Thursday, April 7, 2011

Transferable skills

As I've been enjoying the conference sessions so far, I've found myself thinking a lot about TRANSFERABLE SKILLS. We talk about these issues with our students A LOT, particularly those of us focused on liberal arts advising. But, I hadn't really thought about how important an awareness of transferable skills is for making the most of conference presentations.

Let me explain. I work at a 4-year state university and have oversight of about 4,000new first year students each year. When I first began to attend NACADA conferences, I focused exclusively on presentations about first year students or from like institutions. What I've found, though, as I've gotten further into this crazy profession of advising is that I can mine real GEMS from sessions that may not seemingly have much in common with my regular advising perspective.

Simply, hearing from other advisers from dissimilar institutions about the realities of their daily lives, I gain a new perspective on my advising landscape, which has become so routine to me. It's helpful to identify the common problems and joys that we have with our students and our administrations, even if it's just to see that the grass is, in fact, of a similar hue over the fence.

Sometimes it's hard not to dismiss sessions with a "we don't have those students/problems" or "they only have X number of students," but I'm making a concerted effort not to do that -- because when I do, I lose new important perspectives which in turn help reflect back (Sankofa, Peter?) to my view of my institution and my challenges with new eyes.

Transferable skills, indeed - just trying to remember to practice what I preach.

Julie Traxler, Rutgers University

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