the learning lounge. The learning lounge is new this year and offers an alternative to traditional conference presentation with sessions that focus on industry trends and case studies. Don’t discount these sessions as “vendor pitches.” Many are delivering independent research and introducing new innovations. Educationals sessions are stacked in seven sections throughout the three day conference. Four of these conference presentations will be available via live stream for a fee. At the end of each webcast attendees will be encouraged to ask questions via twitter using the session hashtag, tags will be #nacac12 followed by the session number (example: #nacac12A4.)

Relevant Talk

Those arriving on Wednesday will find it hard to avoid political discourse among colleagues and Coloradans. The first of three Presidential debates takes place from 7:00-9:30pm Mountain Time (9:00-10:30 pm Eastern) at University of Denver. The theme is domestic policy and will be broken down into four topic areas:

  • Economy – 45 minutes
  • Health Care – 15 minutes
  • Role of Government – 15 minutes
  • Governing – 15 minutes

It’s disappointing not to see time dedicated the cause that brings us to Denver, but we can hope to see education discussed as part of the solution to the problem during the first half of the debate dedicated to the economy.

The Backchannel

The official hashtag of NACAC ‘12 is #NACAC12 with variations for educational sessions and the keynote address, but twitter isn’t the only place to check out conference news. The NACAC conference app is, in a word, fancy. Conference attendees will have access to floorplans, the full event schedule and speaker listings, attendee-to-attendee messaging and meeting requests. If you are a NACAC member, the app offers a member directory that will be available year-round with integrated search and email messaging.

Live Blogging

In an effort to deliver conference updates to those who cannot attend, Admissions Live has partnered with Inigral, Inc. to provide daily recaps and video interviews with conference speakers and attendees. Those attending the conference in Denver are invited to an #AdmissionsLive tweetup co-hosted by Inigral on Thursday night from 8:00-10:00pm at Row14 adjacent to the conference convention center.


The High Fives

What do you like about higher ed? There is usually one clear answer, the people. Conferences like these build our community. If you’re not networking, you’re not really attending. It’s also a time to recognize conference speakers and contributing members who are doing incredible work and commend them for their efforts.



If you will be in Denver this week, drink it in. The weather looks to be perfect, the “Colorado Gold” foliage will be out in full force and (why has no one mentioned this yet) the Denver Beer Fest begins Friday.


Stay tuned to for NACAC ’12 conference coverage on the Admissions Live blog, on Twitter and YouTube.


Article Author

Ashley Budd

Ashley Budd

Producer, Host of Higher Ed Special Edition
Director of Digital Marketing, Cornell University

Ashley Budd is a digital strategist and designer based in upstate New York. She specializes in bringing offline experiences online. Ashley is director of digital marketing at Cornell University serving Alumni Affairs and Development. Prior to joining the team at Cornell, Ashley spent more than five years in Enrollment Management and Career Services at Rochester Institute of Technology. Ashley speaks about college admissions, digital fundraising, communication and media technologies.