On a fundamental level, scholarship is a primary priority for all of our chapters. Fraternity doesn’t exist without our host institutions, so an emphasis on scholarship programming is not only encouraged – it’s expected. As members of Pi Kappa Alpha, we should strive to live a life that is congruent with our values of scholars, leaders, athletes and gentlemen. If not, we are doing both ourselves and our chapters a disservice.
The academic culture of a chapter is one of the hardest to change, but it all comes down to programming. There is no single solution or program that can be generalized to all of our chapters. Each chapter is unique in their membership, and a good scholarship program is tailor-made. The purpose of a scholarship program is to ensure every chapter member is able to achieve the best possible GPA while, at a minimum, fulfilling his scholastic requirements to remain in good standing with the chapter.
Organize the Committee
Any truly effective scholarship program takes more than one person to manage. There can be plenty of moving parts, all essential to creating a well-oiled machine and establishing a positive academic culture. An example committee might consist of the following roles:
- Incentives Captain – the primary organizer and overseer of incentives for positive scholarship performance within the chapter.
- Accountability Captain – the primary organizer and overseer of applying circumstances to chapter members for poor scholarship performance.
- Study Hours Captain – the primary organizer and overseer of the study hours program within the chapter.
- Tutoring Captain – the primary organizer and overseer of the tutoring program within the chapter.
- Study Files Captain – the primary organizer and overseer of compiling and maintaining study files within the chapter.
- Faculty Evaluation Captain – the primary organizer and overseer of providing and compiling faculty evaluations within the chapter.
Building the Program
The scholarship program should strive to track members’ academic performance, provide academic resources, reward academic success, and help improve academic performance. Implementation may take more than one semester, but the more strategic and structured your program, the greater your impact on the chapter’s academic performance will be. As you develop your chapter’s program, select a few of the following ideas that you believe would best fit in your chapter:
- Chapter awards and incentive programs: Develop rewards for satisfactory and exceptional academic performance. Work with your committee and internal vice president to set both levels. For example, satisfactory academic performance could be members achieving at least a 3.0 GPA and exceptional performance could be those earning a GPA of 3.5 or higher.
- Accountability for poor academic performance: Develop standard consequences for unsatisfactory academic performance. Work with your committee and internal vice president to establish guidelines for unsatisfactory performance. This GPA performance requirement should be a written bylaw that you are charged with enforcing. Review your bylaws to ensure your chapter has set the requirement.
- Institution services and awards: As the organizer and overseer of the chapter’s scholarship program, it is your job to gather information and communicate to members the resources and programs provided by your institution aimed at improving academic performance. Typical academic improvement programs include tutoring services, academic advising, and course specific review sessions.
- Pi Kappa Alpha International Fraternity awards: A chapter’s academic performance weighs heavily for all international fraternity Awards. In addition to the Orians Excellence Award and the Smythe Award, the international fraternity awards the scholarship cup to the PIKE chapter with the highest overall GPA. The fraternity also awards the scholarship plate to any chapter earning at least a 3.0 GPA.
- Tutoring program: In addition to utilizing on-campus academic resources, many scholarship programs facilitate a member-to-member tutoring program. It is the scholarship chairman’s responsibility to structure and organize a program that connects men who have completed a course or are excelling in a course with members who request help. To simplify this process, compile an up-to-date list of every member’s area of study and class work completed. This data should be part of the brother handbook collected by the continuing education chairman or new member education chairman. After you have the list collected, ask the chapter for tutoring volunteers. Once you have volunteers, coordinate set dates, times, and locations they are willing to tutor members. To incentivize participation from tutors, work with your internal vice president to coordinate a workable reward.
- Study hours: Another vital aspect of a successful scholarship program is facilitating study hours. Study hours may be a part of academic probation, the new member education process, and/or basic membership requirements. Establish appropriate locations (library, academic building, chapter house, etc.) and designate acceptable times to complete the required hours. One possible variation is requiring only a portion of the study hours to be monitored (by the scholarship committee or the executive board) and the remainder to be on the honors system. Many chapters create a set number of study hours for all members or all members on academic probation. Study hours are very common in chapters all over, but the most effective study hour programs I’ve seen have involved the entire chapter rather than exclusively academically delinquent members. Requiring study hours for the entire membership regardless of academic standing reinforces a culture of support that can bring positive influences into the chapter.
- Course study files: Leveraging past knowledge and academic experiences can substantially benefit chapter members. You can help facilitate the sharing of this knowledge by collecting and arranging members’ notes and other study files. These study banks can be compiled in either hard copy or electronic version. Electronic will likely mean more work up front, but the longevity of the files can be much greater. If you do not already have a study bank, this could be a great semester project for your scholarship committee.
- Professor/Faculty Evaluations: Developing a database of peer course and faculty evaluations can prove helpful much like course study files. Websites like ratemyprofessors.com may provide guidance to what should be included in the evaluation. In the chapter’s database, you will want to remove anonymity so all evaluations only serve a preliminary role and allow a member to follow up with past submitters of evaluations.
As mentioned earlier, implementation of these ideas may take more than one semester to become accepted as chapter culture. One of the best ways to implement any new program is to do it first with the new member class and make the desired changes with the future leaders of the chapter. Another key to implementing a successful scholarship program is including set guidelines for academic probation, chapter study hours, or GPA requirements in your bylaws. In addition, you may work with men who oppose creating or enforcing minimum GPA requirements and academic improvement programs. Your job is to give your chapter the best chance to improve last semester’s GPA and achieve its overall academic goals. In those cases, use one-on-one meetings and submissions to the judicial board to maximize the effects and accountability of the scholarship program.
For a more comprehensive look at the job descriptions/responsibilities of the committee roles as well as the example programming above, check out the scholarship handbook.
Jarrett M. WayDirector of Educational Content & Strategy