Monday, March 21, 2016


Preparing for Summer Institute: First-Time Faculty

by Val Meyers, Michigan State University

After 30 years in the financial aid profession, I am actually nervous about my role as a faculty member at MASFAA Summer Institute, even though I have been looking forward to the opportunity for a long time.  Actually, the chance to take on a role as a faculty member at SI has been on my professional “bucket list” for the last five years.

Now, why am I nervous?

It isn’t because I am afraid of talking in front of a group.  I have done a large number of financial aid presentations over the course of my career, at every level (state, regional, national).  I have been a media spokesperson for the Office of Financial Aid at Michigan State University for many years, so have been on local TV news programs and quoted in local media.  I have presented to parents and students on campus in groups of every size, from a handful of participants all the way up to 750-800 people (which I admit was a bit intimidating the first time around).  So, most people who know me understand that I love presenting and am actually kind of a ham.

And, after 30 years in the profession, with ten years as the Compliance Officer as one of my roles, I know a lot about rules and regulations and policies and procedures.  So that isn’t a worry.

Finally, with all the networking I have done with my wonderful colleagues within the state of Michigan, the MASFAA region, the Big Ten financial aid group, and NASFAA, I have some of the best stories to share about how the rules work (or don’t work) in financial aid.

But the reason I am nervous is that it has been 17 years since I have had to take a test.  And to teach SI, I have to take (and pass) at least four NASFAA credentials tests in the next three months.

Most of us learned during our college days that knowing the material may or may not matter as much as knowing how to take the test.  In some cases, the information that your instructor focuses on may not be the same information that you have decided is important – and you may end up finding that out only after you have blown out the first exam.

So to learn how NASFAA does exams, I am going to do a couple of things first – take the practice tests, read and re-read the core materials and instructors guides that we will use to teach, and most of all, to try to recapture the student in me that used to know how to take tests.

I am so grateful, in many ways, that I have to do this in order to teach, because everything I learn in this process is going to help me teach the Summer Institute students exactly what they are going to need in order to pass the tests themselves and become certified.

It’s a great profession and I am looking forward to giving back to it with Summer Institute.  For those who will attend – I look forward to seeing  you there – and don’t forget to ask me how many tests I actually passed!


1 comment:

  1. Well said Val - many parts could be true for so many of us who've been in the business a long time. Between the learning bytes and university NASFAA is doing a great job challenging all of us to be the best we can be. The Summer Institute is the best example of professionals helping other professionals. You are going to do great! My best to all attendees - you'll remember the experience for the rest of your life.


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