The 40 People You Meet at Higher Education Conferences, Part I

I’ve had the good fortune to attend three national student affairs/higher education conferences as well as small regional conferences. After a while I picked up on a pattern of different ‘types’ of folks who attended conferences. Between my experiences and the contributions of my hilarious and observant SA friends, we put together this list. The categorized types in this list are not to bash or shame, because I even embody a couple of them (well, there is some side-eye at least for a few of these…), but it’s just for laughs.

 The 40 People You Meet at Higher Education Conferences (Part I of III):

The Live Tweeter: The people who are so connected they can become unconnected to folks in the physical vicinity. They’re walking around with 3 portable cell phone battery chargers because every minute is spent with fingers tapping away on their screen. And hashtags, ALL THE HASHTAGS. #butreallytho #thisisme #soexcitedtousemy2batterychargersatACPA

parks and rec - donna - live tweet this bitch

The Self-Important Ribbon Collector: Not everyone falls into this mindset, but for some each ribbon on their nametag makes them feel so fancy and important.

Conference Ribbons Futurama - yay pay att to me

Incorporates Personal Agenda, Regardless of Relevance: No matter where they are , this person talks or tweets out their own personal goals or professional achievements, while only barely linking it to the original subject matter. They just really love sharing/bragging.

buffy - spike - bragg

The Over-Your-Shoulder Looker: They’re nodding their head, inserting some energetic “yeah, totally” while you talk, but all the while they’re looking for someone more important that they can connect with.


The Student Affairs Celebrity: Palms get sweaty in their presence. Like the sun, people seem to gravitate towards them. Whether they are Research Gods or Twitter Royalty, people know them.

Interview with the vampire

The Published Braggart: The Ron Burgandy of higher education – don’t you know that having their name in print makes them totes important?

Anchorman  Kind of a big deal

The Pretentious Grad Student: They drop student affairs theories and theorist names like it’s some kind of SA drinking game. Meanwhile professional staff/academics are silently thinking “Yeah, bro, learned this when I was in grad school too…”

30 ROck - grad student are the worst

The Conference Clique: Love em’, hate ’em, or be ambivalent about them – every conference/association has a clique of hyper-involved folks that can bar access (intentionally or not) to others.

mean girls - cant sit-bw

The Awkward Networker: They really really really just want to be your new best friend and literally tell you all the things.

SPN - Cas - let me tell you my story

Student Affairs All-Stars Bingo: The person looking to complete their Bingo card of all the SA celebrities they’ve met in real life. Don’t be surprised if they take a few selfies with the All Star conveniently in the background and frame it for their office desk.


The Hungover: This group of individuals will never be found at a conference session before 11am.

Turnt Up-miley

The Introvert Desperately Seeking Alone Time: No matter where that takes them…

mean girls - introvert


That Person Who Has No Idea What Your Name Is: It’s all “Hey…you!” and insertions of words like “buddy”, “pal”, “dude”, “lady” etc in place of your actual name until they have a chance to glance down and read your nametag. Curses to people who forget to wear their nametags and increase the awkwardness!

looking downwards

To continue, click onwards!

[Part II]


The following individuals contributed a name, description, or otherwise idea/inspiration for the different types of people you meet at conferences. A few people gave ideas for multiple ones and a few people inspired various types with their comments to me; overall definitely more than half this list. Thank you, friends! ❤

  1. Kristen Abell
  2. Chad Ahren
  3. Eric Crumrine
  4. Ashley Dorris
  5. Mika Karikari
  6. Annabel Feider
  7. Alberto Gonzalez
  8. Michael Goodman
  9. Amanda Khampa
  10. Kathryn Magura
  11. Kristen Marshall
  12. Vanessa Pacheco
  13.  Kaitlyn Owens Yoder

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