Throughout your collegiate career you will receive a lot of emails saying things like,
“Congratulations, (You)! I’m pleased to inform you that because of your outstanding academic performance at School X, you will be receiving an invitation to join The XYZ Honor Society. Simply pay a one-time membership fee, and….”
While some of these will be legitimate, beneficial, worthwhile organization invitations, most will not. That’s just how it works. Most of these “honor societies” will be scams. Now, “scam” does not necessarily have to mean fake (though, in at least a few instances, it does). The organization may very well have a website, a Facebook page, campus reps, etc. However, I will use “scam” to denote organizations that are, A) not worth the money, B) not as prestigious as they claim, C) not beneficial to your resume in any way, or D) a combination of A, B, and C.
In most cases, the $90 spent to legitimize your scholastic efforts will not be worth it. Your GPA can speak for itself. However, some societies are actually quite prestigious and accepting their invitation (even with a one-time fee) is highly recommended. Let’s take a look at some popular organizations (I’ve denoted the ones I’ve joined with a ♦ ).
Legitimate Honor Societies You Might be Invited to Join
- Beta Gamma Sigma ♦
- As a business major, this is the highest honor you can achieve honor society-wise.
- Phi Beta Kappa ♦
- If you double major (or are not a business major), this is the highest honor one can achieve in the liberal arts and sciences. This is THE honor society to join if you could only pick one.
- Phi Theta Kappa
- This is the premier honor society of two year-year colleges (particularly, community colleges).
- Mortar Board ♦
- The Mortar Board chapter at my university is rather difficult to get into and runs a lot of service initiatives. I’d check the caliber of your local chapter before jumping right in, though.
Like I said, these organizations might not be fictitious, but they are just more or less not worth the money.
- National Society of Collegiate Scholars (♦, but I regret it terribly)
- National Society of Leadership and Success
- Golden Key International Honour Society
There are certainly others but these are the ones most likely to pop up in your inbox. I would just ignore these offers.
When in doubt, do a little research and check around on message boards for guidance. Based on the responses from others, you can pretty much assess the quality of the organization. Essentially, if you have to ask yourself, “is this a scam?” it probably is.