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Eye on Psi Chi: Summer 2017
 
 
Inducting Transfer Students
Into Your Chapter Sooner:
What Are Your Options?
Martha S. Zlokovich, PhD, Psi Chi Executive Director
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Imagine this scenario. Elizabeth is a new transfer student on your campus who already declared psychology as her major before even arriving. She comes to the psychology department having earned a two-year Associate of Science degree, transferring in 38 college credits, 15 of them in psychology. In addition to earning a 3.89 GPA in her first two years of college, she is also proud to be a member of Psi Beta, the honor society for psychology at two-year campuses, and to have served in two officer positions.
Because of her Psi Beta service, she arrives at your university excited about all of the opportunities for Psi Chi members. But her excitement turns to disappointment at her first Psi Chi meeting; her two psychology courses will not be enough to meet the chapter’s transfer student requirements of 12 college credits completed on campus as well as 9 psychology credits. Because inductions occur once per semester, your faculty advisor later confirms that she will not be able to join before fall of her senior year.
What does this mean for Elizabeth? It means she probably won’t have time to submit research to Psi Chi sessions at a regional convention or apply for awards or grants before she graduates. Nor will she be as likely to become a Psi Chi officer before graduating, which she has already shown interest in and gained experience at during her time at Psi Beta.
The Solution
The solution to dilemmas such as Elizabeth’s is to simply update your Psi Chi chapter bylaws by vote at your next chapter meeting. Transfer student requirements (12 credits completed at the new campus) automatically apply unless your chapter approves different ones in your chapter bylaws. Your chapter also may be able to specify how many of the 9 required psychology credits may be transferred in rather than completed on campus.
To customize your chapter’s options, use the Chapter Bylaws Template, which officers and advisors can download after logging in to the Psi Chi website. This Word document includes fill-in-the blank sections and some choose-an-option sections, which makes it easy to tell which areas can be changed and which cannot. Keep in mind that eligibility requirements may be modified by chapters as long as chapter requirements are (a) not in conflict with the Psi Chi Constitution, and (b) are academic only (no service, attendance, or participation requirements, for example). So long as you follow the basic instructions, you should be fine!
Why This Matters
Imagine how the scenario above could have turned out differently for Elizabeth and your chapter. Play your chapter’s cards right, and transfer students could breathe new life into your chapter, increase the number of active members, and enhance chapter functioning by providing a pipeline of experienced honor society officers.
In addition to these benefits, chapters need to decide how they will take advantage of the fact that nearly half of all university graduates first attend community college, almost half of them transferring five or more terms of coursework (Ma & Baum, 2016). Many more students enroll in two-year colleges than in the past—over 7.5 million in 2014 compared to over 2.3 million in 1970 (NCES, 2015). In addition, the number of students taking the psychology AP exam has exploded from less than 4,000 in 1992 to 293,350 in 2016 (College Board, 2016). Add to this changing environment about one third of university students who transfer to between four-year institutions (Gonzalez, 2012).
Additional Tips
Article III Section IA in the Chapter Bylaws document shows two transfer student options. Chapters may choose to accept some or all college and psychology credits from transferring institutions.
Sometimes, members may worry that psychology courses at two-year schools are not as rigorous as the ones at their campus. If your university has many students transferring from local feeder schools, your faculty advisor and department chair can evaluate the quality of their courses, faculty, and students.
Some chapters have the option of inviting transfer students to join Psi Chi in their first semester on campus, while others do not. If your university transfers in both credits and grades, inviting students to join during their first semester is an option. However, if transfer students have a 0.0 GPA until they complete courses on campus, they must complete the 12 credits, including 9 in psychology, at your university before they can join. If they have a 0.0 GPA, they have to establish both a comprehensive GPA and a psychology GPA in order to determine their eligibility.
What happens to transfer psychology students during their first two semesters on your campus? Is your chapter stacking the deck against transfer students, or playing its strongest hand to encourage involvement and contributions? Playing your strongest hand may mean revising your chapter’s bylaws.
References
College Board. (2016). AP program participation and performance data 2016. Retrieved from http://research.collegeboard.org/programs/ap/data/participation/ap-2016
Gonzalez, J. (2012). A third of students transfer before graduating, and many head toward community colleges. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from http://www.chronicle.com/article/A-Third-of-Students-Transfer/130954/?sid=at
Ma, J., & Baum, S. (2016, April). Trends in community colleges, Enrollment, prices, student debt, and completion. Retrieved from https://trends.collegeboard.org/sites/default/files/trends-in-community-colleges-research-brief.pdf
National Center for Education Statistic. (2015). Table 303.25. Total fall enrollment in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by control and level of institution: 1970 through 2014. Retrieved from https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d15/tables/dt15_303.25.asp?current=yes

A high school teacher in Pensacola, Florida, inspired Dr. Martha S. Potter Zlokovich to pursue psychology as a career. She completed her BA in psychology at UCLA, and MS and PhD in developmental psychology at the University of Florida.

Dr. Zlokovich joined Psi Chi in 2008 as its second Executive Director, leaving Southeast Missouri State University after teaching there for 17 years. This move, however, was not her first involvement with Psi Chi. She served as chapter advisor since 1993, as Midwestern Region Vice-President (1998-2000), and as National President of Psi Chi (2003-04). In 1996, Southeast’s chapter won the Ruth Hubbard Cousins National Chapter of the Year Award, and several chapter members have won Psi Chi Regional Research Awards at MPA and/or had their research published in Psi Chi's Journal.

At Southeast, Dr. Zlokovich taught Child Development, Adolescent Development, Lifespan Development, Advanced Child Psychology, and Introductory Psychology for Majors. She also served as chair of the Psychology Department and interim chair of the Center for Scholarship in Teaching and Learning. Her research interests have focused on student study habits, study beliefs, and persistence to graduation as well as adolescent and young adult contraception and sexuality.

Dr. Zlokovich and her husband Neil have two sons, a daughter-in-law, and a granddaughter. Aaron (Truman State University, 2010), Stephanie (Institute for Integrative Nutrition), and their daughter Anniston Scott live in Birmingham, AL, and Matthew (University of Alabama, 2014) lives in Nashville, TN.

 

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Copyright 2017 (Vol. 21, Iss. 4) Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology


 
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Eye on Psi Chi is a magazine designed to keep members and alumni up-to-date with all the latest information about Psi Chi’s programs, awards, and chapter activities. It features informative articles about careers, graduate school admission, chapter ideas, personal development, the various fields of psychology, and important issues related to our discipline.

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