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Old 09-18-2019, 03:44 PM
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National Honor Society


My daughter is trying to decide if it's worth applying to NHS as a high school junior. Deadline is near, time is short and she's all over the place. I was never invited and have no experience. Reaching out to the Dope for your experiences. Either yours or your children. Was it beneficial? I view it mostly as a resume addition for the college admissions process, but I'm probably biased. Does it add value to the admissions process?


So Dope, what do you say?
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Old 09-18-2019, 03:48 PM
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It's an honor. As I recall, there is no responsibility or work involved. (40 year old info)

I suppose it's of some benefit at some colleges, but my uniformed guess is that it's probably not significant. It pleases the parents, and costs nothing. That's all I got.
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Old 09-18-2019, 03:49 PM
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I have a hard time imagining it really means much of anything in any applications. Little more than a "Who's Who" type of thing.

There is SOME value to just adding lines to one's resume, but for openings that REALLY mean something, I suspect real experiences conveying real experience and growth would be weighted much more heavily.
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Old 09-18-2019, 04:04 PM
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For highly selective colleges, NOT being in NHS can be a very mild red flag. If they have the grades, why aren't they? Is there a reason the faculty committee voted against allowing them in?

The application should not be rigorous. Generally one lists activities and has a parent sign off. In my experience, there is a community service requirement to remain an active member.

If a student is looking to be more engaged in their community, NHS can provide access to group community service projects that are interesting. Once a student is engaged in a project, that can lead to other work with that organization. That, more than NHS, can be relevant in a college application. If a student is already over-committed, it's less important.
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Old 09-18-2019, 05:20 PM
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While she is unlikely to apply to Canadian schools, my experience with admissions up here is people would think it was a gullible act
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Old 09-18-2019, 05:27 PM
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I was in NHS in high school, and it was mostly a chance to get on stage in front of a student assembly. We didn't really do anything else (no one did service projects back then, we had our own families and farms to help with).... BUT

The high school had a traditional senior trip, for all of the seniors, from the small town in South Dakota to the big city, either Chicago, Kansas City (!), or Winnipeg (!!!). That was actually quite an experience for a lot of kids who never got a chance to travel. The year before I was a senior, some kids decided that since the drinking age was 18 in Canada, and they were 18, that it would be OK to party hardy, even though it was a school-sponsored trip. The administration came down hard when they found out, cancelling the spring musical and the entire track season.

That would have been the end of the senior trips, except they decided that perhaps we could trust the seniors in NHS with a shorter trip, this time to Minneapolis (another big-time trip for many of us). We kept ourselves in-line (mostly), and at least the NHS students got to do something that others didn't.

Many NHS chapters sponsor trips to regional and nation events and competitions. I'm the local advisor for PTK (Phi Theta Kappa), the community college national honor society, and trips are big part of the lure. Beyond the trips, it's mostly for showing families their accomplishments, and doesn't hurt to put on resumes and university applications; some university applications have that as a checkbox. Most students join just because they're asked to join, and honored to know that their hard work is being recognized.
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Old 09-18-2019, 06:25 PM
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I was in National Beta Club and National Honor Society. I think you had to have a 3.0 GPA to be in the former and a 3.5 GPA to be in the latter.

Was it a big deal? At the scale of the universe, no. But in the insular world of academically-inclined, college-bound youth, it's one more thing to hang your hat on. And it's a marker of status, for kids who are into that kind of thing. I think at my school, you had a special subscript printed next to your name in the graduation program if you were in the NHS.

The only real benefit that I got out of being in the NHS is that it made for a great excuse for school-sanctioned mischief. Like, for some reason they entrusted the NHS kids with updating the electronic marquee in front of the school. It is amazing how a five-minute task that can easily be accomplished by a single person would always seem to require an hour out of class and 20 people. We NHS kids were notorious for using NHS business as an excuse for why we were late for class, why we had to leave class early, and why we were in the halls during class. And teachers would go along with the ruse because we were precious angels (or maybe they were just picking their battles).

I know that's not really a benefit. But still, it was fun being under the NHS halo even if it was kinda bullshit.
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Old 09-18-2019, 06:47 PM
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I was selected, I declined. The staff at my school didn't know what to do with that.

