Conference Champion: Five Great Conference Options for Registrars
As a Registrar, it is important to build your network and stay up-to-date on the latest changes in higher education. Conferences are a great professional learning opportunity and remain an important tool for learning best practices and finding innovative solutions to your school’s current needs. Take a look at your agenda before selecting a conference. Is transfer work a priority or are you looking for something broader? Whether you are new to the profession or a seasoned registrar, there are plenty of options to choose from throughout the country.
For new registrars a great place to start is the AACRAO Annual Meeting. More than 2,000 members attend the yearly conference to talk about the dynamic landscape of higher education. AACRAO offers a robust schedule with diverse offerings (roundtables, workshops, key note speakers, etc.). In these sessions you can slowly begin to build your network. Are you getting ready for a big class schedule software implementation? Not all schools are alike, but this meeting will let you know that you are not alone! Check the schedule as some of the smaller professional organizations—the National Network of Law School Officers (NNLSO) and the Conference of Registrars in Jesuit Institutions (CORe), for example—offer meetings that coincide with the AACRAO annual meeting. With the large number of attendees, you will meet people who are just starting their career and others who have been in the business for over thirty years.
Traveling to the AACRAO Annual Meeting may not be in everyone’s budget. If it’s not, take a look at your regional or state association conferences. Are you a California public school? Can you travel to the Pacific Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (PACRAO) conference? Perhaps the California Association of Community College Registrars and Admissions Officers (CACCRAO) makes more sense? These smaller conferences are excellent resources for colleagues within the same accrediting bodies to ask questions and bounce ideas off of one another.
Are you getting ready to implement new room scheduling software? Do you want to meet others who utilize the same tools? Product conferences are immensely helpful for day-to-day users. For example, does your school use Oracle? Traveling to the Higher Education User Group (HEUG) Alliance Conference might be the best use of your time. Are you an Ellucian School? Check the schedule for Ellucian Live. Many companies offer their own conferences to get all of their customers together to learn about new developments and software functionality. Employees are on site to help troubleshoot and answer any questions. These conferences can be your best opportunity for a deep dive into their product.
AACRAO offers two specialty conferences in technology and transfer and strategic enrollment management (SEM). They also provide international workshops that focus on admissions, credentialing, and transfer credit of foreign work. Depending on your area of concentration, these may be a better fit than the AACRAO Annual Meeting. While these conferences may not have as many sessions, you are surrounded by peers with the same focus. It provides a good opportunity to network with colleagues and vendors. With a smaller breadth, attendees get a more thorough analysis of the topic.
If you have been on the conference circuit for a while or you have an open-ended agenda for the year, attending an off-the-beaten path conference could be exactly what you need. Although the SXSW EDU conference is targeted toward education as a whole, it offers a more focused higher education track along with mentor workshops. It’s also great opportunity to look outside of higher education and into the entire lifecycle of a student. Another option is to attend a conference that is narrower in scope. Academic Impressions offers sessions that concentrate on leadership, women in higher education, leading and motivating teams, etc. If your school focuses on the sciences, the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Sciences offers workshops on how to communicate effectively and connect with others within the STEM fields. The Women in Leadership Higher Education Conference offers an opportunity for women in leadership roles to get into one room and talk about their experiences, career advancement, and more. Outside of AACRAO, check your school’s other professional associations. Depending upon the size, some of these organizations will offer their own annual meeting or conference. Lastly, think about a soft skill that you want to develop and find a conference or workshop that can help you grow professionally.
Conferences provide a collaborative environment to strengthen your skills. As you can see, there are plenty of options. Good luck!