NJACAC23 educational sessions


MONDAY MAY 22, 2023

First Timers Orientation

Is this your first time attending the conference? This session is designed to introduce you to the conference and also introduce you to our organization.


Carlos Cano, Director of Admission Communications & Marketing, Georgian Court University 

Sarah Smith, President NJACAC & School Counselor Triton High School


A1: The FAFSA Simplification Act. It’s Complicated.

This session will provide an overview of the FAFSA Simplification Act. Topics will include changes to the upcoming Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for 2024-2025, the changes from EFC (Expected Family Contribution) to Student Aid Index (SAI), who may be affected, and a history of what led to this change. 


Christopher J. Connors, Jr., Director of Financial Aid, Stockton University

A2: Out of Office: Reflect. Release. Recharge.

“Out of Office: Reflect. Release. Recharge.” is a session aiming to create a space for us as professionals to examine ourselves outside of work, spend some time pouring into ourselves, but most importantly, leave with tools to continue the self-work. Think of it as applying sunscreen before heading out to the beach, and reapplying while you’re there. In turn, we’ll be able to examine how our efforts as managers and employees can mitigate burnout in ourselves and our colleagues, building a healthier and happier workplace.


Cindy Povall, MA, Hillsborough High School, Hillsborough, NJ School Counselor & NJSCA President

Lai Ara Powell, MA, Recruiter, Temple University School of Pharmacy IAS Co-Chair

Jenna Yount, Rutgers University- New Brunswick, Associate Director Recruitment & Outreach

A3: Together we can! Creating Strong High School/College Partnerships and Relationships

Building a strong rapport between high school counselors and college admissions offices can be extremely beneficial for both sides as we navigate the college process together. Join us as we discuss and share ways on building strong partnerships and developing long-lasting relationships between High School and College Admissions Counselors. Our panelists will also share partnership agreements that have been implemented between high schools and colleges (and discuss how they were established). We will also provide helpful resources and recommendations to help kick-start your networking or expand your current network!


Niki Mendrinos, Director of School and College Counseling, Bishop Eustace Preparatory School

Jim Gibbons, Director of Admissions, Wagner College

Patrick Mazur, Assistant Director, Regional Admissions, The College of Charleston

Chris Dearth, Vice President for Enrollment Management, King’s College

Claudia Bereshnyi, Associate Director, Undergraduate Admissions Fox School, Temple 

Sarah Smith, School Counselor; Career Exploration Program Coordinator, Triton High School 

A4: Lights, Camera, Action! How to Support Your Creative Students.

Navigating the performing arts admissions process can be quite daunting for our students. In this session we will explore the various aspects of the admission process and timeline that differ from that of the norm, such as, auditions, self-taping and the vast differences between performing arts programs. 


Erica Harris, Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admissions, Manhattanville College

Roger Del Pozo, Senior Executive Enrollment Specialist, New York Film Academy

A5: “They Didn’t Even Go Here!” : How to Represent Your School with the Same Passion as Your Alma Mater

In a profession ruled by recent graduates, two admissions counselors attempt to break the mold of the stereotypical entry-level recruiter.How many times have you been asked, “Oh did you go there?” Only to say, “oh no, I did not.” or “Actually I graduated from….” When most of your office can speak about their own college experiences and opportunities beyond the fast facts and talking points you are left to put together a genuine pitch of your current institution with borrowed alumni flare. Part of our profession is finding the balance between being passionate about the institution you represent and what it can offer students from all walks of life while using your authentic voice to lead students and families through the college search process.


Samantha Murray, Regional Admissions Representative-University of South Carolina

Joanna Caples, Assistant Director of Admissions-McDaniel College

Daniel Koski, Assistant Director of Admissions-Gwynedd Mercy University

A6: Building Student Confidence in an Age of Uncertainty

A generation of prospective students are on the brink of making the biggest decision of their life so far, following a time of intense turbulence. It’s no surprise that they’re seeking stability now, more than ever.Even after they’ve applied, instilling reassurance and confidence in your prospective students is essential. It’s key to making sure they choose your institution as their first choice, and step foot on campus come September.Building that trust and confidence feels like an art, but what if it’s a science? What if we could break down for institutions the recipe for helping prospective students feel confident in the decision they make along the higher ed journey? Because confidence fuels commitment. We’ll share the actionable steps universities can take to win trust, and give their students the gift of confidence. We’ll focus on the moment that students want to hear from you most, after they’ve applied, but before they’ve arrived.


