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Eye on Psi Chi: Spring 2019

Eye on Psi Chi

Spring 2019 | Volume 23 | Issue 3


How to Effectively Run an Honor Society Chapter

Courtney Taylor,
Central Connecticut State University

View this issue in Digital and PDF formats.

Like all clubs and organizations, running a thriving honor society chapter begins with member recruitment. However, recruiting members for an honor society—like Psi Chi—can be tricky because membership is selective. Therefore, some types of advertising can be ineffective due to the limited number of students who are eligible to become members. Having professors and students discuss the organization in their classes has proven to be an effective way to recruit members. Another successful method of recruiting members is having faculty members directly contact all potentially eligible students and encouraging them to apply. Once you have recruited as many potential new members as possible during each semester, here are eight time-tested strategies to “reach new heights” with your chapter.

1. Your Advisor Is Your Safety Line

Faculty advisor support is a crucial element of running an honor society. Faculty advisors can provide guidance, assist with planning events, and help officers make decisions. An honor society’s advisor can serve as a liaison between the society and other campus organizations or academic departments. For example, Central Connecticut State University’s Psi Chi Chapter frequently collaborates with the Psychology Club, the Department of Psychological Science, and the Student Wellness Center. Faculty advisors can also intervene and diffuse any conflict between honor society officers and/or members. Finally, faculty advisors can give suggestions for recruiting members and keeping current members actively involved within the honor society. It can be difficult to get students involved in the executive board of student organizations, and the faculty advisor can play an important role in recommending students to reach out to about running for an officer position.

2. Harness the Support of Other Faculty

In addition to an organization’s faculty advisor, having the support of other faculty members is extremely helpful for fostering a successful organization. At Central, a monthly Student Faculty Collaboration Committee meeting lets faculty advisors for Psi Chi and Psychology Club meet with the Student-Faculty Liaison officers from both organizations to discuss upcoming events. This allows both organizations to collaborate with one another and advertise each other’s events within club or honor society meetings. Frequent interaction between Psychology Club and Psi Chi officers at Central has provided opportunities that greatly benefitted both organizations.

3. Keep Your Core Fit (i.e., Your Officer Team)

In any organization, it is imperative that executive board members are able to work with one another in a productive and respectful manner. Executive board members must feel comfortable communicating with one another regularly. Central’s Psi Chi Chapter has utilized both group texting and Facebook group messaging, depending on the preferences of the current officers. Using group messages allows us to communicate with one another quickly, and keeps all officers up to date. Building relationships with the other executive board members creates a positive environment that allows for growth within the organization. Therefore, when any issues between executive board members arise, it is necessary that they be addressed as quickly as possible. The honor society’s faculty advisor plays an integral role in ensuring that any tension within the chapter is diffused before it becomes a problem, which is why keeping advisors apprised of all relevant issues is incredibly important.

4. Know Your Officers’ Climbing Routes

To run an organization as effectively as possible, expectations of executive board members must be clearly defined. The responsibilities of each officer position within the organization should be explicitly stated and easy to reference when allocating tasks. However, some officer positions tend to have more responsibilities than others. It is OK to ask each other for help in order to ensure that each officer’s workload is comparable. The honor society’s executive board is a team, and they should help each other with tasks whenever possible.

5. Inspire Your Members to “Climb On!”

Keeping members actively involved in the organization can be one of the most challenging aspects of running an honor society. It is common to see students join and be inducted into an honor society, and then never attend any events. For students to become and stay involved, they must see the benefits of being an active member. There are a few methods of increasing involvement that have been useful for Central’s Psi Chi Chapter. Offering food or snacks at meetings is a great way to get members to attend. Emphasizing the tangible benefits of active engagement such as enhancing one’s resumé or CV encourages members to attend meetings as well. Once members are attending meetings regularly, building relationships with one another is incredibly helpful for retaining active membership. Central’s Psi Chi Chapter has fostered many friendships that lasted well beyond undergraduate studies. Being involved with likeminded individuals can help build a sense of community for students, allowing them to get the most out of their time in university. In addition to building relationships with other students, honor societies can bring together faculty and students. For example, Central’s Psi Chi Chapter conducts podcast interviews with faculty that allow Psi Chi members to learn more about their professors’ academic backgrounds and interests.

