Editorial: Are Honor Societies Worth It?

Editorial: Are Honor Societies Worth It?

Adam Aleksic, Editor-in-Chief

*The views and opinions expressed in the following piece are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of The Nest or Albany High School.*

An ivory-colored envelope arrives in your mail. There’s nice cursive writing on the front, and a professional-looking paper with a fancy letterhead is enclosed. “Congratulations!” the missive reads. “Based on your outstanding academic performance, you have been selected for membership in the National Society of High School Scholars!” You’re confused. You’ve never heard of this organization before, but it seems like a big academic opportunity. There are some potential scholarships, but a $60 confirmation fee. What do you do?

If the situation sounds familiar, it might be because you got a similar letter. Each year, invitations like this get sent out to hundreds of thousands of students, and, each year, tens of thousands of families accept. I’ve seen cars in the Albany area with “NSHSS parent” stickers and kids walking down our hallways with NSHSS t-shirts.

Too bad it’s a scam.

If you google NSHSS, three of the top five links are about it being a huge rip-off, but somehow a sizable amount of people get duped each year. Sure, some educational opportunities like scholarships and events exist, but for the large part the corporation exists to profit off people who are trying to spruce up their college resumes.

In reality, it might even be detrimental to list such an organization (for there are several) in an application, because colleges know exactly what they are. Meanwhile, the name was intentionally designed to remind people of the National Honor Society, which is a legitimate organization without a fee. Everything about it reeks profiteering off people concerned over their futures in higher education and it’s very messed up.

So, I hope it’s pretty clear that NSHSS and similar societies are absolutely not worth your time. However, it doesn’t end there. Even associations like the National Honor Society are practically worthless on college applications. Over a million students participate in it nationally, so it’s basically lost all significance in the admissions game. It’s just an overly glorified academic organization patting its members on the back without any real use to us.

Despite the fancy tassel, nothing really even comes out of the AHS National Honor Society after initiation. This year, according to a current NHS officer at our high school, there hasn’t been a meeting since September, they don’t know what to do because nobody reached out to them, and it doesn’t seem like anything’s coming out of the club at all.

There definitely are redeeming qualities when you consider the community service requirement and how it can motivate people to maintain good grades. Moreover, NHS is free, so there’s no scam involved, but for some it could basically be a waste of time and energy to attend the three events that they do hold. We get nothing out of it except inflated egos.

The French Honors Society, on the other hand, seems to be actively providing engaging experiences. Its roughly twenty members take trips to Quebec to increase their knowledge of French culture, meet frequently, and fund raise for their own tassels.

Looking back as a graduating senior, there are three types of honor societies. The first is like NSHSS and you should steer well clear of them. The second is like NHS, and you should assess whether it’s worth it. The third is like the French Honor Society, and an immersive experience which you should embrace if you have the opportunity to do so.

Ultimately, it comes down to you. Don’t get shunted into an organization that won’t help you prosper, and really question what you can get out of each type of society versus what they can get out of you. That’s my two cents, anyway.