Diego Fanara, Co-Founder & CEO, Unibuddy


B1: Exploring Alternatives: Not All Seniors Go To College

Join us to discuss, collaborate, and share resources for students who are not considering college right after high school. With so many options for success after high school, we will bring attention to career planning, trade and technical school programs, gap year programs, and more. This session will showcase successful programming efforts and highlight success stories!


Jen Nuechterlein, College & Career Counselor, Hunterdon Central Regional High School

Laurie Sieminski Jammal, College & Career Counselor, Edison High School

Ed Stone, College and Career Specialist, Freehold Regional High School District

B2: Confronting Bias in the College Application Process

Facilitators will guide attendees through case studies identifying examples of bias in the college application process. Attendees will have the opportunity to learn best practices and equitable strategies to reduce professional bias in their advocacy as school counselors. Given the quickly changing landscape in college admission through changing testing policies, admission criteria, and the impact of state legislation, school counselors can benefit from this updated and relevant information. Attendees will learn ways to strengthen their students’ college application, get the most out of college fairs, and help support educators as schools collaborate to aid college-bound students.


Carrie Woodard, Director Student Support Services – School Counselors, Pittsburgh Public Schools 

Alicia Oglesby, Associate Director of College Counseling, Winchester Thurston – Pittsburgh, PA; Secretary Pennsylvania School Counselors Association; Faculty, NACAC GWI

B3: Gap Years: Time for Transformation

What is a gap year? What is first year abroad? What benefits do they have for students? What students are a best fit for these experiences?This session will center on the idea of a transformation year- a year of intentional personal growth and development that often falls outside the realm of traditional academic learning. We will define a gap year, evaluate the benefits (and the potential downsides), look at current trends, and discuss who exactly is a “best fit.”Prepare yourself for a fun, engaging, and inspiring session!


Neal Crosson, Regional Admissions Counselor, Verto Education

B4: Campus Tours: The Art of Storytelling & Unfiltered: How to Let The Student Experience Speak for Itself

For many prospective students and families the deciding factor between which institution they decide to attend is their first impression of the campus. This presentation will explore the crucial role that campus visits play in helping students make informed decisions about their college choices. We will address the challenge faced by campus visit professionals in highlighting the student experience for visitors while maintaining authenticity. Additionally, we will cover the key elements of conducting a successful campus tour, from effective marketing to connecting with families and optimizing the life cycle of a tour. Finally, we will discuss different tour strategies and best practices that school professionals can help create an effective, memorable and informative visit experience, ultimately empowering students to find their academic home.


Arturo Fernandez, Admissions Counselor- Montclair State University

Anisha Saini, Admissions Counselor- Montclair State University

Christopher Hoffman, Senior Assistant Dean- Hofstra University

B5: Differentiating College Counseling for Students with Learning Differences

College planning has become an integral part of the student experience. Yet, Neurodiverse students are disproportionately overlooked when this process begins. As more Higher Education institutions increase diversity and inclusion initiatives, intentional work must be done in order to bring the students on campus. College Counselors must differentiate their approach when working with neurodiverse students, and help them identify institutions that are an appropriate fit for them. Evaluating college readiness and early intervention of skills is crucial in setting students up for a successful career post secondary education. This presentation will increase the Counselors confidence when working with students who learn differently and their ability to prepare them for a positive college experience.


Steven DeMartis, Transition Counselor, Beacon College

B6: Empower NJ Students to Earn Free College Credit & Cash

Freshman Year for Free (FYFF), the leading free college for credit program in the U.S. with 400K+ registered users, prepares students to pass credit-bearing CLEP exams offered by its partner The College Board. This program provides HS students across the country with a unique opportunity to earn free college credit before they graduate. State- and city-wide programs in areas like NYC, Detroit and Tenn. have successfully implemented adaptations of the FYFF program to give HS students a free on-ramp to college. With support from the Carnegie Foundation, it is now a successful, proven program with participation from 90+ NYC high schools and over 4K students. The program also offers N.J. students free courses (available 24/7) taught by college professors and significant tuition savings. This discussion will cover how N.J. counselors can introduce the FYFF program at their schools; there is also an incentive to pay teachers/others who mentor $150+ per student who passes a CLEP exam. 


Whitney Macdonald, Senior Director, Operations, Modern States Education Alliance

Keynote Panel Discussion

Keynote Panel:Collective Success: A Fireside Chat

Dr. Angel Pérez, National Association for College Admission Counseling

Mr. Carlos Cano, Georgian Court University

Dr. Natalie Devonish, Atlantic Cape Community College

Ms. Adrienne Stein, Leonia Public Schools


C1: The Long View for Test-Optional Admissions

This panel will cover the recent impacts of test-optional admissions on retention and graduation rates, admissions processes, financial aid, student success programs, student demographics and recruitment, especially in business, STEM and the health professions. We will also discuss recommendations to colleges to address issues that were not expected after test-optional admissions were implemented, and if test-free/test-biind admissions would be feasible in the future. Lastly, the panel will offer answers to this question: What should students do when they are not sure is they should or should not submit scores?