It looked really dorky and they had really dorky initiation rites that I wanted nothing to do with.

Didn't hurt me getting into college, didn't hurt my career.
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Old 09-18-2019, 10:04 PM
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For highly selective colleges, NOT being in NHS can be a very mild red flag. If they have the grades, why aren't they? Is there a reason the faculty committee voted against allowing them in?

The application should not be rigorous. Generally one lists activities and has a parent sign off. In my experience, there is a community service requirement to remain an active member.

If a student is looking to be more engaged in their community, NHS can provide access to group community service projects that are interesting. Once a student is engaged in a project, that can lead to other work with that organization. That, more than NHS, can be relevant in a college application. If a student is already over-committed, it's less important.
Agreed, it's one of the baselines to have on the resume of a student who's applying to competitive colleges. As MandaJO says, not having it might be a minor red flag. Both my kids were in NHS and in their schools it was a given that kids who had the grades would apply. The application isn't difficult either. My older one was in honors classes and all her classmates were in NHS except for a kid who had too many absences (I think that students out for over 12 days during the school year weren't eligible).

Last edited by gkster; 09-18-2019 at 10:05 PM.
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Old 09-18-2019, 10:10 PM
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they had really dorky initiation rites
My experience is with my older sister, me, and my three kids. The initiation rites involve getting somewhat dressed up and sitting through a boring presentation in the HS auditorium.

The only thing my kids had to do was pass out programs at graduation ceremonies before they were seniors. I don't remember doing anything other than sitting for a group picture for the yearbook.

I can't think of a reason not to go for it... it may not make a difference but it can't hurt.
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Old 09-18-2019, 10:41 PM
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As far as I can remember (from the mid 60's) I got nothing out of it except something to put on my college applications. Whether that did me any good or not I couldn't say. I was already branded indelibly in high school as a swot (a derogatory British term that seems to mean someone who actually studied and did the required work) and a dork, and this didn't change anything. It didn't hurt me either. So I guess I would recommend she go ahead with it.
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Old 09-18-2019, 11:03 PM
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It never did anything for me. Except a bragging point to my brothers. The lil'wrekker put it in college aps.
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Old 09-19-2019, 01:05 AM
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I was my school's NHS advisor. NHS requires 15 hours of community service, some of which must consist of NHS group projects. Many of the members were so overbooked, it was hard for them to get in the hours and make the meetings.They were in it mostly for college apps, though NHS also offers scholarships.
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Old 09-19-2019, 02:18 AM
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Huh. We didn't even HAVE NHS at my high school.
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Old 09-19-2019, 07:43 AM
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Thinking back to the olden days when I was in, all I recall is getting a pin, and maybe there was a ceremony. I know there was no service requirement or application, but that was almost 50 years ago. I have no idea if it was any value on my college applications - all I cared about was getting into my first choice school, which I did.
  #16  
Old 09-19-2019, 08:01 AM
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Huh. We didn't even HAVE NHS at my high school.
I never even heard about it, until now, (though I would have qualified).

Sounds like some kind of scam to me.
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Old 09-19-2019, 08:25 AM
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I was my school's NHS advisor. NHS requires 15 hours of community service, some of which must consist of NHS group projects. Many of the members were so overbooked, it was hard for them to get in the hours and make the meetings.They were in it mostly for college apps, though NHS also offers scholarships.
Huh. I was in NHS, back in the dark ages when I was in school. We did no community service projects. We had no meetings. Really, apart from the very dull initiation ceremony, it had no effect on my high school experience at all.
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Old 09-19-2019, 10:16 AM
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My experience is with my older sister, me, and my three kids. The initiation rites involve getting somewhat dressed up and sitting through a boring presentation in the HS auditorium.

The only thing my kids had to do was pass out programs at graduation ceremonies before they were seniors. I don't remember doing anything other than sitting for a group picture for the yearbook.

I can't think of a reason not to go for it... it may not make a difference but it can't hurt.
The initiation in our school was wearing a (poorly made) paper plate based chicken (? something avian) costume designed to make you look stupid, all day. And some other stuff that I forget.

I didn't see why I should do that at all, for a nothing "honor", so I blew them off.

