Honor Societies offer students opportunities for scholarships, professional development, shared community, leadership experience, and much more. But most students at Rockhurst are missing it.
Why are students missing out? Because they don’t even know the honor societies exist.
I do not remember receiving information about our honor societies when I was an incoming student. I asked some of my classmates to name as many Rockhurst honor societies as they could. A few students could name one, and others could not name any.
I then asked these students to guess how many honor societies Rockhurst has. The average answer was four to five, and never was it more than six. Their shock was evident when I told them the truth – there are at least 20 honor societies on our campus.
But who can blame them for not knowing?
Only after conducting my own research, did I ascertain that double-digit figure. I began my search on the Rockhurst website, where I hoped to find a comprehensive list of the active honor societies on campus. But my search was unsuccessful. I asked our campus librarians for assistance, and they, too, were stumped. They suggested I contact Student Development.
After being shuffled from one office to another, I was finally given the answer I was looking for, but not in the way I expected. My informants did not show me a page on the official website or hand me a pamphlet for new students. They sent me an email with an excel file attached – a file primarily used for ordering honor cords for commencement.
I was troubled by this because it revealed how difficult it is to access information about Rockhurst’s honor societies. My experience explains why many students do not know these organizations exist on our campus.
I dug a little deeper on the Rockhurst website and found a list of our honor societies, but it is unsatisfactory. It is missing four of the honor societies included in the excel file. And not every organization lists a faculty contact, and most of the hyperlinks are corrupted.
Worst of all, the list is difficult to find. It is only accessible in an inconspicuous place on a “Campus Life” page. Trust me, it requires a lot of mouse-clicks.
With all of these issues, our online representation of honor societies does not capture the attention of prospective or, even, current students.
If these honor societies were better supported and promoted, then more students would show interest. And if more students show interest, they are more likely to “buy-in” to the Rockhurst experience and into the opportunities of honor societies.
Alpha Sigma Nu, the Jesuit honor society, accepts the top four percent of the junior and senior class. But very few students know about the organization or the privileges of membership.
As a result of lack of information, it is not a “popular” or widely known campus organization. However, if students knew about Alpha Sigma Nu, they might be encouraged to earn their way to the top of their class, making the honor society more competitive and popular. By default, this could boost the academic rigor and prestige of Rockhurst.
Unfortunately, that will never happen if students are not aware of Alpha Sigma Nu, and other honor societies.
Cognizant of the need for increased awareness, some of Rockhurst’s honor societies try to introduce themselves to new students. They have tables at the “Free Stuff Fair” in August and at “World Cultures Day” in October. Some honor societies, like Sigma Tau Delta for English majors, hold meetings or, like Tri-Beta for biology students, post eye-catching fliers.
Their efforts are increasing student participation but, if they were better promoted, and mentioned on more occasions than just commencement day, these student organizations would likely be more successful.
So, where are the honor societies?
They are all around us, but many are in the shadows, offering bountiful opportunities to the students lucky enough to stumble across them. Because Rockhurst values Magis and desires students “to seek greater knowledge of the academic…disciplines,” the university should want more students to share in the opportunities of its honor societies.
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