Want to Engage Your Members? Try Canvas

Editor’s Note: Special thanks to Dr. Theresa Ramos, Chi Gamma advisor, for writing this guest post.

The Chi Gamma chapter at Tacoma Community College has been using Canvas to engage students since February 2017. We decided to meet students where they are. Students log in to their Canvas portal daily for their classes and this is where we post information about PTK.

We worked with Information Technology on campus to establish our space. In order for the content to stay live each quarter, IT sets it up as a “default term” rather than specifying a cycle. Every week, we download the new members who have joined and send the list to IT to be uploaded to the course. Currently, we have 490 students who have accepted the course invitation with 16 who have not.

We utilize Canvas’ course analytics to further engage students. By viewing the number of page views, we can find students who have not yet engaged who might be interested in becoming more active. A personal email from an adviser can be the impetus to motivate a student to attend meetings or work on a project. One of the biggest impacts we have seen is a 50% increase in attendance at our weekly member meetings.

The tabs we use most often are Announcements, Discussion, and Assignments. We post all meeting information, including meeting agenda, minutes, recordings of Zoom broadcasts of meetings, in Announcements. The Discussion link is used to gain feedback from members on events and projects. We utilize the Assignments tab to post scholarships with the deadline set as the due date the way it would be for a class assignment. With this set up, students receive a pop up reminder when the deadline is approaching.

Zoom meetings are recorded and posted to Canvas to engage more students.

Overall, the addition of Canvas for outreach and engagement has been an overwhelming success. I would encourage other advisors to try it for another method to contact their members. By adding our President and Vice President of Public Relations as TA’s for the course, they can also post and encourage student interaction. The use of Canvas is just another way to enhance the Phi Theta Kappa experience for students who otherwise would not be engaged.

Is your chapter using Canvas, Blackboard, Zoom or other platforms to enhance membership and involvement? Let us know at news@ptk.org.

5 NCLEX® Test-Taking Tips

This post originally appeared on Hurst Review’s website, hurstreview.com, on the Hurst Hints blog.

Nursing students are often anxious on the day of the NCLEX® exam. After all, taking the exam is a culmination of years of nursing school, nights spent studying, and professional preparation. While taking the NCLEX® is a big deal, it shouldn’t stress you out if you’ve been studying consistently. Good preparation builds confidence and relieves anxiety!

One way to help ensure you are prepared is by taking a prep course, which will encourage you to start thinking about the exam long before taking it. However, for some people, test day jitters can make the test-taking process more stressful than it would otherwise be.

Don’t let anxiety get the best of you. Here are five tips for taking the NCLEX® exam:

1. Get a good night’s sleep
This is a common test-taking tip students hear from grade school to college and beyond. Of course, it also applies in the professional world. In general, cramming is a last-minute effort to make up for not studying properly beforehand. Not only can this potentially overload you with information, but it can take away from getting the much-needed rest you’ll need to be alert on test day. Going to bed early will also allow you time to wake up early and enjoy a protein-rich breakfast.

2. Read everything
It’s easy to skim over instructions and exam questions in hopes of saving time, but this practice opens up opportunities to miss important information. Reading everything all the way through can also possibly save time, because you won’t constantly be rereading for elements you skipped over. Furthermore, not taking the time to read directions can lead to careless errors.1

3. Arrive early
Don’t arrive to the exam feeling rushed. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing recommends arriving 30 minutes early.2 This will allow you time to turn over electronic devices to testing officials, present your identification, use the bathroom, and prepare your test area before the exam begins.

If a person is more than 30 minutes late to the NCLEX®, it can result in them having to forfeit the exam.2 In such cases, prospective nurses have to schedule a new exam and repay the test fee.2 Have the location of the test center mapped out before the test date and leave extra early in case you get lost or experience traffic delays.