I wouldn't have done well in a frat, or a service academy. I naturally rebel against hazing rituals, no matter how innocuous.
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Old 09-19-2019, 10:40 AM
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I am a high school teacher. I don't sponsor NHS, but I have helped by serving on a teacher committee that reviews and narrows down the applications.

Things have changed a good bit since I was in NHS as a student in the early 1990s. Being selected to be in it was pretty much exclusively based on our grades, and not having disciplinary issues. The only thing we did in NHS back then was go to a ceremony to be inducted, and then help run the induction ceremony the next year. That was it. And you got a nifty stole to wear at graduation. Nowadays, our NHS is much more active with regular monthly meetings and activities. Community service is emphasized (in fact, they get kicked out if they don't earn their service hours each term) and is one of the primary criteria we look at (after the GPA and conduct standards are met) when reviewing the applications.

With regards to college applications, I agree with others that simply having 'NHS member' on your transcript is not a very big deal, but it may be expected by the more selective universities. On the other hand, the community service projects that a student might participate in as part of their NHS membership could be listed individually on a transcript and that might make them a more attractive candidate. Also, as with any other group or club, being an officer or other type of leader in the club will be more significant to colleges than simply being a member.

Last edited by Tangent; 09-19-2019 at 10:41 AM.
  #20  
Old 09-19-2019, 10:48 AM
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I never even heard about it, until now, (though I would have qualified).

Sounds like some kind of scam to me.
NHS is free, or nearly so. There are other "Honor" societies out there that are definitely scams though. My kids got a few letters in the mail inviting them to join some prestigious honor societies for the low, low price of $200-$500.

Last edited by muldoonthief; 09-19-2019 at 10:48 AM.
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Old 09-19-2019, 01:16 PM
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NHS is free, or nearly so. There are other "Honor" societies out there that are definitely scams though. My kids got a few letters in the mail inviting them to join some prestigious honor societies for the low, low price of $200-$500.
I was joking, actually, but now that you point out real scams, I'm not so surprised.
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Old 09-19-2019, 01:16 PM
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At my school, there was no application involved. I had a graduating class of 20; teachers had a pretty good grasp of students' activities and what not.

There was one kid, let's call him T, who ended up being his class salutatorian. He was also the first-grade teacher's son (I went to a K-12 school--all ages under one roof). Of course, he assumed he would be inducted. He wasn't. He ran upstairs and cried to his mother, which essentially explains why he was not inducted. T was never a criminal or anything, but he was cocky by nature and could not face any adversity without throwing a crying fit. Every teacher in school knew this, and they were sick of it.

In direct reply to the OP, your daughter should certainly apply. There's certainly no harm in it. Then again, I was NHS president, so I'm a little biased.
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Old 09-19-2019, 02:24 PM
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The gold braid I got to wear at graduation really rocked.
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Old 09-19-2019, 03:31 PM
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I considered it one of those things that didn't hurt and could have maybe helped. In my day (early 70s) and the schools I applied to (Pitt, Cal-U) bigger importance was having the money to pay for it all.
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Old 09-19-2019, 07:27 PM
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Huh. I was in NHS, back in the dark ages when I was in school. We did no community service projects. We had no meetings. Really, apart from the very dull initiation ceremony, it had no effect on my high school experience at all.
Yeah, the community service requirement came about later. I don't know exactly when. I had to track members community service (and their GPA's.), but none of that went in to NHS. Maybe some schools/advisors fudge on that stuff, but my school took the whole thing seriously, and I did, too.
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Old 09-19-2019, 10:14 PM
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Speaking from relatively recent experience, one kid graduated HS 2015, the other 2018, 2 different schools, both NHS members.

It's not a scam. There's NSHSS (National Society of High School Scholars), which is a scam and sends out letters trading on the similarity of their names, but NHS is recognized as legit and has just minimal fees. http://www.collegeprepresults.com/is...-a-real-award/

Schools have leeway in interpreting the community service requirements. One kid's school had them do 20 hours of outside projects which they found on their own and they had to bring in letters stating how many hours of service they performed. I think that they had just one NHS service event. The other kid was scheduled by his school's NHS for 3 or 4 school-based projects and events like ushering at school plays and concerts and open houses. They even had special yellow blazers for the NHS kids to wear at events. I was afraid that we'd have to pay for the ugly blazer, but the school provided them; they had a rackful of assorted sizes.

