Double the RecognitionBy
For many students, the college experience isn’t just about what happens inside the classroom. While academic exercises and classroom activities are important, today’s students seek learning opportunities connected to the profession they will enter when they graduate. Students want to belong to the professional community as well as to an academic community. IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants) and the new IMA Accounting Honor Society (IAHS) offer both.
Robert Morris University Illinois is a nontraditional university that offers accelerated programs where most students attend class year-round. As part of RMU’s experience-based accounting curriculum, students are encouraged to join IMA and take advantage of the many benefits offered to them as student members. This past year, RMU accounting students attended IMA’s 2015 Student Leadership Conference in Orlando, Fla.; submitted a solution in the 2016 Student Case Competition; and were awarded scholarships to sit for the CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) examination. Also, many students participated in the IMA Fox River Valley Chapter monthly meetings, and one of them was offered a leadership role on the Fox River Valley Chapter Board of Directors.
One of the most exciting opportunities this year was the chance for RMU students to join the IAHS. Recognition is a great motivator, so the Accounting Department at RMU decided to create a new student organization called the RMU Accounting Honor Society and integrate it with the IAHS. In this way, students received the recognition of the faculty and staff at RMU and recognition in a global honor society. Thirty-nine students were inducted into the Robert Morris University Illinois Accounting Honor Society and the IAHS on April 14, 2016. Each student received a certificate from the IAHS and an honor cord to wear at graduation.
This year, one goal for the RMU Accounting Honor Society is to host outreach activities for accounting students on campus. Student leaders will visit classrooms and distribute information about the Society, the accounting profession, and the many benefits of IMA. Spreading the news on campus about IMA will inspire students to explore the many benefits of IMA student membership. And infusing the IAHS into a university’s honor society is a great way to provide students a greater sense of belonging.
HOW WE DID IT
* As the faculty advisor for the RMU Accounting Honor Society, my role is to act as liaison between the organization and the director of Student Life. So when IMA launched the IAHS as a way to recognize high-achieving students, it was natural for me to explore ways to get our students involved.
* I’m also associate curriculum chair at RMU, so I approached the dean of the School of Business Administration and requested permission to start our own student club/organization, infusing the IAHS membership as part of it. I contacted students who would be interested in becoming leaders and promoters of the RMU student club. We formed an initial group of officers, drafted bylaws, filed paperwork with the director of Student Life, and reached out to accounting students.
* We also created an online application process that included online payment, which made the process easy. The business office sends me confirmation that a student has joined. I accumulate the information, complete the IAHS application, have the business office prepare a check payable to IMA, and send the package to Jodi Ryan at IMA.
GETTING STUDENTS INVOLVED
Professors are key to getting students involved in IMA activities and joining the IAHS. Here are a few tips on how to get started:
- Promote IMA during curriculum/staff meetings. Attend IMA events and return to campus excited to share your personal experiences at department meetings, on bulletin boards, and on social media pages.
- Identify natural student leaders in your classes, and invite them to attend local IMA chapter events or accounting club meetings on campus. If your school doesn’t have an accounting club or honor society, ask students to create one. Ask them to assume leadership roles. Then use this opportunity to mentor students and promote IMA.
- Let peers know what you’re doing and create buzz. Discuss IMA and the IAHS at meetings. Ask your department chair or dean for permission to create a university honor society and/or IMA student chapter. Once you have approval, ask about university policies to form a student-led organization.
- Get permission from school officials to obtain the contact information of all accounting/finance majors on campus. (I did this through our Information Services Department.) Identify high-performing students, and invite them to participate.
- Post information about your student chapter and/or honor society on the school webpage for student organizations.
- Create an online application process that includes online payment. Once students receive a personal invitation from the faculty advisor or president to join the society, they are directed to the webpage, where they complete the application and submit payment online.
- Explore ways to infuse IMA resources into the course curriculum, and introduce IMA and IAHS during introductory accounting courses. This creates excitement and interest for students who may not have considered accounting as a career choice.