4. Plan ahead
The NCLEX® is a long test, and it’s important to prepare accordingly. Those taking the RN test have up to six hours to complete the exam, while those taking the PN have five.2 The first break isn’t offered until two hours into the exam, so it might not be a great idea to chug the rest of your coffee before the exam begins.

You cannot take any personal belongings into the exam room, so you’ll want to make sure you can fit anything you bring along in a storage locker. Overall, knowing the rules of the exam beforehand will help you ready yourself to sit down and focus on test day.

5. Be confident
Everyone takes tests differently, and some may be prone to feelings of nervousness and anxiety. In the case of the NCLEX®, the exam is an opportunity for you to utilize all the knowledge you learned in nursing school and during your NCLEX® prep course.

If you’ve been going to class, learning from clinical work, studying, and generally making the most of your education, you’ll be able to approach the test with confidence. You don’t want to second guess yourself constantly during the exam. The NCLEX® is your time to shine and prove you’re ready to enter the nursing workforce.

1 “Study guides and strategies,” studygs.net
2 “Exam day process,” National Council of State Boards of Nursing. ncsbn.org

Want more advice from Hurst Review? Check out this three-part video blog series on learning styles.

  1. What is your learning style?
  2. Visual vs Auditory Learning
  3. Logical vs Kinetic Learning

Apply now for the Hurst Review NCLEX® Scholarship, which awards $250 for the NCLEX® exam fee and a free subscription to the premier Hurst NCLEX® Review. Learn more and apply today. The deadline is 5 p.m. CT on Wednesday, November 1.

How ‘I AM PTK’ Can Grow Your Membership

Editor’s Note: This post was written by Dr. Aariel Charbonnet, Phi Theta Kappa’s Manager of Member Support and Outreach.

If you pick up one of our new (and free!) “I AM PTK” recruitment cards, you’ll read this:

You are PTK. Phi Theta Kappa members are mothers and fathers, husbands and wives. They’re military members and first-generation college students. They work full- or part-time and need financial aid. They’re training to enter the workforce, and they’re planning to transfer to a four-year college. They span all ages, majors and career fields. They come from all over the world. In short, they’re just like you.

I AM PTK” is the name of Phi Theta Kappa’s latest marketing campaign. The premise? See yourself in PTK.

Woven throughout the current materials, available at ptk.org/toolkit, are five personas: a technical/vocational student, a military veteran, a mother of two, a future dental hygienist, and a part-time student who puts in overtime in the workforce.

By spotlighting the multilayered stories of PTK members in this campaign, the goal is for every prospective member to identify with one or more of these personas. Crafting this sense of unity is vital for continued PTK success locally, regionally, and internationally.

From sample social media posts and artwork to print materials, like posters, recruitment cards, table tents, and stickers, I AM PTK marketing materials are plentiful, diverse, and ready to be deployed by YOU, our valued PTK family. Some materials are available in digital form only (easily printable), while others may be accessed digitally and/or ordered from PTK Headquarters.

While supplies last, advisors may order a free set of I AM PTK posters to post in high-traffic areas on campus. Likewise, advisors may order free I AM PTK recruitment cards and include them with membership invitations; share them with college faculty and staff; or offer them at the chapter’s next tabling event.

Stack recruitment cards at information tables on campus as easy grab-and-go items. Use the recruitment card as a training tool to ensure your team has a firm understanding of membership benefits. Share the cards with dual-enrollment students and their parents, as well as local high school students and counselors. (Advisors: Log in to the PTK Store; email; or call 800.946.9996 to order.)

Keep in mind you can customize these materials to suit your chapter’s needs. Personalize the table tents by including your chapter’s contact information (website, phone number, social media, email, etc.) in the white space provided. And make this campaign your own! Create a unique version of I AM PTK with faces and stories of real members from your chapter. The more personal you can make your pitch to accept membership in PTK, the better.

You will generate visibility on your campus with these fresh marketing materials. Wear the #IAMPTK sticker at your school (or, better yet, schedule a day when ALL members of your chapter don the sticker), and spark conversation with prospective members. Be prepared to share your student story and inspire others to accept membership into the PTK family and community of scholars.

