Where is the honor?

June 21, 2015, 4:15 p.m. | By Arthi Vijaykumar | 8 years, 11 months ago

Students should not feel obligated to be in honors societies

As Blair juniors prepare for college applications and sophomores start thinking about how to improve their resumes, they will start looking towards joining the school's numerous honors societies next year. However, it's time to take a critical look at whether these revered societies are the best choice for students looking for extracurricular activities.

Blair boasts plenty of honor societies, made up largely of student members and leaders, from the original National Honors Society established in 1921 to subject-specific chapters for science and foreign languages. Of course, some aspects of national honors societies are beneficial, such as their tutoring and community service chapters. However, the positive qualities of these societies, to many students, are not the deciding factor for joining. For most, it's the way the words "honor society" looks. These organizations are seen almost exclusively as a quick and easy way to beef up a resume. The amount of weight the title of being in an honor society holds can discourage students from participating in other activities they care more about.

Students are inducted into the National Honors Society in the fall and spring every year. Photo courtesy of Renay Johnson.

Blair's honor societies do have their benefits. Students in the academic chapters tutor in specific subjects, such as chemistry and math. Some societies even help students give back through community service. And, to be fair, there are also many students who put a lot of work into maintaining the societies, and should be recognized for doing so. However, these activities are often optional, giving less motivation for students to participate in them, as students can still remain in the honor society while doing a minimal amount of service. This lack of incentive for the service aspects of honor societies strips some of the good intentions from the societies.

Though they're founded on noble concepts, honor societies haven't been living up to their name. The qualifications to join an honor society make them open to any student with a B average and a casual interest in whatever the society is centered around. The requirements to maintain one's membership involve not much more than attending infrequent meetings. And yet, the prestige of an honor society membership holds a lot more weight in schools than the amount of commitment required suggests.

If a student feels they will dedicate their time to the national honor society they are in, they should definitely join and participate. However, students should not feel as if being in an honor society just for the sake of being in an honor society is what they need to get into a good college. The sense of obligation towards "smart-sounding extracurricular activities" is what gives students apathy towards what are supposed to be prestigious chapters of an organization within the school.

High schools need to do a better job spreading the message that instead of doing as many extracurricular activities as possible, students should instead limit their participation to one or a couple they really care about. Colleges will likely have higher regard towards students who have invested a good amount of effort into their activities outside of the classroom. Students are also likely to be much happier spending their time on things they care about. So if you've been asking yourself whether or not you should join that honor society next year, you should maybe try pursuing something you'd be happier spending time on.

Tags: National Honors Society honors societies

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