ALD Conference from a Student's Perspective

Written by
William Covington, student at the University of Colorado - Colorado Springs, and National Council Student Member-at-Large

On October 28, hundreds of Alpha Lambda Delta student officers and advisors will meet in Washington, D.C. for the annual leadership conference. The leadership conference is a fantastic opportunity for students to discuss how their chapter is run, share ideas with other chapters, develop their leadership skills, and network with ALD members from across the United States. To help you make the most of your trip, here are some guidelines to prepare for the conference:

Before the conference:

  • Undergo an analysis of your chapter, and become familiar with the dynamics of your chapter, if you are not already. Seek to understand how your chapter’s financing functions, how the chapter is recognized as a club on campus, what you do to increase recruiting, your chapter’s presence on campus and within the community, how you promote academic excellence, which events worked well and did not work as well, where your strengths are as a chapter, where you are weak, and so on.
  • Assemble a notebook or small portfolio outlining key aspects of your chapter, as well as how you want to improve your chapter. Bring these ideas and areas of improvement with you to the conference.

During the conference:

  • It is important to discuss how your chapter functions and compare what you do with other ALD chapters. This will give you insight on how others have been successful, and provide you with ideas to take home.
  • ALD offers a wide variety of educational sessions that will help you develop yourself and your chapter. These sessions will serve as the medium for you to express your ideas, so it is important for you to engage in discussion within each of these sessions. Doing so will help your fellow ALD officers to hear the many ways in which other chapters find success. Take detailed notes during these sessions, writing down what you learned, what you think, and how you can apply the information presented. After the sessions, but before you leave, write a short plan of what you would like to change within your chapter and how you will approach it. You will likely be feeling very creative at this point, so record any ideas you have so that you may revise them later.
  • Don’t forget to network during the conference! Networking can give you an extra point of contact and an outside perspective in tackling new ideas. The people you network with can help walk you through the process of implementing ideas if they have experience.

After the conference:

  • You will now have the opportunity to take what you learned during the conference and apply it to your chapter. Revisit the notes you made before and during the conference, and begin to “flesh out” a strategy to implement what you learned.
  • Present your ideas and your knowledge gained from the conference to your chapter’s members so that they can become engaged in implementing the plans you have made. Often members have knowledge of organizations that ALD can get involved with, so it is worth discussion so that members may voice their opinions and lend their insights to implementing strategic change. 
students.jpg

ALD Conference from an Advisor's Perspective

Written by
Olof Thordardottir, advisor at Kent State University

I have attended many higher education conferences in the past but last year was my first conference for Alpha Lambda Delta. I was not sure what to expect in regards to structure, session content, how to prepare or even if the conference would be beneficial to me as a brand new ALD advisor (a fresh 1.5 months to be exact). After attending the conference I can confidently say that I learned more than I expected and felt much more prepared to take on my first year as ALD advisor. There were sessions for new and seasoned advisors so I never felt overwhelmed or behind. I liked that there were sessions geared specifically towards advisors and others specifically towards students. My student and I found this allowed us to get different perspectives and even more information to bring back home. My student and I both came back with new knowledge and great ideas to implement.

Along with a well-organized and informative conference, the conference staff and fellow ALD advisors were very friendly and welcoming. I did not know any other ALD advisors prior to the conference but there were so many opportunities to mingle and to get to know the ALD staff, other advisors and students. I highly recommend attending the ALD advisor meeting on the first day!

I am even more excited for this year’s conference because I now have a year of experience under my belt. I have a better understanding of ALD and my role as advisor, so I can better select the conference sessions I attend. I am also very excited to have the opportunity to have discussions with other advisors and conference staff on how the past year went and how we can improve for next year.

Study Tips for Honors Students

Written by:
Dr. Carrie Arnold, advisor at the University of Colorado - Colorado Springs, and National Council Professional Member-at-Large

It’s that lovely time of year again. The fresh smell of pencils, the bright white notebook paper, and 30 pounds of books in your new, updated, suitcase… I mean, backpack. Ahhh, a new academic semester!  

As ALDers, academics are important to you and so is your time. How do you manage your heavy course load, the clubs and organizations you are involved in, and perhaps an on/off campus job? It may be daunting to think about everything you have to do, and now that you have all of your syllabi in hand, campus events, and work calendar, how do you make sure you can get everything done, maintain your GPA, and still possibly, maybe have fun?

Time Management. It’s not a fancy concept; it’s an essential component of success. The key to time management is a planner. It can be electronic, paper, or a dry erase board. Whatever you feel most comfortable using will work. I, personally, am a fan of both. I have a paper planner, but I also use my Outlook calendar. If you need to write things down in order to remember them, a paper planner may be best. Some colleges and universities give them away free each year or you can purchase one at your bookstore or local Target. There is an infinite number of types of paper planners. For those of you who prefer to have your planner at your fingertips (e.g., on your iPhone or Android), there are apps that would work better for you.

