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Can You Meet These National Honor Society Standards?

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Diverse group of high school students on school steps laughing.

You’ve probably heard of the National Honor Society, but do you really understand what it is, who gets in or how being a member could pay off for you as a high school student?

Getting into NHS requires a lot of work and dedication. You need to meet the GPA requirement and other standards to be considered for membership. But it can be well worth the effort, not only for college applications but for the skills you’ll learn.

Here’s a breakdown of of everything you need to know about NHS to help you determine if the work involved is a good fit for you.

What is the National Honor Society?

When it comes to recognizing high school students for their achievements, the National Honor Society (NHS) is the leading organization and has been around since 1921. Almost 100 years later, over 1 million students in all 50 states, several U.S. territories, and Canada participate in the organization’s mission. NHS formally recognizes the academic excellence its members bring to the organization and requires them to be engaged for the duration of their high school careers.

NHS’s sister organizations include the National Junior Honor Society, National Elementary Honor Society, National Association of Secondary School Principals, and the National Student Council.

What are the requirements to be an NHS member?

There are national standards that all chapters follow when selecting the members for their chapter. The requirements are based on four pillars: scholarship, service, leadership and character. The scholarship pillar is strictly defined by the NHS. Students must have a GPA of 3.0 or your school’s equivalent standard.

The remaining pillars aren’t as easy to define. Each student who applies for membership will provide information on any volunteer work they participate in, leadership roles they hold, and what makes their character excellent.

But these national standards are only guidelines for each chapter. Some chapters may require a higher cumulative GPA or have a minimum number of service hours that students must complete to stay eligible from year to year.

Each chapter is required to publish their selection requirements, so you’ll have little to no guesswork when completing your application. If you have any questions about the requirements, you should seek at the faculty member who serves as the chapter advisor.

How can being a member benefit my future?

As a member of NHS, you’ll be engaged in opportunities that positively influence your school and community through service projects. You will complete these projects as a team with your chapter or individually. Service leadership is something colleges look for in applications, so this will make you a strong candidate when you’re applying to colleges.

With high standards for membership, you’ll be motivated to keep a high GPA that keeps you eligible for NHS membership in your chapter. This is another area that will increase your chances of getting accepted to your college of choice. Overall, being a member of NHS will enhance the competitiveness of your college applications.

In addition to having stellar credentials when applying to college, you’ll have resources to help craft your application to its highest potential and ensure you’re aware of how to take advantage of all financial aid options available to you. Members are also able to apply for the NHS Scholarship program that provides additional funding for your college education.

Being in NHS opens up a variety of leadership training opportunities that are only available to members. The Leadership Experience and Development (LEAD) conferences provide training for students to have a positive influence in their school and community environments. NHS members from all around the country attend these conferences, which make NHS a great practice arena to begin developing networking skills and building your personal network.

All members are eligible to attend three national leadership conferences. Some states even offer additional leadership training opportunities for their members outside of the national association.

Are there deadlines to apply for the National Honor Society?

Deadlines to apply for your local NHS chapter are determined by each chapter. Only students who are sophomores, juniors or seniors are eligible to apply. Freshman can still seek out the chapter advisor to learn the application deadline and requirements to better prepare their membership application. It’s never too early to learn how to get into the NHS.

If my school doesn’t have an NHS chapter, can I apply to one at another school?

If your school doesn’t have an active NHS chapter, you can look into renewing the chapter or requesting a chapter be established. You’ll need a faculty member to serve as the chapter advisor and submit the chapter application. Also, each school has a faculty council made up of five members that review the membership applications and selects the appropriate students.

It costs $385 each year to start and keep a chapter active. Some schools will make this part of their annual budget, and others may require the student membership to fund raise the fee for each year.

If you are successful in orchestrating an NHS chapter at your school, be sure to include this on your resume and college applications. It is a great accomplishment that shows initiative and commitment, which are two qualities colleges look for in applicants.

I’m homeschooled. Can I be in NHS at a high school near me?

As of right now, students who are homeschooled are not eligible for NHS membership, even at their local high school chapters. If you are considered a part-time student at a high school with an NHS chapter, you can ask the advisor if they allow part-time students to apply for membership.

Is it worth being in NHS if it’s only for one year?

Being a member of NHS has many advantages even if your membership only lasts one year. The resources and leadership development opportunities that are available only for members are wonderful even if you participate once. The service projects and hours you complete will benefit your college applications and resume even if your membership status does not remain intact.

What are ways to make the most of my NHS experience?

To make the most of your NHS experience, be sure to take advantage of all the opportunities and resources that are available to you.

  • Engage in service projects put together by your chapter.
  • Create your own service opportunities to give back to your community.
  • Get assistance to make your college experience the best it can be.
  • Make goals to go above and beyond what is needed to retain your membership status.
  • Attend at least one national conference for the leadership development and networking.
  • Develop good time management so you can excel academically and in other areas.

Can I put NHS on my resume?

Absolutely! Whether you go to college or not, adding your NHS experience will improve your resume, especially if you don’t have prior work experience. Even though you weren’t getting paid for the volunteer work, initiative and commitment that colleges look for when admitting new students are two values that employers look for in new employees.

What if I don’t get in?

If you aren’t selected as a member of your local NHS chapter, you are allowed to appeal the final decision. You can ask the faculty advisor more about the chapter’s appeal process. If the appeal results in the same conclusion regarding your membership, this is an excellent opportunity to ask the council for feedback on how to make your application better for the next year.

What are some things I can do to get in next year?

To prepare for the following year’s application period, make sure you are aware of all the standards that are required by your chapter for membership. Create a plan to meet those requirements that last the entire year. Schedule time to study and volunteer so you’re not struggling at the end of the year to tie up any loose ends that can compromise your application.

Ask the leadership of your NHS chapter or the faculty advisor if you can participate in service projects that don’t require membership. If you’re seen participating in service work, that can make the service, leadership, and character pillars stronger than simply providing information.

What are other great activities, in case I don’t get into NHS?

There are several other opportunities that you can partake in to develop the same values and have experiences that colleges will love seeing on your application.

  • Join another club at your school or start your own club.
  • Participate in volunteer work and service projects.
  • Join study groups to keep your GPA strong.
  • Show you have good study habits to take with you to college.
  • Compete on a sports team at your school.
  • Take on a leadership role for a club or sports team.



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Jason Patel is the founder of Transizion, a college admissions assistance and mentorship company. Transizion donates a portion of profits to low-income students in need of college and career assistance. Jason has been featured in the Washington Post, NBC News, BBC, Bustle, Forbes, Fast Company, Fox Business, Reader’s Digest, and a number of other outlets.

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