Well, here we are again, the beginning of another academic year full of promise, adventure, and opportunity! Okay, so maybe I am overstating it a bit. Maybe you have just dragged yourself back to campus from an all too brief summer break and you are still readjusting to campus life. Unfortunately, ready or not, September is here. But the good news is that those promises, adventures, and opportunities are here too. So get yourself a little extra caffeine and dive in.
What does your chapter want to accomplish this year? Hopefully, your chapter was really on the ball and got itself organized last spring. In that case, you already have elected your officers and probably have made some plans. Now your focus should be on keeping that momentum and getting started on carrying out those plans. For others, like my chapter, September is the time for electing officers and planning activities. If an undergraduate research conference is among your chapter’s plans, remember Psi Chi can help with $1,000 Psi Chi Undergraduate Research Conference Grants; the deadline for proposals is October 1. But no matter when you start, I’d like to suggest one entirely reachable goal that your chapter should make a priority for this year: winning a Psi Chi Model Chapter Award. All you have to do is meet five criteria:
- Submit your annual and financial reports showing that your chapter participated in a service project, conference, and award program;
- Submit chapter activity reports to Eye on Psi Chi;
- Vote in the national election;
- Hold at least one induction ceremony;
- Have no outstanding debts to the National Office;
and the National Office sends your chapter the award certificate and a check for $100. There’s no special form to complete and every chapter is eligible to win every year. Surprisingly simple? Perhaps. But we have been averaging about 33 recipients each year out of our more than 1,100 chapters, so about 3% of our chapters are winning this “easy” award. We should be doing better, and I urge your chapter to make a serious attempt at fulfilling those five criteria this and every year. Win this award a couple of times in a row, and your chapter should be ready to submit an application for a Regional Chapter Award, and then perhaps even for our highest chapter award, the Ruth Cousins National Chapter Award.
Whenever I talk with students at regional and national conferences, at some point they mention how important their chapters’ faculty advisors are and how much they appreciate their advisors’ efforts to keep the chapter functioning. I agree, we certainly have many dedicated, creative, and accomplished faculty advisors. Yet, surprisingly, very few of those advisors are ever nominated for Regional Faculty Advisor Awards, and I can’t understand why. So come on, if you’ve got a great faculty advisor, show some appreciation by nominating him or her. The deadline is December 1, so do it right now.
Of course, chapters are composed of individuals. So what will you, personally, contribute to your chapter this year? Will you be an officer or an active member who assists in chapter activities? Or will you be content to let others carry the load and have Psi Chi be nothing more than a listing on your resume? Remember, with approximately 22,000 new members being inducted each year, there are a lot of people with Psi Chi membership on their resumes. What will stand out for graduate schools and employers is what you do with your membership and what you learn from it. I was reminded after our first National Leadership Conference last January that active involvement and leadership are not just about giving and doing for others. They also create advantages. Active involvement in your chapter teaches you how to work cooperatively with others; and gives you experience in problem solving, creative thinking, planning, and execution. Not only do you learn these skills, but they are ones that grad schools and employers tend to appreciate. Taking your involvement further into chapter leadership teaches you how to listen effectively to others, organize and motivate them, provide direction, and hold a team together. Again, great skills for you to have, and skills that mark you as a desirable candidate.
I hope that many of you who are not currently participating in research will make an opportunity to do so. Psychology has really led the way in involving undergraduate students in real, cutting edge research, and Psi Chi has become a major funding source. We have support for every stage of research: from grants to get the work done (e.g., Undergraduate Research Grants), to opportunities to present your research at regional and national conferences, to publishing your results (Psi Chi Journal of Undergraduate Research), and to awards for exemplary projects (e.g., Regional and National Research Awards, Erlbaum Awards, Guilford Awards). And we haven’t forgotten you graduate students (e.g., Graduate Research Awards, National Research Awards, Bandura Award). Please don’t forget about these terrific sources of support for your research activities.
So I welcome you back and wish you a wonderful and productive fall semester!
Fall 2007 issue of Eye on Psi Chi (Vol. 12, No. 1, p. 4), published by Psi Chi, The National Honor Society in Psychology (Chattanooga, TN). Copyright, 2007, Psi Chi, The National Honor Society in Psychology. All rights reserved.