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July 22, 2014 12:02 AM   Subscribe

What is the true nature of Phi Theta Kappa? Also, what is the nature of my school if it is sharing my grade detail with this organisation?
posted by converge to Work & Money (10 answers total)
Just as a heads up, it's not clear exactly what you're asking (at least to me, but probably to others as well).
posted by threeants at 2:20 AM on July 22 [1 favorite]

It's an honor society. It's purpose is to recognize academic achievement. As far as I know all schools share their student's grades with such organizations. There's nothing conspiratorial about them, if that's what you're getting at. This isn't skull and bones type stuff. If you accept their invitation that's pretty much it. There aren't even any meetings you have to attend or anything (local chapters or alumni associations may have them, but they are completely voluntary). It's pretty much just something you can add to your résumé, although in my experience, nobody cares that much.
posted by katyggls at 2:27 AM on July 22 [1 favorite]

Phi Theta Kappa heavily recruits, charges a sign up fee and is not worth much prestige. Excluding some subject specific organizations, Phi Beta Kappa is the only academic honors society with any prestige, not much at that.
posted by milarepa at 3:46 AM on July 22 [4 favorites]

As far as honor societies go, often times the school isn't sharing your GPA directly but instead the organization asks for a list of eligible candidates. So while that places your GPA within a range specified by a cutoff, they would not be directly sharing the numerical value (a privacy issue, as you've indicated).
posted by bookdragoness at 4:24 AM on July 22

It's nothing, it's not even Phi Beta Kappa which used to be a the 1920's. Also, you may get some come-on to be in Who's Who of...basically it's just a listing of people who sent in their biographical information, and perhaps bought the book for $49.99.

There are a few of these 'prestige' scams out there. They sell you a line for your resume for a modest fee, and you may get a tskochke too. Just shit-can the thing and move on.

If you put it on your resume, it will show that you're mark. So don't do that.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 4:46 AM on July 22 [3 favorites]

Phi Theta Kappa is specifically for 2-year colleges (and aims to be the Phi Beta Kappa of 2-year colleges). Depending on your school's chapter, there may be scholarship funds available for PTK students, and it may be a nice line-item for applying for transfer to 4-year schools. At some schools PTK chapters are very active in bringing speakers to campus and doing service projects and so on; at other schools it's just a "pay your dues, get your resume line item."

Also, yeah, the school will have just shared a list of eligible students. (Probably not even that ... your school probably has a chapter and the school's chapter is recruiting you and they don't bother to give your name to the national org unless you sign up.)

When I taught at a CC, some of my students really enjoyed it; others couldn't be arsed. As you already have a 3.5 or higher GPA on your resume when applying for jobs or transfers, PTK isn't signaling much that's not already there. On the other hand, you could look through the scholarship materials and see if that would be worth it to you, and if your school's chapter does activities that interest you, it may be worth it for the social and leadership aspects. But yeah, I'd make the decision more on "This sounds like a fun nerd club where I could hang out with interesting people" and less on "This is very prestigious!"
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:09 AM on July 22 [1 favorite]

Academically rigorous 4-year universities use PTK to recruit non-traditional students. I went back to school at 25 and transferred to UPenn through their non-traditional program (LPS - has same requirements and confers same degree as the College of Arts & Sciences at UPenn). Most of the people I knew who came from community colleges found out about the program through PTK. They recruit through PTK because they can quickly and easily hit the most qualified 2-year degree candidates, who are often thinking about continuing their studies.
posted by DoubleLune at 5:31 AM on July 22 [1 favorite]

My wife did the PTK thing. The University that she transferred to gave a PTK based scholarship in the tune of 20,000 dollars per year. It made going to a four year college possible. Aside from that we haven't heard a peep or thought about PTK.
posted by AlexiaSky at 7:56 AM on July 22 [2 favorites]

I was told by admission staff at Smith, Mount Holyoke, and Wellesley colleges that community college transfers with PTK involvement (officer roles usually) are viewed very favorably by admission offices. Additionally, some schools provide considerable scholarships for PTK members. As DoubleLune mentioned, it's also a recruiting tool for 4 year schools and a great source of information about transferring.

Not all community colleges have robust PTK chapters but from talking to friends whose community colleges did, PTK was also a great source of social support for ambitious and high-acheiving working-class or non-traditional students. My experience in community college was that PTK and our honor society was about the only places students who planned on eventually going to professional school or getting a PhD could get support and advice. The general guidance counselors were not really set up for that, so PTK filled an important role for those students.

PTK chapters can really vary by school, but some of the programs are great and if you're planning on transferring to a 4 year school, the scholarship money available to PTK members might make the membership fee more than worth it. I disagree with the poster upthread who claimed that putting it on your resume will make you look like a "mark." It's not a massively prestigious big deal or anything, but being involved is certainly not a negative, in my experience.
posted by horizons at 8:17 AM on July 22 [1 favorite]

Thanks all. I certainly didn't think of it as a "Skull and Bones" thing, I was just wondering after its use. I do hope my school uses the candidate list as I certainly didn't sign anything waiving my privacy. I'll just skip the damn thing.
posted by converge at 11:21 PM on August 3

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