How to Compete in an Increasingly Global Economy

With an ever-growing importance placed on global know-how, finding ways to add international experiences to your skillset cannot be overlooked.

Did you know:

  • Americans who studied abroad earned on average $7,000 more in starting salaries than their peers who didn’t go overseas
  • Three quarters of study abroad alumni say they acquired skill sets that influenced their career path
  • 80 percent of study abroad alumni reported more interest in their academic studies and completion
  • 96 percent of study abroad alumni said their time abroad increased their self-confidence
  • Engaging with and adapting to new cultures is correlated with better problem-solving skills, more complex thinking and increased creativity

(statistics reported by Under-Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Richard Stengel, in The Case For Studying Abroad, Huffington Post, November, 2014)

It’s not a secret: career success is increasingly dependent upon skills important to working and competing in a global economy. Yet a minuscule percentage of community college students participate in study abroad programs — less than one-tenth of one percent (6,404 out of approximately 7.7 million credit students at community colleges in 2013/2014, according to the Institute for International Education’s 2015 Open Doors Report).

Articulating the real-world value of international experiences is important to increasing the number of students seeking opportunities to develop global knowledge. Businesses such as Goldman Sachs Group have promoted international education because “success for [today’s students] will be measured by their capacity to comprehend how the U.S. interacts with other countries and cultures, to function in a complex and ever-changing global environment, and to interact with persons whose background and perspectives bear little relation to their own” (Goldman Sachs Foundation 2005 report, Educating Leaders for a Global Society).

Funding international travel is also key.

Among all undergraduates, less than 10 percent study abroad. The barriers students cite most often are related to costs and lack of funding as well as to a lack of understanding what real-world value overseas experiences provide. To address the financial barriers, the U.S. State Department encourages community college students to apply for the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship.

This scholarship funds participation in study and intern abroad programs worldwide. It is open to U.S. citizen undergraduate students who are receiving Federal Pell Grant funding at a two-year or four-year college or university.

Applications for a Gilman Scholarship to fund international experiences in the spring or summer of 2017 are due October 4. Learn more.

Travel overseas for study or an internship is not feasible for many community college students regardless of the cost and despite clear understanding of the value such opportunities provide, so other approaches to developing global competencies are essential. Phi Theta Kappa has partnered with world-class universities to bring online International Honors Certificates to community colleges and complement existing programs they have for students to develop global abilities. Learn more.

How Will You Increase Access to Opportunity?

Editor’s Note: This blog post was written and submitted by Dr. Susan Scaggs, Phi Theta Kappa’s Vice President of Membership and Student Engagement.

“Phi Theta Kappa changed my life.” Sydney Pemberton

“It allowed me to tap into my sense of purpose as a human being.” Alexa Geer

“Phi Theta Kappa is sort of like a catalyst, which takes your experience from just being normal to being something extraordinary.” Andrew Porter

“It made me realize my self-worth.” Sara Hwang

“So inspiring and motivating.” Ashlynne Banks

“Phi Theta Kappa challenged me to reach beyond what I thought to be my full potential.” Yanik Etan

“My life has never been the same.” Amie Bernstein

If you are reading this blog, you already know what these International Officers have articulated in the latest Phi Theta Kappa video: Phi Theta Kappa membership matters.

We know that 92 percent of Phi Theta Kappa members complete their associate degrees or transfer to a four-year college, compared to the national average of 38 percent for nonmembers. This is extremely exciting evidence of the difference membership makes.

As a member, you also know the positive impact of the rigorous programming at your local Phi Theta Kappa Chapter. The competition is fierce, and we see leaders emerging to shine on their college campuses — a reflection of the leadership development provided by Phi Theta Kappa membership.

I also know if you are reading this, I am steady preaching to the choir. But if we hope to increase access to what we know is the secret to success in two-year colleges, we must focus on filling all the pews, and every voice must be heard.

We have to acknowledge that only an average of 10 percent of eligible students accepts membership into Phi Theta Kappa.

Out of every 100 eligible students, 90 people go it alone without the support we know makes a difference.

Let that sink in.

Now, immediately focus on what you can do to help increase access to opportunity within your sphere of influence. Check out this video for more information and ideas.

Phi Theta Kappa is recognizing chapters that increase access to opportunity with a 15 percent or higher membership acceptance rate by providing free regalia through REACH Rewards.

So why does membership matter? It matters because right now there is a student in your classes who is a high performer with two jobs putting themselves through college, and they don’t know that they don’t have to go it alone. Be an advocate for Phi Theta Kappa and the support you know is making a difference in your life.

What will you and your chapter do to make sure that every person at your college who has worked hard to become eligible takes that next step and accepts the invitation of membership in Phi Theta Kappa?

An Open Letter to PTK’s Nursing Students

Editor’s Note: This post was written and submitted by Sydney Pemberton, International Vice President for Division 3.

To our nursing students:

As a nursing student myself, I know we can’t wait to start our professional careers as a Registered Nurses, where we can care for people, make a real difference and leave those care plans waaaaayyyy behind us. But we all know there is one thing that stands in the way of us realizing our dreams.

The dreaded NCLEX®.

But what if I told you that you could take the NCLEX® exam for free AND have exclusive access to the nations’ premier NCELX® review course? I know — it would be too good to be true, right?

Well, wrong!

Phi Theta Kappa has just announced a partnership with Hurst Review, where they are providing up to 25 Phi Theta Kappa nursing students a $250 cash (yes CASH) award to cover the cost of NCLEX® exam fees. These students will also receive a passcode for a free Hurst NCLEX® review to help them pass their boards.

On top of that, ALL PTK members will receive a $50 discount upon registration for the Hurst Review live or online course by using this promo code: PTKhurst50. You can’t lose!

