Best Practices for College Projects

Planning and completing a College Project is a great way to establish or strengthen a relationship between your chapter and your college administration.

Dr. Molly Harris, Mary Linder and Cassie Bryant outlined best practices for College Projects in an educational forum at the 2016 Honors Institute and again in a webinar this summer. Harris and Linder are advisors to the Omicron Psi Chapter at Grayson College in Texas, and Bryant is the Special Initiatives Coordinator at Phi Theta Kappa.
The webinar focused on the purpose of the College Project, the application process and writing reminders. A recording of the webinar is now available online, as is the full PowerPoint presentation. Note: After clicking the link to the webinar, you will need to download the files to properly view the full presentation. Some highlights:
The Application
Using the essay questions, briefly describe your College Project and list those from both the chapter and the college administration who were involved in determining the project.
“This is one of the most important aspects,” Bryant said. “It needs to be a joint project that supports the college’s mission as well as what the chapter hopes to gain and learn from this.”
Summarize your chapter’s objectives for the College Project, but also be sure to summarize the process by which the chapter and the college administration set these objectives.
And, detail the outcomes of your project, including the lessons learned by chapter members and others.

“So many times, we’ll see chapters that just describe their projects qualitatively, but we also want to see how you made an impact quantitatively,” Bryant said.

Tips from the Trenches

Harris and Linder shared tips they have learned through their experiences as chapter advisors. A big one — particularly when completing the College Project Hallmark Award application — is to focus on the process, not the project itself.

“Don’t focus so much on what the project is; focus on how you got to the project selection, how you worked to get it together and what the outcome was,” Harris said.

Communication among the chapter and the college administration should be intentional and ongoing. Leadership development should also be intentional, providing training to chapter officers and members that will directly impact the success of the College Project.

And, be sure to keep a journal, both as a team and individually.

The Writing Process

As you begin the Hallmark Award application process, be specific with your answers. Who did you meet with? Who did what? Why were certain decisions or choices made?

“Don’t just paint a picture like everything was beautiful and rosy,” Linder said. “We want to see the stuff where things went wrong as well, because that’s part of the process, and you learn from the process. Put everything in there — the good and the bad and how you overcame the roadblocks.”

Edits should go before at least three groups: peers, advisors and outsiders. Track changes through each edit, and read your entry out loud.

Submit your entry early, and, most importantly, do not miss the deadline. Applications are due to Headquarters by 5 p.m. CT on January 25, 2017.

View the College Project Best Practices presentation and webinar. See the full library of presentations and webinars.