NASPA’s Graduate Associate Program: The Good, The Bad, and The Unexpected


naspa graduate associate program gap

Author
Candice Johnson, University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Published
June 13, 2017


2016-2017 was my first year as a graduate student and I wanted to get involved as soon as possible. I began the year by attending events to get to know people in the graduate school and my program of Student Personnel Administration in Higher Education. There was one thing missing from my experience and this was formal involvement in our shared profession of student affairs. This missing piece was the reason I decided to apply for the NASPA Graduate Associate Program (GAP).  Throughout my year I have had some great benefits and learning experiences.

The Good

Through GAP I wanted to show my cohort mates the benefits I had been taking advantage of through NASPA. Many of them were new to the world of student affairs and I felt obliged to show them what one of our largest organizations offered. Through GAP I was about to share with them how to navigate the profession as I had and how to grow their professional network. I found even some of the second-year graduate students benefited from learning about NASPA.

This was ‘The Good’. Sharing knowledge between the first and second year cohort along with giving them different experiences has been a learning experience in and of itself for me. As a first year in a two-year academic program, I did not know if I had anything to contribute. GAP allowed me the space and confidence to talk in front of a large portion of my program and see what it felt like to give presentations.

The Bad

While I enjoyed the program, there were some setbacks. I’m unsure if the GA is a better fit for first or second year graduate students. As a first year, I had a little bit of imposter syndrome and felt a little lost since many of the programs I wanted to plan were already being done or no one wanted to come. The second year students in the program seemed busier worrying about the job search.

‘The Bad’ was mostly my confusion coming into the position. We did not have many materials although we were offered any assistance if needed. There was a loss of time and I was always wondering how other GAPs could accomplish their goals with such a busy graduate life.

The Unexpected

By the end of the experience, I was happy I had gone through and tried. I would recommend the position to any graduate student within the higher education and student affairs field. My favorite part and “The Unexpected” was the people I met through GAP. I found I was not alone in many of my feelings of graduate school, life, and GAP. At the end, I felt like my time as a GAP was valued by NASPA and connecting with other graduate students once a month and at the NASPA Annual Conference gave me a support system for future endeavors.

Are you a master’s student looking to get involved with NASPA? Consider applying for the Graduate Associate Program – applications are due August 28, 2017.


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