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    Is the National Honor Society Worth It? 

    By Gabriel Jimenez-Ekman

    Gabriel Jimenez-Ekman is a content editor and writer at Scholarships360. He has managed communications and written content for a diverse array of organizations, including a farmer’s market, a concert venue, a student farm, an environmental NGO, and a PR agency. Gabriel graduated from Kenyon College with a degree in sociology.

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    and Cait Williams

    Cait Williams is a Content Writer at Scholarships360. Cait recently graduated from Ohio University with a degree in Journalism and Strategic Communications. During her time at OU, was active in the outdoor recreation community.

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    Reviewed by Cari Shultz

    Cari Schultz is an Educational Review Board Advisor at Scholarships360, where she reviews content featured on the site. For over 20 years, Cari has worked in college admissions (Baldwin Wallace University, The Ohio State University, University of Kentucky) and as a college counselor (Columbus School for Girls).

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    Edited by Maria Geiger

    Maria Geiger is Director of Content at Scholarships360. She is a former online educational technology instructor and adjunct writing instructor. In addition to education reform, Maria’s interests include viewpoint diversity, blended/flipped learning, digital communication, and integrating media/web tools into the curriculum to better facilitate student engagement. Maria earned both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from Monmouth University, an M. Ed. in Education from Monmouth University, and a Virtual Online Teaching Certificate (VOLT) from the University of Pennsylvania.

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    Updated: February 1st, 2024
    Is the National Honor Society Worth It? 

    It seems like there is an endless list of things that high school students have to accomplish to find success in their college applications. With so many different factors being considered in the college application review process including grades, extracurriculars, test prep, and essay writing, it can be hard to know what to prioritize. So, you may be wondering, is the National Honor Society worth adding to your plate?

    To help you make your decision whether or not to commit to the NHS, we’ll outline the commitment requirements and potential benefits. Then, we’ll weigh the prestige of an NHS membership with other potential honors you could spend your time pursuing. This will help you decide whether striving for the NHS is a worthwhile commitment for you!

    What is the National Honor Society?

    The National Honor Society was founded in its current iteration in 1921 and now has over one million student members across the country. While some people associate the NHS purely with grades, it takes a more holistic approach in screening its members. The NHS looks for four characteristics in its members

    • Character – Members are required to respect others, work well in teams, and maintain a positive attitude. They should be honest and reliable
    • Scholarship – Members must maintain a certain GPA to keep their NHS membership. The national minimum is 3.0, but local chapters’ requirements can be higher, so make sure to check your local chapter’s website
    • Leadership – The NHS looks for students who hold formal or informal leadership roles. This can be exemplified through a position in student government or through leadership in your community or personal life
    • Service – Members must maintain a level of unpaid service to their school and/or community. This can include volunteering at homeless shelters, animal shelters, food banks, or helping tutor underclassmen at your school. Different chapters have different volunteer hour requirements, so be sure to check yours

    Also see: How to join the National Honor Society

    What are the NHS commitments?

    The main commitment involved in NHS membership is the application. Each chapter has different admissions processes, so this can vary. But you often have to write essays, prepare a resume, and might need to interview. So, you should make sure to set aside some time for when you put your application together. 

    Once you’re into the NHS, it doesn’t require too much active work to maintain your membership. You’ll have to continue to meet the standards that got you admitted, which include GPA requirements and volunteer hours.  Most NHS membership consists of occasional meetings. Therefore, the most NHS chapters will not require a huge commitment after completing the application

    What are the benefits of NHS membership?

    NHS membership comes with a host of benefits. You might become eligible for the National Honor Scholarship and your membership will look good on college applications. You’ll also be invited to NHS LEAD conferences which are great opportunities to network and build your leadership skills. 

    Furthermore, the NHS offers college planning resources to its students. These can include college admissions and financial aid counseling. They’ll also invite you to state summits and service projects. These are all great opportunities to bolster your college application and meet new academically-driven people.

