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Part II: What Price(s) Are You Willing to Pay: Cost Considerations in the #SAPro Search Process

January 29, 2018 Sonja Ardoin, Ph.D. Appalachian State University

Part II: Participating in the Search Process 

The job search can be both a privilege and a process and it comes with many—literal and figurative—placement programs, on-campus interviews, and potential relocation.

PLACEMENT PROGRAMS: The Placement Exchange, Oshkosh Placement Exchange, etc.

In addition to locating positions through online websites, social media, and campuses’ human resources listings, there are placement programs that occur—typically in the spring—through various professional organizations.

The first things to ask yourself are: Is this necessary? Is this necessary for me?

I cannot answer the second question for you, but I can share some thoughts on the first. It is not necessary to attend a placement program to get a job. You can certainly attain a #SAPro position through other means. In fact, placement programs might not be a conducive environment for you as a candidate—based on what you are searching for, how you best engage with others, etc. Alternatively, placement programs can be helpful for some folks, particularly those who have wider job search parameters, are seeking entry-level positions, or want the ability to interview for several positions at once. It is also important to note that a few positions will only interview candidates through placement programs; so, you may be boxed out of a few positions for forgoing placement programs. But, again, I will stress that you can get a job without attending TPE, OPE, or the like.

So, I suggest a couple of things:

  1. Know Yourself – do some reflection about whether placement programs would be helpful for you … or not
  2. Review the Postings – it is often free to look at what institutions will be interviewing for which positions during placement programs; check it out and decide if it influences you to attend … or not
  3. Send Inquiries – if you do see one or two postings that catch your eye, but cannot attend the placement program (for whatever reason), email the employer and ask about other ways to apply or interview for the position

If you do choose to attend a placement program, you should be aware of the following costs:

  • Registration: $89-$155
  • Transportation: varies (consider: plane tickets, train tickets, rental car, tolls, gas, etc.)
  • Lodging: varies, plan for $40-$150/night (consider: sharing with cohort-mates or colleagues)
  • Meals: varies (consider: purchasing groceries to bring or on-site rather than dining out)


Whether you attend a placement program or engage in a first round phone or video interview, the final interview stage will invite you to visit the institution in person to engage in a series of conversations, meetings, and sessions. You can find a sample schedule in The Strategic Guide to Shaping Your Student Affairs Career (Ardoin, 2014).

Before you arrive on campus though, there will be costs for transportation, lodging, and meals. No big deal, because someone else is paying for this, right? Well … maybe. Institutional support for candidates may or may not be a reality. It will vary by institution, location, and budgets. So, as you consider on-campus interviews note that institutions may provide no support, reimbursement after the interview, or full, upfront support. No support is what it sounds like—you are on your own to cover costs to get to and through the on-site interview. Reimbursement after the interview means that you will have to front all the costs on your own dime and then submit the necessary documentation to the institution to get paid back later. Note that this often includes sending original receipts and sometimes even your bank or credit card statements, so be prepared and organized! Finally, institutions may offer full, upfront support of all costs, which means they will book and pay for your travel, lodging, and meals. But, there is a crucial caveat here—be aware that some institutions have a policy that if you are offered the position and turn it down, then you will have to “eat” the costs and repay the institution for all expenses of your visit. Wondering why this happens? Among other rationales, it is because institutions only want serious candidates at the final stage and because some folks try to make vacations out of interviews. So, be clear about the type of support the institution offers to candidates and any corresponding policies for on-campus interviews and determine how that might impact your decision to accept interview invitations.

If you are paying or fronting costs, you will need to consider:

  • Transportation: varies (consider: plane tickets, train tickets, rental car, tolls, gas, etc.)
  • Lodging: varies, plan for $80-$150/night (consider: inquire if there is an on-campus option available in a residence hall or campus-based hotel)
  • Meals: varies (consider: bringing non-perishable items for breakfast or snacks when you are not scheduled to dine with others) 
  • Side note: if you are applying for a position in a different country, you will also need a valid passport, which will run you $110-$135.


At this point, you have secured an offer and accepted it. WOO HOO!! Make sure to celebrate this point in the process and give yourself at least a day or so to relish in the accomplishment and share the good (or bittersweet) news with family, friends, and colleagues. Then, you will need to start to contemplate relocation and the corresponding costs, if the position requires a move.

You should know, based on the job offer, if the institution can provide any type of relocation or moving expenses. Typically, there is not support for entry-level positions, or even mid-level ones, but inquire about this; if you don’t get it, you’ve lost nothing! If there is any kind of institutional support, make sure you understand how much funding is being offered and how it should be used. Similar to the on-campus interview, this may require reimbursement with specific kinds of receipts or the institution may utilize specific moving companies because of contractual obligations.

If/when you begin to create your relocation plan, you might want to consider costs of:

  • Finding a place to live – if you are not a live-in employee, you will need to secure an apartment or home, which may include another visit to the area to view options (consider: living with roommates or family to reduce costs; asking for virtual tours of places)
  • Costs here could include transportation, lodging, meals, deposits, first month’s rent, last month’s rent, broker fees (hello NYC, Boston, L.A., etc.), utility company connection fees, etc.
  • Managing your stuff – you will need to decide whether to move items with you, sell them, or recycle them
  • Costs will vary widely here from packing materials to marketing garage sales.
  • Making the move – securing a moving truck or company, tolls, etc.
  • Costs here will depend on what you need, when, and for how long.
  • Locating basic needs – this is mostly a time cost, but finding your local grocery stores, doctors’ offices, gym, salon, etc. may also require deposits, monthly fees, etc. 

To recap, the job search can be both a privilege and a process and it comes with many—literal and figurative—costs. I hope this post serves as a brain-jogger for you to consider the costs and ways to reduce and manage them throughout the search. I wish you good vibes for the roller coaster ride that is the #SAPro search. You got this!

Do you have thoughts on this blog post? Share them with us on Facebook @NPGSKC, on Twitter @npgs_kc, or on Instagram @npgs_kc!

  Sonja Ardoin (@SonjaArdoin) is a learner, educator, and facilitator.  Currently serving as Program Director and Clinical Assistant Professor of Higher Education at Boston University, Sonja is a proud Cajun, first gen to PhD, and scholar-practitioner.  She authored The Strategic Guide to Shaping Your Student Affairs Career (2014) and serves with organizations such as NASPA and LeaderShape.  Sonja enjoys traveling, dancing, reading, writing, sports, laughing, and spending time with people she loves.