I came into this job prepared for a lot of things; smelly rental cars, no parking spots at high schools, my GPS continually letting me know that it is ‘recalculating’, but nothing quite prepared me for the level of love college/university counsellors seem to have for acronyms.
There are acronyms for everything, especially conferences. They have NACAC, OACAC, RMACAC, HACAC, MACAC, WACAC, I could go on for days! Sure I don’t have to remember much as the ACAC always stands for the same thing, but I guess I never imagined how often I would be ACAC-ing in my vocabulary. To get the full effect of this, you need to understand you say it like a word, not like individual letters- everything ends up being an ack-ack. I’ve been saying Oh-ack-ack for months now, and finally, after sounded like a demented duck, I had the pleasure of going and seeing what all this acro-quacking was about.
Turns out they are like a carnival for admissions counsellors. I know, I know, I already feel like I work for Hogwarts, and they somehow find a way to make my job better. Go figure.
Let me explain how it works. OACAC actually stands for Overseas Association for College Admission Counseling and it is a 3-4 day conference held somewhere in North America that allows for international high school counsellors to meet up with North American universities and colleges. The conference has a series of seminars focusing on international recruiting, transitioning international students into North American schools, and best practices from other institutions.
My favourite seminar focused on finding a school that’s right for you, and how rankings and lists don’t give you the full picture. This struck close to home for me, as I made the decision to attend Quest in its very first year. At that point, the institution didn’t have rankings, or students. It was exciting to hear that more and more students are looking beyond research dollars and grant funds, and focusing in on what the university can give them as an individual. I spoke with counsellors from a few incredible liberal arts schools in the states and it completely reaffirmed my choice to work for admissions.
The seminars were helpful, but this conference was definitely not all work and no play. We were lucky enough to have Coors Field rented out for dinner one evening, and they let us hang out in the dugouts! I don’t know much about baseball, but the novelty of the whole thing wasn’t lost on me- I took full advantage of the mini golf and air hockey tables, and enjoyed the quest for alpha status that surrounded the batting cages and the pitching tunnel. Regan and I even managed to get our pictures taken with a cow and a dinosaur, which for me constitutes a successful evening.
Fun, right? Still not the highlight of my trip. Oh no, you see OACAC has this crazy tradition of hosting a dodgeball tournament. Now I am neither spritely or strong, but I like an excuse to wear facepaint, so I was game. We were a motley crew of counsellors, including a fine competitor from Dublin, so it was only suiting that we should call ourselves the ‘Dodgy Chaps’. Who could resist a classy pun?
I’m not going to admit to the fact we lost our first game of the round robin, but I will say that Regan is a bit of a machine (have you seen the Test video yet?!) and without her athletic prowess our fate could have been sealed within the first few minutes.
Needless to say, I didn’t know conferences like this existed when I signed on as an admissions counsellor, but I’m so happy that they do!