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  • Gabriella Goldberg

What is the Purpose of the National Honor Society?

NHS officers presenting at the NHS induction ceremony / Credits: Nicola Klarfeld

Walls held its 2023-24 National Honor Society induction ceremony on Feb. 27, adding the majority of the class of 2025 to its ranks. The National Honor Society (NHS) was first established in 1921 to recognize exemplary student leadership and achievement. Students apply for membership in the fall of their sophomore year. Yet while the majority of 11th and 12th graders belong to NHS, the benefits of membership remain unclear to many students

Schools must pay $385 per year to remain affiliated with NHS, though students at Walls are not required to pay an individual membership fee. In theory, joining NHS opens doors to new opportunities and is rumored to look good on college applications. However, in actuality, membership may not have a meaningful impact. The National Honor Society reflects service and academic prowess, but those qualities are already reflected on students’ transcripts in the form of community service hours and GPA.

In recent years, new organizations have formed to potentially compete with the NHS. Many students have received emails from the National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS). Tara Roberts (‘25) said, “I got so tired from the constant emails that I blocked the NSHSS.” The NSHSS requires a one-time fee of $90 to join and a six-month membership fee starting at $65, higher for silver or gold tier memberships. NSHSS resembles NHS in some regards, but Cole Hoffman (‘25) called the programs “a scam,” taking advantage of parents and students willing to do anything to pad a college application.

The National Honor Society is normally associated with helping to get students accepted into college. However, Sarah Rice (‘24) believes that when colleges were looking at her application, NHS “may not have been the biggest factor because I’m involved in so many activities.” On some applications, the National Honor Society just looks rather unexceptional.

Additionally, the Walls chapter is not particularly active to garner attention from colleges. The chapter has only held two community service events this year, both being food drives. The student-led NHS chapter is often deprioritized in favor of other extracurriculars which students are more passionate about.

National Honor Society membership will never look bad on a college application, but it also doesn’t necessarily improve chances for admission to top schools. Rice explained that, since such a large percentage of each class is in NHS, membership “may not be the most outstanding factor.”

The simplicity of getting into NHS at Walls makes the organization not particularly unique. Abigail McGraw-Traster (‘24) remembers that the application “was just a form asking about grades, extracurriculars and community service projects and you answered the questions and they accepted pretty much everyone.”

Vivien Dobrescu (‘24) believes that “it’s worth it [to join] because it doesn’t take long to apply and there are not many responsibilities or time commitments during the year.”

Rice would like to see a little more involvement and commitment in the chapter in the future. She had hoped “to see more specific NHS events and more of a presence in Walls this year.”

According to the NHS website, the average chapter accomplishes “1000 hours of community/school service, $26000 in charitable donations . . . 1000 pounds of food to local, state, and national causes and . . . 100 pints of blood.” If the Walls chapter were to meet or exceed these averages, membership would likely be a bigger accomplishment.


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