Robert Heinrich, Vice President for Enrollment Management- Stockton University

Lisa Angeloni, Vice President for Enrollment Management- The College of New Jersey

Robert McCaig, Vice President for Enrollment Management- Monmouth University 

Niki Mendrinos, Director of School & College Counseling- Bishop Eustace Preparatory School

Stuart Nachbar, Certified Educational Planner, Educated Quest

C2: Empowering LGBTQ+ Students through the College Admission Process & their Educational Journey

This session will discuss the unique issues that LGBTQ students face throughout their educational journeys and how counselors can support them academically and emotionally. We will cover specific educational laws and responsibilities, and provide tips on how all educational settings can better meet the needs of this population.


Inessa Vaccaro, School Counselor, LPC Hightstown High School

Nicole Funaro, School Counselor, Hightstown High School

Jose Vallejo, Admissions Counselor, Ramapo College of New Jersey

Dana Lambert, School Counselor, West Milford Township Public Schools

C3: Ethical Implications of Holistic Admission: Doing the Right Thing

College admission is going through a period of profound change. Past practices that were widely accepted are being questioned with respect to equity, ethics and fundamental fairness. As colleges gravitate toward holistic admission, including the elevation of character attributes, admission offices must address underlying ethical issues. This session will identify important ethical and philosophical issues, where ethical problems or dilemmas may occur, and implications for the future of college admission.


Jim Bock, Vice President and Dean of Admissions, Swarthmore College, Board Member of Character Collaborative

Tom Bear, Vice President Enrollment Management, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Chair, Character Collaborative

C4: So What Now? Actions to Create Access through School Counseling Program Delivery

Learn about intentional actions in school counseling programs that promote access and empowerment for post-secondary growth and success. We will discuss events, sponsorships, stakeholder involvement, support getting to matriculation and beyond. Enhancing student and family knowledge of the matriculation process, bridge opportunities for your students through relationships with admissions colleagues and financial aid and EOF officers. Be ready to share your ideas and struggles so we can all grow through this presentation. When this session ends, you will leave with ideas to not only enhance access for your students but also promote your work as school counselors and advocates.


Jennifer Correnti, President-Elect-Elect, NJ School Counselor Association

Keia R. Boyd,CSW, SEL Counselor, UC TEAMS Charter School

C5: Strategic Collaboration Between Institutional & Enrollment Marketing

At Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, institutional clarity is one of our shared values and top priorities. We believe in a unified brand, which means collaborating in a way that lifts up everyone, removes duplication of work, and streamlines and aligns our budgets. University and admissions marketing will come together to talk about our best practices, tactics, and best of all – our results. We will offer insights into our strategic collaboration between our departments and shared work, and its effects on the overarching university brand, which has resulted in the largest enrolled class to date. NJACAC, we are ready to talk to you – ask us anything!


Natasha Benjamin, Director of Marketing & Communications, Undergraduate Admissions, Rutgers–New Brunswick

Melissa Blake, Associate Vice Chancellor, Marketing & Communications, Rutgers–New Brunswick

Jackie Kozloski, Director, Marketing & Communications, Rutgers–New Brunswick

C6: How Coalition Schools are Collaborating to Break Down Admissions Barriers for Under-Resourced Students

It’s been a pivotal year for the Coalition for College, as it’s reimagined and launched a new application experience in partnership with Scoir. The simplified application aims to help students manage more of the college admissions process from one account, from discovering to applying to enrolling. Through this partnership, community-based organizations now have access to collaborate with students, school counselors and parents/guardians, all within the same platform. At this session, learn about how Coalition schools work together not only to advance innovations in the application process, with a goal of better serving under-resourced students, but also to support students along the path to applying, especially those who are historically under-represented in higher education.


Stacey Kostell, CEO, Coalition for College

Rodney Morrison, Vice President for Enrollment Management, University of Delaware

Special Interest Group Wisdom Exchanges

S1: Regional Reps 

Are you interested in learning more about Regional Recruitment and what life is like when you do not work on campus? Please join Samantha Murray, Russell Althouse, and Casandra Smith to learn what regional life is like. We will offer a glimpse of life off campus, answer your questions, and provide some of the major differences between on and off campus employment.


