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Dispatches from the NACAC 2014 Conference in Indianapolis, IN & 8 Fun Facts About Indianapolis

September 19th, 2014

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This year the national conference for the National Association of College Admissions Counselors (NACAC) is held in Indianapolis, Indiana. Founded in 1937, NACAC is an organization of more than 13,000 professionals from around the world dedicated to serving students as they make choices about pursuing postsecondary education.

This is ACEI’s first NACAC Conference and I am here with our Assistant Director of Marketing, Yolinisse Moreno, where we will be tending to our booth in the Exhibit Hall for the next two days. The conference and the exhibit hall officially opened on Thursday, September 18th and will end on Saturday, September 20th.

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Yolinisse Moreno, Anonymous Football Player, Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert

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Yolinisse Moreno, Assistant Director of Marketing, ACEI

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View of a corner of the Exhibit Hall

Our first day has proven to be a great success and we have our new display banner and glossy new literature to thank for helping attract visitors to our booth. We happily shared information about ACEI and the benefits of international credential evaluations. Visitors to our booth are counselors at public and private high schools, boarding schools, colleges and universities and with the increasing flow of international students to the U.S., they are recognizing the importance and necessity of having their academic transcripts evaluated for U.S. educational equivalence. We also met the folks at US News and Education. I was happy to see them stop by our booth since I follow their online blog and Facebook posts on higher education and related news.

USNEWS_EDUCATION

Since we’re here in Indianapolis, we thought it would be good to share some facts about this city:

1. Indianapolis is the capital and most populous city of the U.S. state of Indiana, and also the county seat of Marion County. As of the 2010 census, the city’s population is 820,445.

2. There are 19 institutions of higher learning in Indianapolis, ranging from two-year colleges and technical schools to private and public four-year universities. The largest is Indiana University-
Purdue University at Indianapolis, which offers associate, undergraduate, and graduate degree programs. Private four-year institutions include Butler University and the University of Indianapolis. Other institutions of higher education include IVY Tech State College, Marian College, and Martin University.

3. Indianapolis is home to the two largest single-day sporting events in the world, the Indianapolis 500 (Indy 500) and the Brickyard 400.

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A Formula One racecar, up close and personal at the Exhibit Hall

4. The Indy 500 track is so large that Churchill Downs, Yankee Stadium, the Rose Bowl, the Roman Coliseum and Vatican City can all fit inside the iconic oval, covering 253 acres.

5. Though Indianapolis is often a proving ground for stars from the world of sports, every four years Indianapolis hosts the International Violin Competition—a 17-day event—drawing competitors from around the globe. In fact, the finals were held yesterday, on September 17, 2014.

6. Indianapolis’ historic Union Station was the first union station in the world, opening in September 1853. In fact, Thomas Edison worked there as a telegraph operator in 1861.

7. Indianapolis is home to the world’s largest children’s museum in both square footage and number of artifacts (500,000 square feet in size and over 100,000 exhibits and artifacts).

8. Elvis performed his last concert in downtown Indianapolis in June 1977.

Well, that’s it for now. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for more updates on the next two days here at NACAC in Indianapolis.

Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert
Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert
President & CEO, ACEI

ACEI

http://www.acei-global.org

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Dispatches from the 2013 CCID Conference in Atlanta, GA

February 28, 2013

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Though I’d been to Atlanta before on business, this was my first time attending the CCID (Community Colleges for International Development) https://programs.ccid.cc/cci/ Conference. The Intercontinental Hotel in Buckhead (known as the Beverly Hills of the South) served as the venue for the conference. After the hubbub of the French Quarter in New Orleans, where the AIEA conference was held, arriving to the serenity of Buckhead was a much needed relief. And, as much as I intended to make it to the Martin Luther King Jr. Museum, except to a visit to the Office Depot (2 miles from the hotel) for the printing of handouts, a slice of pizza at a pizzeria nearby and a celebratory dinner at Kyma, a Greek Restaurant in Buckhead, majority of my time was committed to meetings.

