The Benefits of Membership

As I’ve said before, being a Registrar is a rare thing. No one seems to know who we are or what we do outside of our own institution. So, if you find yourself in the position of being one, how do you figure out what you’re supposed to do?

Well, you can do one of two things: 1) make it up as you go along; or, 2) join a professional association and learn from experienced people.

I’ve had the benefit of doing both. When I started being a Registrar, it was in a small, private college with around 800 students. The previous Registrar and Assistant Registrar had left for greener pastures and there was no one to really explain what it was I should do. So I kind of made it up along the way. I distinctly remember seeing a budget line for memberships in ARUCC, AACRAO, PACRAO, and WARUCC, and I was a little shocked at the amount of money required for membership in these organizations. As our college was under some financial strain at the time, I went to my boss and said, “I think I know where we can save some money” and pointed at this line. He said no, I couldn’t cut those out of my budget. And he went one further – he made me promise to attend all the meetings I could.

Wise man.

But it wasn’t easy. The first three meetings I went to were like entering an alternate universe. I didn’t understand the language, the jargon. I was surrounded by much older people, some who had 30+ years of experience! I didn’t want to go back. But I had made a promise.

The first time I asked a question, I clued in to the benefits of membership in a professional association. I had anticipated a very competitive atmosphere. What I discovered was exactly the opposite. I was in a collegial atmosphere. These people knew I didn’t know my head from my … and patiently helped me learn the ropes. They taught me about the profession, and helped me avoid the pitfalls I didn’t even know were there.

On top of that, they recommended my involvement in some positions on the executive of various organizations. From that point on, I was an insider. I had access to all sorts of experts and fellow professionals. When my boss would ask me some difficult question, I could put him off for a few hours, make a phone call or send an email and I had instant support. I could look very learned and wise. My staff never knew that my saying, “Let me sleep on it” meant “I’m going to the WARUCC email list-serve”.

Later on, I learned the value of inviting as many of my staff and others in similar institutions to become members with me.

What about you? What professional associations are you involved in? Check out the links on the right-hand side of my blog here. Have I missed some organization that I need to be part of? Are there any there that you aren’t a member of yet?

Happy New Year!

Grant

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