I could easily argue that I’ve learned more at school-related conferences than I have learned in the traditional classroom in these first two years of my college career.

I’ve been to several, relating to my involvement in student leadership, and I have plans to go to several more before I graduate.  I’m sure some of you have been to some sort of conference, but many of you probably have no idea what I’m talking about.

Well, here’s what I’ve learned from going to all these conferences and why you should go to at least one while you’re in college.

There’s a Conference for EVERYTHING

My conferences haven’t been related to my major, but you can certainly find some that are related to just about any field of study.  I’ve gone to ones relating to my involvement in student leadership in residence life and student government, so that’s an option too.

Nearly every club or group I’ve encountered on my campus has an annual conference, so I’m sure you can find one to attend.

The Networking is Invaluable

Regardless of what type of conference it is and what the focus is of it, the people you’ll meet and the networking you do will lead to lifelong friends that you won’t regret meeting.

You never know how knowing people across the country with a common interest can benefit you in the future, especially if it is related to your major and future career path.  You might meet someone that ends up being your boss or you might get a job simply because you already met an interviewer.

Take advantage of what you have now just in case!

You’ll Grow Personally from the Experience

If you let it, of course.  For many people, this is a step out of their comfort zone and it certainly was for me when I first started going.  That alone will grow you and if you choose the right sessions and talks to attend at the event, you can only grow even more from the incredible experience.

You Can Work for a Conference Organization

Behind every conference is an organization that puts it on.  If you take the time learn about that group, you can probably get involved with it and even get a job within that organization.

That’s exactly what I did and now I’m beginning my term as the director of one organization that puts on state-wide conferences in Indiana. I don’t say that to brag, but to show you that it can be done and you can continue to get a rewarding experience far beyond your first conference.

Your Professional Life Will See a Boost

In addition to growing personally, you will gain amazing professional knowledge regardless of the type of conference you’re attending.  Most things you learn can be adapted to whatever you want to adapt it to, as the topics discussed are usually generalized to specifically allow that.

Even if you don’t take on a higher role within the conference organization, just attending the event will give you professional expertise that you’ll certainly be thankful for later.

You’re Surrounded By Like-Minded People

This is probably the main thing I’ve learned personally from this experience.  Believe it or not, there are people out there (and probably several) that like the same things you do and are interested in doing the same things you are.  That’s why conferences can be so successful and that’s what conferences are at their root – a group of like-minded and same-interest individuals coming together to share knowledge and network.

As I have said, regardless of what you like and have an interest in, you can find a conference for it just as easily as finding a club for it on your own campus (likely finding one leads to the other if the club is affiliated with a larger organization).

The Traveling is a Great Perk

Finally, going to conferences provides you with an opportunity to travel and rather inexpensively as well.  I’ve been to Michigan (twice), Illinois, Pittsburgh and Wisconsin – in addition to traveling within Indiana several times (I’m from Indiana, by the way).

That’s just in my freshman and sophomore years of college and I haven’t paid a cent to go to any of them.  While not all conferences are like that, with fundraising and university support, you can go to one for likely a lot cheaper than you could travel on your own.

I hope I’ve convinced you that going to at least one conference is worth your time.  I’ve obviously chosen to go to more, but that isn’t for everyone (unless you get hooked after your first).

Share what conferences you’ve attend in a comment below and where you’ve been as well!