This Fall Semester, Area Coordinator Amanda Jones, Director of the Academic Success Center Courtney Bringley, and Student Outreach Librarian Amy Pajewski initiated the opening of a National Society of Leadership and Success (NSLS) chapter here at Paul Smith’s College.  The NSLS is the nation’s largest leadership society, where top students nominated by their colleges come together to identify and achieve their goals. The NSLS has 804,552 members at 581 colleges nationwide. The society offers lectures from the nation’s leading presenters and a like-minded community with the desire for success and achievement. Courtney, Amanda, and Amy took on the roles of advisors; they invited 244 students to join, and 127 students accepted the invite and registered. Approximately 100 students are currently participating in the induction process. Any registered students that do not complete the induction this semester will be able to continue next semester.

The advisors invited all Sophomore and Junior students who made the Dean’s List last year, the Freshmen Emerging Leaders group, and a select number of Seniors that currently hold leadership roles on campus (such as Residents Assistants, Peer Leaders, and Peer Educators). Any student that was invited had to pay an $85 fee in order to accept and register. Then, after paying this fee, it wasn’t until the first orientation that students found out that they still were not inducted into the NSLS. In order to earn their induction, they have to participate in a Leadership Training Day, three live speaker presentations, and three meetings with their Success Networking Teams. Many of the students that paid the registration fee have expressed that they think the whole thing was a “rip off”. Student and Resident Assistant Sean Dudenhoffer said, “I found it frustrating that I had to pay, before I knew what I had gotten into.” For students that currently hold leadership roles on campus, it can be challenging to find time in their busy schedule for the multi-day induction process. For this reason, a decent number of students who had registered decided to not go through the induction process. They found it inconvenient and insulting that they weren’t informed of the expectations and requirements of the NSLS before they had paid the fee.

Another issue that has come to surface during the induction process for the NSLS this semester is disrespect. During the Live Speaker Broadcast sessions there have been registered members who misbehave, make inappropriate comments, and overall lack respect and don’t take it seriously. The advisors who are supervising the broadcasts have had to step in and ask students, who are supposed to be mature leaders, to correct their behavior. For the students who have leadership experience and are excited to be part of the NSLS, this is very frustrating. Maybe it wasn’t the best idea to invite students who were on the Dean’s List. High academic performance doesn’t necessarily imply good leadership skills. Student and Resident Assistant Becky Raymond stated “They should just have professors recommend students who are good candidates for the society.” Next semester they will be inviting another group of students to join once fall grades have been submitted; and again they will select the students who have earned a GPA of 3.00 or higher. Maybe they should consider doing recommendation based invitations instead of academic?

On a positive note, the induction ceremony for the students who have successfully completed the process, will be December 8th. Once inducted, the members will have the opportunity to elect a chapter President, Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer. The students who displayed poor behavior during the induction process will likely throw the NSLS on their resume and then disappear. While those who are driven, and have a higher level of maturity and interest, will invest their time into the Chapter, and as a result lead to some positive impacts on campus. This NSLS chapter is brand new, and it was a brilliant contribution that Amanda, Courtney, and Amy have made for this campus. As always, when starting any new program at a college you’re going to run into a few kinks. As the NSLS grows and develops every semester, it may evolve into an amazing opportunity for students, and leave a strong positive impact not only on individual students, but on campus as a whole.

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