posted on June 01, 2012 01:13
David W. Streicher II, NACADA Summer Institute Scholarship Recipient
In Spring 2011, I started a new position as the Academic Advisor Trainer in the new Center for Academic Advising at the University of Saint Francis. The university had been awarded a federal Title III grant to work on two initiatives directed to increase retention and graduation rates, with one of them being the new Advising Center. The grant proposal committee laid out plans for implementation and a general direction, but as my co-workers and I got started in our new roles, we quickly realized we needed to get connected with the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA). We read many articles, attended a couple of webinars, purchased some resources and materials, and attended the Region 5 Conference. We enjoyed each of these experiences and found great value in all of them.
That’s where the Summer Institute came into play. Shortly after attending our Region 5 Conference, I was looking at an email from NACADA and then went to the website to learn more about the Summer Institute. Instantly, I was interested. We had learned so much and so enjoyed each of our previous experiences with NACADA that I knew attending a week-long intensive workshop would allow for us to accomplish some of our goals before the upcoming Fall semester. I then realized that there were scholarships I could apply for to cover my registration fee. We quickly put together a budget to cover the other costs and asked our leaders if this would be possible. They also agreed that this would be a great opportunity, so I submitted my scholarship application that week.
I received word at the end of May that I was awarded one of the scholarships to attend the Summer Institute and was extremely excited! I couldn’t wait to spend the week working with the experts on projects that we were implementing on our campus. Because we had the extra money from the scholarship, we were approved by our school to send a co-worker to the conference along with me. If it is feasible, I encourage all attendees to bring a team. This helped to bounce ideas off one another and to work on multiple projects, and also allowed us to attend more of the sessions if there were any time conflicts.
We arrived in beautiful Colorado Springs, CO at the end of June and had a wonderful week. The first day started with a great welcome session that set the foundation and theme for the entire week. After that, we met in our small groups that were assembled by institution type so we could be with others dealing with similar school issues (size, public/private school constraints, etc.). I was lucky to have Rich Robbins as our Institute Faculty Member. He was a very calm and supportive group leader and definitely brought his experience and expertise to the table when giving us all suggestions and feedback. Dinner and a mixer were next and that allowed for us to create relationships with the other participants.
Overall the schedule was great. Each day there was a foundation session with other topicals or workshops throughout the day. Of course, we also had time to work in our small groups and our institution teams on our action plans. My institution team chose to create an advising syllabus that our faculty advisors and students could use this year as well as work on our undecided student advising plan. We were able to complete both projects and have used both of them this academic year. We were very grateful to have a dedicated week to spend focused on these projects.
I strongly encourage everyone to attend a NACADA Summer Institute. Don’t be afraid to apply for a scholarship that can help with some of the cost. With or without the scholarship funds, it is not difficult to explain the benefits of attending to campus constituents. I know my co-worker and I left feeling much more confident about the field of academic advising, having explored areas for us to continue to grow and focus on in the future, and we felt a greater connection with the leaders in the field. It has been great to be able to reach out for guidance and support throughout the year, and we have enjoyed catching up with the faculty and participants at the other events since the Summer Institute. We will not forget the lessons we learned while at the institute and hope to be able to attend again in the near future!
Please don’t hesitate to contact me directly with any questions or for more insight about my experience.
David W. Streicher II
Center for Academic Advising
University of Saint Francis
Cite this article using APA style as: Streicher, D.W. (2012, June). NACADA summer institute: The best professional development experience. Academic Advising Today, 35(2). Retrieved from [insert url here]