At the invitation of Zepur Solakian, Executive Director of CGACC http://www.cgacc.org , I served on a pre-conference workshop panel (chaired by Ms. Solakian) on how community colleges can optimize their recruitment strategy by elevating the global branding of their college through 2+2 university pathways and partnerships. The other presenters serving on the panel included: Ross Jennings, Vice President of International Programs and Extended Learning at Green River Community College (WA) http://www.greenriver.edu/ , Dr. Jing Luan, Vice Chancellor, Educational Services and Planning at San Mateo Community College District (CA) http://www.smccd.edu/accounts/smccd/ , and Vilma Tafawa, Executive Director of the International Center at Bunker Hill Community College (MA) http://www.bhcc.mass.edu/ .

The 2+2 model, though not a new concept, can be a popular choice for international students whereby they can take their general requirements at a community college and then transfer to a four-year university to complete their bachelor’s degree. As the global middle class continues to grow so is the global demand for International Higher Education. It is projected that student mobility will grow 70% by the year 2025. However, as more countries enter into the global arena to recruit students, the U.S. is losing its global market shares due to the perception of high education costs, and the budget cuts effecting all institutions of higher education as well as issues concerning the issuance student of visas.

The workshop set out to determine how U.S. community colleges were doing and what they can do to remain globally competitive? While each presenter discussed the steps their respective community colleges have taken to optimize their recruiting strategy they unanimously agreed that success lies in enhancing, articulating and marketing of 2+2 jointly by four-year institutions and community colleges. The 2+2 process provides huge savings to students and all institutions of higher education. As the global middle class grows the 2+2 can bring affordability of a U.S. degree to these families who would have otherwise looked at other countries. Panelists discussed existing articulation agreements, joint marketing strategies and success models giving credibility to 2+2 globally and eliminate myths about 2+2.

But no amount of recruiting to attract international students is effective if their academic documents have not been properly vetted and evaluated. I spoke of the reasons why accurate credentials evaluations are important for international admissions. Accurate academic credential evaluations allow the admissions decision makers to properly assess and integrate the international students into their scholastic environment while ensuring due diligence in international admissions has been satisfied.

The benefits of the credential evaluation to institutions are twofold: 1) they are protected against credential fraud and misrepresentation and 2) enhance their global competitiveness while nurturing development of international partnerships. Students also benefit by receiving a clear understanding of their academic achievements and enjoying an obstacle-free pathway to further education, professional development and employment opportunities in the future.

Finally, Zepur shared with the audience the initiatives which CGACC has undertaken in its efforts to make the U.S. community colleges and the 2+2 model an attractive and cost effective feature to international students. The CGACC ‘s global initiatives include:

2+2 Guide (New)
2+2 Workshop around the world
2+2 Educational Tours
2+2 Pavilions at Fairs
2+2 Partnerships
2+2 Videos
2+2 Examples with Testimonials

CGACC will continue with its efforts to meet with universities at NAFSA and regional conferences to establish strategic MOUs and continue blogging on the 2+2 model. Through its global partnerships with ACEI and other select organizations, CGACC aims to provide its member institutions the tools needed to optimize their recruitment strategies by enhancing their position in the global education market.

Stay tuned for dispatches from my upcoming trip to Hong Kong next month where I’ll be attending the APIEA http://www.apaie.org/ Conference and presenting on a panel addressing the 2+2 program alongside partnerships and collaborations with EducationUSA https://www.educationusa.info/ , higher education communities in the U.S. and the East Asia Pacific.

Jasmin S. Kuehnert
President & CEO ACEI
www.acei1.com

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Dispatches from the 2013 AIEA Conference in New Orleans

February 21, 2013

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It’s been almost a decade since I last visited New Orleans. I have to thank the AIEA (Association of International Education Administrators) http://www.aieaworld.org/ for hosting its annual national conference in the Big Easy this year. No visit to New Orleans is complete without a stop at the world famous Café du Monde for a plate of its freshly baked powered sugared confections and cup of café au lait. Given that most of my days at the conference were booked with meetings and sessions, I still managed to enjoy the city’s culinary fare (charbroiled oysters at Dragos, bananas Foster’s at the Palace Café) and even took a 45 minute cruise on the Natchez Steamboat with colleagues from various universities in the U.S. and around the world.

This year the conference theme was “Re-imagining Higher Education in a Global Context,” and several of the sessions I attended attempted to address this issue in roundtable or speaker settings. The keynote speaker, Eric Liu http://guidinglightsnetwork.com/bio, former White House speechwriter for President Bill Clinton, set the tone for the conference by emphasizing that innovation begins with imagination.

