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Eye on Psi Chi: Summer 2019

Eye on Psi Chi

Summer 2019 | Volume 23 | Issue 4

Strength in Numbers Maximize Your Chapter’s Potential

Martha S. Zlokovich, PhD,
Psi Chi Executive Director

View this issue in Digital and PDF formats.

You’ve probably heard “there’s strength in numbers” and this saying applies to your chapter as easily as anywhere else. Would your chapter’s vitality improve if more members came to meetings, ran for office, served on chapter committees, told potential members about Psi Chi benefits, paid chapter dues, participated in fundraising and service activities, attended chapter social events, and became chapter alumni after graduating? Although many factors may influence how active your chapter’s members are, whether most eligible members have joined must certainly be one of them. Is your chapter maximizing its potential by including everyone who is eligible? The first step is making sure that everyone who is eligible knows it. Those eligible to join include not only psychology majors, but also

  • students minoring in psychology,
  • interdisciplinary majors with at least as many psychology courses as a minor,
  • majors in closely related programs such as biopsychology or educational psychology,
  • graduate psychology students in the psychology department (and possibly other departments on campus),
  • transfer students, and
  • full-time faculty with at least a master’s in psychology.

Your Chapter Bylaws should specify which students on your campus are eligible to join. This will help future officers and advisors to know who should be invited.

Chapter Bylaws should also reflect the new transfer student requirements that went into effect March 5, 2019. If transfer students are able to transfer in both credits and GPA to your institution, they may be eligible to join Psi Chi during their first semester. For more details, go to this Digest:

For chapter officers to determine if they are inviting all eligible students, they will need to talk with their Faculty Advisor about how the list of potential members is generated and how they are notified. This process varies from campus to campus, but often involves the Faculty Advisor requesting that the registrar’s office or institutional research office generate a list. Some chapters, however, simply put out blanket invitations asking anyone who is interested in joining to submit an online application. Regardless of how they get to the online application, prospective member applications populate a list so your Faculty Advisor can review each person’s qualifications before approving them as new members.

This variability in how chapters generate their list of eligible students results in variability in the accuracy of the numbers—the number of eligible students compared to the number who actually join. Chapters need to know what groups (e.g., majors, minors, counseling graduate students) are included on the list and the number of eligible students in order to (a) determine if they are inviting everyone who is eligible to join, (b) calculate the percentage of people who actually join, and (c) look for reasons the chapter can address if some eligible students are choosing not to join. It is important to make the opportunity to join Psi Chi available to everyone who has earned it, regardless of whether the chapter’s maximum potential is quite small or very large.

There is further variability across campuses in whether invitations go to all nonmembers or only those who the Advisor has predetermined meet eligibility requirements. Depending on the campus size, number of majors, and campus data sharing rules, predetermining eligibility may not be possible. When it is possible, however, doing so makes it easier for the chapter to make the invitations to join more special and unique. Examples include sending formal invitations through the mail or delivering them in psychology classes (with each faculty member’s permission). Inviting all eligible students to join also could raise extra funds for the chapter. Because chapters can add up to 50% of society dues as chapter dues, inducting more members is an easy way to fund chapter activities. And after induction, more people are available to participate in fundraising projects—and all other activities.

Maximizing your chapter’s member numbers will naturally result in a larger alumni group as your student members graduate. That means your chapter will have a larger pool of people to call on for mentoring, speaking about the workforce or graduate school, or chapter fundraising.

So what can you do? Officers and Faculty Advisors can work together to identify all groups who should be invited and to codify these in the chapter’s Bylaws. All members can confirm the benefits available to Psi Chi members, clarify misperceptions about who is allowed to join, and most of all encourage those potential members to become an active part of their first professional psychology organization.

Martha S. Potter Zlokovich, PhD, completed her BA in psychology at UCLA, and MS and PhD in developmental psychology at the University of Florida. She joined Psi Chi in 2008 as its second Executive Director, leaving Southeast Missouri State University after 17 years where she taught Child Development, Adolescent Development, Lifespan Development, Advanced Child Psychology, and Introductory Psychology for Majors. 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.

Copyright 2019 (Vol. 23, Iss. 4) Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology

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