How to Pay for the Collegiate Advocacy Summit
By JJ Norman
So, we all know college isn’t cheap. In fact, the average undergraduate student will walk across the stage on graduation day, shake a couple hands, receive their diploma, and then have to start paying back $29,000 in debt. At a time when the average first year teacher pay is $36,000 annually, it’s hard not to have a panic attack when crunching the numbers. The financially mindful student probably holds several part-time jobs through the year just to make ends meet. For many the prospect of travel seems frivolous when considering the costs associated and the time away from work.
But what if I told you there is a travel opportunity with the potential to cost you nothing out-of-pocket and jumpstart your professional career simultaneously?
Do I have your attention now? This opportunity piqued my interest, and I followed through. Boy, am I glad I did.
Where Every Collegiate Music Education Major Should Be
The National Association for Music Education hosts a Collegiate Advocacy Summit annually in our nation’s beautiful capital. The students who strive to be the future leaders in music education network with current leadership, advocate for their profession to federal legislators, share common experiences with their peers, and gain access to rich instruction by top educators and advocates for music education. The Collegiate Advocacy Summit brings all of these tactics for future success under one roof.
Ok, I know this all sounds great. Yes, we all want to be successful on our career path, but that ever-present dollar sign is still looming in the back of your mind. I told you this opportunity has the potential to cost you nothing out of pocket, and now I’m going to explain how to make that a reality for you. I attended Hill Day in 2014, and it cost me only $100 out-of-pocket. This event is growing in popularity, and state-level leadership sees the value of investing in collegiate students. Which, by the way, is great news for you.
Finding the Money
- Funding from your institution. This is what made Hill Day possible for me. The music department at my university has a scholarship fund specifically for summer educational opportunities for students. Registration for the event, airfare, and lodging was all paid for. I was on the hook only for ground transportation and one meal. Truth be told, the scholarship fund would have paid for this too had I turned in the receipt. Talk to your advisor, the chair of your department, dean of your college, or even write a letter to the president of your university. Leave no stone unturned. You never know till you ask.
- Funding from your state Music Education Association (MEA). Last year the four students who attended Hill Day from my home state were funded by the state Music Education Association. Friends have shared stories of MEAs paying for everything due to their involvement in state leadership on a collegiate level. Send your MEA President or Executive an email expressing interest in attending the event. They may have money in the budget for you.
- Funding from the community. Yes, GoFundMe campaigns coming across your newsfeed everyday can be quite annoying, but I raised $700+ in two months for an international travel study last summer. Organize your fundraising campaign. Send the donation link straight to individuals you know who want to support you, repost on your Facebook wall at different times on different days to reach new audiences, and be strategic. Don’t just hit repost. Explain a different aspect of your trip every time you put the link up again.
When all else fails, hold a bake sale, pick up an extra shift, or skip a night out. The Collegiate Advocacy Summit opened doors for me I didn’t even know existed. Had I not attended, I wouldn’t have direct contact with the leaders, movers and shakers, and a network of bright peers from across the country.
The Collegiate Advocacy Summit opened doors for me I didn’t even know existed.
You really can’t afford not to attend the Collegiate Advocacy Summit.
About the Author
JJ Norman attended the 2014 Collegiate Advocacy Summit and is now serving as the Professional Development Manager for the National Association for Music Education.
Blake Ellis, “Average student loan debt: $29,400,” CNN, December 5, 2013.
“2012-2013 Average Starting Teacher Salaries by State,” NEA, December 2013.
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Brendan McAloon, Marketing and Events Coordinator, March 2, 2016. © National Association for Music Education (NAfME.org).