About three years ago, the Tau Gamma Chapter at Northampton Community College in Pennsylvania needed more active members, so it started the Provisional Member Program.
“The officer team really supported it,” said chapter advisor Courtney Eger. “Many of our officers joined first as provisional members and then went on to become officers.
“These students really see the value in PTK and are a wonderful addition to our group every semester.”
Applications for the program are given out during Quadfest, an event held the first Thursday of each fall semester in the college’s Quad. It’s essentially a student club fair — each student organization puts up a table and encourages people to join. For Tau Gamma, it’s a way to encourage students who are interested in becoming members but aren’t yet eligible.
“Quadfest is one of our biggest ways to educate students about PTK and to enroll provisional members,” Courtney said. “We also held a raffle at our table to encourage signups. We gave away $25 in Flex Money that could be used in the Food Court and bookstore on campus to one student.”
A formal application allows the chapter to track the students from semester to semester. They are added to the chapter’s online community on Blackboard so they receive emails and information.
This year, 71 students signed up at Quadfest to indicate their interest; so far, 23 have turned in their provisional member application. In fact, at the first chapter meeting of the year, about 35 students attended — most of them were provisional members.
“The provisional members work hard and really help make our events successful,” Courtney said. “Since we’ve introduced it, our numbers have gone up every semester. I think the first semester we had 11 official provisional members. Our highest group so far is 30 provisional members.”
Tau Gamma offers an incentive for provisional members to participate: If the provisional attends three chapter meetings and helps at two PTK events during the semester in which they sign up, they’ll receive a $5 discount on PTK membership dues if they are eligible to join in the following semester.
The chapter has found a few other creative ways to recruit members. Advisors visit the Honors Program courses during the fall semester to pitch PTK to the students and share the scholarship opportunities.
“We target these students because they already value academic achievements,” Courtney said.
The chapter also includes a flier in bags students receive at New Student Orientation in the summer, and the headline is a real attention-grabber: “Were you an honor society member in high school?”