As President of the Pennsylvania
State University's Chapter of Psi Chi, I have had the unique opportunity to
share in the discovery of what I believe may be the "secrets" to
increasing membership and active involvement in any Psi Chi chapter. This
article is intended to outline these "secrets" and provide you with a
systematic process for maximizing your ability to increase membership and
active involvement in your chapter. It is my hope that these suggestions will
enable your chapter to share in the same success that Penn State's Psi Chi
Chapter has experienced since we were successful in increasing membership and
active involvement by over 400% in just one semester!
The "Secret" to
The recruitment of new
members is essential to maintaining the success of your Psi Chi chapter. Since
it is usually one of the most challenging and time-consuming processes to
accomplish, it is vital to adopt the most effective process by which you can
consistently recruit new members. The ultimate process would be one by which
you could inform every eligible psychology student at your college or
university that Psi Chi exists, and that it may be an option to them. The
Pennsylvania State University Chapter of Psi Chi has demonstrated that there is
a way to do this. I have outlined below the process that enabled our chapter to
more than quadruple membership in just one semester!
The most effective way to recruit new members is to attain a list of all
eligible students and send them a formal invitation letter in the mail.
The following is how the process
Prepare an invitation letter. This letter should congratulate the students on
their accomplishment, encourage them to join Psi Chi, and provide them with
materials and detailed instruction on how to accept membership (see letter).
Attain a list of all eligible members. The best way to expedite this process is
to make an appointment with your undergraduate psychology head and/or advisor
to inform them of your intent to attain a list of all psychology students
meeting the eligibility requirements for induction into Psi Chi. It is very
important to be persistent during step two. As you may find out, for
confidentiality reasons, acquiring such a list may be troublesome. During step
two, it is advisable to discuss with your department head options that are
available for covering the costs of all materials and postage.
Once you or your department acquires the mailing list, address envelopes
(mailing labels are most efficient!) and prepare to have the envelopes stuffed
with your invitation letter and all pertinent materials (i.e., registration
cards, application form, etc.).
Send the invitation letters. It is important at this point (based on how many
letters you send) to prepare yourself for the possibility of a tremendous
growth in chapter membership. Keep the following suggestions in mind once the
invitation letters have been sent. Develop a structured procedure for filing
all materials once they are returned. Designate a set place for returning all
membership materials. Acquire a room for weekly meetings that is large enough
to accommodate all of your new members. Make sure you have a tentative schedule
of events to encourage members to attend meetings.
The "Secret" to
Increasing Active Involvement
Although there are a
myriad of possibilities . . .
The single most effective way for your chapter to increase active
involvement is to form committees.
The formation of committees not
only provides members with an excellent opportunity to gain and exercise
leadership skills, but also encourages all members to feel they are part of,
and can actively contribute to, the ultimate success of your chapter. You
should look at your Psi Chi chapter as a team, made up of several different committees,
with the ability to work together toward a series of common goals. Each
committee, with the aid of a committee chair, should set individual goals and
work toward them with the desire and determination to contribute to the larger
team. The six committees currently in effect at the Pennsylvania State
The two main goals of our volunteer committee are to set up volunteer
opportunities and encourage members of our chapter to become involved.
The fundraising committee's main goal is to conduct and coordinate fundraising
activities. The fundraising committee does not have to be limited to raising
money for your chapter, it can also get involved in conducting a service
project to benefit a local or Psi Chi - affiliated charity.
The advertising committee's main goal is to promote Psi Chi meetings and
activities creatively through various media sources.
The historian committee's main goal is to keep a chronological archive of
events for reference by future Penn State Psi Chi chapter members.
Web Page Committee
The Web page committee's main goal is to create and maintain a Penn State Psi
Chi Chapter Web page that enables members to have up-to-date information on everything
pertinent to chapter activities and requirements.
"Unofficial" Undergraduate Psychology Handbook Committee
The "Unofficial" Undergraduate Psychology Handbook Committee's main
goal is to design and publish a handbook for undergraduate psychology students
at Penn State to aid in registering for classes.
The "Secret" of Powerful and
Effective Goal Setting
At the beginning
of every semester, it is easy to become overwhelmed by the multitude of goals
you have set for your chapter. Instead of helping you become more focused, a
great brainstorming session may leave you feeling like you don't know where to
begin. You may have generated many great ideas, but you do not have nearly
enough time to accomplish the plethora of goals you have set. How can your chapter
maximize its ability to carry out effectively the aforementioned
"secrets" while also striving towards Psi Chi's purpose of
encouraging, stimulating, and maintaining excellence in scholarship, and
advancing the science of psychology?
