National Societies – Scams? Or Needed for College Applications?

Recently students have been receiving invitations to join organizations  such as the National Society of High School Scholars, plus others. Some of these  have fees of more than $50 to join.  I searched some college discussion boards,  checked them out at the IRS, and called admissions counselors at NCSU and  UNC-Chapel Hill to get their opinions of these organizations.

Overall, the college discussion board opinions were that they are scams, since if you check them out, you usually find that they are “for profit” organizations.  They offer some bait (you could win scholarships) to get you to join, but other than that remote scholarship chance, the memberships don’t really affect you. The admissions officers I spoke with advised that they don’t look for these types of credentials except to notice in a minor way – they look at the courses available to the student and if the student took those courses, the grades, and the SAT/ACT test scores as the main things.  Both admissions counselors advised that you or your student can call an admissions counselor for the specific college your student wants to apply to and ask them if the fee is worth it to be a member of these organizations for their applications.  They also said that it was just as good to put on an application that you “qualified for Who’s Who in American High Schools” or “were recommended for the National Society of High School Scholars” or any of the others you might receive.  They pointed out that other than adding it as a line on your college application, you really don’t benefit from these memberships. Both said that unless you just really wanted to do it, don’t send money to become members. Save that money for the college applications!

Mrs. Choplin, College Admissions Counselor