Conference Keynote/Presentation Topics

Peter Van Buskirk's engaging style and provocative messaging are well suited to gatherings of college access professionals and/or student advocates in the college-going process. Topics range from those that challenge assumptions and provide practical instruction to others that inspire and motivate.

Admission Reform and the Need for Transparency in College Admission

Admission Reform and the Need for Transparency in College AdmissionThe college-going process has become a high-stakes, billion-dollar industry. More than ever, transparency into that process is essential to preserving the vital trust between families and the institutions that would serve them. This session examines factors that have transformed the process as well as efforts to bring it under control.

30-45 minutes. Audience size: no limit.

Finding the Best Fit

Finding the Best FitAs students immerse themselves in the college search process, finding the college that fits their needs and interests best goes a long way to determining their successes as both applicants and, subsequently, enrolled students. This session focuses on factors that often influence the direction of a college search, some good and some bad, and helps students identify their priorities as they begin their college searches.

45-55 minutes. Audience size: no limit.

Getting From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be

Getting From Where You Are to Where You Want to BeThis engaging and motivational keynote program for high school students and parents delivers a five-point plan for achieving educational goals. Special emphasis is placed on self-awareness, finding a good college fit and the consequences of decision-making throughout high school.

45-55 minutes. Audience size: no limit.

Promoting Self-Advocacy

Promoting Self-AdvocacyWhen things happen in life that affect a young person's ability to perform and achieve, s/he has a story to tell. In addition to reducing the stigmas that are typically associated with such circumstances and creating avenues for self-actualization, this session focuses on exercises that can be used to equip students with the tools to tell their stories to curious admission committees—and the confidence to tell them.

45-55 minutes. Audience size: 30-50.

Separating Fact From Fiction

Separating Fact From FictionThe college-going landscape is changing dramatically and the rhetoric surrounding the process has reached the point where it is hard to know what to believe. This presentation analyzes the college-going process and examines factors that contribute to shifts in recruitment practices and policy changes and, subsequently, the growing angst among families of the college-bound.

45-55 minutes. Audience size: no limit.

"Something is Wrong..."

'Something is Wrong...'The college-going climate has changed dramatically over the last 25 years, but is it for the better? Have we reached the "level playing field" or are we just kidding ourselves? This speech assesses the cultural and demographic changes that have taken place, as well as their impact on the college-going process, and challenges the audience to consider a commitment to student-centered college planning.

35-45 minutes. Audience size: no limit.

Unwrapping the Financial Aid Award

Unwrapping the Financial Aid AwardNow, more than ever, financial aid holds the key to college access for most students. This presentation takes a look at how colleges determine who gets how much—and why—while offering strategies for helping students find affordable college options in today's economy. In doing so, it will also:

  • Examine the status of "need blind" admission.
  • Assess the "loans to scholarship" programs that seemingly promote access for low/middle income students
  • Explore the "myth" of the Expected Family Contribution (EFC)

45-55 minutes. Audience size: no limit.

Who Is Being Served?

Who Is Being Served?Despite advances in technology and outreach, the college-going process seems less student-friendly than it was 25 years ago. Have we indeed taken "two steps forward and three steps back?" This session focuses on the factors behind the changes and identifies the "winners" and the "losers."

45-55 minutes. Audience size: no limit.


To learn more about these opportunities, or to find out how you can collaborate with Peter to create programming to meet your constituent needs, contact him at

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How do I book an event?

A. Contact Peter at 717-808-5462 or

Q. Does Peter conduct professional development workshops?

A. Yes. Peter offers customizable, interactive professional development in half-day increments for up to 100 people. Elements of this program continue to be popular preconference workshops at the annual National Association of College Admission Counseling (NACAC) Conference.

Q. Does Peter provide other resources that complement his programming?

A. Yes! Check out the information and advice in Resources for Students & Parents.