Instead of becoming overwhelmed
by a long list of potential goals your chapter would like to accomplish, a
better idea may be to . . .
Choose three or four of the most powerful and effective goals and give
100% of your dedication and time towards them.
It is a funny thing about goal
setting, but it seems that you can accomplish 10 times more when you are able
to focus on just a few goals at a time. Our chapter decided to pursue three
main goals: (1) form six different committees, (2) increase current membership
by 50%, and (3) increase active involvement at meetings by 25% over the
previous year. These types of goals are very attainable, and they can provide a
much-needed focus for your chapter. Rather than feeling overwhelmed by them,
you will probably accomplish more than you ever dreamed.
Penn State Psi Chi's Letter
Congratulations! Based on your superior academic achievement, you may be
eligible to apply for membership in Psi Chi, the National Honor Society in
Psychology. In order to be eligible, you must currently have a 3.0 overall
cumulative GPA and a 3.2 overall GPA in psychology. If you meet these criteria,
we are pleased to invite you to become a new member, and ask that you complete
the enclosed membership acceptance form, fill out the National and Chapter
registration cards, and provide the requested materials.
Membership in Psi Chi not only
recognizes your scholastic achievement but also your interest in psychology.
For example, your membership speaks for the training of your professors, the
quality of the psychology curriculum, and the accreditation of your school.
Founded in September 1929, Psi
Chi has grown to be one of the largest honor societies in the United States
with over 900 chapters. Amazingly, Penn State University's Chapter of Psi Chi
has just recently been recognized as the #1 largest chapter in the country!
That's right! Among the more than 900 chapters across the country, including
schools as prestigious as Stanford and Yale and as large as Michigan and Ohio
State, Penn State University is proud to announce that we are #1. This
recognition and our "secrets" to success will be featured in the
upcoming Spring 1998 issue of the nationally published magazine Eye on Psi
Chi. We are very proud to offer you the opportunity to become part of this
very honorable achievement.
The purposes of Psi Chi are to
encourage, stimulate, and maintain excellence in scholarship of the individual
members in all fields, particularly in psychology, and to advance the science
of psychology. To achieve these goals directly, Penn State University's Psi Chi
chapter offers weekly meetings and events that are intended to help the student
prepare for graduate school (GREs, admission process, letters of
recommendation, where to go, etc.), broaden their knowledge of available career
opportunities, and stimulate and encourage leadership, group involvement, and
academic achievement. Our chapter programs are designed to augment and enhance
the regular curriculum, to afford opportunities for our members to use their
talents in roles that are meaningful, and to promote interaction among fellow
members, faculty, and other psychologists. You will find the experience,
fellowship, and recognition to be worth your time and effort.
The national organization holds
its annual convention in conjunction with the American Psychological
Association (APA). In addition, a national program is held during the annual
convention of the American Psychological Society. Psi Chi also sponsors
national and regional undergraduate and graduate research award programs, and
publishes a quarterly national magazine to inform members of Psi Chi's
opportunities at all levels. The magazine is free exclusively to members and
will be given out at one of our regularly scheduled meetings. In addition, Penn
State Psi Chi will offer several awards at our annual induction banquet to
recognize those members who have demonstrated active involvement, leadership,
and superior academic achievement.
Membership in Psi Chi offers unique
advantages that cannot be found elsewhere, and particularly for the price.
Almost all applications for graduate school and employment ask for honors,
which are difficult to obtain after one leaves school. Membership in Psi Chi is
open to you as a student; after you graduate it is too late to join. All
membership records are preserved both at the national office and here at Penn
State and can be used for reference purposes at no charge. There will be a
one-time membership fee of $50, of which $25 will go to the national
organization and $25 will go to Penn State's local Psi Chi chapter. This
one-time fee will entitle you to the following: free charge at all meetings,
events, and socials (food, bevs, etc.); a Lifetime Membership; and a free
elegant dinner served at our Annual Induction Banquet to be held at the end of the
(Please follow these directions!) To accept membership in Psi Chi, (1) fill out
the attached form and registration cards, (2) write a short statement of your
goals in psychology, (3) provide an "unofficial undergraduate
transcript" (you can get one via the Internet or in Room 130 - Moore), (4)
enclose all materials (1-3) in an enclosed envelope, and drop it off in either
the Psi Chi Office (Room 127 - Moore), Advisement Office (Room 130 - Moore) or
bring it to our next Psi Chi meeting. We look forward to having you as a new
member of Psi Chi. We need your talents to help us make Psi Chi the most viable
honor society on this campus. We hope you will accept our invitation to
membership in Psi Chi, the National Honor Society in Psychology.
Kristopher B. Jones
Psi Chi Chapter President