Focused on professionals who are new to AACRAO and/or higher education, "Building the Blueprint" addresses members' first impressions, expectations, hopes, and misconceptions as they navigate the field of higher education and explore the association. If you or someone you know would like to contribute, please contact the Connect editor.
by Lakhwinderpal (Paul) Singh, Assistant Director of Admissions, Rowan University
It might be hard to believe, but many people in the world don't know what "AACRAO" stands for.
I admit: even as a member, it took me a while to get the acronym (American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers), but now that I've learned more about this great organization and their Technology & Transfer Conference, I've learned it's not only an organization for admissions and registrar professionals. You can be part of the financial aid team, academic advising, or student life -- or, of course, anything that involves dealing with transfer students and technology -- and take advantage of the Transfer and Technology Conference.
An admissions perspective on transfer
In my 10 years of working in higher education, this was my very first AACRAO conference and let me tell you – I loved it! I checked into the hotel on Saturday (flew in red eye due to my excitement) and we started our sessions on Sunday. On Sunday, I started with a session on scaling student success by leveraging technology, like reverse transfer using Degree When Due designed by IHEP (Institute of Higher Education Policy). Even though I work as an admissions professional, it was very interesting how the two-year schools are working with transfer students who have extra credits earn an associate degree so they can attend the four-year university.
The cool, unexpected part of this conference was I got to meet one of the administrators at one of the new schools in my recruitment territory in the D.C. area who happened to be presenting. We got to meet and start the discussions of recruitment and attending transfer fairs. When I had this moment, I knew this opportunity to attend was already paying off.
In addition, I am planning to recruit in the Dallas, Texas area and while attending a session on Monday, I had the opportunity to meet a Director of one of the Dallas District community colleges – THANK YOU AACRAO! I could not believe it…Enrollment Destiny is Mine for the taking! I know it sounds a little corny (O.K., a lot corny) but for an enrollment management professional, this was like striking gold without digging through the dirt.
Sharing your passion
Making my way down from my room, only thinking about breakfast and a hot cup of coffee, I didn't realize how packed my Monday was going to be. We had an early start where I attended multiple sessions with my team focusing on transferability and using technology in many aspects of student services. For example, I love mixing admissions and academic advising in one when I work with my students and I got to see a session about this very topic.
There are many sessions you will find which will touch a soft spot in your heart where you will have a deep connection. You will find how many professionals you will connect with who share the same passion for transfer students. You will love to “love” technology; there were individuals who are not tech savvy but learned something new. This conference gives you the opportunity to open your eyes, think from a different perspective, and be introduced to, as well as be part of, those critical conversations without any judgments or biased views about dealing with transfer students.
Then, one of the most memorable and unexpected sessions was the plenary Monday night with Dr. Bridget Burns. I highly encourage you to check out her work and her presentation. Her story was inspirational, and I definitely connected with her story (being a first-generation student). As you prepare mentally for this conference, know that you should prepare for the unexpected. You think you have an idea what's coming but believe me when I say topics, discussions and interactions pop up which you did not expect and which are deeply enriching.
Get ready, set, go
Here are my tips for getting the most out of your first AACRAO Conference:
1. Check out the conference website and browse AACRAO.org before you attend. It will supply you with the most useful information to plan and prepare.
2. Go with an open mind. Be ready to learn, even if you think you already know a lot. There is always someone who does something differently (I had a lot of these moments throughout my experience at the TransferTech) which you can take back to your institution and see how It would work for you.
3. Take notes. The AACRAO Engage app allows you to take notes for each session!
4. Plan to develop your professional network which will add to your net worth. (Let that sink in.) You may not remember everything in the sessions but introduce yourself to the presenters and stay connected; relationship development will be the forefront of this conference. In my perspective, the learning is the complimentary item to the relationships you will develop at TechTransfer so cherish them, utilize them, and grow them! It is very likely you will see the same professionals at the next AACRAO conference.
5. Look for opportunities to contribute. One of the coolest things AACRAO allowed me to do (besides writing for their Connect newsletter) was to manage their @MyAACRAO Instagram account which was an honor. If you are looking for a way to get involved as a first timer, try doing this, or look for a committee to join, and, most of all, make sure you have fun!
All in all, thank you AACRAO for all the amazing opportunities to develop myself as an enrollment management professional and I look forward to attending the upcoming conferences offered by AACRAO.
If you'd like to continue this conversation, please email me.