The Prepared Registrar: Conference Attendance

Swag!
Swag!

Registrars are usually known for being prepared. We’re the Boy/Girl Scouts of the academic world, always ready to serve with our Swiss-Army-like kits. Need a transcript? Got one. Need a payment plan? Got that right here. Need a classroom for your new course that will change the world? Yep, we have that too. Want to offer a course with two other institutions and allow undergrad, graduate, seminary, and Joe Offthestreet to enroll in it for variable credit, and priced according to student type? No problem. Go ahead, just try to surprise us. My bet is we’re ready for anything you can throw our way.

One way that I stay ready is by attending conferences and talking with colleagues. It doesn’t take very long for the funny, weird, or horror stories to be shared around the dinner table, or during a session presentation. We learn from each other and our shared experiences at conferences. We’re learning from the best in the biz. This is a huge draw for me to attend conferences. I’m planning on attending the WARUCC 2015 conference next week, so I hope to see you there.

I spend time before every conference preparing for what to expect. I’ve created a checklist of things I do to prepare and thought I would share it with you in case you want to use it too. Help make the checklist better by commenting on what you do to prepare for a conference.

Pre-Conference Checklist

  • Membership: ensure membership dues are up-to-date.
  • Register for the conference.
  • Book travel/hotel. Try to stay in the conference hotel for more opportunity to hob-nob with the rich and famous stars fo the registrarial world. Consider adding time before or after for holiday touristy stuff, especially if the conference is in a beautiful part of the world like Vancouver.
  • Confirm how many meals are included in the conference. Budget for meals not included. Plan to eat out with colleagues. Never eat alone – even if you are an introvert. Put yourself out there!
  • Check the schedule for any special events such as a banquet and/or a dance. Sometimes these events are formal, others are costume parties or completely casual. Prepare accordingly but always bring a feather boa and cheroot because you just never know…
  • Bring school swag with you to share. At the upcoming WARUCC conference in Vancouver, you are encouraged to bring something to put on a swap table. If you bring stuff from your school, you can swap it for something cool from another school. If this is your first time doing this and you aren’t sure what to bring, I am bringing the sweatshirt in the picture above and maybe a few other things like a mug or a keychain. It can be useful, really nice, cheesy, goofball, whatever. If it will put a smile on someone’s face it is a good choice.
  • Plan which sessions to attend. Read the presenters bios, do a web search for their topic, creep them on social media, etc. Informed participants make for better presentations. You will learn more and know what questions are most pertinent to your own situation. In other words, be a good student.
  • Pack clothing for the climate and any events outside of the conference. If the conference is in Vancouver and you want to hike the Grouse Grind bring decent trail running shoes/boots (if you are from the Prairies bring oxygen and your personal AED). Take full advantage of the trip to enjoy the local scene.
  • Plan to bring something local back for family and friends. Refrain from stealing hotel cutlery and towels…
  • Bring and share business cards. Plan to meet cool people and keep in touch with them. They are your network to help you when you find your kit-of-preparedness is not quite as full as you need.
  • Prepare to support the vendors who support the conference. They might be a future part of your kit-of-preparedness. They’ve paid a lot of money to attend the conference and set up a booth and some of your colleagues will be using their products. If they are listed on the conference website, snoop their products online before the conference. Plan to stop by their booths and find out what they have to offer. Even if you don’t use their products, you will be better informed.
  • Leave a little extra room in your bags to bring stuff home with you.
  • Bring sunscreen, swimsuit, gym wear, or whatever suits your fancy for off-hours activities at or near your hotel.

What have I missed? What do you do to prepare for a conference? Leave a comment and share it with all of us.

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