Student Success Strategy #75: Make Your Degree Worth More

Yesterday, I had the privilege of assisting with the induction ceremony for The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi at the University of Central Florida.  As the immediate past chapter president, I did not participate in the ceremony itself, but managed the logistics and was able to talk with many families about the honor that their student had earned.  There were some interesting conversations about what it means to earn membership in this highly selective honor society.

First, it means that the student excels as a test taker, reader, project manager, team member, writer, speaker, thinker and all those things that are required as a student.

Second, it means that as these students graduate and move into their careers, their accomplishments reflect back on their schools.  Great employees and entrepreneurs come from great education.  As these students improve their workplaces, their communities, and their fields of endeavor, they reflect that quality back.

Thus, their schools can claim quality students and earn the reputation of quality education, and that makes a degree from those schools more desired by employers.   Graduates of those schools then benefit from the reputation of their university.  Some will even receive higher starting salaries because of this reputation of excellence.

It’s a circle of quality, brought on by the collaboration of students, faculty, staff, families, and employers.

The next time you consider slacking off on an assignment, think about the big picture.  If you work harder to be a better student, you learn more, your productivity on the job increases, and your degree may be worth more, even with a possibility of earning more money because of it.

But even beyond that, the next time you wonder whether to take the time to help another student learn, remember that their productivity also reflects on your degree!

Student Success Strategy #75:  Make your degree worth more.   Make it a win-win situation by promoting excellence among all students.


Student Success Strategy #54: Help comes in many forms

Having just returned last night from the biennial conference and convention of the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, I am thrilled to say that this honor society, the country’s largest, oldest, and most selective to include all disciplines, is also the most generous.

Phi Kappa Phi has always promoted monetary awards for continued educational pursuits.  For the first time, the Society will award one million dollars per year to help deserving students and other lifelong learners.  Yes, that’s $1,000,000 – SIX ZEROES.  In one year.

In addition, along with the changes in bylaws and governance, the conference included educational sessions focusing on teaching strategies, personal branding, and other timely and pertinent topics for the participants.  These conferences provide opportunities for your professors, college deans and presidents, and other educators to learn from each other and bring the best of the ideas back to benefit their students.

I was honored to present one of the workshops, and those in attendance gave me outstanding ideas on ways to enhance and improve my concepts.  I am busy this week processing the notes I took, reviewing the video of the presentation for those items on which I couldn’t take detailed notes, and of course recovering from intense networking with more than 300 colleagues in higher education.  Whew!

Money, feedback, and friendship – all benefits from one organization.  I’m proud to be a member of an honor society that helps in so many ways.  Thank you, Phi Kappa Phi!

Student Success Strategy #54:  Help comes in many forms.  Take advantage of the opportunities from your associates, whether students, professors, or organizations.

Student Success Strategy #46: Low Tech Winners

Sarah was the student who seemed to know everything.  If you asked her a question about her major, she knew the requirements, her future class schedule, and even which professors were teaching the classes.  She knew what research was being conducted in the department, which clubs and honor societies were helpful, and even where to find next year’s apartment.

She was almost never seen on a computer, and used her cell phone only when necessary – in other words, she was not “connected” like most of the other students.

So what made her so knowledgeable?

If you’d follow her throughout her day, you’d notice that between classes, she would walk through the halls of her classroom buildings, or cut through other buildings on her way to another area of campus.

She was reading bulletin boards!  How elementary school!  How low tech!  How uncool!

Most academic departments have at least one large bulletin board outside of the main office, and many have several.  Some professors maintain bulletin boards outside their offices, or tape paper to their doors.

You can find almost anything there:  Apartments for rent to students who share the same major (and possibly the same schedule for carpooling!), social events for students or students and faculty together, meetings of the honor societies that focus on that major, clubs looking for new members and volunteers to help with their goals, upcoming job fairs or workshops, and often, the research that professors are publishing.

