Honors Institute Gives Glimpse of Grad School

Editor’s Note: This post was written and submitted by Heather Schmidt, Phi Theta Kappa’s Director of Membership Services.

We all know the impressive statistics on how Phi Theta Kappa impacts the likelihood of associate and bachelor’s degree completion. In fact, 92 percent of Phi Theta Kappa members complete their associate degrees or transfer to a four-year college, compared to the national average of 40 percent for non-members.

After experiencing my first Honors Institute in 2016, I’m comfortable predicting that the trajectory of success for Phi Theta Kappans will likely include the attainment of a graduate or professional school degree.

Going into the week with no expectations or point of reference, I did not anticipate the déjà vu moments or flashbacks to graduate school. The seminar groups have the structure and feeling of discussion-based graduate school courses, where students learn as much or more from their classmates as they do from the instructor.

If you enjoy the lively exchange of ideas and intellectual stimulation waiting for you at the 2017 Honors Institute at Loyola University, you will appreciate grad school. If you feel compelled to collaborate and reflect AFTER and outside of sessions and seminar groups, then you will not just enjoy but thrive in graduate school.

Even for students who cannot attend Honors Institute, all is not lost. There will be several members and advisors who, as the only representative of their chapter, will attend with the intent of replicating the model at their regional level. If this happens, I’m confident that those students engaging in well-designed Regional Honors Institute programming will also be counted in this number.

I hope you will consider this perspective and, as a result, start exploring opportunities to pursue a graduate school education. If you have your sights set on a graduate or professional degree, then I would strongly encourage you to think about your educational end goal and work backward. This strategy will help you make an informed decision about where to transfer and what major to pursue.

In the same way that you will look to your seminar leader at Honors Institute (likely a new acquaintance), do not be afraid to seek counsel from a graduate school faculty member or program coordinator and ask for their advice regarding your next steps—even while still in community college. What better way to create an early, personalized connection with a graduate school that may result in your acceptance?

At the very least, following their advice will provide you with some solid objectives and motivation to pursue a bachelor’s degree with confidence and purpose.

The 2017 Honors Institute is June 5-10 at Loyola University’s Lake Shore Campus in Chicago. Follow us at #PTKHI on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to see highlights from the event throughout the week.

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