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national society of high school scholars,
Since 2002, NSHSS has supported young academics on their journey to college and beyond as they prepare to become the leaders of tomorrow. The mission behind NSHSS is to recognize academic excellence and honor high-achieving students, providing them with the resources and network to excel in college, career and community. In doing so, NSHSS connects members with global events, scholarship opportunities, college fairs, internships, career and leadership programs, partner discounts, and more.
Discover what makes NSHSS worth it to student members and how you can get involved. There is a one time membership fee of $75. Students are eligible to apply for a waiver of the fee if they can demonstrate financial need.
Help fund your college experience
Take advantage of scholarship opportunities to help you reach your full potential and pay for college, international study excursions, summer programs, and even graduate school. NSHSS and its partners offer more than $2,000,000 in scholarships annually. All students are eligible to apply for high school and college scholarships in the areas of academic excellence, entrepreneurship, leadership, literature, medicine, music, STEM, sustainability, visual arts, and more.
How Should Students Respond to Such an Offer?
One of my children received what appears to be a prestigious academic award. What arrived in our mailbox was a creme-colored envelope addressed in nice cursive, much like a graduation invitation.
The name of the high school was also penned on the envelope, making it seem like this was sanctioned by the administration.
At first I was a little excited, but the contents were puzzling. My child was invited to join the National Society of high schools Scholars, an organization based in Atlanta. Its acronym is NSHSS, a little like the very distinguished and highly regarded National Honor Society (NHS).
Inside the envelope was a letter that read, “Congratulations!…Based on your outstanding academic achievement…you have been selected for membership.”
The letter went on to say that this invitation was extended to a “select group” of students.
Joining the organization would supposedly give access to a $500,000 in scholarships and “academic competitions” to be awarded over the next year. A student could also list membership on a college application.
We were given a confirmation code and a membership form that needed to be returned with a $60 lifetime enrollment fee. However, families that cannot afford this are given a waiver. Students would receive a certificate and a t-shirt with a NSHSS logo.
The invitation packet also included a black bumper sticker that read, “Proud Parent of a Scholar: The National Society of High School Scholars NSHSS.” If I wanted to, I could tell the world my child was part of an “elite” group. (However, I’m not really a bumper sticker type of person.)
Is the National Society of High School Scholars Worth Joining?
The National Society of High School Scholars, while not at all a straight-up scam, won’t boost your child’s college admissions odds. In fact, college officials (especially at the snazziest schools) tend to roll their eyes when they spot it on a resume, and listing it there makes an applicant look more like a rube than a star.
Although the NSHSS solicitation propaganda makes the organization sound highly selective, the bar is actually set fairly low, and there are no benefits to joining other than a long-shot chance at scholarship money. (Note, however, that there are thousands of scholarships out there that require no membership dues or application fees, and the best money usually comes directly from the colleges themselves.) So The Dean gives a two-thumbs-down on shelling out for this “recognition.”
Duke’s Talent Identification Program (TIP), however, is a different story, and it’s worth consideration by parents who, like you, are wisely skeptical of pricey pre-college “opportunities.” Although participating in TIP is not an automatic fast track to the most sought-after universities (as some folks mistakenly believe), the course offerings are wide-ranging and allow students to explore interesting academic areas with bright, like-minded peers. TIP programs can be especially valuable to those whose school classes and/or school peer groups do not challenge them.
With so many programs, awards and other options available to college-bound adolescents, you may need to borrow The Dean’s Dick Tracy Decoder Ring to figure out which ones are worthwhile. But, in general, your antennae should be up when you are asked to pay for any “honor.” If an honor is truly earned, it should be free!
Is NHS or NSHSS More Impressive?
While being an NHS member may help you on your college journey, joining the NSHSS seems to have a lesser effect. Because the criteria for getting into the NSHSS are relatively broad, critics argue that the group offers invitations to almost all high school students,
diminishing the value of the achievement. Moreover, colleges are generally suspicious of groups that ask students to pay for membership. In an interview with Local 10 in Miami, Karen Long,
assistant vice president for undergraduate admissions at the University of Miami, denied having heard of the NSHSS.
“This is an organization that asks students to pay to be a part of it,” said Ms. Long. “That right there is a tip-off that we’re not talking about something that’s on the up-and-up.” Admissions officials also caution that including NSHSS membership on an application may distract from more impressive accomplishments and achievements that should be taking center stage.
- NSHSS is focused on building community,
- helps students access valuable scholarships and resources and
- memberships last a lifetime,
- helps students develop valuable leadership and networking skills,
- gives students opportunities to contribute in meaningful ways.
Is The National Society Of High School Scholars a scam?
Unfortunately, NSHSS is a bit of a scam. Well scam is a harsh word because it is a legitimate organization,
but it sends invitations to tens of thousands of high school students based on a very generous PSAT/SAT cutoff and tries to get kids to pay money for membership. Because it’s not competitive at all and more a signal that you can pay money,
it doesn’t add any value to your admissions profile and won’t improve your chances anywhere.
NHS through your school is a much better honor society to associate with because it’s actually fairly competitive,
based on real merit,
and doesn’t require you to pay for anything (which is usually a sign that something is not competitive).
Does membership to the National Society of High School Scholars look favorable on college resume?
This is widely regarded as a scam honors society and is the butt of many jokes on other college application threads and communities. It likely will not help you at all,
even if there are some (albeit low/average) requirements to participate, because of the reputation of the society. Your child probably received the invitation due to test scores/GPA/etc and those things will speak for themselves on her application without NSHSS, which is not taken very seriously. Instead, I would encourage them to apply for their school’s NHS (National Honor Society),
if you have one, and work to qualify for honors such as AP Scholar awards, National Merit Awards (based on PSAT, which they can take this fall),
and the College Board National Recognition Program (if applicable), which are based on more structured standards and demonstrate a more specific accomplishment. But I would steer clear of NSHSS,
both because it’s costly to participate and because it’s not taken seriously.