IC3: A Movement in International Career and College Counseling has Arrived

By Ragh Singh, Assistant Director of International Recruitment, University of Missouri

India is perhaps at the center of every discussion when it comes to international education. A big part of this is due to the large number of Indian international students studying abroad. According to the World Education Services, in 2014/2015 there were 281,160 Indian international students studying in the U.S., Canada, Australia, U.K., China, New Zealand and Germany. However, the big challenge that comes in understanding the education system of India is where do you begin? According to a report by the British Council in 2014 on the Indian education system, there were 1.4 million schools with 230 million enrollments and more than 50 boards of education in India, making it perhaps one of the most intriguing education systems in the world.

Navigating the Indian education system is no easy task and I say that as someone who grew up in India, who received not only a K-12 education in the country, but also pursued an undergraduate degree in India. In fact, reaching out to schools and universities in India isn’t about the institution you represent, but the relationship you develop with high school counselors, principals and administrators over the course of your interactions with them.

This is where the IC3 Conference comes in. The IC3 Conference makes it so much easier for high school professionals from every part of India, Southeast Asia and Middle East to meet with college representatives from all over the world. As an attendee of the IC3 Conference since its inception in August 2016, as well as presented sessions and now as part of the IC3 Committee, this conference has given me an opportunity to understand the evolution of education happening in schools all across India. Just last year, in only it’s second recurrence, there were 530+ delegates at the Annual IC3 Conference, which included 310+ high school delegates and 170+ university delegates. Again, having attended many educational conferences around the world, I can attest that the opportunity to learn and network at IC3 was immense.

What has been amazing about the IC3 Movement is its adaptability to constantly evolve every year. This was evident in 2017 with the addition of several IC3 Regional Forums, which essentially took the many conversations happening around education to tier II and III cities of India. In 2018, I had the opportunity to attend the IC3 Regional Forum in Lucknow, which is also the home of my ancestors. Returning to the city after more than 16 years was certainly a nostalgic experience. However, getting to meet with high school counselors and administrators not only from the city of Lucknow, but also from many other cities in the state of Uttar Pradesh, such as Varanasi and Kanpur, was an incredible experience. Often university representatives tend to focus on the major metropolitan cities when recruiting in India, however, speaking to counselors in tier II and III cities one realizes the potential and excitement of students wanting to pursue their higher education overseas. Speaking to high school counselors on a one-on-one basis at many of the IC3 Regional Forums over endless cups of Indian “chai” has truly helped me understand the ethos of the Indian education system.

This evolution has continued leading into the 2018 Annual IC3 Conference, with an exciting array of IC3 Regional Forums this past winter and spring, taking place across 18 cities and 8 different countries. This has launched the important discussion of career counseling to a global level. At the conference itself, the expanded IC3 Presidential Forum provides a platform for senior leaders from institutions all over the world to come together and build partnerships at all levels.

Also in 2018, we are going to witness the beginning of what I call a true movement in career counseling through the beginning of the IC3 Institute, which will not only take the discussion to schools that lack career counseling offices, but also provide them with training and resources to build their own laboratories of career success.

I started my journey as an international student from India. Now, I represent the University of Missouri in my home country as a professional in the field of international admissions. I have always felt the challenge of reaching out to schools in India, and connecting with administrators and students – in large part due to a lack of high school career counseling offices. Aside from some of the international schools and renowned national schools in the large, metropolitan cities of India, high school career counseling is very much non-existent. However, thanks to IC3 and the opportunity it provides by bringing a collective group of global educators from India and around the world, this challenge is becoming less and less. I believe IC3 is the answer to this challenge.

A Pretend Extrovert’s Guide to Making the Most of Your First IC3 Conference

By David Royster, Senior Admissions Counsellor, Yale-NUS College

Here are five tips to make the most of your first time at the Annual IC3 Conference:

Conferences can be pretty nerve-wracking. Socializing with people you don’t know, representing your institution in the best light, and absorbing tons of information in a short amount of time can be a bit overwhelming for the first timer. If you find yourself to be naturally reserved, or in my case an introvert disguised as an extrovert, this can feel even more daunting. These were some of the concerns on my mind just one year ago when I attended my first IC3 Conference. As we’re gearing up for this year’s conference, I thought I’d give a shout-out to our first timers and those who may be attending on their own. Here are a few tips and tricks of the trade for having an enjoyable experience and making the most out of your time at the IC3 Conference.