Sport your favorite PTK sweatshirt or t-shirt. Print table tents, posters, and recruitment cards at your school from ptk.org/toolkit. (We provide PDFs of these items!) Snag some of our sample social media posts (really, we encourage this!), and download high-resolution artwork to use in your recruitment efforts. Cloak your campus in I AM PTK!

The new campaign’s diversity of member profiles allows prospective members to see themselves as Phi Theta Kappans. But the first step is YOUR visibility on campus. The I AM PTK materials only come to life with YOUR involvement.

This visibility is critical. Prospective members will recognize you — their professor, their classmate, their Student Activities liaison — as a PTK ambassador on campus.

High visibility at your institution will result in more than just new members. It will lead to more engagement among current members and greater success for your chapter as whole.

Check out the I AM PTK marketing campaign at ptk.org/toolkit.

DiversiFive Files: We are PTK

Editor’s Note: This post was written and submitted by Jay Fritts, International Vice President for Division 2.

Phi Theta Kappa is overflowing with diversity. Every single one of us has a unique story that has developed us into the person we are today.

Through our new campaign, I AM PTK, we can share Phi Theta Kappans’ stories all across the nation. That is what I want to do right now — I want to share with you three unique stories about three different individuals I have met while being a part of Phi Theta Kappa.

Kien Truong is an international student from Vietnam. He came to America when he was 17 because he wanted a better education; however, there was a problem. He didn’t know how to speak English. Although this was a difficult obstacle to overcome, Kien did not let it stop him from trying to further his educational career.

With grit and determination, as well as help of his fellow teachers, advisors, and friends, Kien was able to overcome his language barrier and is now able to speak almost fluently in English. He attends Portland Community College in Oregon where he serves as vice president of his chapter, and he serves as the student representative on the Board of Trustees of his college.

“Phi Theta Kappa taught me the value of teamwork and how important it is to serve others,” he said.

He plans to major in international relations for his undergraduate and educational leadership for his master’s degree.

Adam Mowdy is a traditional student that attended Meridian Community College in Meridian, Mississippi. He lives in a very small town with a population of a little less than 2,000. After high school, Adam decided to enroll straight into a university for two reasons:

  1. He wanted to move away from his small town and become an “independent” (how everyone does in the movies).
  2. He did not want to go to a community college because he believed in the negative “13th and 14th grade” stigma that is associated with community college.

After spending two weeks at Mississippi State University, though, he decided to come back to his small town of less than 2,000 to attend his local community college in Meridian, Mississippi. Why? He said he just didn’t feel at home at the university and decided he was not yet ready to become completely independent.

So, he spent his first two years at community college. He told me it has been the best decision he has made in his life.

“Because of community college and Phi Theta Kappa, I was able to experience things I would have never gotten to do if I stayed at a University,” he said.

And now he is back at a university on a full-ride scholarship hoping to pursue a degree in accounting, surrounded by his closest friends, and he is more prepared to take on college than ever before.

Chelsea Reimer is a first-generation, non-traditional student from Brenham, Texas. Before attending Blinn College, the local community college in Brenham, she worked for the Department of Defense for the United States Army in Fort Drum, New York.

After 4 years of working for the department, she realized she would not progress any further in life without an education. So she decided to leave the department to move back home and become the first in her family to attend college.

Chelsea was inducted into Phi Theta Kappa when she received enough credit hours to join. She did not just join, though; she made the decision to get involved.

“Phi Theta Kappa is an organization where whatever you put into it is what you will get out of it,” she said. “PTK teaches its members to be the best that they can be, and at the end of the day, we are all family.”

She now serves as the District V Vice President for the Texas Region and is dually enrolled at Texas A&M, pursuing a degree in accounting.

Phi Theta Kappa is full of diversity. We are filled with people of different races, backgrounds, and religions. We are traditional students, returning adults, veterans, and international students. We are future doctors, lawyers, teachers, engineers, nurses, welders, and so much more.

