by Joseph Sweeney | editor-in-chief
With the National Honors Society having just inducted new members into their organization, students are reminded to stay aware of the difference between the NHS and another organization, the National Society of High School Scholars.
“So a lot of students get those letters during the summer, and [the NSHSS] ask for a fee, and they offer all of these avenues for students to get scholarships. It basically implies that they’re going to have a leg up when it comes to college applications,” NHS Sponsor Renea Canales said. “They have this database that students will have access to, the only problem is that it’s nothing that students don’t already have access to for free. So it’s a little misleading as to what students are getting, when they pay that fee. And it’s a for-profit organization that’s doing it.”
It is most often around NHS induction season that students will be asked to pay a $75 fee to join this organization, though the similarities between the two are few and far between.
“In NHS, we function on our pillars. We look at a student’s academics, there is a criteria that they have to meet for that, so students have to have that unweighted 90 GPA. We also look at student’s involvement: what they are involved in in the community, and what they are involved with at school, and we also participate in community service,” Canales said. “Not only do they have their academics, they have their involvement, they’re considered leaders amongst their peers, and they are involved in their community, providing services and volunteering with them.”
The NSHSS has been active for many years, and will typically reach out to as many students as they can during the given time frame.
“When I first became the sponsor, that’s when I found out about it. I wasn’t quite aware of it myself, but my co-sponsor, Ms. Schwarz, was aware of it because she got those letters herself when she was in high school,” Canales said. “They typically do most any student. They pay for databases of student information and student emails, and mailing addresses, and that’s how they send their invitations out. It’s for any student who wants to be a part of that organization, if they are willing to pay the fees for it.”
Despite their differences, it is not uncommon for students to confuse the two, thinking that the NSHSS and NHS are one in the same.
“Usually, we get notifications when we send out applications of students saying ‘I thought I was already in,’ or, when we have the first meeting of the year for our currently inducted members, we actually have people showing up thinking that they’re in it, and I have to, unfortunately, let them know that ‘no, the applications haven’t gone out for the year yet, and you’re not involved,’” Canales said. “I typically get between five to probably sometimes ten students thinking they applied for NHS or are in NHS because of that organization, because their parents paid the fees for that, and it’s not the same thing.”
The NSHSS has their own website, where enrolled students may create an account to search for scholarships, though these offers have been met with some skepticism.
“They’re not really offering scholarships themselves; they’re offering scholarship-services to students, so they offer students these opportunities to have access to these databases to get their scholarships, to get their grants, but the only thing is, these are nothing that’s a secret,” Canales said. “These are all things that students wouldn’t even need to pay for, things they can get for free.”
Student membership in the program is usually not noted by colleges on an application, due to the company’s lack of involvement in activities such as community service.
“When they’re looking at a student’s resume, they’re looking at what they’ve been involved in,” Canales said. “They’re looking at national organizations that have credibility, and because they don’t, that’s not one that usually gets recognized when students are putting that on their application because they’re aware that it’s not an organization that students are actually involved in.”
Due to the nature of the organization, it has been rumored as a scam and is often not promoted by the public school system.
“I do think that it’s rather misleading,” Canales said. “I think that students need to be very aware that it’s just an organization that is for-profit, that’s saying it’s going to help them get scholarships, and unfortunately, these are things that students don’t need to pay for. They don’t need to pay $75 to have somebody help them scout out these scholarships when they can go to scholarship databases that are free online and find them themselves. They’re not getting any prestige from it, they’re not getting any type of honors or skills or anything that has a sense of credibility for being a part of that group.”