Higher Education Innovation In Action

  • Making the Most of Conferences – Strategies for Introverts

    by Mindy Starcher, Vice President | Nov 03, 2016
    Attending conferences has many advantages – networking being high on that list – but what if the thought of getting to know a bunch of strangers while you eloquently represent your organization gives you the cold sweats? If this sounds like you, rest assured you’re not alone. Studies have shown that between one third and one half of Americans identify with being an introvert1.

    If you’d like some help putting yourself out there, take a look at these six tips:  

      1. Smile.

      Smiling gives off an approachable vibe. A warm, inviting smile can put you and others at ease while creating the sense you’re having a good time. There’s something to be said about our physiological state influencing our behavior and emotions. If your smile feels phony or not quite right, practice in front of the mirror at home until you feel comfortable. This might seem a bit odd, but who cares? No one will ever know.

      2. Listen.

      Generally speaking, introverts prefer listening and extroverts love being listened to… a win, win for both sides! Sincerely ask questions about others and really listen to their response. For those of us who tend to be a bit more anxious in these types of situations, this can be a challenge, but one that you can achieve! Instead of worrying about what you’re going to say next, simply listen to the other person and watch how the conversation naturally flows.

      3. Do your research.

      Often conferences and networking events have online registration forums that provide an attendance list. Peruse the list ahead of time, then do a bit of research. Perhaps there are people attending you know you’d like to connect with, people with similar backgrounds, or people you already know that can introduce you to others. Reading another person’s social media content has become mainstream; it does not make you creepy – it makes you informed!

      4. Step outside of your comfort zone.

      Okay – this is a big one – approach others. If the statistics are true and one in every two to three people is an introvert, several other people at the same event you’re attending feel just as nervous as you! What if you could help them and help yourself at the same time? Just as you might wish someone would spark up a conversation with you and come to your rescue, they’re hoping for the same thing.

      Don’t know what to say? Try Dale Carnegie’s Conversation Stack. It can be really helpful in terms of getting to know someone AND retaining what you’ve learned about them. Remember, this should feel like a casual chat, not an interview of sorts.

      [Related post: A Registrar’s Guide to Making the Most of Higher Ed Conferences]

      5. Prepare for the worst- and best-case scenarios.

      Let’s paint a picture… worst case: you trip over your own feet and fall on your face in front of a room of full of strangers. Then to make matters worse, everyone laughs at you and no one even asks if you’re okay… best case: you walk into the room and everyone can’t wait to talk to you, the conversation is flowing, and you feel like Tony Robbins.

      Most likely, neither of those scenarios will happen. This leaves your expectations somewhere in the middle… and if they’re are closer to reality, you can celebrate your small victories later and avoid beating yourself up.

      6. Put your smartphone down.

      This one is real simple. Just put it down… It’s ironic because we pick up our phones at the first twinge of discomfort... but nothing says, “Don’t talk to me” or “I’m busy,” like staring at your phone. When you feel the urge, stop, take a breath, and then smile. Find that person who looks like they could use a friend and introduce yourself.

    While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with preferring lower levels of stimulation, introverts must be able to accept social challenges with enthusiasm. Step outside of your comfort zone from time to time – you’ll be surprised with what you can do! Then go home and recharge with a good book and a cup of tea or dinner with a close friend.

    1 Cain, Susan. (2013). Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking. New York, NY: Crown Publishers.

  • Opportunism in Parking

    by Dan Gajos, Product Manager - Parking | Oct 28, 2016

    World Series berths have brought a lot of excitement to baseball fans in Chicago and Cleveland. Along with those good feelings come businesses looking to cash in and get a piece of the action. One understands that inflated prices are a given. The face value of tickets increases for the playoffs, so why shouldn’t other goods and services, whether at the ballpark or in the surrounding area? Bars, restaurants and parking providers are increasing prices exponentially. But what is too much? 

    Let’s focus on parking. In Cleveland, parking prices near Progressive Field were as high as $100 for Game 1, with most lots charging $30-$501. Game 3 at Wrigley Field will bring prices as high as $300. Some area residents are even putting their private parking spaces on apps such as SpotHero for $50-$1502.

    While it may not seem like a direct link, there is still a lesson to be learned for college parking operations. Most revenue is realized through the sale of semester parking permits, daily parking privileges and the related enforcement. But there is an opportunity for schools of all size to cash in on special events. Though obviously not on as grand of a scale as the example above, colleges can charge a nominal fee for well-attended special events or special parking privileges at smaller events. This is the norm for sporting events, but there are a variety of other events on campus that can have a monetary benefit for the parking department. Since lots, gates and garages all cost money to operate and maintain, why not have parking fees from event patrons help offset a percentage of those expenses.

