You’ve just received an invitation or an acceptance to an honor society. Good for you! Your emotions might range anywhere from incomprehensible squeals of excitement to, “Hey, this invitation might make a nice bookmark.” However you feel, before you accept or reject to your offer, ask yourself these six questions:
1. What do honor societies do?
It sounds like a basic question, but bear with me. Honor societies are usually committed to academic excellence and community service. A few are committed to raising awareness in a certain area (for example, visual art.) Activities vary from chapter to chapter, but being invited to an honor society is usually a, well, honor.
2. What does this society want from me?
To paraphrase the words of Spider Man’s Uncle Ben (an honor society veteran), “With great honor comes great responsibilities.” Each honor society has different requirements for obtaining and maintaining membership, and sometimes the responsibilities listed on your application aren’t the same as the ones upheld by your school’s chapter. They could be stricter or more lax than actually implied. The best way to figure out what’s what is to ask current members, past members, and sponsors for their input. Make sure you ask more than one person so you get a variety of opinions.
3. What makes this society honorable?
Make sure your honor society is actually productive. You don’t want to be somewhere twiddling your thumbs. If you’re really passionate about what the society stands for, you could make suggestions and try to implement what you’d like to see. Start small and be polite to the current leadership. They’re not likely to take your suggestions if it looks like you’re trying to usurp them. If you gain a leadership position yourself, you could help make the society a fun and productive one.
4. What’s this society’s focus?
Maybe it’s scholarship. Maybe it’s community service. Maybe it’s providing everyone with the opportunity to see a unicycle riding orangutan at least once in their life. Before you join, make sure that the society focuses on something you love or would like to learn more about.
5. What do I want from this experience?
Being a member of an honor society has intrinsic perks, like the warm fuzzies you get from helping others and the community you build with your peers when you volunteer together. On the other hand, joining an honor society can have more practical benefits, like scholarship opportunities or recommendations from sponsors. If you want to do it purely to help people or if you’re simply curious about volunteering, these extrinsic benefits can be additional perks. Don’t just join to join. Plan to make a meaningful commitment.
6. Can I take on this commitment?
Let’s be honest. When adults wish for the “good old days of high school,” they’ve completely forgotten about the stressful juggling act that it can be. Can you really handle one more thing on your plate? It’s okay if the answer is no. If you’re doing it just for your resume, but you loathe every second you’re participating, you’ll be miserable. Trust me.
Also, make sure you know exactly what you’re committing to. Earning 10 points a semester to stay in your society sounds pretty easy until you realize that each point is worth two hours. If you have to do community events, know when they occur and if you can make up missed ones. If you have a different activity that consistently conflicts with meetings and projects, consider if the future stress will be worth it. If you really want to join but you know your schedule is full, you might want to drop a different activity to make more room.
Once again, congrats! Honor societies can add a richness to your high school experience that you might not find from other clubs. But remember to do some soul searching before you say yay or nay. Make sure that you’re making the right choice for you.