San Antonio March 11–15, 2017
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Navigating the Conference Schedule

Hello NASPA First Time Attendees!

I am here to give you a little guidance on the schedule since you have never been to a NASPA Conference before.

There are so many sessions, tracks, institutes, and other programs available at NASPA Conferences. You may not know where to start. It is perfectly normal to be confused and overwhelmed with all there is to offer. You do not have to attend everything NASPA offers. That is the beauty of large conferences like this. It truly is a “choose your own adventure!”

That being said, it may be beneficial to understand what some of these sessions and events are before you plan your conference experience. To learn more about the sessions listed below, go to http://conference2017.naspa.org/program/schedule

·       General Interest Sessions - Traditional program sessions that last for 50 minutes and are designed to be interactive conversations between presenters and participants.

o   Pro Tip - Plan which session you wish to attend but make sure to have a backup session in case that one fills up. Sometimes, you might have a session so full that the room may not be able to hold any more people. Having an alternate session is a great strategy in the rare event this happens.

·       Innovation Station - A unique space with the explicit goal of connecting attendees to innovative programs and new ways of thinking on campuses other than their own.

o   Pro Tip - Limited seating so plan to arrive early!

·       Poster Sessions - Unlike a general interest session, a poster session allows viewers to study and re-study your information and discuss it with you one-on-one.

o   Pro Tip – Check the schedule to see when the presenters will be available to answer questions.

·       Pre-Conference Workshops – Half-day and full day workshops that take place on Saturday and Sunday before the conference. Pre-registration is required.

·       SA Speaks - 10-minute talks will offer presenters and participants an innovative look at important topics and a means to spread ideas about how we can change the student affairs profession and transform learning in higher education. 

·       Scholarly Paper Sessions - Each 50-minute session will have three to four scholars present their paper and will be followed by comments from a discussant, as well as a facilitated question and answer session.          

·       Knowledge Communities Sponsored Sessions (KC) – These sessions revolve around a specific topic within higher education to discuss current issues and strategies. Look for these if you want to get more involved in NASPA or that particular field. You can find a list of all Knowledge Communities here: (https://www.naspa.org/constituent-groups/kcs)

The NASPA Conference also has many other meetings and events happening that you will have to become familiar with:

·       SA Fit Events - Each of these events will get you moving and keep you active. Here, you can meet up with others and workout. Many of these happen early in the morning.

·       Lounges - These are places for different places to meet, chat, and take a break from the hectic nature of the conference. Look for our First Time Attendee Lounge (FTA) in your program!

·       Exhibit Hall - Vendors in higher education have booths available for people to drop by and ask questions. Make some time to browse the kiosks and see what products are available in the field of higher education. You never know what you might find to assist you at your institution. Make sure to spend some time here.

o   Pro Tip - Most vendors offer some free goodies and takeaway promotions!

·       Regional Meetings- NASPA is split up into seven regions to better serve its members. Each region offers socials, events, and a business meeting. If you don’t know what’s going on and want to get connected, regional events are a great place to get started. Find your regions by checking this map: (https://www.naspa.org/constituent-groups/regions/P6)

Before you go to the conference, plan out your trip! You can do this through the NASPA App, pen and paper, or however you want to do it. Most people use the NASPA App because one of the features allows you to build your own schedule. The NASPA App is updated regularly with announcements, unexpected room changes, and other information needed throughout the conference. The schedule is already on the NASPA website. (http://apps.naspa.org/sch/sch.cfm) Keep in mind that it is subject to change and this is not finalized.

When building my schedule, I try to find a session that challenges me outside of my knowledge base. For example, my background is mostly in housing, programming, and judicial affairs. However, I lack knowledge in topics like Financial Aid, Human Resources, and other departments that help students behind the scenes. Look for a program that piques your curiosity and see what you learn!

I hope this overview gives you a little background information and gets you excited for NASPA 2017. If you need help in any way, feel free to contact the First Time Attendees group or me at allendj@winthrop.edu

I look forward to meeting all of you at the NASPA Conference in San Antonio!

Daniel Allen, Winthrop University – First Time Attendee Committee Member

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