Summer Institute 2011: Not the Average Conference

During my relatively short career with the City University of New York, I have had the opportunity to attend a few conferences to foster professional development.  I have been to the NYSACAC conferences at Niagara University and University of Rochester.  The workshops offered at these conferences provided information instrumental to succeeding in higher education.  I had the opportunity to attend Summer Institute 2011 with seven of my colleagues  and our University Director of Admissions, Richard Alvarez.

The annual conferences are wonderful, but for someone that is new to this field, the sheer number of people can be overwhelming.  Networking is a fundamental part of this career, but when faced with higher education veterans, sparking conversation can be an especially daunting task.  Summer Institute makes conversation and networking more manageable because there is a smaller group of participants.  With fewer people present, it was easier to get to know my colleagues from other institutions and to glean pearls of wisdom from more seasoned counselors.  I appreciated meeting people with varying levels of experience since we were all able to learn from one another.

As with all of the workshops offered at NYSACAC’s conferences, the ones at Summer Institute were quite informative.  The presenters were knowledgeable and responsive to questions and concerns raised during the course of the week.  During the “Nuts and Bolts” presentations for experienced counselors, we were given information about making presentations, building relationships with colleagues, and professional development opportunities.  This session provided me with information I will be able to utilize moving forward in my career as a counselor.

The most touching presentation was “Coming Together to Guide Underrepresented Students to College.”  Navigating the admissions process is a challenging for most students, but it is even more difficult for those without resources available to them.  The work that Chris Farmer does as the Director of College Counseling with Young Women’s Leadership School is admirable.  The videos he showed us of the students receiving their acceptance letters brought me to tears.  In this field, it is easy to get caught up in the numbers and to sometimes lose sight of the students.  Actually seeing how much our students have riding on an acceptance and how enthused they are to be admitted reminds me of what we are working for.

Summer Institute 2011 renewed my drive and made me want to redouble my efforts to make an impact on everyone I work with from colleagues to counselors to applicants.  I want to make a difference in the lives of our students and Summer Institute offered me a perspective I did not previously have.  I am quite lucky to have been given this professional development opportunity, and I strongly recommend everyone have the chance to attend Summer Institute.

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