Conference 2013 ~ November 6-10, 2013 ~ New Orleans
While the National Collegiate Honors Council is active throughout the year, it is at our annual national conference, held in the fall, that members from across the Unites States gather to share ideas and take part in numerous events and activities centered on honors. First-time attendees may feel overwhelmed by the number of sessions and opportunities available during the conference, but with a little planning beforehand, you’ll have a great time!
What should I expect to do and learn at the national conference?
You get out of the conference exactly what you put into it. Many of the sessions cover issues that students deal with on a daily basis, including leadership, mentoring, and programming in honors. The Students in Honors session is extremely important, a unique opportunity to learn about student issues in NCHC and about Honors in general, and is a chance to connect with other Honors students. Also, many of the special sessions, keynote speakers, and other presentations help students gain a better understanding of the purpose and benefits of an Honors education. Events such as the poster sessions afford students the opportunity to present the results of their independent study and thesis work and inspire other students to pursue their own areas of study or personal interest.
Because the national conference consists of thousands of participants and hundreds of sessions, planning ahead is the best way to accomplish the most and avoid confusion. Before you arrive at the conference, think about the areas of Honors or NCHC that interest you. Then, look for those topics in the on-line version of the Conference Program Book.
You’ll receive your own print copy of the Conference Program when you register at the Conference. Usually, the Conference Program lists a number of “strands,” sessions that appeal to different groups attending the conference, including students. So, start by looking at the descriptions of these student sessions. Then, select several sessions to attend each day, and vary the session topics you attend. If there’s a session you’d like to attend but are unable to, look for a similar topic scheduled for a more convenient time or day. Some sessions require you to sign up in advance, so be sure to read all of the on-line information prior to the conference. It’s a good idea to take notes at the sessions you attend. A notebook is also useful for writing down snail-mail and e-mail addresses of presenters and of other people you meet. This enables you to get in touch with them after the conference ends for additional information or support. And if you have a question or comment, don’t be afraid to politely speak up. One of the foundations of the conference is communication, and most presenters love feedback.
How can I become a presenter at the conference?
In order to make a presentation at the conference, you are required to fill out and submit a presentation proposal form several months prior to the conference. A call for presenters goes out in January or February prior to the conference. Generally, you are asked to briefly describe your topic and your presentation of it. Although there are allowances for audiovisual presentations, try to explore all other presentation options before requesting AV equipment. The use of AV equipment during the conference is expensive, and increased conference costs could lead to increased membership dues. Also, please be as accurate as possible when filling out the proposal form. Review the proposal with your Honors Director to ensure that you’ve filled everything out properly. Each conference generates hundreds of requests to fill the limited amount of time and space. If your proposal is incomplete, inaccurate, or incorrectly submitted, you may not be accepted for presentation.
Another option for participating at conference is to be a student moderator. Student Moderators are used for the General Sessions and are responsible for the sessions to which they are assigned. Responsibilities include arriving early, ensuring that the room is set up, reminding the presenters of the time frames, beginning and ending on time, introducing the presenters, and encouraging and facilitating discussions. The Student Moderator application can be found here. Student Moderators will not be notified until 10 days before conference of which session they are moderating. Questions regarding topics or proposals should be directed to Jack Rhodes at firstname.lastname@example.org or 843-953-3708.
Aside from sessions, what other activities are at the conference?
While the major components of the national conference are presentations and discussion sessions, there are many other student activities that make the conference fun and a memorable experience. The conference usually begins with City as TextTM, a series of walking tours that allow participants to learn about local culture and history. There’s also the gala, a chance to party at an exciting place in the host city. Recent galas have been held at the Carter Center in Atlanta, the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World in New Orleans, and the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. Finally, there are student socials and mixers almost every evening.
Student Viewpoints and Experiences
At my first NCHC conference, I attended a meeting of the Precollege Education of the Gifted Committee, and amazing things happened for the students there. We told our stories, and for the first time I realized that I was not alone in Honors. Many of us had been gifted “low achievers” in our early academic careers, with high test scores but low grades. We lacked motivation. We didn’t care about succeeding. But then something happened to change our attitudes. We started succeeding and joined our Honors Programs. We were excited by the challenges and the expectations of our Honors communities. That meeting changed my perspective on what Honors can do for students. It made me want to help new members in my program find their way, so they could feel connected.
~ Kelly M. Deprez (University of Maine)