Prepping your students to get the most out of Fall Convention


Prepare your students to attend our fall convention.

Anna Horton, Secretary

Let’s be honest. With the field trip paperwork, advance POs, transportation arrangements, fundraising, and chaperone arrangements, one of the last things we think about is actually preparing the kids for what to expect at Fall Convention.

Using student evaluations about the convention, we’ve learned what advisers can do to help their students get the most out of Fall Convention.

Step 1: Explain what Fall Convention is!

This seems obvious, but a fair number of students did not understand what they were attending so were confused with why they were even there.

So, what is it? Fall Convention brings together schools from across all of Arizona to learn from professionals and state advisers about journalism. AIPA wants students to be excited about the field of journalism and to funnel that enthusiasm back to their school publications. The convention sessions educate students and advisers on various topics that can help publications improve design, content, photography, writing and so much more. It also shares how classes can get organized to run smoothly and how to use technology and social media to maximize the potential of publications.

Step 2: Walk through the convention schedule.

Students who knew what to expect out of the day got so much more out of the convention. They knew the plan, where to go and when, and weren’t stressed about what they should do (or taking advantage of the freedom of a field trip to a college campus). Plus, they loved what they learned and couldn’t wait to go again.

Here’s the schedule:

  1. Registration and Exhibits: The day of the convention advisers can sign in and register their students while students explore the exhibits of state universities and journalism-related companies. Don’t worry, the exhibits will be there all day in case you or students want more time with them.
  2. Morning Speaker: The convention kicks off with a morning speaker who builds the excitement for the day and shares journalism experiences.
  3. Sessions: Advisers and students break out into small groups lead by other journalism professionals and advisers. These sessions focus in on topics that help students and advisers with their own publications and even students’ futures in journalism (we hope!).
  4. Lunch: Students can find a restaurant in the ASU Memorial Union (and eat alongside the college kids) and advisers can join the AIPA board for lunch.
  5. Keynote Speaker: We all come together again to hear the keynote speaker go in depth about what journalists face and how they make a difference in the world.
  6. Fall Contest Award Ceremony: A highlight for all and a fun way to end the day.

Step 3: Plan in advance which sessions to attend.

About a week prior to the convention, AIPA will provide the session schedule on the website. Students who loved the convention chose ahead of time what sessions they thought would be interesting—and which ones they might like as a back-up in case the room is already full or the session is canceled.

Consider having only one or two students per class attend each session so students can share what they learned with the rest of the class the day after the convention. It’s a great way to maximize the learning potential for the class and publication, plus a fun way to debrief and relax the day after the convention. Some student evaluators even took notes and couldn’t wait to bring that information back to their classrooms.

Step 4: Remind them of the little things.

Getting lost and then missing out on a session was a complaint for a number of students, but such an easy one to avoid. Help ensure your students make it to the right rooms on time by showing them a map of the Memorial Union and having them locate which rooms their desired sessions are held.

Rooms are air conditioned, even in October, so remind students to wear layers. We hate to have the temperature distract from the day.

The convention is all about fun—but learning too! We want students (and advisers) to network and have fun while they learn how to improve their publications and learn more about journalism.

Don’t let all that time and work getting to the convention go to waste. Prep the kids before they go!