Staying up until 4 a.m. so you can finish the essay you’ve already spent twenty hours on. Leaving band practice early so you can make your symphony performance. Signing up for IB, AP and College Now just to have the designations on your transcript. Students find ways to cram multitudes of activities into their schedules in order to transform into that outstanding, well-rounded person colleges seem to want. With over 700,000 members, National Honor Society (NHS) is one such program. That’s not even considering other nationally recognized honor societies, each having thousands of students claiming membership. But, according to a recent article in the New York Times, when so many students’ résumés are jam-packed with honor societies, colleges aren’t nearly as impressed.
Currently at East, there are five honor societies — NHS and National Art Honor Society, and the French, German, and Spanish National Honor Societies. All together, over 165 students are involved, with each type of honor society having its own membership requirements.
French and Spanish honor societies require that juniors have all A’s and seniors have all A’s and B’s in their language class. German Honor Society mandates that members have 3.6 GPA over three semesters of German and a 3.0 cumulative GPA. NAHS membership is determined through art scholarship, service, and character.
NHS has the most criterium for membership: applicants must have a 3.6 weighted GPA, pass an administrative review of discipline, complete 20 hours of community service, and demonstrate leadership. These requirements are a step-up from last year, and next year the bar is expected to rise even higher. Next year’s applicants will need to have a 3.5 non-weighted GPA in order to be considered for membership. Murphy thinks the new GPA requirement will predominately affect those students who are getting mostly B’s in honors classes, who, with the previous weighted scale, would have been eligible for induction.
“We’re looking to induct the best kids that we possibly can,” NHS sponsor Rebecca Murphy said. “[The students] that are self-motivated, that can meet deadlines, that can advocate for themselves.”
According to Murphy, Principal Dr. Karl Krawitz requested that the requirements be reviewed when he first arrived at East. A panel of five anonymous teachers, a board that rotates from year to year, worked on revising the standards so they would best exemplify NHS’s four pillars — character, service, leadership, and scholarship.
In order to preserve honesty in applications this year, it was decided that students, like SHARE chairs, could no longer sign off on services hours and that the hours must be validated at the time of volunteering. Leadership, an important factor to Dr. Krawitz, entails writing an essay detailing two instances of leadership, one of which must be at East. Character used to involve students finding five people in the building to vouch for them, but this was far from an ideal solution for Murphy.
“You could cheat on a test in one class, but if you got five other teachers to [vouch for you], you could still slide through,” Murphy said. “…We feel that kids need to have good character everywhere, not just where they feel they’re going to be evaluated.”
Now, the entire faculty can provide input on an applicant’s character. However, Murphy assures that no “black-balling” will occur. If a behavioral incident is brought up by a faculty member, the panel will vote on a candidate’s induction. If the inductee feels their exclusion was unfair, they can file an appeal.
Still, Murphy feels that the size of NHS isn’t what is making colleges disregard the program—it’s the enormous variation in requirements for NHS chapters across the country. Murphy says that East has quite a bit of leeway in choosing criteria for NHS membership. East focuses primarily on the NHS pillars, wanting to include all students who demonstrate good character, leadership, and service. This isn’t so for all schools.
“I doubt there is any college on the planet that would put a kid into their college solely because they’re an NHS member, and I doubt there is anybody that would keep you out solely because you’re not an NHS member,” Murphy said.
Other honor societies at East are facing the same problems. French National Honor Society (FNHS) sponsor Laure Losey is disappointed with student commitment to their respective honor societies. Losey feels that FNHS should be another outlet for students to learn and experience French culture and enrich what they learn in class.
“I just think people come to put something on their résumé,” Losey said. “I don’t think people are very serious and part of it is because they’re involved in way too many things.”
FNHS meets about once a month in school and once a month out of school. The eight members will get together to do a French culture activity, such as boule, the French equivalent of bocce ball. Once, members acted out an entire French play, Le Borgeois Gentilhomme. French food is always involved.
But, according to Losey, getting meetings actually scheduled has been an issue. Meetings had to be moved to the mornings because many members couldn’t make the ones after school. Losey feels that, while the initial requirements are suitable, the attendance policy should be stricter.
