Skip to content ↓
MIT staff blogger Matt McGann '00

NACAC Conference by Matt McGann '00

Wrap-up from the national admissions conference.

For the past three days, I was at the conference of the National Association of College Admission Counseling (NACAC). NACAC is the primary professional association for guidance counselors and admissions officers, and once a year they gather for a conference. This year’s conference was in Tampa, FL, and MIT had seven representatives: myself, Marilee, Jenny, Joanne, Edmund, Bryan and Ben. It was quite an interesting conference.

The NACAC Conference Tampa logo.

I like attending professional conferences (see: NEACAC, OACAC) because I come away feeling energized, with many ideas, and having learned something new. This year, some of the sessions included:

  • Dealing with Natural Disasters
  • The New TOEFL is Here!
  • Helping Students with Asperger’s and Nonverbal Learning Disabilities Go To College
  • The Common Application Q and A
  • Student Performance on the New SAT
  • Recommendations: The Good, the Bad, and the Oh-So-Stale

I am drawn to sessions with inspiring speakers. Some of the speakers I saw:

Also among the presenters was Marilee Jones, our Dean of Admissions. She presented on the topic, “College Admission as a Mental Health Issue.” Like many who are involved with admissions, Marilee is very concerned about the stress placed on students and families by the pressures to be admitted to the “right” college.

The sign announcing Marilee’s talk, and Marilee addressing the crowd.

On the final day of the conference, Ben and I gave our presentation about — what else? — these very blogs. Our mission was to tell other admissions offices 1) what a blog is, and 2) how blogs can be used to demystify the admissions process and provide students with real insight into life on campus. We hope that other admissions offices will start staff and student blogs, and based on feedback, this is happening! If you attended our presentation and are reading this, I hope you’ll say a quick “hi” in the comments section below.

Ben presents blogging to the crowd (I’m behind the camera). We presented to an enormous ballroom that was about half-full; no one wanted to sit in the front, though, it seems.

The NACAC conference also included a “Counselors College Fair” (I may have even said hello to your counselor), a “Conference Social” (which I missed), and the members’ meeting, where Crucial Admissions Business is voted upon.

I also learned a bit more about options for international students. Coming in, I knew about the six schools that are known for admitting international students in a need blind fashion and meeting their full financial need: MIT, Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Williams, and Middlebury. But I was not aware of some other schools that have many, many international students who receive great financial aid, including Berea College, Colby College, and, most notably, Mount Holyoke, where their large population of international women is greeted with generous aid packages.

It was also nice to get to catch up with my MIT colleagues for a couple nice dinners. We dined Friday night at Columbia Restaurant, Florida’s oldest Spanish restaurant, housed in a beautiful space in Ybor City, where we ate and watched the Flamenco dance show together. Since we’ve all been on the road traveling so much, it was nice to see everyone again.

Columbia Restaurant, home to delicious food and great Flamenco dancers.

We also dined together Thursday night, and got a nice picture:

From left: Marilee, Bryan, Edmund, myself (behind the camera: Ben)

I’m in the office in Cambridge briefly again today, then tomorrow I fly out to Southern California. I’ll be doing Central Meetings this week in Orange County (Wednesday), Westwood (Thursday), San Diego (Saturday) and Pomona (Sunday), followed by meetings in San Luis Obispo (Wednesday) and Long Beach (Thursday) next week. I’ll be seeing those of you in Southern California soon!

8 responses to “NACAC Conference”

  1. jimmy says:

    I’d like to hear about what you learned about Recommendations, like what a good one would be.

  2. Kevin says:

    Greetings Matt,

    I attended the session on Saturday. You and Ben did a great job. I have enjoyed reading each of your blogs as well as that of my close friend, Bryan Nance. What a great forum for these talented young people to engage with each other and with the admission officers and students they may or may not share a campus with in the future. Keep up the good work!!! Ben and you have sold me on Blogs…



  3. Mitra says:

    My dad attended Berea!

  4. Anthony says:

    What’s amusing about Dave Barry’s presence at the admissions conference is that the name of CollegeConfidential’s founder is “Dave Berry”. grin

  5. Shikhar says:

    Hi matt,

    can you tell me more about the other colleges that you were not expecting to lend financial aid to International students (the names).

    Please tell me whether the December sitting of the SAT exams reach the admissions office in time for Regular Decision.

  6. Shikhar says:

    Oh and matt one more thing,

    In my high school we follow both the marking and grading system (I am in ICSE board). So in my transcript my school will most probably send you a custom A-4 sized gradesheet with year grades (grading is done annually) from 9th till mid year grades of class 12th (i.e. the exams held before class 12th external board exams or the “ISC”).

    However, my transcript also has the result of class 10th on it, but I would also like to send my Board exam result to MIT. So should I send only the pass certificate which is graded or also the marksheet (the grading system is there mainly for the purpose of facilitating foreign universities in easily understanding a students potential).

  7. Sukrit says:

    Question for the Omnibus:

    My main essay is 566 words long, and my two short ones each 136; I feel that the lengths are necessary in order to communicate my message as well as show my passion for MIT. How much need I shorten these essays?


  8. Karan says:

    Could u tell me what is the minimum SAT I score that would be acceptable to consider applying to MIT?