A sturdy white envelope arrives addressed to your child. Inside a gold embossed letter on thick paper says that in light of their academic achievement they have been selected for membership in a prestigious national honor society. On some, your favorite teacher nominated your child. Your jaw drops and excitement courses through you. You can’t wait to show your kid and all of your friends that your wonderfully unique and talented child has been selected for a national honor society! This is your kid’s ticket to college acceptance!
You read further, click on the link and find that there is a membership fee. $75 dollars doesn’t seem like much. The honor society promises access to scholarships, a week-long leadership or STEM seminar, listing in a prestigious directory of outstanding high school academics, internships and support for your young scholar to become a leader. The weeklong seminar in Boston only costs $3,000.
Is it too good to be true? Probably.
Many families receive these letters. Ask around and you will find that a large number of students at the high school got them too. Many of them are from NSHSS or the National Society of High School Scholars. Organizations like NSHSS are part of the huge marketing campaign directed at high school and college students. They purchase lists of names and addresses from a wide variety of sources and churn out thousands of these letters. Sometimes teachers get a request to nominate “that” special student.
Do your homework!
Becoming a member and having your student’s name listed is about as impressive as the old Who’s Who. It is a “pay for play” honor. Only students who pay are listed. Colleges and universities will not be impressed and will not give your child any extra “points” for being a member.
College admissions officers are looking for awards and honors that are earned, not purchased.
If you are a parent, talk to your unique, talented kid, tell them that you are proud of them for doing the best they can, and for being the person that they are.
My suggestion, toss the national honor society mailing in the recycling and get on with your day.
Professional organization member: IECA, HECA, WACAC, NACAC