1. Make Smart Connections

Smart may mean something different for everyone. Maybe you’d like to establish new regional links. Maybe there’s someone attending the conference you’ve been dying to connect with. As a territory manager for India and a few neighboring countries, I set out to meet as many counselors and school officials as possible! IC3 is a fantastic format for me to develop and strengthen relationships; putting faces to email addresses and reconnecting with old contacts. It’s also easy to speak to the people around you. Introduce yourself, ask what they thought of sessions and please make a beeline past the small talk.

2. Speak to the Speakers

On top of their work at their home institutions, speakers have worked tirelessly to put together presentations on topics they are passionate about. If you find yourself wanting to know more or just wanting to say hi, go for it! Not only are speakers happy to talk about their work and research, they may also offer valuable advice and insight on a topic that’s been on your mind.

3. Download the Mobile App

Not only is the IC3 Conference mobile app ripe with information on the day’s festivities, it’s also a great way to connect with other conference attendees. I too was a conference app skeptic, thinking, “I don’t have space on my phone for another app.” Believe me, it’s worth it! Not only is it a one-stop shop for all the information you need, you can also use the app to schedule coffee chats, post-conference networking and for those of you who forgot your business cards at home (whoops!), a great way to gather contact information for your new friends!

4. Personal Time is OK!

Don’t be afraid to take personal time. Even if you find the idea of non-stop networking to be riveting, make sure to take some alone time to recharge and reboot. Not only does this keep you fresh and ready to take on the day, it’s also a great opportunity to recap all you’ve learned. Take a walk, sneak in a quick powernap, or read a book – whatever you need to do to feel comfortable and prepared to make the most of your time.

5. Get the Scoop!

If it’s your first time to New Delhi and you have a few more days in the region after the conference, get the scoop from your new friends! Where to go, what to eat, where to shop. You’re in India and many conference attendees will be more than happy to share what makes their country incredible! Asking questions and having conversations about culture and current events is a fantastic way to get to know your colleagues beyond their work. In my experience, the strongest bonds I’ve made have been based on a wonderful mix of passion for student counseling and a genuine interest in each other’s homes and backgrounds.

Attending conferences alone can be quite the experience, but it doesn’t have to be scary or unpleasant. Everyone is attending because like you, they are passionate about international education and student counseling. Take your time, do what’s comfortable and of course, have fun!

Some Food for Thought about Indians’ Study Abroad Choices

By Jim McLaughlin, Drexel University, U.S., Associate Director, Admissions

The Indian palate for education abroad is evolving and diversifying. Not only has the sheer number of Indians studying abroad grown significantly as a whole, but also has the parody among the top receiving countries.

Although the U.S. remains the top study destination for Indian students, that proportion is shrinking relative to the rest of the world. According to World Education Services, the U.S. share of Indians studying abroad has decreased by 7% between 2005/6 and 2014/15, whereas Canada’s numbers has more than tripled during that same period. Smaller yet noticeable gains have also been made by universities in China, Germany and New Zealand.

There is amazing depth of academic interest among Indians, although a keen eye and some digging are required to reveal it. While STEM programs still dominate, there are surprising numbers of students seeking non-STEM programs in areas like Business, Media Arts and Design and Social Sciences. For example, in the U.S. in 2017, more than 40,000 Indian students were enrolled in programs outside of Engineering, Math/Computer Science or Physical/Life Sciences. Let me put it another way: if this group were tracked independently, it would have ranked as the fifth largest source destination of students to the U.S. (ahead of Canada and slightly behind Saudi Arabia).

This is extremely significant, and it is time the world took note of the creative nature of Indian students, as well as the collective diversity of academic interests emerging on the subcontinent.

