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How important is National Honor Society?

laffterlaffter Posts: 116Registered User Junior Member
edited June 2010 in Parents Forum
My daughter didn't apply for NHS membership (she's now a rising senior). She has the community service hours and all of the pre-requisites, but says look how many members there are, how can this be an honor? I don't need this label to have a successful future, why don't my grades stand on their own, blah blah blah. I did tell her that during her college interviews she better have a non-confrontational answer to the question "why didn't you apply?" But seriously, will this put her in a bad light with admissions? She's so not a glory-seeker. Sigh.
Post edited by laffter on
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Replies to: How important is National Honor Society?

  • mathmommathmom Posts: 22,338Registered User Senior Member
    Both my kids refused to join. They had a modest number of volunteer hours of things they had done on their own. The older one got into Harvard and Carnegie Mellon, the youngest into U of Chicago, Vassar and Tufts among other colleges. I don't think it made a bit of difference.
  • holliesueholliesue Posts: 1,450Registered User Senior Member
    I don't think it makes much of a difference. Our valedictorian last year was not a member (they said she didn't have enough volunteer hours junior year, so she refused to reapply senior year). It is highly political at our school. Just need a 90 gpa. Doesn't account for difficulty of curriculum. They seem to favor student government service and not value other types of involvement. My d was a NHS "reject", but it doesn't bother her a bit. Will not reapply in the fall!
  • momofthreeboysmomofthreeboys Posts: 10,873Registered User Senior Member
    Personally I don't think it will harm her if she doesn't join, neither S1 nor S2 was interested in joining. At their school while there is a GPA component it's more of a "club" with mandatory meetings, dues etc. and what not and they both were involved in other activities. The boys' school has a community service required component but it's not difficult to meet that obligation outside of NHS. I think the lustre of NHS is variable school to school and yes, it looks good on an application but so do other long term commitments. Back in my day you were "invited" to join sophomore year and you wore special "cords" at graduation and it was an "honor" to be invited, at my kids school if you meet the GPA level you can join as a sophomore, junior or even as a senior as soon as you meet the GPA requirement and I don't recall seeing special cords or any special mentions at graudation. So YMMV depending on how it is handled at your particular school. Don't get me wrong I'm all about it as there are too few clubs that are based solely on academic achievement, but I wouldn't "force" my kids to join at this particular school unless they wanted to.
  • limabeanslimabeans Posts: 4,703Registered User Senior Member
    All my kids were inducted to the NHS. It wasn't the key that opened the door to success, but it distinguished them in the "achiever" group at their HS. They attended a large HS, and maybe the top 10% of the senior class obtained the NHS. Those were the kids who went to the ivies and top-20 colleges, the leaders at the school, the editors, the captains, the Intel award winners, the val/sal. It wasn't their only honor award, but there'd be a hole if they didn't obtain NHS.

    No special "cords", but they got their name on a special bulletin board and they served to mentor 9th graders who needed guidance to be successful.
  • holliesueholliesue Posts: 1,450Registered User Senior Member
    at our school they confer the NHS diplomas first and they wear special sashes.
  • tango14tango14 Posts: 1,578Registered User Senior Member
    S2 was invited to join jr yr and filled out the application but was rejected. I think it was political since any teacher had the right to anonymously veto someone's application. There were some far less qualified than him. I think it was his band director who was jealous S's ability and sabotaged him every other way he could. As far as I know, all his other teachers raved about him. He didn't even try sr yr.
  • mexicandelightmexicandelight Posts: 85Registered User Junior Member
    I think you are overreacting to your daughter's choice of not joining NHS. It's nothing more than 3 extra words an applicant uses to list down under extracurriculars to fill up space, and shouldn't be missed too greatly if your daughter was somewhat active during high school. NHS was an absolute joke at my school, with minimal requirements of a 3.0 GPA, 36 yearly volunteer hours, and a completely insignificant officer meeting every other week. You should be glad she decided not to join this over glorified student organization, doing anything else in lieu is a more productive investment of time. In my interviews for the more prestigious universities to which I applied (Duke, Vanderbilt, Emory, Georgetown), the inquiry of my involvement in NHS did not come up throughout the duration of the interview. Keep in mind that most interviews are 30-60 minutes long, and they rarely pick at specifics. Regarding the extracurricular aspect that is questioned during college interviews, you should prepare your daughter to expect more general questions, such as "What kind of extracurriculars have you been involved in?, "Which activity has played the biggest role in your decision to chose X major?", " If accepted to X institution, how do you plan on continuing your involvement in said activity?", etc. I assure you that they will not go down the list of her resume and question why she joined each organization, how long a week she participated, how many weeks per year, etc. These are menial worries, and interviewers try to capture the big picture of the applicant. Admission counselors might be a bit more picky because they have more time to analyze the applicant on paper, but because students and parents like to see that common app section of extracurriculars filled all the way to the bottom, doesn't mean that they do. They like to see a more concentrated involvement in several activites, rather than a superficial presence in a myriad of organizations. NHS tends to be one of those activites that is used mostly just to take up space on an application, and admissions tends to care less about these activites that span only 1 year for handful of hours per month. Your daughter has nothing to worry about.
  • fogfogfogfog Posts: 4,049Registered User Senior Member
    From what I have read on CC--NHS is handled differently from school to school

    In our students' school--the students are chosen after being known for their academics, leadership, and so on for 2 .5 yrs--they are tapped out after a committee of faculty/advisors meets. And students do not know who is on the committee...
    so no sucking up...

