The Greeks at Alfred State College have once again smashed the myths surrounding fraternities and sororities by surpassing the all-student grade point averages (GPA) in fall 2009. This major accomplishment has been the result of hard work and dedication by members of the Student Life staff as well as Greek leaders who have encouraged sororities and fraternities to include scholarship and academic excellence as important goals for their organizations.
Five years ago, Greek organization’s members’ grades were below the all-student, all-male, and all-female GPAs. In some instances, the grades were dismal as some organizations’ GPAs hung at the 2.0 mark (C) or below. Over the course of the past five years, campus administration and student Greek leaders have worked diligently and cooperatively to establish standards of excellence that includes a clear commitment to make academic excellence a core pillar of the Greek experience.
This shift in the Greek community paradigm is a result of student leaders refocusing their energies to include promotion of academic success programs and academic competitions in their everyday interactions with each other. These standards of excellence include academic intervention programs that are implemented each semester by each organization and are customized to meet the needs and aspirations of each fraternity and sorority member.
“Basically, these programs promote a culture of academic achievement that emerges out of every day practices of individual members. Interestingly, tying academic excellence directly to the daily activities of brothers and sisters is a unique approach in higher education, yet makes a lot of sense,” says Dr. Steven J. Tyrell, vice president for Student Affairs at the College. “Since brothers and sisters are very well connected to each other, promoting academic achievement becomes a peer-to-peer personal connection and commitment that cannot easily be achieved in other student organizations.”
Examples of everyday practices tied to academic excellence include brothers and sisters competing to attend the most classes each week, meet with advisers and instructors to look at class notes or discuss career aspirations, or meet in the evenings to complete homework in a group setting with other house members. Whether it is a simple competition to not miss any classes one week, to ask a question in every class the next week, or to sit in front of the class the next week, these friendly contests create an atmosphere where academics and learning are valued. Members also can set more complex goals where each individual can challenge him- or herself to achieve academic results beyond their current expectations or performance. Receiving encouragement and recognition for these achievements from their respective houses, perpetrates the positive behavior of members.
These mundane activities eventually add up and are woven into the fabric of the student’s collegiate experience. In some cases, the competitions are just seen as fun. But they make a difference - in the last two years, these efforts have produced a steady climb in Greek organizations’ GPAs. At the end of the fall 2009 academic semester, the Greek community surpassed the all-student GPA average on all fronts: all-student, all-male, and all-female. Specifically, the all-Greek GPA for fall 2009 surpassed the all-student GPA for fall 2009. In addition, if GPAs are compared between all-Greek today, and all-Greek 2005, it is obvious that the new programming is working, resulting in a 17% increase in GPAs for this student population. Our academic intervention program has also served as the retention program in Greek Life that led to an increase in retention rate of these students (again, higher than their non-Greek counterparts). So, who says learning is fun? – Alfred State’s Greeks!
For additional information, contact Tyrell at (607) 587-3911.