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Looking back at OACAC and forward to ARC 2015!

Rachelle Bernadel is the IB’s University Relations Administrator at the IB Global Centre in Bethesda, MD, USA. She is also an IB graduate of Parkdale High School in Riverdale, Maryland.

Hi IB family!

It has been a crazy few months here in Rachelle’s world (and at the IB)! I hope you have not missed me too much. So much has been going on since I last spoke to you and I wanted to give a mid-summer update to catch everyone up.

A couple of weeks ago Marie and I attended the 22nd annual International Association for College Admissions Counseling Conference (formerly known as OACAC) in Eugene on the University of Oregon campus. Yes, you heard right! There has been a long time coming name change for the association that was announced during the opening session of the conference.  As a first-timer, this historic change along with a plethora of other amazing opportunities made this conference once of the best I have gone to thus far. Eugene was particularly special for me as it is so affectionately called “Track Town USA.” As you all know I am a devoted track runner and being able to run on the historic Hayward Field in the OACAC 5K run to benefit the Counselor Scholarship Fund made this conference even more memorable! With over 1,200 colleagues from institutions and schools all over the world, I did not feel like a tiny fish in a big pond but instead a part of an interwoven fabric of professionals, welcomed with open arms.

Hayward Field

Before the opening session at Hayward Field. There was a flag for each of the countries represented at the conference.

Marie and I were presenters in four sessions on Wednesday and Thursday as well as exhibitors in conference’s second annual exhibit hall. These opportunities for us to showcase and shed knowledge about the IB were very rewarding.

To start things off, Marie sat on a panel about Predicted Grades and the Unpredictable Outcomes that they can have. She presented with Kiyoe Hashimoto from Stanford University, Krista Despotovic-Jacobson from International School of Geneva, La Chataigneraie, David Zutautas from University of Toronto and David Nightingale from University of Kent. Predicted grades are a hot topic within the IB community from the schools’ perspective as well as the university point of view and, in this session, panelists discussed the difference predicted grades (grades that schools send in March/April to the IB as a school benchmark of progress) versus anticipated grades (grades that are sent to universities for admissibility purposes). Each panelist spoke about how this information is either understood or communicated and what implications the grades can have on students and schools within specific contexts.

predicted grades 2015

Marie, David Nightingale, David Zutautas, Krista Despotovic-Jacobson and Kiyoe Hashimoto at the Predicted Grades Session.

In the next session block, I then gave an IB 101 presentation with my colleagues Daralyn Auld from Trent University, Marjorie Smith from University of Denver and Kirk Mitchell from Ridley College. Here we provided a foundational context for counselors who were new to the IB or encountering them for the first time on their campuses. What is the curriculum? How is it assessed? How are universities in the Americas supporting IB students? Some themes from the session were:

  • The IB curriculum prepares learners to be challenged holistically and is interdisciplinary in nature. They are challenged to move outside of comfort areas to explore different areas of knowledge that prepare them for the complex interactions that wait for them in our world.
  • Universities have varied ways of recognizing IB students but the consensus remains that students who enter their campuses with the IB are well-prepared for the rigors of college level course work.

Bright and early Thursday morning, I then served as a presenter for a session called “Breaking the IB Mathematics Code: IB Recognition for Advocating as a Counselor, Deciphering as Admissions and Supporting the IB Diploma Learner.” This session was very engaging for me as our colleagues Tu Anh Gilmore from Mont’Kiara International School, Becky Konowicz from Santa Clara University, Aaron Anderson from University of British Columbia and Paul Teulon from King’s College London all discussed trends and changes in the IB Maths curriculum. Morever, how universities and schools can respond to and best support IB learners not only from a math standpoint but holistically as well. There were a few takeaways that I want to note:

Rachelle at OACAC


Rachelle presenting at the IB Mathematics Session

  • Counselors should encourage students to tell admissions representatives (or more importantly the faculty of a prospective math course) what option they took in an IB Math subject. This will allow for more clarity as universities are trying to determine appropriate course placement and level of material mastery.
  • IB Maths can often be a struggle point for many students of the program and most times a subject that can greatly impact chances of receiving the Diploma. To better support students and their varied ways of learning, schools should have accurate placement tests to help the student enter the appropriate math course that prepares them for a future course of college study.

To round off our presentations, Marie then was a part of a session titled “Searching for Students: Outreach Services for Universities in the Global Marketplace.” Recruiting students in our current landscape has become more versatile than ever. This session provided insight into the different services organizations are developing and the ethical considerations that must be used to effectively target students. Our very own, the IB Student Registry (IBSR) was among the different products discussed. It will allow universities to view, search and market directly to IB student by posting information directly related to their IB policy on campus. It will be a two way database in that students will be able to search universities and vice versa based on criteria interests.

Our summer of conferences continues with the 2015 IB Conference of the America in Chicago starting on Wednesday! Between Marie and I we will be organizing seven sessions with our College and University Relations Committee (CURC) as well as secondary and university colleagues whose perspective and knowledge is essential in comprehensively understanding the IB and higher education in general.

Our session schedule is as follows:

Friday July 24: Admissions Case Studies, Mississippi Room, 11:15am-12:30pm

Friday July 24: IB Coordinators and Counselors Together, Mayfair Room, 2:00pm-3:15pm

Friday July 24: El Arte de Presentar a Nuestros Alumnos y Programas a las Universidades en Los Estados y Unidos y Canada, Ohio Room, 3:45pm-5:00pm

Saturday July 25: Marketing your IB Program/Students, Ohio Room, 11:15am-12:30pm

Saturday July 25: Supporting Underserved Students, Ontario Room, 2:00pm-3:15pm

Saturday July 25: Under Fire, University and Global Recognition, Chicago 10 Room, 3:45pm-5:00pm

Sunday July 26: How to Apply to Canada, UK and Europe, Huron Room, 10:00am-11:15am

ARC 2015

We hope to see you at the conference and thank you to those we worked with at OACAC. This work cannot  be done without you!

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