Ten years ago the Utah System of Higher Education (USHE) hosted its first statewide conference for school administrators and counselors. Around 170 counselors attended that conference. Since then, the annual conference has quadrupled in size, with over 660 attendees at this year’s 10th annual USHE Conference for School Counselors and Administrators, including elementary, junior high, and high school counselors from around the state.
The purpose of the conference, held this year on September 14 at the Provo Marriott, is to support and educate counselors as they help students prepare for and access college.
“We are excited to celebrate the tenth year of this conference, which has become one of the primary professional development opportunities for counselors and educators in Utah to learn best practices around college preparation and success,” said Dave Buhler, Utah Commissioner of Higher Education. Commissioner Buhler spoke to the attendees in the morning session, reminding counselors that they are “part of the solution to making college accessible to every Utah student.”
Other education leaders spoke to attendees about specific issues affecting Utah schools.
Julie Hartley, Assistant Commissioner of Outreach, Access, and Completion, spoke about the difference education can make in a student’s life. “We talk about the cost of going to college, but we don’t often talk about the cost of not going,” she said in her welcoming address. “The pay gap between someone with a college degree and someone without a degree is the highest we’ve ever had.”
The conference, which had the theme of “College” Together We Can!,” featured 30 breakout sessions highlighting key issues for college access and success. Some of these workshop topics included:
- Current FAFSA completion initiatives
- Utah College Application Week training
- Statewide scholarship and financial aid updates
- Advising undocumented and refugee students
- Creating a college-going culture
The conference also featured a keynote from motivational speaker Justin Jones-Fosu who spoke to the counselors about the importance of keeping purpose and passion in their work. Mr. Jones-Fosu is a nationally recognized college leadership, diversity, and student success speaker who engages his audience with his high energy, practicality, and humor.
The conference is a professional development day provided at no charge by the Utah System of Higher Education. Counselors who attended the conference earn professional development credits.