Naviance Summer Institute (NSI) is the annual gathering of Naviance Network members. In our special blog series, My NSI, past NSI attendees share their thoughts, insights, and stories about the conference. NSI 2015 will be held July 6-9 at the JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort & Spa in Tucson, Arizona. 

Take a second and think about your favorite restaurant. Whether it’s a local hole-in-the-wall or a Michelin rated establishment – think about why it’s your favorite place (besides just the food). What keeps bringing you back there, time and again? Do you like the atmosphere? How about the friendly & accommodating staff? Or maybe you just love seeing what new things they have to offer.

The Naviance Summer Institute is like one of my favorite restaurants.

This year will be my third consecutive year attending NSI, and I’ve looked forward to it more and more with every opportunity I’ve had to attend. My first year attending was after our school transitioned to utilizing eDocs. Our school was so enveloped in the transition from all-paper to all-electronic submissions that we barely had time to look at ways to grow. Then I saw an advertisement for NSI while logging into Naviance and decided that I needed to attend – if even for just that one summer – to see what we might be missing out on.

I was fortunate during my first year to have some familiar faces attending NSI – members from the Chicago Area Naviance Network (CANN). Discovering that Naviance customers were not only from across the US, but from around the globe, helped with my nerves of being a first-time attendee. But it didn’t take long for me to discover the value of the conference – the first session I attended was “What’s new with Naviance eDocs?”

The information I learned in this session alone was worth the trip. In our first year using eDocs (before attending NSI), all of the counselors in our district (let alone my school) were generally unaware. We knew what we needed to know to get our jobs done, but we had no idea that there would be any changes to the eDocs program (in addition to major user-interface changes or the integration of CA4). As soon as the first session was over, I emailed my pages of notes back to my director and his counterpart at our sister school. Before the conference was over, I was able to take that information and begin re-writing all of our instructional materials that we use with our students, parents, teachers, and counselors. Had I not attended NSI and waited until I returned to school from summer break, there’s no way we would have been ready for the changes.

The other sessions that I attended that year were just as insightful. I was able to see what worked (and what didn’t work) at other schools from all around the country. Granted no two schools are alike – but I’ve been able to take ideas that I was exposed to at NSI and adapt them to fit our school and our school’s culture. I even had the opportunity to present, providing tips & tricks that I learned throughout our first year to other counselors.

Last year, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to attend NSI again in Palm Springs. My second time around, I connected more with the Naviance staff (both socially and through the User Experience Lab), who helped keep the conference informative and entertaining. Overall, I felt like I belonged as a member of this bigger group of likeminded individuals. I gained just as much from the second conference as the first, and again had the opportunity to share new tips & tricks that we utilize in our district.

This year (and for the foreseeable future), I look forward to keeping my NSI attendance a summer tradition. It’s always a welcoming and comforting environment, with people who share similar experiences from all over the country. Everyone that I’ve met along the way has been unbelievably friendly (both Naviance staff & counseling peers). And every year I learn something new that helps me do my job more effectively and efficiently.

Like I said, the Naviance Summer Institute is like one of my favorite restaurants – keeps me coming back for more.

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