Tuesday, July 5, 2016

ASCA Annual Conference: The Recipe for Success

Attending at ASCA National Conference can be overwhelming. I find I need to prepare to get the most out of this valuable professional development and personal growth opportunity. ASCA has made it much easier to prepare by offering many opportunities before and during the Conference and the App makes it so accessible!
1 -  If possible sign up for a pre-conference workshop or special event. This needs to be done early in the registration period because they have limited slots. This year I am doing the Red Cross Crisis Counseling training Saturday morning that has been on my bucket lists for a number of years. 
2 - Before you go spend time looking at all the break out sessions to determine which ones you will attend. Think about your program and where you could use more information, resources, strategies. This year my personal learning goals are find information on evidence-based programs and teaching the 16 career clusters. 
3 -  Bring your electronic device to follow your schedule that gets saved in the counseling App. You will have access to all PowerPoints and some presenters will want you to take online surveys so be prepared. It also makes it easy for you to save all your notes in a file. I use Google Drive.
4 - I bring clothes like I wear to school for the conference sessions unless I am presenting and then I dress up a little more. I take casual attire for other times. I also take healthy snacks. This year we will be riding buses from the Sheraton to Convention Center. You need fuel to carry you through some long days.
5 - Attend all social events even if you are not a party type person. Sit with your state delegation at the Opening General Session Roll Call. That will help you meet some folks that you naturally share something with and make the crowd seem less overwhelming. It is fun to cheer for our own state!
6 - Talk to people and network. Attending a National Conference allows you to meet counselors from all over the Country and the world! Most counselors are easy to talk to so introduce yourself and share. If you are looking for ideas to improve your program don't hesitate to ask. For example, I will be asking what do you do for the career component of your program? Do you teach the 16 career clusters? If you find someone you want to follow up with exchange ways to contact one another. I bring a mini sheet that has me email, blog, Pinterest, school website, and Twitter handle. Business cards work too.
7 - Twitter is the best way to follow #ASCA19 #notatASCA16. Yes, you can follow counselors who are not in New Orleans but still responding to the Conference. You can also register as a virtual conference attendee for a reasonable fee. The easiest way to follow what is going on is to use Tweetdeck. Even if you do not want to post it gives you insight into other counselors reactions, like to what a keynote speaker is saying.
8 - Attend as many sessions as possible. It can be frustrating not to be able to see them all but since you get access to all session PowerPoints you want to go and hear the sessions that will help you meet your own personal learning goals for the Conference. Do not hesitate to talk to the breakout presenters. Often times if you go early they are just standing around waiting to start and would love for someone in the audience to say what they hope to get out of the session.
9 - Enjoy New Orleans. There will be local people in the Registration area to help you find places to eat and see in your free time. You can't go wrong at most places in the French Quarter!
10 - After the Conference take time to reflect on what you learned and decide what you will use when school resumes. Also share what you learned with the other counselors in your District when you see them when school resumes. Try to convince other counselors in your District to attend the ASCA Conference next year or at least your state level SCA Conference. Follow up with the people you meet, and if you have a question about something you learned in a presentation, do not hesitate to email the presenter. I have presented many times and love to get follow-up questions along with feedback about how counselors have used something they learned at my presentation.


  1. Hi Mary Beth! I think we may have met at the Evidenced Based conference in Athens? Hope to see you at ASCA and discuss your mentoring program. I have been asked to assist with the 15 new counselors coming into our district in August and would appreciate your ideas and suggestions. Thanks! Jeannie

  2. Yes we did meet. I'd be happy to share what we learned in our group mentoring of new counselors. Maybe we could meet up at one of the breaks or lunch times.