Horsing Around

Horsing Around

Hello CAFAA Friends:

Hold your horses….it’s 2016? Happy New Year! Since the Stock Show is in Colorado this month, I thought it would only be fitting to write the first 2016 CAFAA blog with a horse story. Meet Poncho, a horse I rode in December through the beautiful mountains and desert in Tucson, AZ. It was a late morning ride, the sun was warm and the weather was perfect. At first, Poncho didn’t want to leave the stable but after some encouragement we explored the surrounding trails. I took this selfie to commemorate our relaxing day together. However, right after snapping this photo, Poncho decided he wanted to lay down and roll with me still on his back. Luckily, my catlike country instincts kicked in and I was able to jump off just in time for Poncho to hit the ground. After he happily rolled for a while, he got back up and I got back on and we rode off into the sunset.

Financial aid can be like a trail ride sometimes. Once in a while we may need a little bit of encouragement to get going. We get to our offices and the day starts out beautiful. You think to yourself, “This is a picture perfect day.” However, as the week progresses paperwork and emails may begin to pile up and new regulations or changes may need to be implemented. Sometimes work can seem so overwhelming thinking about how to get everything done. We may even at times become a bit agitated and feel like things are riding our back. However, through and through financial aid folks know how to pull up their boot straps and happily roll with it.

No doubt 2016 will be a year of changes and challenges in our profession. As we start to process all that the New Year has to bring, I thought it might be good to ponder a few “horsemanship” tips:

  1. Always be ready to saddle up.  The more prepared you are, the more productive and efficient you’ll be. Preparation readies you to do your work.  It can take time and energy but being ready leads to less stress on those you encounter and can make or break a day.
  2. Most young horses progress more quickly when given a day to process what they’ve learned– Mentor and teach but give people the time to absorb the processes and changes that are put in front of them.  This is especially important as we work with new colleagues within the Financial Aid profession.
  3. Approach with a slow and calm demeanor- Change can be overwhelming.  Approaching changes in a slow and calm demeanor can make all the difference whether or not colleagues or students will be along with us for the ride.  Remember to cultivate your inner peace by taking time out for yourself.
  4. Use positive reinforcement- All living creatures need positive reinforcement to embrace new things and to build trust.  Positive reinforcement can lead to an attitude of appreciation.  When we are engaged and continually appreciating the people around us, we are on the lookout to catch people doing well and to reinforce that behavior.  A positive culture of appreciation will lead to you naturally wanting to do and be your best.  Being positive often starts with a gracious attitude.
  5. What a colt learns in youth, he continues in old age –For those of us “seasoned” Financial Aid folks, it can be hard to break old ways of thinking and doing things.  We all need to continue to share ideas and insights and be open to changing processes as we blaze new trails ahead.
  6. Finally, Werner Erhard once said, “Ride the horse in the direction that it’s going.” Changes in our profession and how we do things are inevitable.  Even though we may not understand the direction at times, it’s important to ride it out. We need to learn and apply all that we can to be the best advocates for our students in times of change.  Sometimes, the places we end up going and the people we meet, make for the most productive and memorable experiences.

Ready to ride out the New Year changes and challenges with colleagues? The 2015-16 CAFAA Professional Development Committee will be hosting a spring training event at Front Range Community College on Tuesday March 8th in Westminster, CO. Watch for an email with specific agenda items as well as a sign up link in the next few weeks. We hope to see you all soon as we get back in the financial aid saddle again.
Monica Kopcow
2015-16 CAFAA Professional Development Chair
Colorado State University
Fort Collins, CO