Should I Join that Honors Society?

15 Feb

Here at the Honors Program, we get a lot of questions about other honors entities, especially honors societies.  Should you join them? Are they legit? What’s the point? Is it normal for them to charge money to join?

The short answer is: you’ll have to figure most of that out by yourself.

Not very satisfying, we know.  Try and keep in mind that there are a lot of different ways to get honors recognition just at GW alone.  A few of the big ones at GW:

  1. The GWU University Honors Program (That’s us!) – The UHP is a 4 year program with a curriculum.
  2. Phi Beta Kappa – An invitation-only national honors society for select juniors and seniors. There’s a chapter at GW.
  3. Latin Honors – Entirely GPA based recognition.
  4. Special honors in your degree – The requirements vary depending on your major.
  5. Honors Frats/Sororities – There are a decent amount at GW!  Some focus on volunteer work, some on fields of study.
  6. Other Honors Societies – PBK isn’t the only honors society with a presence at GW.

Those aren’t the only ways to get some form of honors though; there are lots of national organizations without representation here at GWU.  And although we’ve got “honors” right in our name, we’re not in charge of the use of the word.  Most of the time, the only way we’d be able to give you advice on an honors society would be to do the same kind of background research that you’d have to do yourself.  Here’s a few tips if you find yourself being offered a spot in an honors society.

  • Is there a chapter at GWU? It’s always a good sign if there is. Contact the person in charge of chapter operations and try and find out more information.
  • Google is your friend.  Seek the advice of the oracle.  It’s pretty unlikely that you’re the first person to have a question about the honors society in question.  See what others have to say by typing your question into a computer.
  • Don’t be put off by a fee.  Legitimate honors societies often charge an initiation fee, so don’t take an $80 fee to necessarily mean it’s a scam. (For example: PBK charges a fee, and they’re very, very legit.)
  • Do you want to join?  This is the most important question, and only you can answer it.  Does the organization offer events, scholarships, networking, or other opportunities that you would find valuable? Is it prestigious enough that you’d put it on your resume (and do you care)?

Of course, if you’ve done the legwork to find out more about the honors society and you’ve still got questions and need help figuring out what to do, Catherine and Liz are always available.  So shoot them an email, chat with Liz online, or make an appointment.


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