I had the pleasure of attending the 28th Annual NAGAP Conference in New Orleans last week, which was my first time at a professional conference. NAGAP, which stands for the National Association of Graduate Admissions Professionals, includes staff members and some faculty from colleges all over the US who work in fields directly or closely related to graduate admissions.
The conference provided a great opportunity to network with professional colleague’s at all different sizes and types of institutions. There was information presented that was new and exciting to me, as well as information I already knew or had experienced through my time working in the Graduate Admissions Office here at SUNY Plattsburgh. It was nice to have the flexibility to choose the educational sessions that sounded most pleasing to me for where I am in my professional development. There was a wide range of different sessions occurring at one time so you could move around to one session or another easily.
A few of the sessions I attended were:
- Getting Off on the Right Foot: Expanding Orientation to Enhance Student Learning
- PlattForm Provides Solutions to Enrollment
- Retention & Career Preparation Challenges
- Cultural Sensitivity in Graduate Programs: A New Approach to Student Support – Adapting to a Global Culture
- “Seven Golden Rules” for Being the Most Productive Person on Your Campus
The dynamic speakers gave a well-rounded experience for all who attended the conference. The needs of the attendees were met – whether you were just starting out (like myself) or a veteran to the Graduate Admissions world. These sessions provided me with new and creative approaches across a variety of topics related to Student Affairs and working with students in higher education.
Not only was the conference focused on attending educational sessions but there were also opportunities to mingle and meet new people. There were breaks between sessions that allowed social interaction and a night on the town at Mardi Gras World, where music and other activities took place. We were able to explore, touch and take pictures of the giant floats used in the New Orleans Mardi Gras parades.
I would encourage any graduate students to attend a professional conference if possible. It doesn’t have to be paid for out of your pocket either – professional development money exists on our campus for our graduate students to pursue these activities, which allowed me this opportunity. Because of this experience, I will be more comfortable when I attend these conferences as a working professional in the future!