The application for the Hurst Review NCLEX® scholarship will be open October 3-November 1 and again February 1-March 1, 2017. Read the official announcement.

This is a scholarship like no other. Nursing school is expensive! Tuition, books, clinical fees, scrubs — you name it. No matter which way you look at it, it’s a lot of money to spend when you are trying to realize your dream career.

This scholarship can give you the opportunity to sit for your state nursing test without the financial burden you may be feeling, allowing you better focus to prepare for that all-important exam. On top of that, you are getting all you need to pass the NCLEX®.

Hurst Review’s program offers a proven step-by-step approach that reviews core content and develops clinical judgment, clinical thinking and application skills essential for success. Hurst prepares you by teaching testing strategies that are specific to the NCLEX® and provides realistic practice exams for the NCLEX®, including detailed question rationales and strategies.

For me, this is a groundbreaking opportunity to be better prepared, more knowledgeable and more confident walking into that testing room after I graduate in May. My professors are always telling me to take practice quizzes and answer questions to help me review key concepts; Hurst Review will allow me easy access to NCLEX®-style questions and help me understand other important nursing concepts.

It’s giving me the best chance of passing my boards the first time and saving me money!

Nursing school has been one of the hardest things I have ever done; but now that Phi Theta Kappa and Hurst Review are offering nursing students this amazing scholarship and benefit, we can make it through together! The more you practice and utilize these opportunities, the more prepared you will be to pass the NCLEX® with flying colors!

Happy Testing!

Fall Awareness Week is Sept. 26-30!

Phi Theta Kappa’s Fall Awareness Week is nearly upon us! This is a grass-roots initiative that coordinates chapters around the world in one common goal: telling everyone why membership in Phi Theta Kappa matters.

Mark Your Calendars

The official week is September 26-30. You’ll notice a greater emphasis on Phi Theta Kappa’s benefits on our social media channels and here on the blog, and we’ll be hosting a series of related webinars each evening at 8 p.m. CT. Here’s the schedule:

Monday, September 26 — Scholarships

Apply Now for Big Scholarships

It’s scholarship season, and more than half a million dollars is currently available to Phi Theta Kappa members through online applications at These scholarships are for students seeking associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees, so there truly is something for everyone.

Take a look below at the breakdown of each scholarship. You’ll even see what the judges are looking for in ideal candidates.

The Fall Scholarship Application

This is a common application for seven different scholarship programs. The deadline to apply is 5 p.m. CT December 1.

Included on this application are

  • All-USA Community College Academic Team: 20 awards of $5,000 each = Total awards of $100,000
  • Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team: 150 awards of varying amounts = Total awards of $187,500
  • New Century Scholars: 52 awards of $2,000 each = Total awards of $104,000
  • All-State Community College Academic Teams: numbers and amounts vary by state = Over $41 million available

These scholarship programs place an emphasis on leadership positions held on campus and a strong history of engagement on campus and in the community. Ideal candidates will also be strong academically and well-rounded students. All four of these scholarships support the completion of either an associate or a bachelor’s degree.

The Hites Transfer Scholarship program awards $7,500 to each of 10 recipients. Judges look for students with a heavy academic focus and who are driven and focused on their major. Ideal candidates will also show strong ties between their campus and community engagement and their majors.

The Guistwhite Scholarship program awards $5,000 to each of 15 recipients. Ideal candidates will have heavy involvement in Phi Theta Kappa, significant leadership qualities and academic strength.

The GEICO Pathway to Completion Bachelor’s Degree Scholarship awards two scholarships of $1,500 each. The application looks for students who are strong academically, have proven leadership skills and are involved heavily and Phi Theta Kappa. Ideal candidates will also hold or have held a significant leadership position on campus.

Learn more about the scholarships available on the Fall Scholarship Application in a webinar on September 20 at 1 p.m. CT. Register for the webinar.

The Oberndorf Lifeline to Completion Scholarship

This is a need-based scholarship that provides $1,000 to each of up to seven students. The deadline to apply is 5 p.m. CT October 31.

Ideal candidates are students who, within the past six months, have faced unanticipated financial barriers such as a catastrophic loss, a natural disaster, the onset of a major illness or injury, a change in dependent status or the loss of income resulting in a financial hardship.

The GEICO Pathway to Completion Master’s Degree Scholarship

This is for alumni who have attained a bachelor’s degree and are currently enrolled in their first graduate degree program. Two awards of $2,500 each will be given. The deadline to apply is 5 p.m. CT October 31.

The ideal candidate shows academic progression, persistence and a bright future in their chosen field. Judges also like to see demonstrated campus leadership, with preference given to those who have held chapter, regional or international office.

The MEME 4 Money: GEICO’s Creativity Scholarship

This is open to both members and alumni. Five awards of $1,000 each will be given. The deadline to apply is 5 p.m. CT September 29.

Submit a meme-able caption for one of seven pre-selected photos. Members will vote online for their favorites, and a judging panel will help identify final winners. Read more.

Need some help? Check out these scholarship resources.

Caption These and Win $1,000

We already know you’re smart; now, we want to see how funny and creative you can be!

The application for MEME 4 Money: GEICO’s Creativity Scholarship is now open.

Entering is quick & easy! Simply fill out a brief form — it only takes about three minutes — and then submit a meme-able caption for one of these seven photos. Both current members and alumni are encouraged to apply.

The deadline to enter is 5 p.m. CT on Thursday, September 29. Five scholarships of $1,000 each will be awarded.

A judging panel will identify final winners, but you will be able to vote online for your favorite and help select a “People’s Choice” winner. Voting will be open for five days only, October 24-28. Each member may vote once each day.

Winners will be announced in January 2017.

Find full details here. Take a look at the photos, and get your creative juices flowing!