And like others have said, it's a line to include in the graduation program. It's a recognition of hard work and achievement.

Last edited by gkster; 09-19-2019 at 10:19 PM.
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Old 09-20-2019, 05:07 PM
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The NHS keg parties were the best.
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Old 09-21-2019, 07:57 AM
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Huh. I was in NHS, back in the dark ages when I was in school. We did no community service projects. We had no meetings. Really, apart from the very dull initiation ceremony, it had no effect on my high school experience at all.
I was elected president of NHS my senior year in Highschool. I was absent the day we they voted and won by a landslide. No projects, just weekly meetings that were basically study hall time. I put it on college applications!
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Old 09-21-2019, 02:18 PM
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I put it on college applications!
This is the sole reason for its existence. Not as important as GPA, SAT, class quality, letters of recommendation. But more important than being VP of the debate club.

Note that once you get into a college its importance disappears. There's no point in putting it on a job resume 4 years later.
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Old 09-21-2019, 03:29 PM
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There's no point in putting it on a job resume 4 years later.
We're going out tonite to a local brewery for beer and dinner. I'm going to make an effort to bring up my NHS Presidency to at least three people. Unless my gf kills me after the first or second.
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Old 09-21-2019, 04:24 PM
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I became a member as a junior. In my day, it was considered useful on college applications, since it put you among the top of your class. It was a small school, so members were chosen by the faculty.
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Old 09-21-2019, 07:25 PM
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I don't recall it even being a thing at my my private college prep high school. There was some honors recognition thingee but no application for it. You got the grades and avoided getting so many demerits and they gave you a patch and a certificate. My first thought was maybe it was the NHS but there was no service requirement.

Apparently, my school that sold itself based on college admissions didn't think it mattered in the 80s.
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Old 09-22-2019, 08:43 AM
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We're going out tonite to a local brewery for beer and dinner. I'm going to make an effort to bring up my NHS Presidency to at least three people. Unless my gf kills me after the first or second.
So, last night started off great. Bartender asked me if there was anything new with my life. Seeing my opportunity, I replied, "did I ever tell you I was National Honor Society President my senior year in Highschool?" She smiled, served my beer, then walked away.

A few minutes later, a guy my age approached and introduced himself. The bartender is his daughter. He's intrigued by my NHS information but is totally confused as to how this topic came up in conversation. It took awhile, but I explained.

He hung out with us till last call, bringing up the fact that I "used to be a genius" each time someone new came in. Weird night.
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Old 09-22-2019, 10:27 AM
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Agreed, it's one of the baselines to have on the resume of a student who's applying to competitive colleges. As MandaJO says, not having it might be a minor red flag. Both my kids were in NHS and in their schools it was a given that kids who had the grades would apply. The application isn't difficult either. My older one was in honors classes and all her classmates were in NHS except for a kid who had too many absences (I think that students out for over 12 days during the school year weren't eligible).
it's mildly distressing that universities would put any stock into something that is literally no more than checking a box.
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Old 09-22-2019, 11:14 AM
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I have my doubts that they actually do, and would like to see some evidence of it. I would think that with SAT/GPA and AP classes they have what they want to know, and meaningful extracurricular activities would be what really matters.
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Old 09-22-2019, 11:59 AM
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it's mildly distressing that universities would put any stock into something that is literally no more than checking a box.
You have to go through a teacher committee, and kids are kept off because of concerns about character. Kids are also kicked out if they are caught cheating (usually there's one warning) or otherwise have disciplinary problems. Like I said, very minor red flag. It probably wouldn't even register unless there was a second indicator that their might be a problem--like something in the letter of recommendation, or even an essay that make a kid sound like a grade-A douche. This would be especially true if it was a kid from a school that had a robust and active NHS that virtually everyone with the grades was in. On the other hand, if the kid had a glowing letter of rec that talked explicitly about their strong character/integrity, then not being in NHS likely wouldn't matter at all.
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