The words “academic achievement” often bring to mind images of a student in cap and gown, proudly holding aloft a hard-earned diploma. It’s true that commencement ceremonies, held annually under sunny June skies, are often a college or university’s only opportunity to acknowledge its students’ exceptional academic work. But what does a distance university—whose students are scattered not only across the United States, but quite literally across the globe—do to recognize its outstanding achievers?

American Graduate University, one of the nation’s premier distance learning institutions, has responded to that problem by establishing a chapter of the Delta Epsilon Tau International Honor Society. Founded by the Distance Education and Training Center Board of Trustees, Delta Epsilon Tau bestows honor upon students who have achieved a set of academic standards during the course of a distance learning program. Election to membership in Delta Epsilon Tau shows that a student has made a serious commitment to self-study, and helps distinguish that student among his or her peers.

Marie Sirney, Vice President of American Graduate University, explains the impetus behind this initiative to reward graduates’ demonstrated excellence. “Our new president, Mark Ferguson, is very anxious to showcase our graduates who have achieved academic excellence. He was familiar with the benefit of membership in an honor society, and so when he came on board, joining Delta Epsilon Tau was one of his first priorities.”

Since each learning institution is unique and has its own grading and evaluation system, each chapter of Delta Epsilon Tau is therefore empowered to determine its own basic selection criteria for membership. At American Graduate University, only those graduates with a grade point average of 3.75 or higher are eligible for nomination to the Honor Society. This enables the university to acknowledge the exceptional accomplishments of its students, while still maintaining the flexibility and freedom of a long-distance learning program.

“Our student body has grown from 125 to 680 students over the last three years,” says Sirney. “This expansion has brought to our attention the need to provide recognition to our honor graduates.” Although the recognition, which is conferred automatically upon a graduate’s eligibility, may be a new one, implementing it has already brought distinction to American Graduate University. “We were encouraged by our accrediting association, the Distance Education and Training Council, who sponsor DET, to establish a chapter,” Sirney continues, explaining that the cachet of Delta Epsilon Tau chaptership is not limited to students, but extends also to the instructors at every institution with a chapter.

Yet students are undoubtedly the most direct recipients of this distinction. Take Tom Scheetz, who was named AGU’s Graduate of the Year when he earned his Master of Contract Management degree in 2004. In addition to achieving a 4.0 grade point average, he also had the highest score ever achieved on a comprehensive examination which students take at the end of the program. Naturally, Scheetz was among the first graduates to be inducted into AGU’s chapter of Delta Epsilon Tau.

“I am truly honored to be included in this distinct group of professionals,” says Scheetz, who is now a Base Support Element Chief in the Specialized Contracting Flight at Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado. He discusses just some of the benefits that his education, and now his association with Delta Epsilon Tau, have reaped: “The AGU Master of Contract Management degree has increased my knowledge and given me a much broader perspective. I have no doubt the degree, and subsequent induction into the Honor Society, will provide more options and opportunities in the future.”

American Graduate University is an accredited university offering Master’s degrees, Master’s certificates, and professional training programs in Business Management, Project Management, and Contract and Acquisition Management. Its students are rising professionals who are motivated and self-directed, and for whom the demands of career, family, and everyday life preclude traditional educational programs.

Delta Epsilon Tau draws on the rich heritage of the Greek alphabet to demonstrate the commitment that a member university has made to its most outstanding students. Delta, the triangle, is the fourth letter of the Greek alphabet; in this instance, it stands for the unity of three groups: students, institutions, and the Distance Education and Training Center. Epsilon, the fifth letter, signifies education and development, and Tau, the Greek alphabet’s nineteenth letter, represents the establishment of good character and the recognition conferred upon one who has worked hard in his or her field of endeavor. Together, these three letters, along with the symbolic Flaming Torch of Knowledge and the words “integrity” and “excellence,” comprise the Delta Epsilon Tau emblem. This prestigious emblem takes the form of a Gold Key which may be displayed or worn with pride by its recipients.

Honor graduate Tom Scheetz sees these tenets of excellence and integrity as perfectly compatible with AGU’s 30-year history of providing top-notch advanced education to adult learners, no matter where they may reside and work. “I am a strong proponent of distance learning and wish I’d considered it years ago,” he explains, adding that if he had, “I wouldn’t have put off achieving my master’s degree this long.”

Although he considered many schools, Scheetz quickly learned that American Graduate University would fit all of his needs. As he puts it, “I can’t say enough good things about AGU. The education, in and of itself, is a tremendous benefit. But it should be noted the entire staff provides world-class support and bends over backwards to be responsive and meet the needs of students.”

Now potential students can add to these benefits AGU’s latest distinction – chaptership in Delta Epsilon Tau, the exclusive Honor Society for those enrolled in distance learning institutions.

To learn more about Online Education visit our site. For more information on American Graduate University, its affiliations and its programs, visit AGU

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To learn more about Online Education visit our site. For more information on American Graduate University, its affiliations and its programs, visit AGU