National Honor Society: How and Why to Get In

National Honor Society

National Honor Society: How and Why to Get In

National Honor Society

What do Katie Couric, Gerald Ford, and Mister Rogers have in common?

Besides being successful role models and making contributions to society, all were members of the National Honors Society!

What is the National Honors Society about? Is it relevant to your son or daughter’s personal and academic success? Read on to find out more!

What is the Purpose of the National Honor Society?

Long considered the premier extracurricular organization for college students, the National Honor Society is an educational organization founded in 1921. 

There are NHS chapters in all 50 states, US Territories and Canada, as well as around the world. 

Indeed, it’s estimated that today more than one million students participate in National Honor Society activities. The organization not only recognizes students for academic accomplishments, but also for leadership and involvement in school and community. 

Since 1921, the organization has been guided by the following purposes:

to create excitement for academia, to stimulate a desire for citizen service, to build leadership skills, and to develop character in students.

Why Become a Member?

“Get involved!” This resounding cry can be heard in the halls of middle schools and high schools across the nation. Why? There are many reasons to join a student organization or club. 

Becoming a member of the National Honor Society has particular benefits that can have a lifelong impact:

  • Connect with faculty, community leaders and local business leaders, all of whom can provide recommendations and references, as well as future leads and connections to internships or employment
  • Network with similar students – accomplished individuals focused on personal growth and achievement – relationships may last decades!
  • Learn about the importance of leadership, and begin honing leadership potential before entering college
  • Set your focus to strive for personal development at an early age

What Are the Requirements for National Honor Society?

Although local chapters set their own qualification requirements, all prerequisites are based on the four pillars of NHS:

  • Scholarship: 

Although many local NHS chapters may establish their own more rigorous standards, national guidelines specify applicants must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or better to be considered for membership. This is equivalent to a B+ average, or an average percentage of 87 – 89. Grades are a big piece of the college application for many reasons.

  • Service:  

Interested students must demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the community and civic involvement. Applicants will be asked to detail experiences of service, including volunteer work and other unpaid contributions to school, community, etc. Again, some local chapters may require a specific number of service hours, so it’s wise to investigate locally.

  • Leadership:

NHS considers leadership skills when considering membership applications. Those applying should provide information about leadership roles both within and outside of school. Possibilities might include being a team captain, organizing events or groups, or being part of student government.

  • Character:

An applicant must show him or herself to be a responsible member of the community.  The student may be asked to provide a written recommendation from a teacher or other mentor and must have a clean disciplinary record.

What Are the Benefits of NHS Membership?

Membership in National Honor Society is a great resume builder. It shows that you are among the best students in your class not only academically, but also in terms of character, service, and leadership.

Beyond the resume, there are many other benefits of becoming a member of the NHS.


Since 1946, over $15 million in scholarships has been awarded by the NHS. Each award is a single, one-time distribution. In order to be eligible, NHS students must be members in good standing.

The organization will award 600 scholarships to its members in the 2019-2020 school year.

The largest award will be to one national winner, who will receive $25,000. Many other scholarships will be awarded, ranging from $5,625 to $3,200. The total scholarship distribution will be $2 million.

Beyond financial awards, the organization is committed to helping its members achieve their educational goals.  To this end, the NHS provides several resources to assist members as they plan for college.


There are many chances to improve leadership skills through membership in the National Honor Society. The NHS sponsors multiple LEAD (Leadership Experience and Development) conferences throughout the year in various U.S. cities.

During these conferences, members of both NHS and NJHS (National Junior Honor Society) have opportunities to hone leadership skills through various workshops.

Other leadership events associated with the NHS include national student leadership week, a national leadership conference, state leadership summits, and various service training opportunities. 


By joining the National Honor Society, each member is eligible to qualify for elite internships or summer programs, making it possible to make potentially valuable connections with individuals of many backgrounds. The NHS also encourages its members to network with NHS peers from other states. 

Do Colleges Look at National Honor Society?

Yes and no.

Being a member of the NHS looks good on a resume, but it’s not exactly exclusive.  There are many members worldwide. What you do as a part of the organization is what will speak volumes on a college application.

For example, if you earn your NHS volunteer hours through tutoring, and then discover that you really enjoy tutoring, it could lead you to other opportunities that might bolster your resume. And college admissions counselors will see the number of hours you racked up as a tutor.

It’s often not the membership in the NHS itself that catches the eye of prospective college admissions officials but the effort and dedication that went into qualifying for the NHS.

Ultimately when filling out those college applications, think quality over quantity. 

Speak to your academic, club, and volunteer experiences and how those experiences have shaped you in your journey thus far. Admissions officials aren’t looking for clubs piled high but rather time well spent.






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