ALESTLE VIEW: Be careful when choosing an honors society

Student emails are often flooded by subscription-based “honors societies” that tout scholarship opportunities — often without any courses or actual education. 

There’s no doubt that participating in a liberal education can provide students with different perspectives, along with crucial critical thinking skills and courses that look great on resumes. 

Most college campuses offer honors programs built into the university’s structure. They tend to offer classes that specialize in interdisciplinary learning and wide-reaching topics. 

At SIUE, the Honors Program offers classes like “Left and Right,” which attempts to examine the political spectrum.

As they emphasize liberal education, where topics are often blended with the arts and philosophy, these programs are great to flaunt when applying for grad schools and jobs because they show that students have taken classes that encourage discussion from a diverse set of viewpoints. 

However, we often get emails advertising honors societies where applicants pay to apply to various scholarship and job opportunities, which sound great in the abstract of an email. 

These offerings rarely turn out to be as great as they hype themselves up to be and are sometimes scams. Most ask for fees above $100; in some instances, acceptance and payment links included in these emails don’t even work.

Over the last few months, students at SIUE have received email and postage from “The Honor Society,” “The National Society of Collegiate Scholars” and other scholastic societies. 

They all ask for payments to become a member and provide deadlines for application. 

NSCS seems to be the only society which is accredited and somewhat worthwhile, according to their website and the Better Business Bureau. 

Students looking through emails see these opportunities and may hop on the hype train and pay the application fee, but what are they gaining educationally? 

While these societies offer scholarships and job applications — for which students can apply for free elsewhere, none of them seem to provide the values of liberal education or cater to high-achieving students. 

This brings up a bigger issue: if students are being flooded with emails and offers to join various honors societies, both the critical emails from SIUE’s Honors Program and the purpose of a college’s honors program are drowned out by these memberships. 

SIUE houses organizations like the “Honor Society” and other Greek life-oriented honors societies, though it also hosts its own, fully fleshed-out honors program.

Freshmen and incoming students can apply to SIUE’s Honors Program if they meet scholastic requirements. Existing students can apply in a similar way.

Instead of potentially wasting money on something that will show up as a bullet point on a resume, give SIUE’s Honors Program and their Honors Student Association — a supplemental, legitimate organization for honors students — a try, first.

You can find the SIUE Honors Program at https://www.siue.edu/provost/honors and the Honors Student Associateion as a registered student organization on campus https://siue.campuslabs.com/engage/organization/honors. 

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