This year, we are excited to celebrate the 70th anniversary of NAFSA and the NAFSA Annual Conference & Expo. The Annual Conference Committee (ACC) has made an intentional effort to highlight the diverse voices and shared commitment of international education professionals from all over the world in this year’s conference program, and the NAFSA 2018 Current Topics Workshops (CTWs) are no exception.

Over the next few weeks, I will highlight three of the 15 CTWs offered at NAFSA 2018, beginning with a conversation with Steve Springer, NAFSA’s director, regulatory practice liaison.

Springer and his co-trainers, Linda Melville, Jenny Bowen, and Patricia Bellow, have developed a new workshop this year, F-1 Student Advising: Advanced, to provide an opportunity for more experienced student advisers to refine their skills, and to interact with, and learn from, their colleagues in a case-study based, interactive workshop experience.

Why is this an important workshop in the field of international education today?

Springer: Two factors make this workshop particularly useful. First, given the current regulatory practice “climate” and agency initiatives, international offices should be carefully reviewing their policies and practices. As they do so, they may find the need to change them, and they may be required to explain and justify changes to institutional stakeholders who might be affected. Second, those who lead or aspire to lead international offices will benefit from establishing policies and practices with an institutional perspective, considering how changes may impact institutional stakeholders, and then justify the policies and practices, perhaps to a resistant or skeptical audience. This workshop is an opportunity to build necessary skills and practice them among friendly colleagues.

Who should attend this workshop?

Springer: The workshop is for experienced advisers who have completed the “F-1 Student Advising: Intermediate” workshop or who have the equivalent experience and training. It is not for people new to the field. Participants will need at least a couple of years of experience in order to participate effectively and to benefit from the workshop.

What are some of the activities participants will engage in during the workshop?

Springer: This is a case-oriented workshop. Participants will focus on eliciting and evaluating key facts, finding the applicable “rule” (usually the law), applying the rule to the facts, and arriving at a conclusion. A key element of this workshop, though, is the final step in the case study process: explaining and justifying the conclusion to a specific audience. For example, a case might require determining a “best practice” for the international office related to a complex advising issue and then explaining and justifying that practice to another office on campus. We know that NAFSAns are often required to do this, so this workshop will help them hone their skills and practice.

What do you hope attendees will take away from this workshop?

Springer: Attendees will learn and practice a systematic approach to arriving at an informed and reasoned conclusion about complicated regulatory questions. They will also gain practice explaining and justifying their conclusions to stakeholder audiences that may be resistant or skeptical.

NAFSA 2018 Workshops

All of the CTWs at NAFSA 2018 are a great way to engage with leading experts in the field to expand your knowledge and walk away with practical applications to further enhance professional growth and development. To learn more about “F-1 Student Advising: Advanced” and all of the workshop offerings in Philadelphia, check out the NAFSA 2018 Annual Conference Preconference Workshops at

Dena NeeseDena Neese is the 2018 NAFSA Annual Conference Committee Workshop Coordinator and the associate director of international support services at Virginia Tech.