Too simple!  Too convenient!  Too low-tech, but it works.  As you have those few minutes during your day, look around and find information in the old fashioned way – on bulletin boards.

Student Success Strategy #48:  Be a low tech winner.  Read bulletin boards and office doors.

Student Success Strategy #26: Honor Societies Part IV

How can you tell a legitimate honor society from a scam?

If you are an above average student, you will get invitations from honor societies.  Not all of them are worth your money or your time.  The following are a few criteria to research before accepting invitations.

Use their website:

1.  Do they have a professionally prepared website?

2.  Is contact information available to you?  Does this information include names, phone numbers, street addresses, and email?

3.  Do they have criteria high enough to rate as an honor?  Most legitimate honor societies will have requirements that show excellence in academics, not just average grades.  With grade inflation, anything under 3.0 would be suspect, although it depends on the purpose of the honor society.  A society focused on service or leadership may have a lower GPA requirement than a purely academic society.

4.  Does the honor society have benefits useful to you?  A certificate may be nice, but unless there is quality behind the society, it means nothing.  Look for scholarships awarded, and whether they announce the winners publicly.  Look for academic benefits such as test preparation discounts (GRE, LSAT, etc.).  Is there a career portion of the society’s website?  What networking opportunities do they offer?  Are there local chapters?  Is there someone at your school who can verify the advantages of joining?

Think carefully before sending your money for every invitation.  Honor societies can provide exceptional value, but they are not all equal.

Student Success Strategy #26:  Honor societies are not always an honor.  Be careful to do your research and select only those that will benefit you.

Student Success Strategy #23: Honor Societies Part III

Maybe you haven’t earned a top grade point average (GPA) but are a leader at your college.  Those who show leadership and service excellence are eligible for another type of honor society, the leadership honor society.

Employers recognize leadership honor societies as evidence of your potential for leadership in their organization.

Leadership Honor Societies:

Omicron Delta Kappa is the most recognized leadership honor society.  Qualifications for membership include exemplary character, responsible leadership and service in campus or community life, superior scholarship, genuine fellowship, and consecration to democratic ideals.

Membership in Omicron Delta Kappa is awarded to undergraduate junior and senior students, to students of graduate and professional schools and colleges of the institution, to members of the faculty and administration, and to alumni.

Student Success Strategy #23:  Even if you are not a top grade-earning student, your college success can be recognized by honor societies that focus on leadership, service, or other criteria.  

Student Success Strategy #16: Earn Graduation Honors

Colleges and universities recognize those students at the top of the class at graduation.  There are three basic categories:

Cum Laude:  With Honor.

Magna Cum Laude:  With Great Honor.

Summa Cum Laude:  With Highest Honor.

The criteria for these titles may differ greatly among colleges and universities.  As an example, you may find something like this:

College A:

Cum Laude designates the top 10% of the graduating class

Magna Cum Laude designates the top 5% of the graduating class

Summa Cum Laude designates the top 2.5% of the graduating class

College B:

Cum Laude designates scores of 7-8 on a ten point scale

Magna Cum Laude designates the score of 9 on a ten point scale

Summa Cum Laude designates the score of 10 on a ten point scale

College C:

Cum Laude designates a grade point average (GPA) of 3.50 to 3.69

Magna Cum Laude designates a GPA of 3.70 to 3.89

Summa Cum Laude designates a GPA of 3.90 and above

Some institutions also require a thesis or special project to qualify for these honors, a more rigorous course of study, or other additional indications of academic quality.

These three designations are recognized in the academic world and in business as a standard of sustained excellence.

Other things being equal, whom would you want to hire?   The student who graduated, or the student who graduated with honors?

Even disregarding future employment, these are targets you can aim for to keep you on track throughout your education.

Start early and keep these goals in mind.  You’ll need every semester to be a testament to your dedication to an outstanding academic performance.

Student Success Strategy #16:  Earn Graduation Honors.  Excellence is the best reward.