Wednesday, January 27, is the last day chapters can report their 2015 activities as part of Phi Theta Kappa’s Five Star Chapter Plan in order to receive recognition for their work.
The Five Star Chapter Plan is like a roadmap guiding chapters through the five levels of engagement — which progress from local, campus involvement to regional and international involvement — in the Society. It’s also a guide for building strong, active chapters.
“In the same way that classroom instructors provide students with a syllabus at the beginning of each semester, Phi Theta Kappa provides chapters with the Five Star Chapter Plan, which serves as a blueprint for success,” said Courtney Lange, Phi Theta Kappa’s Director of Regional and Chapter Development. “It’s common knowledge that students who are engaged and active on their campuses are more likely to succeed and complete their courses of study.”
All chapters have a default goal of One Star Level, the requirements of which are based on basic chapter foundations and provide an opportunity for all chapters to be recognized for their academic excellence. Many of the activities in which a chapter regularly participates — organizing membership drives, holding twice-monthly meetings, reporting new chapter officers to Headquarters — count toward progress in the plan.
Chapters who submit their final Five Star progress will be recognized with certificates at spring regional meetings. Beginning this spring, chapters will be able to set a new Five Star goal for 2016; and from that point on, goals may be set and progress reported at any point throughout the year. See the Five Star Chapter Plan requirements.
“Every chapter begins anew every calendar year, allowing chapters to have a fresh start and a challenging goal year after year,” said Jennifer Stanford, Phi Theta Kappa’s Chief Student Engagement Officer. “Participation at every level of the Five Star plan is critical to fulfilling our mission, which is why we encourage all chapters to participate at the level that fits them best each year.”
The Omicron Psi Chapter at Grayson College in Texas is one of many Phi Theta Kappa chapters that consistently reach the Five Star Level. The chapter reached the Five Star Level in 2009 and has maintained it since.
“Working through the benchmarks within the chapter development plan allows students to experience the many opportunities for growth that come with membership,” said Mary Linder, chapter co-advisor.
Linder said the goals her chapter sets each year are built around the Five Star Chapter Plan. Because significant portions of the plan are built around the Honors in Action and College Projects, she provides specialized training sessions with the chapter members so they can better understand how to engage in these two projects.
They also attend training on Hallmark Awards writing and plan weekly activities throughout the semester aimed at raising Phi Theta Kappa awareness.
“The other items are more in line with chapter operations and are just treated as ‘regular business’ for operating the chapter,” she said. “I’ve found this is the best way to help ensure we reach our Five Star goal each year.”
Activities in 2014 gave the Alpha Omega Gamma Chapter at Ashland Community and Technical College in Kentucky its 18th consecutive year as a Five Star Chapter. Advisor Dan Bailey has found a proven recipe for success: identify chapter leaders in the spring, set the Five Star goal, meet in the summer to plan activities for the fall accordingly.
“It gives you a framework to work within,” he said. “You establish your goal, and from the goal comes your chapter activities.
“Every year is a new beginning in Phi Theta Kappa. What you did last year is something you can learn from this year.”
Whether your chapter is trying to maintain its current goal of shooting for something higher, keep these tips in mind as you progress through the year.
- Break down the pieces of the Chapter Plan into manageable pieces and work through them that way.
- Don’t be afraid to set a high Five Star goal. “Setting that high goal in the beginning usually means you’ll achieve the higher goal,” Bailey said.
- Set mini goals.
- Don’t think it takes a large chapter to attain Five Star status. “Certainly it is easier with more people, but it can be done with just a few dedicated students,” Linder said. “And it is amazing how much these activities can help grow your chapter.”
- Attend webinars related to chapter activities throughout the year and pre-convention workshops like the Phi Theta Kappa Academy if possible.