6. Proclaim Your Upcoming Events, From the Mountain Tops

Another crucial element in successfully running an honor society is advertising events and maintaining a strong social media presence. Asking faculty members to advertise events in their classes, or even offer students extra credit for attending, helps ensure that the organization’s events are well-attended. Ensuring that the honor society’s member contact list is up to date makes all members aware of events and opportunities within the chapter. Further, sending frequent reminders about events and honor society meetings ensures that members attend if they are interested in an event. Utilizing social media is an effective method for advertising meetings and events without having to send frequent e-mail reminders. Facebook is great for creating an online community for chapter members. Central created a “CCSU Psi Chi” group page, where we advertise events and keep our members up to date. Instagram is useful in sharing photos from events and advertising upcoming events. Additionally, the ability to broadcast a live video feed on Instagram allows members who are unable to physically attend meetings to feel connected. Finally, Twitter is useful for posting reminders that keep members apprised of current chapter events. Remember to post on all social media accounts regularly so that members do not lose interest.

7. Secure Your Chapter Line With Funding

One of the most important elements of running an honor society is ensuring that the organization has adequate funding. For many universities, including Central, honor societies are ineligible for student organization funding. This is due to the fact that honor society membership is exclusive, whereas club membership is open to all students. To work around the lack of university funding, honor societies can raise money for their chapter in two ways. The first is holding fund-raisers such as bake sales, selling T-shirts, and hosting events that charge an admission fee. For example, Central’s Psi Chi Chapter has hosted a volleyball tournament with a registration fee of $20 per team in order to raise money. The other method of raising money is applying for chapter awards at Psi Chi has a number of awards for chapters to apply for, and taking advantage of these awards is one of the best ways to raise money for a chapter. Central’s Psi Chi chapter recently won the Ruth Hubbard Cousins Award, which came with a $3,000 prize. This money allowed our chapter to send students to the Eastern Psychological Association’s annual convention to present their research. Psi Chi awards are earned for showing involvement and growth as a chapter. There are three awards, the Model Chapter Award ($100), Regional Chapter Award ($500), and Ruth Hubbard Cousins Chapter Award ($3,000). To win chapter awards, be sure to keep records of all activities and events hosted by the chapter.

8. Try It All—From Bouldering to Deep Water Soloing

Hosting unique events and opportunities is what keeps students interested in an organization. There are creative ways to encourage member participation such as hosting a pizza party for newly approved members to get to know established members. Central’s Psi Chi chapter aims to host a variety of events and opportunities for members to get involved. For example, panel events about getting into graduate school, careers in psychology, and industrial/organizational psychology have been incredibly successful. Popular fund-raising events have included hosting bake sales, volleyball tournaments, a Scrabble tournament, and T-shirt sales as a collaboration with Central’s Psychology Club. Volunteering is a large part of Central’s Psi Chi chapter as well, and events have included a street clean-up, hosting movie nights at a local homeless shelter, and running holiday food and gift drives for a local food pantry and homeless shelter.

There are plenty of opportunities for honor societies to help out the local community, educate students about graduate school, conduct research, and share about career opportunities. Remember, creativity is key when developing events for an honor society. The success of events depends greatly on the interests of current members, so be sure to communicate with members frequently!

Note: This article is based on a recent talk called “Club Engagement Workshop” at Central Connecticut State University, created and presented by Courtney Taylor, Emily Begin, Ryan Bora, Courtney DiCocco, Abel Lugo, Rebecca McCarthy, Samelfi Raposo-Mena, Helena Swanson, and Erica Zeller.

Courtney Taylor is studying health psychology in Central Connecticut State University’s (CCSU) master of arts program. She earned her BA degree in psychological science and criminology from CCSU, and is currently finishing her last semester in CCSU’s graduate certificate in gerontology. Courtney served as an officer for CCSU’s Psi Chi Chapter for four years, including two as president. She currently serves as a graduate assistant in the CCSU Psychological Science Department. Courtney intends to apply for doctoral programs in the fall of 2019.

Copyright 2019 (Vol. 23, Iss. 3) Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology

Psi Chi Central Office
651 East 4th Street, Suite 600
Chattanooga, TN 37403

Phone: 423.756.2044 | Fax: 423.265.1529


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Association of College Honor Societies