By Eric Baxter, Academic Advisor
In August of last year the College of Online and Continuing Education launched its first online honor society chapter. The growing online student population and the university’s commitment to meeting students’ needs made the partnership between COCE and the online arm of National Society for Leadership and Success a logical next step.
That single step quickly became a leap, then a bound, then a rush, as an unforeseen need was realized.
The day after an initial email went out to prospective undergraduate and graduate students, society staff advisor and Senior Director of Student Success Laura Corddry opened her inbox and found more than 180 responses from students. More would roll in throughout that day, and the next, and the next.
“We never expected it take on a life of its own,” Corddry said.
The SNHU society chapter now boasts more than 6,500 students. Society academic advisor and Executive Director of Undergraduate Business Dr. Joseph Cappa expects numbers to swell to 10,000 in the coming months.
Cappa said when he first encountered the society he saw it as a student networking opportunity. This view was accurate but was only one aspect of the society’s offerings.
“(The society) sends the message that they want to help you maximize your potential,” Cappa said. “That fit (SNHU’s) mission for our students.”
The NSLS, also known as Sigma Alpha Pi, breaks with traditional honor societies in that it’s not tied to any one academic discipline, such as engineering, humanities or medical sciences. Instead it looks at students’ GPAs as the baseline for membership, regardless of what they are studying. Once joined, the student is then offered what Corddry characterized as the “soft skills” not traditionally taught in focused academic programs but critical for later success.
The skills include public speaking, confidence building, leadership development, and the networking possibilities and career enhancement opportunities that interested Cappa in the early days. Students can build these skills online through the society’s training videos, podcasts and live-video events.
The NSLS is one of only a few honor societies to offer an online presence. The SNHU chapter is one of the fastest, if not the fastest, growing chapters.
Corddry has heard from students, time and again, that the NSLS offers complementary skills and experience that will enhance the academics they learn in the classroom.
This sentiment is echoed by MBA student David DeAngelis, 39.
DeAngelis drove from his home in Connecticut to attend the first on-campus leadership conference at SNHU on March 7.
He said attendance at the event helped boost his determination to succeed, academically and professionally.
He has begun taking steps toward formal induction into the society, the next step beyond membership, which includes an orientation, involvement in a leadership training day, watching and reflecting on three leadership broadcasts, and involvement in three success network team meetings. All can be attended and accomplished online.
“It dips into your soul and pulls up the inner you,” he said.