Each of us has our own individual story to tell the world, and each of us has a different dream we want to pursue.

We all have certain things in common, though. We all value the importance of education, we all have a drive to succeed in whatever we do, and we all know that Phi Theta Kappa can change lives. We are PTK.

I AM PTK: Sam Jones

Editor’s Note: This story was submitted by Mia Ramos, Phi Theta Kappa’s Director of Alumni Engagement.

In 1999, Sam Jones was 18 years old when he dropped out of college in South Africa after attending for only a month. He entered the job market, but in his heart, it was always his biggest dream to go back to school and get a college degree.

As time passed, he started to think he was too old and that he couldn’t afford college, so, for years, he kept putting it off. Then, in 2011, after struggling to earn a living in London, he decided to take a risk and move to the United States to pursue an education.

Sam settled in Washington, D.C. and began studying graphic design at the University of the District of Columbia Community College.

“I put everything into my school work and made sure to get involved in as many college activities as possible,” he said.

Sam was one of four students nationwide named a “DREAMbassador” for Achieving the Dream, a national non-profit organization dedicated to helping community college students — particularly low-income students and students of color — stay in school and earn a college certificate or degree.

Through a friend, Sam heard about Phi Theta Kappa and discovered that his college was putting together the first chapter in Washington, D.C. Not long after the Beta Sigma Upsilon Chapter was chartered, he was elected president, and he made it his goal to properly establish Phi Theta Kappa at his college for future students.

As graduation approached, he learned about the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation (JKCF) Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship. He decided to apply even though he didn’t believe he had any chance in getting it — he thought going through the application process might help him with undergraduate college applications.

“It was probably the biggest shock in my life when the deputy president of my college announced that I was one of the 60 students in America to be selected,” Sam said.

The JKCF’s Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship program is the largest private scholarship in the country for students seeking associate degrees. It provides up to $40,000 per year to each of the deserving students selected annually. The application period is open now through noon October 24. Apply today.

In 2016, at the age of 35, Sam finally received his four-year college degree, graduating from the Savannah College of Art and Design with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Motion Design.

After not seeing his parents for five and a half years, Sam was able to share his graduation experience with his parents firsthand. The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation flew Sam’s parents to Savannah, Georgia, from South Africa, and they watched him cross the stage to receive his college diploma.

Sam is also the recipient of the Jack Kent Cooke Graduate Scholarship, which is helping him on his next journey at the California Institute of the Arts, where he is pursuing a Master of Fine Arts this year.

Share your I AM PTK story with us at news@ptk.org.

See Hamilton Star on a New Stage – at PTK Catalyst!

America’s “favorite fighting Frenchman” — on stage, at least — is coming to PTK Catalyst 2018!

Tony and Grammy-award winning Broadway star, hip-hop musician, actor and television producer Daveed Diggs started his career in a very different way – as a middle school teacher.

After graduating from Brown University with a degree in theatre, Diggs taught poetry and acting to seventh graders in his native Oakland, California. Looking for a new way to reach them, he developed a popular rap curriculum that had an immediate positive impact on his students.

Diggs continued to pursue performance on the side, forming a hip-hop group, “clipping,” and touring around Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Although he loved teaching, Diggs left education in 2012 to pursue performance full-time. His group, clipping, signed with Sub Pop Records before taking his talents to Broadway.

Playing both Thomas Jefferson and Lafayette in the critically acclaimed musical Hamilton, Diggs helped open theatre doors to a new generation of fans. At last he had experienced the “color-blind casting,” envisioned by creator Lin-Manuel Miranda. Now theatre audiences have trouble imagining anyone else in the roles.

The show has been a smash hit, earning a Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album and 11 Tony Awards, including a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical for Diggs.