    1  Christ, G. (2016). Parking prices out of the park for World Series, Cavs home opener. The Plain Dealer. Retrieved from
    2 Cheung, A. (2016). Cubs Fans: Be Prepared To Shell Out Up To $300 For World Series Parking. Retrieved from

  • 4 Creative Ways to Reward Your Staff on a Budget

    by Mindy Starcher, Vice President | Oct 12, 2016

    Registrars are always being asked to do more with less. This was true when I was an assistant registrar, and it’s true now in my current role as a Senior Sales Consultant at Credentials.  I often hear from registrars that their budgets are being slashed, but they’re still expected to provide the same high level of service to students and alumni.

    With so much emphasis on student retention these days, employee retention and satisfaction can get lost in the shuffle—and yet, they are not mutually exclusive. Back when I was in the registrar’s office, one of my passions was working with our managers to find creative and cost-effective ways to say “thanks” to our staff, and I thought I would share a few of those ideas with you. The best part? Most of them won’t require the layers of approval your department typically has to go through for these types of efforts.

    Spot Awards
    Spot awards are a fun and impromptu way to recognize employees for a job well done. All you need is a file cabinet and some goodies to fill it with: mugs or T-shirts with your university emblem, favorite candies, $10 gift certificates for a local retailer, and anything else you can think of that your people will appreciate. The nomination process can be formal or informal, just be sure to allow staff – as well as managers and supervisors – to nominate their peers. They’ll have almost as much fun giving the awards as they do receiving them!

    Tip: Have folks fill out a brief form with the employee’s name and an explanation of why they are getting a spot award so it can be shared in your office newsletter (another nice way to recognize employees). 

    Movie Days
    Another informal perk that doesn’t require committee approval is a “movie day,” and it’ll only cost you the movie rental plus some popcorn and candy. At the university where I worked, we typically held our movie days over the summer because the dorms were empty and we could use one of the common rooms and big-screen TVs. Since everyone knew in advance when movie day was scheduled, they could bring in their cozy blankets and any special snacks they liked, and have something to look forward to!

    Tip: On the designated day, hold two showings (one in the morning and one in the afternoon), so that staff can plan around their individual workloads and everyone isn’t out of the office at the same time.

    Staff Appreciation Picnic
    A company picnic is not a new concept, but it’s often one of the first things to go when budgets are cut. To keep costs down, ask your managers to bring a side dish and dessert or help offset larger expenses like burgers, hot dogs and beverages.  For extra fun, provide outdoor games like volleyball and cornhole and set up tournaments with the different areas of your office teaming up to compete against their colleagues!

    Tip: Touch base with vendors throughout the year for great deals on employee gifts to give away at the picnic. You might try novelty office supplies, pedometers, or even funny awards that everyone receives – think “best proofreader,” “first to laugh,” or “best practical joker.”

    Formal Awards
    Finally, you can organize a more formal event to honor a member of the registrar’s office each year for outstanding service. My university’s award consisted of a bonus, a beautiful plaque and the employee’s name engraved on another plaque that we kept on display in our public area. We would accept nominations from the staff for this award and put together a committee to review the nominations and make a recommendation to the registrar on the winner.   

    Tip: Hold a ceremony to recognize all nominees, and enlist the registrar and university president to present the winner with the award. Your staff is sure to look forward to the nominations and celebrating their peers each year.

  • A Security Issue You Need to Know About – MouseJacking

    by J. Jeffrey Geldermann, President & COO | Oct 06, 2016

    You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again… When it comes to data security, you’re never finished protecting yourself, your organization, and your customers. Hackers evolve in order to constantly create advanced malicious attacks, so you need to be both proactive AND retroactive! It’s ultimately up to you to stay abreast of evolving threats and respond accordingly.

    Take a look at this short video created by Bastille, which we recently shared with all Credentials staff. Consider showing it to your work associates, family, and friends. You could even take it one step further like us and ban the use of these devices that can be easily compromised.

    This is just another security vulnerability that should scare you.
  • Customer Service in the Digital Era: GreatEST Expectations: Part One

    by Thomas D. McKechney, CEO | Oct 03, 2016

    Great customer service is the cornerstone to running a successful business, but what does excellent customer service in today’s digital era look like?

    We’re asking you to chime in to let us know what your top priority is here. Polls close soon so don’t wait to provide your two cents! We’ll provide the results on our November blog so be sure to follow us.