Honor Society for Community College Students Hopes to Expand its Reach

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An honor society for community college students wants to recruit more members, and organization leaders say the move has the potential to bolster US degree completion rates.

Members of Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) are far more likely than their peers to earn a two- or four-year degree, data show.

But currently, only 11 percent of students eligible for membership join the honor society, according to a recent article published in Community College Week (CCW).

“We have great potential to grow,” PTK board chair George Boggs told the magazine. “We want more students to be successful. That will be our focus going forward.”

A recent study of 11,000 PTK members found 68 percent of students attained a bachelor’s degree within six years. The comparable rate for all community college transfer students is 42 percent.

“By joining Phi Theta Kappa, community college students may feel more connected to the college culture and, therefore, are more motivated to perform better,” Terry O’Banion, president emeritus of The League for Innovation in the Community College, told CCW.

Students must have earned at least 12 credits and carry a grade point average of 3.5 or greater to be eligible for PTK membership. Undoubtedly, those strong academic credentials contribute to higher graduation rates. But PTK supporters believe there’s more to the story.

Participation in the honor society helps students gain the skills and information they’ll need to transfer to a four-year college, advocates say.

“If we could get half of the students who are eligible, we’d have a lot more students getting involved and being successful,” Boggs said.

Learn more about PTK’s outreach efforts.

Admitted writer/editor Mary Stegmeir welcomes additional comments and story ideas at mstegmeir@nacacnet.org.

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