The Iota Zeta Chapter at Northeast Mississippi Community College got a big surprise at one of its meetings this spring — Phi Theta Kappa President and CEO Dr. Lynn Tincher-Ladner showed up with balloons and a really big box.
Inside were 244 free graduation stoles the chapter had earned through the REACH Rewards program. It was the most regalia earned by any chapter in the Society.
The REACH Rewards program recognizes chapters that meet or exceed a 15 percent membership acceptance rate. Each chapter hitting the mark earns four free graduation stoles, and additional rewards are based on a chapter’s size.
More than 4,700 free graduation stoles were given to 422 REACH chapters this spring. See the full list.
Iota Zeta boasted a 59 percent acceptance rate in 2016, ranking it sixth among all PTK chapters. Here are three big ways they reached success.
1. Make the Invitation Personal
Advisor Dr. Ray Harris said the Iota Zeta Chapter has found success in making recruiting new members as personal as possible.
“We issue a personal invitation from the chapter and ask the students to come to the advisor’s office to join,” Harris said. “We take time to meet each candidate and talk with them.”
He added that the chapter has a presence at freshmen orientation so that incoming freshmen learn about the organization early. In addition, senior colleges recruiting at Northeast often include the benefits of PTK membership in their presentations.
But, it doesn’t stop there. Harris follows up by contacting applicants to make sure that they received and understand the material sent to them and offers a thorough orientation about what Phi Theta Kappa means, both locally and internationally.
2. Make the High School Connection
The chapter also doesn’t wait until students are enrolled to expose them to Phi Theta Kappa.
Members participate in “Northeast Now,” a college activity that invites high school seniors from area schools to tour the college and be introduced to different programs available to Northeast students.
Iota Zeta sets up an exhibition booth so they can talk with future incoming freshmen about the organization, explaining the impressive benefits that come with being a member of Phi Theta Kappa.
3. Make Membership Affordable and Accessible
Finances are also a part of the picture for students on limited budgets, so the chapter keeps local fees as low as possible.
“Our Development Foundation offers scholarships/loans for those who don’t have the financial means to join,” Harris said. “We have also worked to get permission to allow eligible students to use school financial aid to pay membership fees.”
The chapter also uses PTK membership to “encourage and incentivize students to develop themselves academically and intellectually,” fellow advisor Dr. Deborah Kehoe said.
“We try to show students that the life of the mind is not exclusive to an ivory tower setting,” she said. “I think we do a good job of using our members as down-to-earth ambassadors of the PTK experience.”
And what they are doing seems to be working, because potential members are definitely noticing.
“Phi Theta Kappa at Northeast is active and highly visible,” said new member Lainey Stevens. “It made me want to join.”