Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Making the Most of AALS 2013

Going to the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) Conference is a huge perk for someone in Academic Support. The registration cost is astronomical and the cost of travel and accommodations often pushes this event out of reach and out of budget.  Thus, if you do get a chance to attend AALS, you want to make the most of it.  I have included a few ideas about how to maximize your experience.

  • Review the Program ahead of time.  I read the Program and flag all of the presentations that I must attend and the ones that I would like to attend.  There may not be enough time in the day to attend all of the presentations that look interesting to you but you should at least commit to making it to the ones that you must attend.  If at first you do not find enough sessions, I suggest taking another look.  Look not only at the Presentation Titles or the Sections offering the presentations, but also look at the specific presenters.  You may find familiar names among the presenters or moderators.  Even if the topic does not interest you, seeing particular speakers in their element can make attendance worth it.  If you do not have a hard copy, you can access it here AALS 2013 Annual Meeting Program.
  • Calendar all of the presentations in your phone or on a list that you can easily carry with you.  Believe me, you will thank me later.  When someone asks you to join them for a cup of coffee or at another presentation later in the day, you can quickly check your list to see whether you are available.
  • Try to connect with others in the field.  This year our section program is not being given until late Sunday.  Personally, that is too long for me to wait to find “my people”.  Try to touch base with a few others before arriving in New Orleans or approach someone from ASP at another earlier presentation.  Or better yet, attend the Academic Support Breakfast on Saturday morning (more later on this). 
  • It’s NOLA!  New Orleans is one of the most fascinating cities.  It is rich in tradition, culture, and history.  And….the food is amazing!  Take advantage of soaking in a bit of the jazzy nightlife, the sinfully delicious po’boys and infamous Café Du Monde beignets, and the French Quarter architecture.  I still remember the incredible flavors of the roasted duck and buttery cornbread pudding that I ate at NOLA (one of Emeril’s restaurants) two years ago.  Now, I am getting hungry!
  • Attend the Academic Support Breakfast on Saturday morning.  (Yes, I know I already mentioned this above.)  I want to mention this breakfast again because it a great way to network, vent, generate ideas, make dining plans for the weekend, and make new friends.  Warning, this will not be a culinary experience to remember.  Instead, this is a wonderful reunion of friends and colleagues and an exchange of ideas and support.  It is well worth the cost.  You can work up an appetite for lunch and find someone new to share it with.  Jambalaya anyone?
  • Make plans, be a joiner, and be inclusive.  ASPers are known for being fun, inclusive, and movers and shakers.  Do not be a loner at AALS!  Go site seeing, enjoy a group meal, or maybe a late night game of Taboo with old (or new) friends;)  If you are new, introduce yourself; if you are seasoned, find a newbie to befriend.  My first AALS in 2009 was so overwhelming!  I literally got lost at the hotel while trying to find a presentation. This was not fun and I was late for the presentation.  Plan ahead and leave extra time for detours.
  • Do not forget to attend the Poster Presentations.  This year they are on Saturday from 1:30-2:30 in the Court Assembly, Third Floor, at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside.  This is a great way to connect with ASPers, support our colleagues, and learn something new.
  • Attend our Section Program:  Assessing Our Students, Our Successes, and Ourselves; and, don’t forget to stay for the Business Meeting.  This is a great way to discuss assessment and get involved with others in Academic Support.

I look forward to seeing old friends and meeting new ones.

Laissez les bon temps rouler!

Lisa Young

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