During registration for GRIP last week (some courses still have seats), I was in Washington, DC with several friends whom I met the prior summer at GenFed (1 week institute on NARA holdings). We scheduled a group research trip to Washington, DC as we all wanted to research at Archives 1 (DC), Archives 2 (College Park, MD), Library of Congress and DAR. We had a great time each night and had the opportunity to brainstorm and strategized approaches to solve each others brick walls.
People are amazed that I would attend an institute. Questions frequently asked include:
- How can there be much information for one topic?
- Don’t you get tired of the same topic?
- It’s not like you get to socialize with the instructors ..
- Isn’t that super expensive
Until you are an expert, and maybe not even then (advances in DNA research), it is almost impossible to not learn. If the topic is key to our research, our understanding of our family, and has the potential to give us the key to our brick wall, is there any one of us who would be tired of the topic?
Socialize with your instructors? You have 5 or 6 days to speak to your instructor, including at meal times! When you leave, they will still know who you are, and unless you send hundreds of emails, they will probably still talk to you after the class is over 🙂
That leaves us with cost. The cost component is a sad reality that most of us have to deal with, and with many institutes costs include: the course, travel, hotel and food. Some institutes, like GRIP, may not be as expensive as you think. Early bird tuition is $460 and your room & food is an additional $310 (that is room and food). It is a college dorm room and it is college food; not 5 star food but not a 1 star either. You can always opt to stay in a hotel and do your own thing for meals. That leaves your flight, bus or cost of gas to drive to Pittsburgh. That is $770 (plus flight/bus/gas) for a week to learn new research skills and meet new people.
The best thing about an institute? Making friends who happen to love the same hobby that you do. Even better, that group who were in DC researching together (plus one who couldn’t make it)? Five will be in the From Confusion to Conclusion: How to Write Proof Arguments and two of us will be in Fundamentals of Forensic Genealogy in Pittsburgh this summer!