If you are an upperclassman with a relatively good GPA you have probably been approached at some point by an honor society on your campus. Today on the blog I am going to talk about the various kinds of academic organizations that are out there and give you a few reasons to join them.
I am currently a member of two organizations in the sociological world–Alpha Kappa Delta (Sociology's honor society) and the American Sociological Association. There are many different types of academic organizations but I feel like it's best to focus on honor societies and associations.
Honor societies are really tied to your academic prowess. If you are in school and have a GPA over a 3.0 you have probably been asked to join one of these organizations. There is usually a price tag associated with joining an honor society and they offer some perks (which we will talk about later.)
For Alpha Kappa Delta I had to be a sociology major (or show interest in sociology), I had to be to be at least a junior in college, I had to have a total GPA of at least a 3.3 and a sociology GPA of 3.0, and I had to have taken at least 4 sociology courses at the institution I was initiated at. I joined Alpha Kappa Delta in the second semester of my junior year. The fee for Alpha Kappa Delta was $40 for a lifetime membership
These are usually less to do with grades and more to do with just being a part of your academic world. They can offer a plethora of great resources to you though. I decided to join the American Sociological Association earlier this year. The American Sociological Association is a yearly membership and they have all sorts of tiers to the cost of membership. Since I was a student I got the membership for $50, but the most you have to pay per year is $360 (it's tiered based on income and those paying $360 make $150,000+ a year.)
Now I am going to move into the perks of joining these academic organizations.
they look great on your resume
To a point, they are almost necessary for your resume in some fields. These academic organizations showcase something special about you and can really make your resume shine (and sometimes keep up) with the other top applicants for a job in your field. So many of my professors were also members of Alpha Kappa Delta or they are members of the American Sociological Association. Finding those big important organizations in your field so that you can become a part of them is crucial. Paying a little bit of money now so that you can say that you are a part of these great and influential organizations later in your career is so worth it.
On a larger scale, they are great for just networking in general. For instance, the American Sociological Association keeps a job bank on their website that is just open to members. Universities with sociology departments often post their open positions on the website, and these are the kind of jobs you don't just find while searching your academic field on Indeed. These are great jobs and it gives you a leg up on networking and finding job opportunities just because you are a member of the association the job bank is listed on.
Not only that, but there are often other ways to network too. The American Sociological Association keeps up a LinkedIn group and they also have sections dedicated to various parts of sociology.
Lastly, the American Sociological Association also has yearly meetings in various places that you can attend as a member of the organization. These meetings are fun, you get to network and meet other sociologists, and you also get the chance to present research if you apply to. Associations and honor's societies have all sorts of different conferences and networking events. There are all sorts of regional societies and associations too so don't forget about those for even more fun networking events.
So we just talked about fun conferences and networking events, but let's be honest, those cost money. These organizations often offer a plethora of funding opportunities, scholarships, and paper competitions for members to partake in. These opportunities can really add up for a student. If you can make $300 for travel just by applying and paying the $50 yearly fee, wouldn't that be awesome? A lot of groups have all sorts of fun things just like that constantly happening in their societies if only the member apply to them. If possible try to find smaller associations and societies though, because obviously the bigger the organization the bigger the applicant pool.
These organizations can offer a ton in the way of scholarships and fellowships as you begin searching for money to fund your graduate program. Scholarships can be hard to come by so it is nice that these groups are able to provide that for their students.
Lastly, a big part of the reason for joining an academic organization is for the resources, freebies, and discounts you get as a member. In my honor society Alpha Kappa Delta we got a journal called Sociological Inquiry which was a journal that featured all sorts of work from sociology students across the country. There are also all sorts of other freebies and resources for members like a mentorship program. Not to mention being in an active chapter on your campus may be able to bring you resources as your honor society club on campus probably does a lot of fun events.
The American Sociological Association offers quite a few freebies and resources for members. We have a job board, we get a one year hard copy subscription to one of their many journals, we get all of the journals digitally, we get discounts on publications on their website, and more. A membership with the American Sociological Association has so many benefits and as I stated earlier I only pay $50 a year for a plethora of amazing freebies and resources. Sounds like a good deal to me! One cool book I recently got a discount on because I was a student member was a book featuring basically all of the Sociology graduate programs in the country that the American Sociological Association puts out. It's normally $50, but since I was a student member I got it for $20.
Academic organizations often offer freebies and discounts on things like journals, merchandise, books, and more. These can be so beneficial to you as you begin to start your collection of journals and books in your field.
The Happy Arkansan Podcast
Today's blog post has a special extra component for all you lovelies out there. I recorded an 8 minute podcast just for you. On this podcast I talk about all sorts of fun stuff like general academic organizations and why I don't like them as much as the specific organizations I talked about on the blog. I also talk about how to do your research on the organizations that ask you to join so you can make sure that it will be a worthwhile effort.
I hope you enjoyed this podcast. Let me know in the comments if this is something you want to see more of, because recording it was so fun and low stress!
Academic organizations are definitely not cheap! They can cost a lot of money, but the affiliation with people in your academic field can be invaluable. You can gain so much by making these quick associations and it can turn into a great experience and resume builder for you. I encourage you to take a look at the academic organizations who recruit you, especially if they are related to your major so that you can create those important connections.