We are just a few short weeks away from NASFAA 2022. I am so excited to be in person this year, I will even forgive NASFAA for scheduling a late June event in Austin. Humidity is not my friend!
For many, this will be the first time they’re back at an in-person event in more than two years. I went back to in-person events around six months ago, and honestly, it felt much greener than my 20 years in the industry and hundreds of conferences under my belt. Dusting the cobwebs off your conference attendee muscles can be challenging. So, I thought I would share my approach to being back and in-person for NASFAA 2022.
Take time to network
There are so many amazing things about virtual events. From the relatively low expense to the casual dress code, to the ability to attend from my own living room. There are also a few drawbacks. And one of the biggest for me was difficulty connecting with former colleagues and mentors and meeting new people. That’s why this tops my to-do list at NASFAA: Make sure you set aside some intentional time to connect with others. It can be as simple as starting up a conversation with the person sitting next to you in a session, attending the first-time attendee meeting, or seeking out fellow attendees you follow on Twitter or LinkedIn.
Try reaching out to five connections you have never met in person and ask to connect over coffee. If you form even one new meaningful relationship, it was worth it. (Shameless plug – I am always looking to meet new people and would love to grab a coffee or a drink with anyone interested!)
Have a plan
NASFAA has so much great content this year. To make the most out of the three-day event, create a plan for yourself before you even pack your bags. I have already begun developing my approach to attending sessions. I am nothing short of obsessed with Student Financial Success (it is literally built into my title at CampusLogic, and I wrote a book about it). It’s a new philosophy with three pillars; Cut Through Complexity, Unlock Every Dollar and Chart Personal Paths. So, as I looked to create my strategy to get the most out of NASFAA, I used those pillars to build my ideal conference schedule:
Looking to better understand what Student Financial Success is? Well, you’re in luck. There are two sessions dedicated to the topic.
- Unleashing the Secret Power of Financial Aid Superheroes Using Student Financial Success will focus on specific examples of how Valencia College, Western Governors University and the University of Pittsburgh cut through the complexity of financial aid and charted personal paths for students, all while unlocking every possible dollar. Attendees will leave with a copy of the recently published book, Student Financial Success and an actionable implementation plan.
- How the Financial Aid Office Can Solve the Enrollment Crisis lets you join the authors of Student Financial Success: A Surprising Fix to the College Completion Crisis to learn how this new approach to college financing can reduce the number one barrier to college enrollment and completion – financial friction.
And the connection to Student Financial Success doesn’t end there. There are plenty of sessions that address the three pillars of Student Financial Success as well, like these other great sessions at the top of my list:
Cut Through Complexity:
- Leveraging Technology to Transform the Student Experience: Florida A&M University’s Journey
- Professional Judgment is K.I.N.D. (Verification Is Not...PJ)
- A Problem of Fit: How the Complexity of College Pricing Hurts Students — and Universities
- Simplifying and Consolidating Your Financial Aid Website
Chart Personal Paths
- How to Engage Your Students Better Than TikTok
- Empowering Students From Historically Minoritized Groups Through Financial Wellness Education
Unlock Every Dollar:
- Promise Programs: Hopes, Dreams, and Mission Fulfillment
- Pell for Incarcerated Students: The Road to Implementation & Perspectives From the Field
Look, I know I just told you to have a plan. But part of that plan is remembering to have grace with yourself (and others) as you dive back into in-person events. So, listen to your body and feelings about being back at a large event like NASFAA. Next to the Federal Student Aid conference – which, to my chagrin will probably never return to in person – NASFAA is one of the largest industry events many of us will attend. Being in a large group, staying at hotels and even eating at restaurants are still uncomfortable outings for some of us. Keep that in mind as you interact and take the time and space you need to gain comfort with the new normal.
I would love to connect (and re-connect) with as many of you as possible. Feel free to reach out to me on social media or by email if you want to schedule a time to meet. I look forward to seeing you at NASFAA!