Casandra Smith, Regional Recruiter for West Virginia University- Morgantown

Samantha Murray, Admissions Representative University of South Carolina 

Russell Althouse, Assistant Director of Admissions at Binghamton University

S2: School & College Counselors

Counselors Unite! Join school counselor colleagues for a forum of professional support. Best practices, advocacy for the profession and ways to support students throughout the post secondary planning process will be shared.


Janine N. Silberberg, College & Career Counselor, John P. Stevens High School

S3: Emerging Admission Professionals (0-3 years) 


Dylan Klim, Assistant Director, Lynn University

S4: Not So New Kids on the Block (3+ years) 

This session is designed for admissions professionals who have been in college admissions for 3+ years. This workshop will focus on established strengths, reflect on opportunities to grow, and give thought on how to carve out your path in the industry. Let’s connect, reflect, and rejuvenate as a group!


Grace Talian, Assistant Director of Admissions, Stockton University

Meredith Trabilsy, Assistant Director of Admissions, Seton Hall University

S5: Active Retirees

There is a life after retiring from the world of counseling. Continuous education is necessary for everyone. There are many opportunities for retired counselors and administrators in the counseling profession. Our retirees will discuss the various opportunities for counselors and directors upon retiring.


Dr. Marianna Marchese, Principal College Connexxions

Francine Swift, Adjunct professor of counseling, Monmouth University

TUESDAY MAY 23, 2023


D1: Revolution or Evolution? A College Counseling Paradigm for the AI Augmented World

Admissions offices are tasked with selecting students who are best prepared to transition to active learning in the college environment. With the advent and easy availability of revolutionary AI applications like ChatGPT, forward-thinking higher educational institutions are actively seeking new ways to evaluate and elevate students. This requires the process of mentoring students by counselors to evolve. They need to develop and demand skills of students that colleges will continue to value. The focus on well-written essays that are difficult to disambiguate from the output of ChatGPT will likely fade and be replaced by an emphasis on articulation of original ideas, demonstration of deep-thinking and presentation skills. College education will need to contribute towards a new step in the evolution of the human mind in concert with its artificial version.


Matthew Jaskol, Founder & Program Director, Pioneer Academics

Jagmeet Kanwal, Associate Professor, Department of Neurology, Georgetown University

D2: You CAN Sit with Us! Why & How You Should Get Involved with NJACAC

A candid discussion about volunteering with NJACAC and which level of involvement is right for you. We will also discuss the personal and professional benefits of being involved.


Michael Cartusciello, Immediate Past-President, NJACAC

Casandra Kovar, Secretary, NJACAC

D3: Working with the College Bound Student Athlete:The Basics

Working with students interested in pursuing college level athletics can be challenging for new counselors (both school & IECS) and can be confusing even for seasoned veterans. There is an overwhelming amount of information & many pathways that can be taken. There are steps to help student athletes be on the correct pathway for their desired experience – too often our athletes follow information from coaches (both school level and private club coaches) that focuses on athletic skill and overlooks the steps needed to be admitted to college & academic eligibility requirements. Too often our students pay for services that can easily be included within the scope of our own college counseling programs. This workshop will take a look at all of the basics of working with student athletes – everything from helping them find a program, NCAA basics, NAIA basics, and options beyond NCAA. Presenters include a veteran school counselor who is serving the NCAA as an appointed member of their High School Advisory group and an undergraduate admissions counselor and coach who was a recruited student athlete, hs coach & club coach. Attendees will be given links to tools to help increase their knowledge & resources.


Dana Lambert, School Counselor West Milford Township High School,  member of the NCAA High School Advisory Group

Everett Duncan, Admissions Counselor & Men’s Basketball Assistant Coach, Salve Regina University  

D4: Effectively Finding & Engaging Your Underserved Populations

Which student population could your institution better reach and support through the recruitment cycle? What is holding you back from that outreach?Join us for an interactive discussion on how you can make better use of the data already available to you to engage with the students who are most interested in hearing from you. We’ll also share the latest technology to help make that outreach more efficient and effective. This session will cover which prospective student populations have been the most underserved since the pandemic, new and innovative ways you can connect with students and their families, and how you can deliver the right messages on the right channels to speak directly to their specific motivations and preferences.


Joe Cosentino, Regional Director, Higher Education Consultant Team, Encoura

Brianna Weight, Regional Director, Digital Solutions, Encoura

D5: Navigating Financial Aid: Process and Special Circumstances

This session will give a brief overview of the application process for FAFSA and NJ Dreamers. We will discuss special circumstances such as dependency status, changes in income and family circumstances, as well as the process the student must follow to make these changes with financial aid.


