July brings a new fiscal aid year for financial aid professionals. It's a great time to set professional development goals. Reading is a cost effective way to gain knowledge and perspective. Did you know that most staff members at universities and colleges may use the institution's library to borrow books. Also, my local library is fantastic and has all of these mentioned below. I love libraries!
Recommended reading for financial aid professionals for 2017-2018.
The Art of Explanation: Making Your Ideas, Products and Services Easier to Understand by Lee LeFever
This book came up at the 2017 NASFAA Conference during NASFAA President Justin Draeger's update. I attended a fantastic session from him at a conference this last year where he shared key points from this book.The book is by the author of the "in plain English" videos from Common Craft, these were the first videos that explained emerging technology in a way that we could all understand when it was so new that no one knew what it was all about.
Verbal Judo: The Gentle Art of Persuasion by George Thompson and Jerry Jenkins
I learned about this book during a session on leadership from MASFAA's Paula Luff (DePaul University) and Dan Mann (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) at the 2017 NASFAA Conference. (Leadership session PDF) Communicating complex regulations and consequences of policy decisions is key for anyone in financial aid.
Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond
This book tells the stories of eight families in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I often refer people to the 2009 Washington Post article The High Cost of Poverty: Why the Poor Pay More; this book looks to be a deep dive into the lives of those living in extreme poverty and the catastrophic impact of inadequate housing. Having lived in Milwaukee for 10 years, and having known people who were evicted and had to rebuild their lives as a result, this book holds a particular interest to me. However, I think this is important reading for anyone working in financial aid.
The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brene Brown
I can't recommend the work of Brene Brown enough. She addressing things like perfectionism, numbing, and foreboding joy that get in the way of living our best lives and being our best selves.
Her Ted Talk on The Power of Vulnerability is a great place to start.
Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brene Brown
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; . . . who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” —Theodore Roosevelt
Kindred by Octavia E. Butler
This is a fantastic novel that I could not put down. First published in 1979 it is every bit as relevant and important today. I read this several months ago, but I would like to reread it again this year. It is a time travel story of a black women from 1976 who is pulled back in time to Maryland 1815 to meet her great-great-grandfather, a young white boy. Her experience of slavery from a modern perspective and her conflicting feelings about her ancestors are powerful and engaging. I will give a warning that there is some graphic violence, but it is necessary to the story and the depiction of slavery. The author herself is the first black female writer of science fiction during a time when most science fiction was written by white men (I'm not sure how different that is now). I am looking forward to reading her other works as well. http://octaviabutler.org/bio/
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
This Pulitzer Prize winning novel, published in 2016, depicts the journey of young Cora as she seeks freedom from slavery by traveling north. I'm not sure what I'll think about the actual working railroad that the author uses here as it is not at all historically accurate, but I have otherwise heard good things about the themes confronted in the book.
Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sustein
Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely
Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
2017 NASFAA Conference presentation "A Little Nudge Goes A Long Way" with presenters Phillip Schuman (MASFAA member, Indiana Univeristy), Carissa Uhlman (Ineptia), and William J. Calvn (State University of New York System Administration) mentioned these three books. (Nudge session PDF) I've been hearing about Nudge for a while, first from Justin Chase Brown (former MASFAA member, now in Nebraska). It is important to consider how we are helping students with what we do and don't do.
What is on your list?! We'd love to hear from you.
For more ideas, take a look at this list of recommendations from 2015.