I'm getting ready for the National Communication Association's Annual Conference, this time in Chicago. I've attended that conference since 1991, missing only one in the intervening years. To me, the conference is a great chance to get caught up on emerging scholarship, share some of my own work, and meet interesting people. My favorite part, however, is the opportunity to reconnect to old friends going back to my undergraduate years. Having attended, I think, 15 NCAs, thus far -- and planning many more -- I regret only one thing. I wish I had bought a lifetime membership.
When registering for your first or second big-time professional conference, those lifetime rates seem exorbitant. And on a student's paycheck, they are. But by my fourth or fifth NCA, I knew that I'd gain membership to this profession somehow, and I knew I'd attend many more NCAs. So, I'm feeling an acute sense of "if only." If only I'd paid that rate back then, when the cost of attendance was merely exorbitant. With various inflationary pressures (some less necessary than others, I think), the yearly cost has become a real pain. Sure, I can afford it. But I'd rather have bundled all those bills up early and paid them at once than as a fee that climbs year after year.
Perhaps anyone reading this who plans on making regular conference attendance part of her/his professional plans may benefit from the lesson I've learned.