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National Honor Society/ Leadership

rubysmomrubysmom Registered User Posts: 6 New Member
edited May 2010 in Parents Forum
My S1 has to write an app for NHS. He's a good academic student, been on Swim Team for 3 years, won some art awards and excels in his Tech program.

Reading over his app, he says he thinks he won't be chosen. He hasn't been President/leader/organizer of anything. No after-school activities except Jewelry Club and biking/BMX with his friends. And work at a nursing home washing dishes.

I did point out to him that his work is a worthy use of his time. He also is great at wrenching on his bike, and so our garage and driveway have become the repair shop for his friends and their bicycles. He decided to take the Welding Tech program so he could better work on his bike.

Does leadership mean leading others? Is it also initiative? He has goals, but he is not really big on trying to "make" anyone do what he wants to do. He is the epitome of "easygoing."

I think he is a great kid. His teachers all sent great reports. But I have a sinking feeling that as great a kid as he is, his laid-back, unruffled manner doesn't exude leadership qualities.

This is also an issue with college apps. He has plenty to make him stand out, awards-wise. Not any community volunteering stuff, though. During swim season, that's all he can manage besides school. He doesn't even work during his season. Off-season and summer he works btw 9-12 hrs/week, or whatever has been legal for him since he was 15. They always want him back afterward.

Do we push him to be more of a joiner of group activities, beyond his biking hobby? Is he not "leadership material" because his swim team voted for some other guys to be captain?

I'll still love him whatever; I'm just trying to understand how others see it.

Post edited by rubysmom on

Replies to: National Honor Society/ Leadership

  • chintzychintzy Registered User Posts: 604 Member
    He leads by example.
  • peaceplease9100peaceplease9100 Registered User Posts: 56 Junior Member
    don't sweat nhs. I think it's a stupid organization. In my school they don't do ANYTHING. I think that colleges would rather see your son continuing activities and service projects that he enjoys. He does not need validation from some title.
  • rubysmomrubysmom Registered User Posts: 6 New Member
    Thanks, chintzy and peaceplease.

    I think he does lead by example, in his own way. His sister was a "march to her own drummer" kid from Day1. She's no leader, but she sure isn't following anybody either. But she's getting all A's in her photo program at RIT. Both the children are really individuals.

    And peace, you are probably correct about NHS. I do think they are required to do a service project (and attend meetings) if they are selected for his school. It's the whole thing of leadership and volunteerism and activities that puzzles me about what colleges want to see from my son.

    I remember taking him down to elem. school one night to see abut joining Cub Scouts. The cafeteria meeting was noisy and kind of confusing and intimidating. Right off the bat they were talking about camping out in the snow for an overnight and how great it was!

    I won't knock scouting; I'm sure it's a great program for some families. But I knew he was not keen on all the confusion and noise that evening. He had no interest in returning.

    In swimming, he is kind of a natural. Even with a pretty grouchy coach, he never complained or got mad. He just said, "oh, that's coach." So he swam, and did well, and was able to make some of his goals. And when it's over, he doesn't really pine for swimming again anytime soon.

    I know there are some kids who just naturally like to be really busy, and who enjoy school activities. He just enjoys his rather small bunch of friends, and has some real insights that he shares with us parents from time to time.

    Do parents get to write anything for the college app?
  • PackMomPackMom Registered User Posts: 7,667 Senior Member
    rubysmom, My S1 didn't have a lot of leadership stuff to put down either. He was Capt. of the JV football team but then didn't play Varsity at all. He attended a Leadership conference weekend at a university, held a part-time job at a grocery store and went on two summer mission trips with his church group. That's about it.
    He was a top student at his sch. but was not interested in joining h.s clubs. Spent his spare time with friends/girlfriend and weight training.

    He got in NHS and hated it. He disliked all the competition and kids sitting around talking about SAT scores, who had the most AP's/best GPA and who was going to get into which school.
    The required comm. service hours had to be done as a group which he could never do due to his work schedule (20-25 hours a week).
    So he quit NHS. Not having the special cords to wear at grad. didn't bother him at all. He is now a senior at a state u. on a full ride.

    Good Luck to your S but if he is not chosen for NHS, don't worry too much about it. It won't make or break him.
  • FallGirlFallGirl Registered User Posts: 7,488 Senior Member
    Being in/not being in NHS is most likely not a deal breaker in college admissions. Your S is participating in EC's that he enjoys and gets a lot out of, so I wouldn't worry about it. NHS is an honor, but at some schools it's very political as to who does/doesn't get in and I think the colleges are aware of that.
  • FallGirlFallGirl Registered User Posts: 7,488 Senior Member
    Rubysmom- One more thing. Parent's don't get to write anything on the college app (at least that I have ever seen), but if your guidance counselor asks for information feel free to provide it. Provide it even if they don't ask. Just type up a list of all EC's your S has been involved with ( in and out of school) and then write a few pages letting them know more about him. This could include describing his passions,commitments and some anecdotes. It will be helpful to the counselor for recs.
  • froggie3froggie3 Registered User Posts: 35 New Member
    I don't see NHS as a big deal, either. My high school has monthly meetings and "service" hours can be bought. (For example, we get one hour for every $10.00 we convince someone to pledge for Make-A-Wish, and last semester we had the opportunity to buy t-shirts and get hours for that.)

    If there is a desire to get into NHS, though, can't you talk about the bike thing as leadership? If he works on his own and fixes others', even as just a hobby, it seems like he is taking an initiative and I'm sure you could work some kind of entrepreneurial angle in there.
  • maineparentmaineparent Registered User Posts: 898 Member
    Leadership is a huge issue for most kids when it comes to NHS.... I was on a task force to clean it up for our hs.... the "smartest" boys in our hs were not getting in because of a lack of "leadership" and we definitely needed to work on a larger definition of what leadership was.....