    Other options for honors societies

    Although the NHS is the best-known, it is far from being the only honors society in the country. There are many honors societies that are more specialized and regionalized. If you have a specific interest, you should also look into honors societies that specialize in your field of interest. You might be more qualified for admission in these societies if the NHS does not admit you. Furthermore, the opportunities that these societies offer will probably be better-aligned with what interests you. You might have a better chance of making significant connections.

    Here are a few example honors societies other than the NHS:

    Trade-offs with other pursuits 

    Luckily, due to the relatively low commitment of the NHS, there are not many trade-offs with other pursuits. Students don’t have to fulfill many obligations to maintain their membership. As long as you pick an opportune time to write your initial application, you won’t have to make many trade-offs.

    Student perspective

    Overall, being an NHS member allowed me to learn valuable skills through volunteering and allowed me to collaborate with my fellow NHS peers and teaching staff. Additionally, at graduation, all NHS members were given gold sashes to wear to show off our hard work. 

    I recommend joining NHS if your school has a chapter and if you meet the requirements. The time commitment is not too strenuous, and it is nice to see your hard work acknowledged through an organization. Plus, being an NHS member is never a bad thing to put on your college applications! 
    Cece Gilmore

    Recent ASU grad

    Former high school Honor Society member

    Final thoughts

    To sum things up, if you qualify for the NHS and have the time to write your application, it is probably worthwhile! The National Honor Society opens many doors for its members, including conferences, counseling resources, and scholarships. It is usually a positive addition to your college application. What’s more, it doesn’t require much work to maintain your membership once you join. But if you don’t qualify, don’t give up on honor societies! There are many more out there that might suit your interests better. Smaller honor societies have a host of benefits that are different from those of a larger conglomeration like the National Honor Society.

    Also see: How to fill out the Common App Honors Section

    Key Takeaways

    Key Takeaways

    • NHS is a relatively low commitment once you are accepted, which means as long as you maintain the initial criteria you met to be considered, you’ll have very few obligations
    • Being an NHS member will give you access to scholarships, resources and opportunities that you otherwise might not get
    • There are several other organizations that serve similar purposes as the NHS does, but for specific interests, like journalism, science and more
    • Being a part of NHS will certainly not count against you in anyway, which means if you have the time, it’s probably worth your time
    Key Takeaways

    Also see: An insider’s view of what goes on inside a college admissions office

    Frequently asked questions about the National Honor Society

    Can I put the National Honor Society on my resume?

    The National Honor Society is a great addition to your resume if you are a high school student or in the first couple years of college. As a younger student, you probably have less experience than older candidates. So, the NHS is a particularly valuable asset to add to your experience, as it shows a responsibility and commitment to academics and community.

    Once you finish your freshman year of college, it’s probably time to consider removing the NHS from your resume. While it’s a great asset for younger students, it loses its relevance once you’ve begun making your way through college.

    Is the National Honor Society legitimate?

    The National Honor Society is a legitimate organization which enjoys a nationwide reputation and has been in operation for a long time. That being said, you should always do your research about any organization and anyone who contacts you. Scammers could pretend to be representatives of the NHS and try to ask you for money or personal information. Remember to check any contact for its legitimacy, and don’t give out more information than you deem necessary. Additionally, any NHS dues should be paid directly to the organization and not to private entities that contact you.

    Does the NHS help me earn scholarships?

      The NHS can help you earn scholarships in a few different ways. To start, it can help you as an asset on your scholarship applications. Organizations recognize the NHS and the prestige it carries, and they will assume that you are a responsible and promising student. Additionally, you might be able to qualify for the NHS scholarship program to earn money directly through them.

    Do colleges care if you were in the National Honor Society?

    Colleges see it as a great asset if you were in the NHS! It will help round out your application and demonstrate that you earned good grades and participated in your community. While membership will not make-or-break your application to college, there is no doubt that NHS membership is an asset on any college application.

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