    However - it is more than grades...it is supposed to include citizenship/community service, leadership etc etc...It is not unusual to have a kid with a high GPA /rank and not the other qualities.

    Alot of posters here at CC seem to have quite a sour grapes attitude towards it--and I think if any teen interviewed spews that kind of sour stuff-- it will hurt them--
    Best to put their own best foot forward than put down NHS.
  • Ian2012Ian2012 Posts: 15Registered User New Member
    I doubt that being a member of one's school's national honor society has any weight in college admissions, but at my school being a member has many benefits. My schools has two honor societies, one for community service that has no academic requirement and one for academic acknowledgment that has no service requirement. Being a member is more than just applying and being accepted, however. Once admitted, one must attend weekly meetings as if he or she was in a club, and the honor societies act as clubs for the most part. The honor societies hold events, such as Volleyball competitions, Singing competitions, and other activities that involve the whole school. In this aspect one can show how the honor society influenced their involvement in school and provide ample opportunities to showcase that in an essay. For the most part, however, I think school honor societies play a more important role in a healthy and enjoyable high school experience rather than an achievement colleges can marvel.
  • NorthstarmomNorthstarmom Posts: 24,853Registered User Senior Member
    No one cares whether she is in NHS except for the very few colleges that give a small amount of merit aid to NHS members. Such colleges tend to be second tier colleges.

    Most colleges don't factor ECs into admission. The ones that do are places like Harvard, which get such an overabundance of high stat applicants that the college can pick and choose from among them to select the students who'll most contribute to an active, diverse student body.

    Virtually all students applying to places like Harvard would qualify for NHS membership, so such colleges don't care whether or not applicants are members. To stand out for NHS for such colleges one would have to do more than even being a school NHS president. One would have to have done something remarkable with NHS such as having organized a major NHS project or having been a national NHS officer.

    NHS is a fine organization at some schools, doing a great deal of community service, etc. At other schools, it is an organization in name only. Getting into NHS also is very political at some schools, and excellent students of good character are routinely rejected. The colleges that care about ECs are aware of these disparities, more reason for them to not be impressed simply by NHS membership or lack of membership.
  • CaillebotteCaillebotte Posts: 1,546Registered User Senior Member
    I had the same sentiments as your daughter when I refused to apply to NHS in high school. It was (and likely still is) a highly political farce that spoke of neither the students' academic nor extracurricular merit. Some of you seem to be under the impression that she will be required to "defend" her choice. No one will care enough to notice much less ask.
  • user_007user_007 Posts: 366Registered User Member
    Hope you don't mind an answer from a student...but it's not at all important.

    I applied twice and didn't make it in. NHS at my school was a joke. They didn't consider grades as a factor so long as you had over an 89%, and a lot of the people that were accepted weren't exactly NHS material, if you ask me. There were quite a few people with questionable standards, who really didn't seem to do much in the community or anything...yet they made it in.

    I ranked in the top 1% of my class (within the top 5), was the president of two clubs at school, had volunteered with various organizations for years accumulating over 100 hours a year, etc. Didn't make it in and received no explanation as to why (they wouldn't tell anyone why they didn't make it in).

    I got into all seven schools that I applied to and got a full ride to one of them, plus scholarships covering over 50% of the cost of attendance at three others.

    NHS might be something that you can list to help you, but not having it is certainly not an issue either.
  • lololulololu Posts: 1,325Registered User Senior Member
    Both my kids refused to apply when they saw that one of the requirements for application (at our high school) was a letter from your pastor. My kids have nothing against religion per se, they just saw it as a bad example for the school to be setting.
  • FallGirlFallGirl Posts: 4,060Registered User Senior Member
    D was a member for 2 years. It was nice to be chosen ( it was limited to 15% of the class), but overall I don't see that it had any effect on admissions. The was a certain amount of politics involved with some students being chosen/not chosen and I think colleges recognize that. There have been a number of students from the HS who were not members who were accepted at very prestigious schools.

    Since your D has a lot of community service hours anyway, I would let it go.
  • momofthreeboysmomofthreeboys Posts: 10,873Registered User Senior Member
    ^^How interesting that it is a "National" honor society yet the schools have adopted differing strategies for inclusion, mission, etc. etc. I'm surprised that a school can insist on a letter from clergy...there are very wonderful people in this world that don't practice organized religion.
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