However, time management goes beyond a planner. Having a planner is step 1, actually using the planner is step 2! One thing I notice with some of my students is they write down or type in when everything is due. This is great, but you need to take it one step further. You actually need to set aside time in your planner to do the work that is due. If you have math class twice a week and you know you have work to turn in for math class, are you setting aside time in your planner to do the work? 

I’m pretty old school (emphasis on the old), but I still use apps to help me, especially when big projects are due and I really need help focusing. A planner is great for helping with organization, but there are times you may need some additional help. 

Lifehack, an online blog, provides advice on productivity. Kristin O’Donovan of Lifehack shared her picks for the Top 15 Time Management Apps and Tools. There were a few new apps and tools that I had not heard of before, but I plan on using them now! Some include:

  • Rescue Time – Monitors your browser use and sends you weekly reports on where you are wasting time.
  • Remember the Milk – Helps you manage multiple tasks across all of your devices.
  • Focus Booster – For those procrastinators out there, this app is for you! It helps you to focus and to reduce your feeling of being overwhelmed by tasks.
  • Toggl – Helps you track the amount of time you are spending on tasks. 
  • Mind42 – Helps you create on a task at hand with the help of Mindmapping.
  • MyLifeOrganized (MLO) – I love this app! I like to write lists, but my problem is I end up with a million lists! This app helps you manage tasks and lists and even helps to prioritize them!
  • Focus at will – This is an absolute must if you have a hard time focusing while studying or doing homework.

A planner and some of the apps above will certainly help you throughout the semester, but especially the first few weeks!

Therefore, if you are feeling overwhelmed, get a planner, download an app, and get organized! 

Creating Successful Officer Transitions

Written by:
Lisa Ruch, advisor at Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis, and National Council Vice President for Chapter Relations and Expansion

I have found that an officer transition retreat makes a big and very positive difference in the success of the chapter the following year. We choose our officers shortly after our initiation ceremony in April, and we have a get-together with the outgoing and incoming officers before the semester ends in order for everyone to get to know each other. For the past couple of years, we’ve had great success with doing a “scavenger hunt” in teams around the city. The officers take photos and/or make videos as they find each place or object on the hunt, and they have a blast running all over the city. I should mention that one year we had serious thunderstorms all day when we were scheduled to do the scavenger hunt, so we ended up playing board games at the Campus Center. As you know, it’s a good idea to have a backup plan for an outdoor event!

This event is just a prelude to our actual officer transition retreat that we hold the first Sunday after classes start in the fall. This includes student advisors, outgoing officers, and new officers and committee members. We rent a retreat center in the woods that belongs to Indy Parks – it’s nice to get away from campus if you have the funds to do that. It’s important to plan ahead and find a good location, get it reserved, and publicize it to all of the officers so they can get it on their calendars well ahead of time. We meet on campus and carpool to the location. The outgoing officers and student advisors do most of the planning for the retreat. I keep the most dedicated outgoing officers as student advisors for the following year – usually 6-8 of them – and have found their contributions to be invaluable in planning and providing guidance to the new officers throughout the year.

The first thing to do is establish your goals and create a productive agenda based upon what you hope to achieve. Our goals include the following:

  • Team building/Having fun (it’s important to have meaningful team building exercises so the group bonds together.)
  • Awareness of past events and accomplishments
  • Clarification of officer position responsibilities
  • Maintaining effective social media and other communication with members
  • Planning for the year/establishing goals/creating enthusiasm (member meetings, officer meetings, social events, service events)
  • Creation of action plans for each committee
  • Creation of an overall action plan for the year

The day begins with everybody picking up a name tag followed by a get-to know-you activity followed by lunch, and then the work begins. I start with an overview of all of our successes from the previous year (awards, national scholarships, service events, social events, etc.) so that the new officers will know what has been done in the past. Then the student advisors take turns talking about specifics:

  • Use of social media and our website
  • Applying for national scholarships and awards
  • National conferences
  • Maintaining our status with the Division of Student Affairs
  • Visits to first-year seminars in the fall to promote ALD
  • Our Samstrong Dance for St. Jude (our big annual campus-wide event)
  • Annual community service projects

Now that everyone has been sitting for a while, it’s time to get up and get moving. We head outside for a team building activity planned by the student advisors.  We’ve done everything from wrapping teams in plastic wrap and running races to using a very long rope to work together to form an outline of the United States – blindfolded, of course.  There are usually about 40 of us, so whatever we choose has to accommodate a large number of people.