Moving forward, it will be wise for universities to think critically about this context as they interact with Indian students and to collaborate carefully with secondary school partners and colleagues to identify trends and best serve students. After all, the best outcomes result when students and parents have access to the information they need and are fully supported by advocates at both schools and universities.

The Value of Conference Participation: A Seasoned Counselor Shares Her Thoughts

By Bridget Herrera, American International School of Dhaka, High School/College Counselor, and Past President of International ACAC

As a veteran college counselor who has worked in four international schools over the past 27 years, I can say without a doubt that the opportunity to attend a vast array of conferences has positively impacted my career.

Imagine your first time as you nervously sit down in the auditorium, perhaps an opening session, and, not knowing anyone, you lean over to your neighbor and shyly say, "Hi, my name is Bridget and I live and work in Bangladesh.” At that moment, you begin to weave a fine net of connections that will only strengthen over time. But it takes work!

At every opportunity, I try to reach out to someone new. This might be in the coffee line, sitting next to someone during an educational session, or just walking to the venue when you see scads of people wearing the same name tags. There is potential everywhere to make important connections when at a conference.

Introductions are just the beginning. By exchanging business cards, you have opened new avenues, conversations and relationships. You can follow up with emails saying it was a pleasure to meet you and share a bit about your school, if you’d like. Everybody is busy, so brevity is usually appreciated. If I have students applying to the schools of representatives I have met, I will often drop them a line letting them know that a great student from our school has applied. This reinforces that the connection made was important.

Additionally, forging strong relationships with other counselors is paramount. I cannot tell you how many times I have written to those that I met along the way asking for advice, clearing up doubts, and sometimes just venting. Our international community is a welcoming one and I find there is little judgment and only willingness to help.

Before you know it, you will be a presenter at these conferences, standing in front of groups large and small to share your rich experiences, and you will be the one that new counselors write to for advice.

All this said, this will be my first time attending the Annual IC3 Conference. The region is new for me and there will be many professionals I've never met. I hope that we will find ourselves next to each other in a session or standing in line for coffee. Count on me to make the first move!

My Journey with India: Personal and Professional

By Jim McLaughlin, Drexel University, U.S., Associate Director, Admissions

India is an extraordinary nation bursting with passionate, energetic and talented youth. The demographics are well known, but no less staggering—more than 300 million people under 15 years of age. Needless to say, engagement in India is a must for globally active higher education institutions.

When I advised my first Indian student nearly 10 years ago at Chestnut Hill College, a small, wonderful liberal arts institution in Philadelphia, I did not realize at the time that the experience was opening the door to a place and a people that would influence my life in so many ways. Although it would still be another three or four years before I would physically set foot in the country, it quickly became evident that building, and sustaining, relationships would be at the core of my work in India.

Conceptually, this may seem obvious. Practically speaking, the pace and scale of all-things-India can be daunting and pose significant challenges to university administrators. With so many vibrant regions to discover, it can be difficult to know where, how and with whom to begin outreach efforts. It can even be perplexing for institutions with established outreach programs to strike the right balance between maintaining existing relationships and exploring new ones.

This is precisely why, after years of travel in India, I anchor my outreach with the Annual IC3 Conference. IC3 is the reason more than 300 Indian high school delegates traveled to Delhi in late August last year. For me, the Pre- and Post-Conference IC3 Fair & Symposium add significant value. In our field, nothing is more important than spending time with students, parents and colleagues. That is to say, nothing is more important than building relationships.

As an international education professional, I’ve spent a lot of time away from home, away from family and friends. I’ve missed countless occasions, large and small. So for me, it’s never been simply about meeting professional goals. It’s also about forging friendships. It’s about personal discovery. And, most importantly, it’s about making a difference globally.

After many years of outreach in India and interacting with students, their families and counselors, the Annual IC3 Conference has become the lynchpin for me. With a deep sense of purpose and mission to bring excellence in counseling to every student in India, it’s the movement that ties it altogether.

Much like India itself, the IC3 Movement’s arrow is going up and to the right.

See you in New Delhi this August.