In Spring 2023, the North American Interfraternity Conference (NIC) engaged in a study with the goal of better understanding the perspectives, knowledge, and experiences of junior and senior members. The ideal outcome of this research is to identify factors that contribute to junior and senior member engagement, why some members disengage and effective retention methods to encourage member engagement throughout the college experience.
Upon focus group and survey completion and analysis, it is clear that junior and senior members who participated in this study are motivated to stay involved in their chapter through graduation and are satisfied with their chapter experience, but this is not without identifying some common challenges and opportunities for increased engagement. The top cited benefits of membership include:
- Interpersonal skill development
- Social connections
- Leadership development and networking
- Opportunity to give back through philanthropy
Through both survey results and focus group discussions, the barriers to staying involved include competing time commitments, membership dues, and other fees, and not feeling connected to other members.
Expanding time commitments as students progress through their academic careers was cited as a driving factor in the shifting priorities of older members. And with their shift in priorities, older members feel like there is less programming and activities designed to fit their needs and interests. However, of note, many members are interested in professional development and career-focused programming and activities, including workshops, mentoring, and alumni networking.
“The times that we have seen it, it’s typically stress and feeling overwhelmed. They just cannot value the fraternity over their academics and a university degree, which I completely agree with.”– Focus Group Participant on why members leave
In addition to the most common practices to engage juniors and seniors — like hosting senior celebration ceremonies/programs, encouraging juniors and seniors to serve in chapter leadership positions, and having juniors and seniors serve as mentors to newer chapter members — below are three ways to put this research into motion to better engage and retain older members.
- Provide more programming opportunities for professional development and career mentoring
- Provide specialized member development programming for juniors and seniors, like graduate school preparation and support
- Provide specialized leadership events for juniors and seniors
“There’s not a lot that is tailored traditionally to juniors and seniors nowadays. I’d say like, the fraternity experience is shifted to be made for freshmen and sophomores. And there isn’t anything yet for juniors and seniors, like nothing is caught up for us and our priorities”.– Focus Group Participant