I attended sessions on topics like “Using Accreditation Standards to Internationalize,” “Global Changes and Challenges: Is the United States Doing Enough to Stay Competitive as a Study Destination.” But the session that I found most relevant was one about the “Pursuit of Academic Diplomacy in Iran: Challenges and Opportunities.” Gregory Sullivan and Kristen Cammarata with the U.S. State Department and Sara Kurtz Allaei from Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis presented the session. According to the session’s presenters, it appears that the number of students from Iran seeking visas to study in the U.S. has risen from the low 1000’s in 2007 to the high 6000’s in 2011/12. The number of Iranian students enrolled at US institutions prior to the 1979 Islamic Revolution was about 45,000. The EducationUSA https://www.educationusa.info/ advising center focusing on Iran reports an increase in the number of Iranians querying about studying at U.S. institutions. Sullivan mentioned that 14 specialists at the State Department are dedicated to the Iranian student project.

Specific conditions are in place for granting visas to Iranians planning to study in the U.S. According to Sullivan (paraphrased in this report): “visas are not granted to students or exchange programs relevant to sciences with a clear military, nuclear/energy component” or to groups or agencies with ties or affiliations to the Iranian government, terrorism or human rights abuses, or programs with commercial value that will benefit the Iranian government.” At this time, Iranian students accepted to U.S. colleges and universities must leave Iran for Dubai or Istanbul, Turkey to apply for their U.S. student visas, since U.S. and Iran do not enjoy diplomatic relations and have no embassy presence in their respective countries. We can look at the number of visas reportedly issued in 2011/12 as an indication of the U.S. State Department’s willingness to exercise openness in the visas granted to Iranian students and the Iranian government’s loosening of its hold on the youth.

Another interesting fact shared by Kristen Cammarata was that since the SAT is not offered in the region, many Iranian high school graduates instead take the GRE (Graduate Records Examinations, a test taken by students intending to apply for graduate school admission in the US) and scoring very high on the math section; further proof of how seriously motivated these young Iranians are in their pursuit of higher education in the U.S. Cammarata indicated that her office receives much of the inquiries from young Iranians via email and Skype. She also commented that the Iranian population in the U.S. has proven to be one of the most educated and successful of immigrants in this country’s history.

Sullivan mused that perhaps the government in Iran recognizes its shortcomings in satisfying its youth population with education and job opportunities by relaxing its grip and releasing the pressure valve and allowing some exchange through education (studying abroad in the U.S.). The pressure valve may be temporarily tightened during Iran’s upcoming Presidential elections, but to be relaxed once again after the new President has been elected.

Sullivan also noted that the US in turn will grant specific licenses to U.S. institutions wanting to engage in education, cultural, and sports exchange programs as well as topics concerned with human rights, the environment, health and medicine. Perhaps through academic diplomacy we can begin to see a thawing of the icy relations between Iran and the U.S. But I can’t help wonder how concerned the Iranian government may become when its youth heading west to the U.S. returning not only armed with their university degrees but an arsenal of information.

Partnering with my colleague Zepur Solakian, Executive Director of CGACC (www.cgacc.org), we held joint meetings with representatives from Washington State University (USA) http://www.wsu.edu/, Istanbul Bilgi University (Turkey) http://bilgi.edu.tr/en/university, and Swinburne University of Technology (Australia) http://www.swinburne.edu.au/. We discussed how the U.S. community colleges serve as a viable route to the four-year institutions for international students and the added benefits of international credential evaluations in the admission and transfer credit processes. With more exchanges on these topics, we feel community colleges can begin to become a significant venue for higher education in the international market alongside the four-year institutions.

The exhibit hall showcased exhibitors from China, South Korea, Italy, and companies like Zinch http://www.zinch.com/ a website connecting students with colleges, and Mezun http://www.mezun.com , an educational portal for Turkish students studying abroad.

Stay tuned for next week’s dispatch from Atlanta, Georgia where I’m co-presenting a workshop on “Best Practices in Recruitment and 2+2” at the CCID (Community Colleges for International Development) https://programs.ccid.cc/cci conference.

Jasmin S. Kuehnert
President & CEO ACEI
www.acei1.com

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