If anyone called our office last week, you probably heard that most of the staff was out of the office between Wed and Fri. This was because we were attending the annual WACAC conference. On top of putting on an amazing conference that gave me a great opportunity for professional development, WACAC is an important organization for you to know about. WACAC is an ACAC, Association of College Admission Counseling, and there are a number of different ACACs for each area of the country.

There is WACAC-the Western Association of College Admission Counseling.
There is NACAC-the National Association of College Admission Counseling.
There is RMACAC-the Rocky Mountain Association of College Admission Counseling.
There is OACAC-the Overseas Association of College Admission Counseling.
And so on.

These organizations are a collection of College Admission Counselors, High School College Counselors and Independent Counselors all working together to find the best way to serve you, the students. WACAC represents the states of California and Nevada and works on advocating for student’s rights, making sure colleges adhere to The Statement of Principles of Good Practice and conducts research.

This year the conference was at Chapman University and it was an amazing experience for me. I hate to admit it, but this was actually the first time I had visited Chapman’s campus and I must say they have a beautiful campus. I also must thank the entire Chapman Admission Staff, you did an excellent job setting up the conference and all the social events. Since this was my first WACAC, they set the bar pretty high for all the conferences I will attend in the future.

This year’s conference was great, it gave me a chance to meet some new people in the industry, catch up with my colleagues and attend some amazing sessions. My favorite sessions were “Seniors Save the Day”, “Moving Images in the College Admission Process” and “Ready Set Launch! Help Students Get Their Scholarship Search off the Ground”.

Now I hate to be biased, but the “Seniors Save the Day” session was one of my favorites because it was presented by Adam Sapp, Claremont McKenna College’s Associate Dean of Admission and our very own Jasmin Escobar, Pitzer College’s Associate Director of Admission. This session talked about how seniors work to help the Admission Offices at their respective schools. Here at Pitzer we have what we call the Admission Fellow Program. The Admission Fellows help us by conducting interviews, presenting information sessions, recalculating GPAs and staffing college fairs. These Admission Fellows really do “save the day” for our office, and I am not just saying this because I used to be one. This year the Admission Fellows conducted 489 interviews and during the fall, while the counselors were on the road visiting your high schools, the Admission Fellows and Alumni Interviewers conducted 80% of our interviews.

Now I know a number of parents out there are hesitant when they hear their son or daughter will be interviewing with a student. I want to take this time to reassure all of you parents that interviewing with an Admission Fellows carries the same weight as interviewing with an Admission Counselor. The Admission Fellows actually go through a rigorous 40 hour week of training and are more than qualified to conduct these interviews. In fact students tend to enjoy their interviews with our Admission Fellows more than they enjoy interviewing with one of the counselors. (With the exception of my interviews of course)

The next session that I really enjoyed was “Moving Images in the College Admission Process” and it was also amazing. This session was presented by David May, Chapman’s Assistant Director of Admission and one of his student workers, Sasha de Mello. This session was amazing for me since I am in the process of creating a virtual campus tour for Pitzer and we have never done something like this before. It was great to see how another college approached this project and how they use other online resources such as blogs. You can find David’s College Admission blog at https://chappenings.blogspot.com/. After David and Sasha’s session I am even more excited to get started on our virtual tour and hope I can impress David with our finished product.

The last of my favorite sessions was “Ready Set Launch! Help Students Get Their Scholarship Search off the Ground”. This session was presented by Lynette Matthews, the Director of College Connection and Rhondalynne McClintock, the Director of Scholarship Club. Rhonadalynne’s daughter Talia, who will be starting her career at Pitzer in the fall, also contributed to the presentation. This session was a little bit different from the others I attended, since I don’t get to contribute as much in student’s scholarship search. However, this session was surprisingly relevant for me. Private School education is not cheap and even with our policy to guarantee to meet 100% of a student’s demonstrated need, sometimes families still need a little more help paying for school. There is a ton of money out there to help students pay for college, but it is up to you to find it (and the you I am referring to is the students, not you parents). In the past I have directed families to the 2 scholarship search engines that I knew of, the College Board’s Scholarship Search Engine https://apps.collegeboard.com/cbsearch_ss/welcome.jsp, and FastWeb https://www.fastweb.com/. In reality there are a ton of other websites that are great for starting a scholarship search (see below for a longer list).

The key to starting your scholarship search, is to make a list of your attributes, this is also called a personal inventory and think outside of the box when making this list. There are scholarships out there for things as random as people with one blue eye one brown eye. Look at things like your parents employer, your parents previous employers, if anyone in your family has served in the military, what you are interested in studying, if you do community service etc. At this point start looking through the scholarship searches to see what you can find. Some of the other great search engines I learned about in this session were https://www.scholarshipexperts.com/, https://www.meritaid.com/https://www.finaid.com/, https://www.gradefund.com/https://www.scholarshipcoach.com/ and of course Rondalynne and Talia’s website https://www.thescholarshipclub.com/. Talia and Rondalynne are located in Rancho Cucamonga, so if you are a student from the Inland Empire I highly recommend checking them out. Remember it is never too early to start looking for money for college and the process doesn’t stop after you start your first year of college.

There was one other big issue that we discussed frequently during the WACAC conference, the Cal Grant. For those of you who don’t know, the Cal Grant is free money for students who are California natives, who are attending a College in California who, demonstrate financial need and meet certain GPA requirements. The Cal Grant award can be up to $9,700 a year and is sometimes the extra money a student needs to be able to attend a college or university. Unfortunately, with our current economic crisis, the Governor is proposing to cut the Cal Grant. This cut would affect over 200,000 students, but there is something you can do to help. Write a letter to your local California Legislator and ask them to vote against cutting the Cal Grant. You can also write directly to Governor Schwarzenegger and tell him how you feel. This takes only a few minutes and can really make a difference. You can also log onto the NACAC website and fill out a short form that will send the email for you, https://capwiz.com/nacac/issues/alert/?alertid=13464096.
Please, every email or letter makes a difference.


As you can see, I learned a lot while I was at WACAC and came away rejuvenated and ready for next years travel season. Now on to some blog business, as you have seen there has been a little less posting on the blog over the summer, and since I will be out of town it will continue to be a little lighter in terms of posting. Later this week I am heading down to San Diego to help conduct mock interviews at my Alma Mater Francis Parker, and then I am heading out on vacation, so expect some posts about that. Don’t despair the light posting, keep tuning in and be ready for the fall because there will be some exciting new changes to the blog.

Posted by Danny Irving, Admission Counselor

Danny Leaps for joy