Sharon Austin, Sr. Marketing Manager, New Jersey Higher Education Student Assistance Authority

Andre Maglione, Associate Director, New Jersey Higher Education Student Assistance Authority

D6: Benchmarking Digital Marketing in Higher Ed 2023

In 2020, we conducted a survey to improve higher education’s understanding of digital marketing services and goals at colleges and universities. Now, over two years later, we want to know what’s changed. What channels do institutions use to reach key audiences? How much money are they spending on social media? Who’s responsible for strategy and execution? The findings from our latest survey will be reviewed and presented in this session. Learnings will include:

• How much institutions spend on digital marketing.

• Institutional advertising goals for social media and paid search.

• Where institutions advertise on social media.

• Other interesting insights: influencer marketing, SEO, buyer personas, and email strategy


Jamie Oleksik, VP, Business Development, Carnegie Higher Ed


E1: Affirmative Action in College Admission

With possible changes to the role and use of affirmative action in college admission, a panel of educators (college admission professionals, secondary school counselors) will share a brief history of affirmative action, provide their perspectives and engage in open and respectful dialog with attendees.


Elizabeth A. Roper, Director of School & College Counseling, Mount Saint Mary Academy

Rodney Morrison, Vice President of Enrollment Management, University of Delaware

Joe Giglio, Director of Guidance and College Counseling, St. Peter’s Preparatory School

E2: Are you Considering Switching Sides of the Desk?

Have you been thinking about switching sides of the desk (from HS to College OR College to HS), or ever wondered “what actually happens on the other side”? If so, then please join us! In this session you will hear from two individuals who made the switch (one from college to public high school and one from college to private high school back to college). Come hear our stories, lessons learned, and what to expect in the day-to-day life of admissions and high school counseling. Please bring your questions, as our goal is to make this session an engaging conversation!


Russell Althouse, Assistant Director of Admissions, Binghamton University

Sasha Rashid, School Counselor, Becton Regional High School

E3: The High School Visit: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

In this presentation, we will present some ideas about the current state of the high school visit by admissions counselors – is it still a useful tool, what might alternatives be, and how can we make it better.We will break the audience into groups of admissions and high school counselors to brainstorm the visit: things that worked, things that didn’t, and then have the groups share with each other what their ideal of a high school visit would look like. Participants will leave with ideas about how to improve the experience for the students, the college admissions visitors, and the school counselors.


Tracy Amedeo, College & Career Counselor, Morris County Vocational School District

Shannon Seritella, Admissions Counselor, County College of Morris

E4: Work Smarter not Harder: Get the Most out of your CRM and Save your Team Time

Are you looking for real change when it comes to your admissions processes? Are you tired of having to do more with less? Do you feel frustrated that your teams lose so much time to low-value tasks each week? Do you wish you could do better when it comes to delivering incredible student experiences through the enrollment funnel? Now, imagine if you didn’t have to start every Monday battling an inbox of student inquiries. How about if you didn’t have to manually upload your attendee list data after every event? What about if you could simply ‘set it and forget it’ and know that there was a process that could nurture prospects all the way from engagement to enrollment? If you’re looking for real change, then a student engagement platform is the game changer you need. In our presentation, we’ll walk you through how a scalable technology solution can be the change you want to see when it comes to student engagement. This solution is used by clients to enhance their current CRM or as a stand-a-alone tech component…the choice is completely yours. We’ll show you how to automate, streamline, and connect your existing tools and processes to lighten the load for staff, increase enrollment, and deliver best–in-class student experiences. It’s going to be high energy, fun, and offer real value – don’t miss it!


Jamie Crampton, Gecko 

E5: The US Service Academies: Opportunities & the Application Process

Please join us to learn more about the US Service Academies, their opportunities for your students, and the application process from the perspective of the student and the school official.


Leigh McNeil, Assistant Director, Strategic Outreach

E6: College Fairs in NJ – Making Positive Change

As the landscape of recruitment continues to change, how can we work more effectively and efficiently through collaboration to create “win-“win. For example, how can we collaborate and communicate to avoid having several college fairs on the same Thursday in October? Or the same night fair by two schools who are physically close by and could possibly partner to create one fair instead of two? The NJACAC College Fairs Committee and our friends at StriveScan team up to have an open dialogue about how we can further improve the college fair structure in the great state of NJ!


Carlos Cano, Chair, NJACAC College Fairs

Erin Sheehan, Associate Director of College and Fair Relations