Now that his role in Hamilton has come to an end, he remains focused on creating. You can see Diggs in his first feature film, Wonder and the upcoming animated feature, Ferdinand. Upcoming television projects include TNT’s Snowpiercer and Fox’s Bob’s Burgers. In the last year he appeared in the HBO mockumentary Tour de Pharmacy, ABC’s Black-ish, and Netflix’s The Get Down and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Behind the camera, he wrote, produced and starred in the feature Blindspotting, and executive produces the new sitcom The Mayor, which premieres on ABC this fall.

Don’t miss Daveed Diggs’s Keynote Speech at the First General session of PTK Catalyst 2018. Learn more about Diggs and register today.

For the latest news about PTK Catalyst 2018, follow PTK on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn, and subscribe to The Reach blog.

A Dozen Ways to Get Free Chapter Publicity

Your chapter works hard on campus and in the community, but do your efforts get the attention they deserve? If not, never fear — try these 12 ideas to bring your accomplishments out of the shadows and into the spotlight:

  1. Make a New Friend

Introduce yourself to the college public relations staff. Share what your chapter has planned for the year that may be newsworthy. Don’t forget outlets like your campus newspaper, radio station, newsletters, etc.

  1. Inductions are a Big Deal

People love to see their names and the names of their children in print. Newspapers know this, so provide your college PR office with a list of new members after each induction and new officers after each election.

  1. Put Honors into Action

Television stations and newspapers like the action in Honors in Action. Notify them of your HiA project and why it’s important to the community. Explain the research component and how it led to this activity.

  1. Get Social

Think of social media as another channel to get the word out on what you are doing. You can promote events, invite guests, report your results, and interact with reporters/public relations professionals. Make sure what you are doing is visual, with photos and video that can be shared on Instagram and YouTube in addition to Twitter and Facebook. Use popular Phi Theta Kappa hashtags such as #PTK, #PhiThetaKappa, and #IAMPTK and tag others to join the larger social conversation.

  1. Two for the Price of One

Combine two events for maximum coverage. Join forces with other organizations or chapters to host a campus or region-wide event. The work is shared and your chances of coverage increase. Larger crowds and a high-profile speaker are other ways of drawing more attention to your efforts.

  1. Invite the Media to Your Event

Make sure it’s a big, well-planned affair with an interesting agenda. Send a media advisory in advance, highlighting the time, date, location, what’s happening, and why it’s newsworthy. Schedule chapter volunteers to assist reporters and answer questions when they arrive that day. Or, go to them, as the Alpha Zeta Kappa Chapter at Delaware Technical Community College did, pictured above.

  1. Follow Up

Reporters didn’t show up? Then follow up — share a press release about what happened including Who, What, When, Where, and How. Provide accompanying photos or video if you have them.

  1. Share People Stories

Journalists love human interest stories, particularly near graduation and All-State Academic Team celebrations. These are great times to pitch member stories, especially about those who have overcome challenges to achieve success. Just make sure you have the student’s permission to share.

  1. Everyone Loves a Winner

Notify College PR If your chapter has a scholarship winner or receives Hallmark or Five Star Awards, or if your advisors/administrators/College Presidents have been recognized.

  1. Share Your Regional/International Experiences

Did your chapter attend a regional meeting, PTK Catalyst or Honors Institute? Share these stories with your college PR office. Provide a link to the Phi Theta Kappa website. Talk about the speakers you heard, the lessons you learned, and the adventures you’ve had to bring your experience home to others who couldn’t attend.

  1. Tell the Story You Want to Hear

You may be interested in the inner workings of your chapter, but others aren’t. Don’t make your story about policies and procedures. Make it about people, action, and the difference you are making in the community.

  1. Don’t Forget to Share Your News with HQ

Send us the best photos of your College Project, Honors in Action, and outstanding member accomplishments. Include a summary and email to news@ptk.org. You may see yourself on Phi Theta Kappa’s website or social media channels.

And finally, if you do something wonderful and you are interviewed by the media, be sure to say “I AM PTK!”