If you have at least a 3.0 GPA and have checked your email this semester, you’ve likely seen an invitation to join at least one honor society.
Many honor societies send mass emails at the beginning of the spring semester to qualifying students in the hopes of recruiting new members. A quick glance at these emails may not reveal any major differences between the honor societies, so how should students decide which, if any, honor societies to join?
Ogden Honors College Director of Fellowship Advising Drew Lamonica Arms said students should weigh the membership benefits of each honor society they are invited to join.
“Something you definitely need to do when you are deciding whether to join is to be honest about what you will get out of it,” Arms said. “That’s a great way to be discerning because you can generally tell what they’re offering when they ask you to join.”
Students should be interested in more than a membership certificate and lapel pin when considering whether to join an honor society. Becoming a member of an honor society is certainly a great networking tool and addition to a resume, but it can also offer other opportunities for students.
The invitation emails usually list noteworthy membership benefits, which can include access to scholarships and awards, service and leadership opportunities and lectures from visiting scholars. The honor societies’ websites provide a more in-depth look at their offerings.
When considering the benefits of joining an honor society, students should also be wary of invitations from less reputable honor societies. Arms said students should use discretion before accepting an invitation to an honor society that doesn’t offer many membership benefits.
“It’s like any enterprise that’s asking you to be a member,” Arms said. “If they’re simply looking for your money and they don’t offer any kind of group cohesion, scholarships or extra-curricular activities, then you need to look twice.”
Honor societies are not all created equally. After determining if there are benefits they would want to take advantage of, students should visit that honor society’s website to verify its credibility. Honor societies that are certified by the Association of College Honor Societies (ACHS) are guaranteed to be reputable.
If an honor society’s website doesn’t include information about an ACHS certification, students should research the organization. ACHS recommends honor societies that are recognized as a non-profit organization, have a chapter on campus and accept members in the top 35 percent of their class, which typically requires a GPA of at least 3.2.
The honor society’s website itself can also reveal how credible the organization is. Students should look for the honor society’s national office staff and contact information, membership criteria and benefits and chapter policies and procedures.
An honor society website that lacks contact information for its national office or chief executive officer, offers an online application that doesn’t require an invitation or contains vague eligibility standards is not a credible organization.
The University’s general catalog includes a list of honor societies with active chapters on campus. The LSU Ogden Honors College website also has a list of recommended honor societies for students in the Honors College.
While the constant barrage of emails may seem overwhelming, Arms encourages students to do their research and select reputable honor societies that fit their needs and interests.
“My concern is that students aren’t looking at the asks anymore, but some are legitimate and are ones you want to have,” Arms said. “My advice would be to take a longer look at each one of them and use the tools that we’ve provided.”