Conference Major & Hot Topics
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Major Topics

The major topics of discussion at the 2019 NCAN National Conference will be as follows. All sessions and presentations will be tagged in the conference app with the corresponding topics so attendees will be able to follow a specific learning path if they choose:

  • Access and Success for Students in Rural Communities: Issues of equity and diversity in rural communities; overcoming institutional and cultural barriers to access and success; system- and community-wide culture change for college and career success.

  • Connecting College and Career Success: Career readiness, guidance, and exploration; aligning program efforts and advising to meet labor market needs; nurturing, attracting, and retaining talent; partnerships to connect college and career success.

  • Data Into Practice: Practical applications of research; program evaluation; using data and technology to enhance program effectiveness; benchmarking; logic models; measuring outcomes.

  • Equity and Opportunity: Ensuring equity for populations underrepresented in postsecondary education including low-income and first-generation students, young men and women of color, foster or homeless youth, rural students, and undocumented/DACA students.

  • Financial Aid and Literacy: FAFSA completion; financial aid advising; scholarship management; financial literacy; using consumer information to inform college and career options; asset building for college costs; partnerships to increase knowledge of financial aid and literacy.

  • Management, Leadership, and Organizational Strategy: Needs of C-suite staff such as resource development; financial management and budgeting; talent development and management; board development; branding/communications; leadership, management and supervisory skills; sustainability; strategic planning; scaling programs and services.

  • Policy and Advocacy: Policy change and implementation at the federal, state, local, or institutional levels; advocacy training; implementing successful advocacy campaigns; partnerships for advocacy and policy change.

  • Postsecondary Access and Readiness: Early awareness; academic preparedness; mentoring or tutoring; family engagement; admissions standards; nontraditional students; noncognitive skills; effective communication strategies; college readiness; partnerships to facilitate postsecondary access and readiness.

  • Social and Emotional Learning Student self-efficacy and self-advocacy; soft-skills such as teamwork, problem solving, grit and resilience, and adaptability; student leadership.

  • Student Success in Postsecondary Education: Persistence, retention, and completion; noncognitive skills and postsecondary success; partnerships to facilitate success in postsecondary education; scholarships.  

Hot Topics

Some conference sessions address the following Hot Topics. These sessions will also be tagged as such in the conference app.

  • Certificates, Credentials, and Degrees: Most jobs in today’s economy require education beyond high school. What are the benefits and tradeoffs of pursuing a certificate vs. a credential vs. a degree? How do student interests and experiences impact the decision about what makes most sense for them? What role does the local economy play in this decision? How can advisers help students make the best decision for their own circumstances?
  • Community Foundations and Strategic Grantmaking: How can community foundations target their scholarship dollars to best serve the needs of low-income students? What is the role of data in making decisions about restructuring scholarship programs? How can foundations work with donors to implement these decisions?
  • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: How is our organization/program modeling DEI practices and tenets? Are our staff composition, practices, and core values reflective of these tenets? How can we make sure our community is having conversations about DEI and how can we actively participate in/lead those conversations? Does our staff have the skills and knowledge to comfortably and actively participate in DEI conversations?
  • Engaging School- and District-Level Leadership: What is the role of district- and school- level leaders in cultivating a college-going culture? Why should they care about their students post-graduation? What indicators are critical in building a college-going culture in a school community? Should school leaders be held accountable for student outcomes beyond high school graduation?
  • Executive Leadership and Strategy: Today’s leaders need cutting-edge skills to keep their organizations vibrant, resilient, and relevant. How can leaders cultivate and practice these skills, including change and talent management, ensuring financial health, and sustainability?
  • Social and Emotional Learning: What are social/emotional competencies, specifically as they relate to postsecondary access and success? How can they be nurtured/developed in the educational and community settings? What does the research say about cultivating these competencies?
  • State Policy: Which state and local policies most effectively move the needle for low-income and underserved students? How can community-based organizations help craft, advocate for, and implement these policies? What is the role of student voice in this work?
  • The Role of Postsecondary Institutions in Access and Success of Low-Income Students: How can postsecondary institutions and community-based organizations work together to meet the access and success needs of low-income and underserved students? What can postsecondary institutions learn from and teach each other about reaching, attracting, and retaining these students? 

Session Formats 

  • Effective practice sessions are traditional conference sessions with a panel and/or presentation and time for audience Q&A. Attendees will leave these sessions with a new idea or strategy to implement when they get home. Effective practices sessions are 60 minutes long.
  • World café sessions include several, intimate roundtable discussions that take place simultaneously. Each presenter leads a 15-minute segment consisting of a seven-minute presentation and discussion with a small group of attendees. After 15 minutes, attendees rotate to a different table/topic, and presenters lead another presentation/discussion cycle with the new group. World café sessions are also 60 minutes long, so attendees can participate in three small group discussions.