Friday, May 6, 2011

The importance of getting together with colleagues

Yesterday I met with other members of the ASP community at the NECASP (New England Consortium of Academic Success Professionals) at BC Law for our annual business meeting. While we did take care of business, the primary value in the meeting was the exchange of ideas between others in the Academic Success community. Amy's wonderful post on exhaustion highlights the importance of rejuvenation, and meeting with colleagues can help remind you of the importance of peer support. In addition to the joy of swapping stories with friends in the ASP community, I learned about some fantastic innovative programs at New England law schools. This is my shout-out:

1) UNH Law's Sunny Mulligan and Alice Briggs summer program for select incoming law students.  Tremendous effort that went into planning a program that builds on the strengths of other summer programs, while bringing a unique New Hampshire touch to their program. Sunny and Alice have had great success avoiding stigma (the great bane of ASP) by embracing transparency in their programs. Sunny also talked about the innovative partnership between Career Services, ASP, and the Externship Program at UNH. I believe UNH is on the cutting edge with their program, and it is something all of us should be exploring during this time of belt-tightening at law schools.  

2) Alex Ruskell at Roger Williams runs both the Honors Program and ASP. This is a neat, and somewhat unusual, group of duties, but it has benefits. Coming to the ASP office loses it's stigma (fast!) when it is as likely the student is visiting because they are in the Honors Program as it is they are looking for help. Alex also has a fantastic summer program for incoming students, and he had several ideas I plan on using if I go back to working on pre-orientation.

3) Lis Keller at BC was not only a gracious host, but brought up some challenging theoriesabout who ASP should serve. This is a concept we are looking at in more depth for our fall conference. BC Law's first-year orientation occurs three weeks into the semester, when students are ready to hear about outlining and preparing for exams. This approach to orientation inspired a lot of discussion within our group about how this can be employed at other schools. Many of us felt that some of what we do in orientation goes over the heads of our students who have no context before the start of the semester. BC's approach is one that I envision more schools will employ if they can find a way to fit it into 1L schedules.

4) Louis Schulz and Elizabeth Bloom at New England-Boston filled us in on the details of their comprehensive ASP, which includes programs for students through all three years of law school. Louis is always moving a thousand miles an hour, and the breadth of programs sponsored by NE-Boston demonstrate his energy and ingenuity.

5) Liz Stillman and Janet Fischer from Suffolk facilitated discussion among our group on the benefits and possible costs to students when ASPer's write job recommendations. This is a timely topic, as we are being bombarded with stories about the state of the job market. Janet made the connection between the job market and the upswing in interest in ASP that many of us are seeing.

I came home from the meeting excited about the innovation within ASP, and grateful that I belong to such a wonderful, warm, supportive community. (RCF)

 

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