Skip the fees and let your achievements speak for themselves
Published: Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 01:03
Despite whatever good intentions some may have, paid membership honors societies are unnecessary for students, and unfairly play off of anxieties about success to recruit student members.
Every year many students are bombarded with invitations to join honors societies. They receive letters on fancy paper with swirly fonts and gold seals, informing them that their high achievement has earned them a spot in an elite group—for a fee.
Membership fees are tempting for students; it’s easy to think that $20–$100 isn’t that much to pay for a chance to network and build up a CV or resume. But every service a paid membership society can provide can be acquired elsewhere in ways that are both more valuable and more economical.
Invitations to groups like Golden Key Honor Society and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars entice prospective members with promises of resume bolstering, and vaguely worded opportunities for community service, networking, and scholarships.
A scouring of the internet, however, reveals pages upon pages of honors society members complaining that they paid the fee, got their certificate, attended a ceremony, and never heard anything again.
Even if they did provide all of these opportunities to students, these sorts of memberships would still not be worth paying a fee.
You don’t need a third party to hook you up with volunteer experience; it should be something you seek on your own because you have a passion for a cause.
Networking is best served by getting involved with groups specific to your major or intended career path and by working closely with professors within your chosen field.
Apart from being mostly useless, paid membership honors societies enforce institutionalized classism by charging membership fees.
This attitude is one of the major problems in academia. It implies that hard work and achievement aren’t enough on their own, and that in order to succeed you must pay money to be granted a special title. And that’s simply not true.
Belonging to a private honors society really only provides false value. Having this on a CV could potentially look good for grad school applications, but not any more so than a lot of qualifications that can be achieved for free.
Students who want honors attached to their names can acquire them without paying, by applying for their university’s honors program, choosing to complete an honors thesis or research project, or by getting a high enough GPA to be on the university Dean’s List.
Surely these paid membership honors societies are not always bad—some good must come of them for some people—but overall they don’t do much to serve students.
Honor is something that is earned through work, and achievement speaks for itself. That 50 dollar membership fee would be better spent on some good old fashioned books and pencils.