Are Honors Societies Worth It?

If your GPA is higher than average, chances are that multiple honors societies have invited you to be a part of their organizations. It is what it says it is: an honor. It’s flattering, of course, to be told you’re one of the smartest in such-and-such group. However, you shouldn’t rush into joining a society just because it recognized you.

The truth is that some honors societies have more benefits than others. It’s important to look into what those benefits are and think about whether or not they can actually help you. The membership dues usually aren’t very high. If they are, that should be an automatic red flag. If the society can’t really help you, though, even a nominal fee wouldn’t be worth it.

Conferences and leadership-building seminars are often part of large honors societies. That could be something that interests you, especially if you’re looking to own a business or hold a public office one day. However, many of these conferences and seminars cost money to attend and could be very far away from where you live. An honors society might give “scholarships” to a few students so that they can attend for free, but the others will have to pay. It’s good to check ahead of time how many students generally apply for these fee waivers and how many get them. Sometimes the awards are only given to two or three students out of hundreds applying. Those odds are not very good because all of the students applying already meet the qualifications for the honors society.

On the other hand, you might find a society that holds free seminars. In that case, take advantage of the opportunity. Chance to learn from industry professionals or motivational speakers become more rare once you get out of school.

Honors societies also typically give their own scholarships to members for books, tuition or just for spending. Once again, it’s good to check how hard it is to get these scholarships. Generally, the more localized the society is, the easier it is to get those scholarships. For national societies, ask if anyone from your school has ever gotten those scholarships. It sounds pretty terrible, but some large honors societies will be bias in favor of certain schools or areas.

Another potential benefit from honors societies is the chance to do volunteer work. Campus societies and even closely monitored national societies will offer or possibly require volunteering. Obviously, if you don’t like to volunteer, this isn’t a very good benefit. But it’s a great way to learn about the community around your school and to try out different types of work. It can be fun, also, to have a consistent group of people who like to volunteer together.

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