Then it’s back inside for more business. The outgoing officers meet with the new officers to share their experiences and wisdom they’ve gained from the previous year. The committees (social, service, and scrapbooking) all meet with the committee chairs from the previous year to do some brainstorming. The committees also exchange contact information and determine the best times for them to hold their committee meetings. Each team/committee has a giant stick-up pad to record their ideas so we can stick them on the walls and share them toward the end of the day. While the committees meet, the presidents, vice presidents, and student advisors meet to plan the first member meeting and come up with ideas for speakers for each of our monthly member meetings.

Then we head back outside for another activity as well as officer headshots and group photos. This is absolutely the best time to get photos since it’s the one time when everybody is together. We use the photos for our scrapbook and the Flame as well as the PowerPoints and handouts that we create for recruiting purposes and our initiation ceremony.

Once the fun is over, we return inside to share what we’ve accomplished and wrap up the day. The officers and committees share their action plans and receive feedback on them from the whole group. We determine who we’ll ask to be guest speakers at all of our meetings, and we choose a time for officers to meet once a month. We make sure we’re all completely prepared for our many events in late August and early September. Then everybody completes a quick evaluation form, we clean up the place, and everybody heads back to campus. We do all of this in about 5 hours, so we really have to keep it moving. It always turns out to be a very productive and successful day! 

 

Behind the Scenes at the National Office

My name is Charlotte Passero. I am a student, chapter officer, and employee of Alpha Lambda Delta.

In the fall, I will be entering my senior year and serving as the chapter President at the State University of New York at Fredonia. I’ve been highly involved in ALD since my induction in October of 2014; first as just a participating member, then as Vice President, and now as President. I currently serve as a student assistant in the National Office!

So you may be thinking; what exactly happens at the National Office? That was a question I had myself right before I started working here at the beginning of summer. And the answer is everything!

The three dedicated staff members of the National Office work year-round to keep this organization going! Driven by the direction established by the National Council, these three staff members are the real masterminds behind ALD, with a little help from the student assistants, of course.

Here, we do everything from managing a membership database with over 1 million lifetime members to printing thousands of membership certificates by hand. We also design the official ALD brochures and create handbooks for chapter officers and advisors. The National Office’s responsibilities also include the coordination of ALD events like the National Council Meeting and the National Leadership Conference (which will be in Washington D.C. this year). Even the desserts for the Leadership Conference three months from now are picked out! Every detail is meticulously coordinated with much thought. Being a student employee in the summer, during the office’s “off-season,” I can’t imagine the huge projects that take place during the academic year!

Since ALD has played such an important role in my college career, one of my favorite parts of the job is to share my thoughts and opinions with the National Office. My perspective as an active member and officer allows me to help make decisions that I’ll see in action at my own chapter in Fredonia!

This summer, working at the National Office has made me appreciate the tedious work done that allows chapter officers and advisors to run the chapters effectively and efficiently. I’m excited to bring a new perspective gained from National Alpha Lambda Delta back to Fredonia’s chapter this fall. I’m equally as excited to continue the tradition of hardworking, enthusiastic, and passionate student leaders in ALD. 

Why a Blog?

Written by:
Trish Dillenbeck, Director of Communication for Alpha Lambda Delta

As I started discussing this blog and sharing the idea of having an ALD blog for officers and advisors, I received a lot of support. It was clear that many advisors and officers are looking for a forum to discuss the various things happening in their chapters - from leadership to events to social media, as well as providing a space to share ideas, tips, and tricks. 

With this great support came a lot of questions, a lot of very good questions that I'm sure you're asking yourself. So I'll share three of them with you to help you understand the blog and how it can function.

What are you going to put on here, and how often will you post?
We will aim to post a blog entry about every other week. We will do our best to time the blogs with things you may be experiencing - planning successful programs, getting ready for the conference, preparing for your induction ceremony, etc. This blog should serve as an additional resource for you and your chapter.

Can people comment on the blog entries?
Yes. We have enabled the "Comments" option, so you can offer your thoughts, ideas, or strategies in addition to whatever the writer has posted. Many chapters have asked for a space to increase dialogue between chapters: this is designed to be that space. We ask that all comments be constructive and polite. They will not be edited, but, if they are inappropriate or harmful, they will be removed. 

Who can write for the blog? And do I have to write for the blog?
Any ALD advisor, officer, or student member can write for the blog. No one will ever be assigned to write, but I may email you with an idea to see if you are interested. There's never any pressure to write for the blog, but always an open invitation for you to assist.

If you have ideas for the blog you'd like to share, please contact me at trish@nationalald.org. I'd love to feature you as a writer, and I'm sure you have a lot to share with your fellow ALD colleagues.

Thank you for reading.