    My advice to you is to go out to the NHS website with your child and read what they say is leadership.... and figure out a way to write up what your child is doing with bikes etc as an example of his leadership......

    you can also have your son talk to his advisor or homeroom teacher or someone in guidance, and discuss the issue of leadership.....cause it will be important for next year when he is applying to college.....work on ways to flesh out who he is and what he loves to do.....and feature that.....

    Our HS sends home a 2 page form for parents in late summer for us to complete for senior year for guidance....it provides all sorts of parental background info on our children for guidance so they can flesh out our kids when they do the write ups from guidance for the applications....I view this form as my vehicle to contribute to the big picture of who my kid is...... take advantage of anything comparable your school might offer..... make an appt now with guidance to discuss if you want..... 30 min is all you will need......

    good luck.....and by the way, I agree that NHS isn't that big a deal breaker, but I did not want my kids to not have it on their resume...... we viewed it as one more thing to have a checkmark complete on their application.....
  • rubysmomrubysmom Registered User Posts: 6 New Member
    All great replies, thanks! I think his appraisal of the situation is probably accurate. Maybe filling out the app will help him gather his ideas for the important college essays. I'm officially not going to fret about it any more.

    Thanks again!
  • AtomicCafeAtomicCafe Registered User Posts: 867 Member
    Before you completely write off NHS, check how it is at your school. I've been to two high schools, and both had EXTREMELY strong NHS clubs, working with several charities and doing quite a bit. I've put in over 100 hours of community service for each year, and part of my college essay was about some of the effects of the volunteering. We voted for a charity to support each year, then fundraised and volunteered directly. We have a number of little trophies from these groups thanking us, and many local groups know how much they'll be getting whenever we send that email saying we've chosen them to help next.
  • pugmadkatepugmadkate Registered User Posts: 5,888 Senior Member
    Do we push him to be more of a joiner of group activities, beyond his biking hobby? Is he not "leadership material" because his swim team voted for some other guys to be captain?

    My son just filled out his NHS application as well. No leadership roles. If that's what keeps him out, then so be it. It's simply not possible for every student to be the leader. I just hope that they can see the value of someone with passion who is willing to do the heavy lifting, so to speak.

    Speaking of bikes, my husband raced bikes in high school back in the early 1980s. Biking taught him to work through the pain, to be willing to suffer for a goal, to push himself while always working for the team. He has been a leader of Marines for over 20 years now. I'd bet my house that the mental toughness he developed on a bike was far more valuable to him than being president of a club would have been. Not everyone takes the same path to leadership.

    My opinion, and it is only my opinion, that we do best by our children by encouraging them to be who they are, not by pushing them into what someone else thinks they should be.
  • guillaumeguillaume Registered User Posts: 659 Member
    I too think that nhs is a lot of baloney. D was in it and frankly a lot of people cheated and claimed service hours that they didn't really perform. The whole thing is suspicious. And I have a feeling colleges don't care about it. I didn't insist when S decided he didn't want to do the application.
  • Beil1958Beil1958 Registered User Posts: 658 Member
    i suggest he approach his leadership in the classroom. For example, "I participate in class discussions readily and am happy to stimulate discussions when they 'drag', I respect the opinions of other students, I help other students, even the teacher, when appropriate. My teachers know they can count on me to take a leadership role for group projects and to help out when substitutes are in our classroom. If somebody drops their books in the hallway, I'm happy to help them retrieve their belongings rather than looking the other way as I walk past. I lead by example and display leadership characteristics in all I do."
  • 181818181818 Registered User Posts: 381 Member
    My son also did not have any formal leadership positions when he applied for NHS. He did not list any positions but did discuss leadership roles he had in life. If he does want to join perhaps you or he can discuss some of the things that he is doing with the coordinator of the program and they may be able to direct you toward the kinds of things that are appropriate for the application. Our school was very supportive about this and seemed focused on admitting kids who demonstrated the qualities the program focuses on without demanding specific titles in order to qualify.
  • TheGFGTheGFG Registered User Posts: 6,196 Senior Member
    NHS the way our school runs it is a major pet peeve of mine for the same reasons mentioned above by other posters.

    IMO, it's certainly not a big deal to have NHS on an application, but I do wonder if it's suspicious if it's not there. For example, might a college wonder if there was an integrity or discipline violation, since that will disqualify a student.

    Anyway, I second the suggestion to have him write the ways in which he leads by example. Certainly fixing bikes for friends is demonstrating the principle of sharing of one's gifts in the service of others. Does he teach his friends how to do these mechanical things? If so, mention that because that is leadership.

    Recently D was invited to apply for membership to an academic honor society. One criterion was that you had to be in a school club or organization which showed you had an interest in that academic subject area outside of school. Well, D is too busy with sports to participate in those clubs, and thus concluded she wasn't eligible. I told her that if the advisors wanted to insist on the letter of the law and require that kids belong to their pet clubs (since of course the advisors of the society were also the club advisors), well then there was nothing to be done. But if they were interested in the spirit of the law and merely wanted to be certain the student had a legitimate interest in the subject beyond getting good grades in it, then D might have a shot. So D wrote about how she had shown interest in her own way. Trust me, she had nothing major to list, but the strategy worked and she was accepted. Not many kids bothered applying, probably for the same reason. I thought that was a shame. Moral of the story--don't let S exclude himself. Apply and see what happens!
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