“A lot of people skip meetings or they can’t agree what to do,” Losey said. “Even if the officers have a plan and great ideas, it doesn’t mean that people are going to follow, which to me is very sad.”
Junior Natalie Parker is a member of FNHS and is applying to be in NHS. Parker joined FNHS because she was invited and she’d heard it was fun, but is mainly involved in honor societies for college applications. Though Parker feels that getting into honor societies is fairly easy, she doesn’t think that the requirements should change.
“I think it’s good that a lot of people can get in,” Parker said. “A lot of people work hard and the people that get in work hard, so I don’t think it needs to be any more selective.”
Senior Tara Raghuveer, co-president of NHS, believes that membership requirements could be slightly stricter, but feels that the additional standards added this year are a big step in the right direction. Though Raghuveer feels that the NHS members in her grade all deserve to be there, she is doubtful that membership means much to college admissions.
“I think a lot of colleges recognize that the standards for getting into NHS differ between schools and thus don’t take it into much consideration,” Raghuveer said. “…It’s helpful to have on your applications, but it’s not necessarily a deciding factor.”
While KU Admissions Counselor Nathan Mack feels that honor societies have not lost any of their prestige, he warns that simply filling an application with honor societies is not enough.
“We want to see that a student takes their experience in the honor society and makes something of it during their high school career,” Mack said. “Admissions offices know when a student puts down a club for the sake of merely looking impressive.”
One way of making the most out of NHS is through the volunteer opportunities, which was the initial reason Raghuveer joined NHS. As co-president, she helps organize NHS service projects. Raghuveer and senior Haley Dalgleish are in charge of the NHS peer tutoring, setting up tutoring days and organizing tutors. Murphy thinks that projects like these help instill life-long traits that ultimately overcome any short-comings of NHS.
“I think that the pillars of National Honor Society and how you carry those ideals into other organization,” Murphy said. “It will give you a background that will make colleges more receptive to your admission.”
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National Honor Society Application - With A Free Essay Review
I spent the first fifteen years of my life on the sidelines. Socially awkward and embarrassed by my own insecurities, I shied away from almost any group or social activity. Ecuador changed my entire life. Through my volunteer work there during a summer trip with members of my Spanish class, I became confident in myself as not only a person, but as a member of my community and the world. Without that experience, I doubt that I would be here typing this to you today.
Fighting away the flies as my sister, teacher, friends, and myself climbed up the side of a mountain on a rainy afternoon in Ecuador, I selfishly wondered why we were being forced to help a man we had never even met. As we planted more than one-hundred trees over the span of a few hours, working side by side with the impoverished people there, I learned more about the world than in the fifteen years I had spent in my own backyard. I learned about their sense of humor; I learned how to feed stray chickens and pet them; I learned how to care about a stranger. After we were finished planting the trees, I was excited to start repainting the house of a man who climbed to the top of the mountain simply to get ice for his village. At the end of my time spent in Ecuador, I had a newfound desire to help those in need, however and whenever possible.
As soon as I came home, I once again began volunteering at ****** Hospital, only now I worked with a new vigor. I volunteered behind the scenes in the Workers Compensation department for almost forty hours in a six week span, organizing files that had not been touched in over a decade. My goal in doing this was to help the hospital transition into a new era of data storage the digital switch. Although most volunteers did not want to work in the Compensation department, I embraced the opportunity to do something the hospital sincerely needed. My service there taught me about character and continuing with a job until it was completed.
In addition to my work at the hospital, I also became more involved in school, focusing on my interests and potential career paths. I spent two years as Spanish club treasurer, and hope to continue next year as president if the club is reinstated. I spent my sophomore year photographing and writing stories for the yearbook, then transferred over to newspaper for my junior and senior year. I love the ability to voice the news for the entire school, and the fact that people can read, critique, and improve my work on a frequent basis. These experiences on both the yearbook and newspaper have helped me immensely to grow as a writer and an artist.
School presented another opportunity to get involved and help in any way possible. By the end of this year, I will have spent 90 hours working in the office and guidance center during my 1st period class, assisting both Mrs. **** and Mrs. ********** in secretarial services such as answering phones, sorting through mail, and giving tours to new students. I find it rewarding to represent Northview, and I genuinely enjoy having the ability to give somebody a tour and first impression of our school.
Throughout my high school life, I developed an immense passion for nutrition. Losing over thirty pounds took me from obesity to a healthy weight range, taught me about self-control and patience, and inspired me to help others do the same. My dream career is to go into the field of dietetics and help young kids suffering from childhood obesity.
Work has also been a large part of my high school life. Since the my freshman year, I have worked at a seasonal ice cream store called ******* during the spring, summer and fall months. Beginning as a new employee, I quickly began gaining more responsibility and respect throughout the company. I began training new employees, taking photographs for their Facebook page, working full day shifts when needed, and developing a 54 page manual when I finally decided to leave for a new job as a Hostess at *******.
Although I have just started at my new job, I hope to carry the lessons I have learned from ****** into my new career, and hope to have the same success here that I had for years at *******.
Thank you for the nomination into the National Honor Society; it is, truly, an honor. I am grateful to have been accepted into this first step of the program, and hope that you will consider my application.
This is a very good essay, and probably fine for its purposes as it stands. I cannot say that with any certainty, because I know nothing about the application process and nothing about what this essay is expected to accomplish. But it is obviously a good essay, so my comments will be brief, and I leave it up to you to determine whether they are worth acting on.
Now you say at the end of your second paragraph that you "had a newfound desire to help those in need, however and whenever possible," but you don't explain the source of that desire. That will seem like a strange thing for me to say, since in that paragraph you have just described the experience that led to that new desire. Still, the connection between the experience and the desire is not articulated. One could imagine another person having the same experience and coming to the realization that helping people directly in this way was a waste of time. There are billions of people on the planet feeding chickens, and hauling ice, and painting houses. One might then think that in the grand scheme of things helping these people is meaningless; one can only do it for so long before getting tired and bored and wanting to head back to a comfortable fly-free house with four bedrooms and three baths. And if one were inspired to do something, it might be to enter politics, or join the revolution, or protest in Washington, or become a journalist and chronicle the world's injustices. You were inspired to help people and institutions directly. You volunteered at a hospital and at school. You wanted "to get involved and help in any way possible." So you end up doing data entry, secretarial work, and tours. My question is simple: why did you take this path? What about your experience made you want to do that? What made you think it a good or useful or pleasurable thing to do? You state what happened, but you don't explain it.
One of the reasons that your essay is vague about the connection between your experience in Ecuador and what you started doing when you got back is that your essay is vague about what you learned. Your essay is also a little bit vague about what you learned from your subsequent experiences. (Note: usually, in other reviews, when I say "a little bit vague," I just mean "vague"; but here I mean "a little bit vague"!). A lot of essays of this kind don't include specific statements about what the author has learned. Yours does, and that's good. Let's look at two specific examples:
1. My service there taught me about character and continuing with a job until it was completed
2. My time at ******* taught me an immense lesson about responsibility; patience, both with customers and new staff; character; and sticking with something you care about.
Regarding the first of these examples, it's not clear to me what you mean here by "character" and it seems to me that there's not a whole lot to learn about "continuing with a job until it's completed" beyond the fact that that is usually (not always!) a good thing to do. Perhaps you mean to suggest a connection between character and finishing a job, but you don't articulate any such connection explicitly. If you said, for instance, that "continuing even a tedious job until it is completed is satisfying and has helped me develop the strength of character needed to finish what I start and so become someone capable of making serious commitments," well, then I'd know what you were talking about.
Regarding the second example, essentially the same problem arises. Responsibility and patience and (again!) character are certainly good things, but presumably you knew that banal fact before you served your first ice-cream. What did you actually learn about these things? Did you learn how to embody those virtues? Did you learn about the concrete value of patience? Did you learn generally about the rewards of virtue? It is said, of course, that virtue is its own reward, but I hope in your case you also get accepted into the National Honor Society.
Best wishes, EJ.
Submitted by: amandabinz