By 2001, there were over 13,000 honor societies recognized by the National Honor Society.
While these honor societies are certainly legitimate, there are some honor societies that operate as a scam. It may seem bizarre, but honor society scams abound. In this blog post, we’ll go over what marks a legit honor society from a scam and how to tell if you’re being taken for a ride. Many of these are subtle tips, but if you manage to spot any of these issues after looking into an organization or receiving an invite to one, you may have an illegitimate society on your hands.
Read on to learn more.
1. Chapters Have Not Been Established
If the honor society that you’ve been invited to does not seem to have an on-campus presence anywhere, it may be time to consider its legitimacy. Some campuses are unable to host organizational chapters, but it’s important to make sure that they have fully fleshed out chapters running somewhere. It may not mean it’s a full red flag, as some honor societies, as well as Greek organizations, may have, at one time, operated at your school but no longer do.
If you have questions about whether the society ever operated at your school, or if it was suspended or disbanded for some reason, you can always contact your school. They will very easily be able to let you know if the honor society in question is at your school or not. Since you’re intelligent enough to receive honor society invitations, you’ll also need to be intelligent enough to do your own research.
2. Their Principles Are Not Clear
If you are doing your research on a society and you come to find that they don’t lay out their core values, beliefs or principles anywhere on their site or brochures, this may be a red flag. While consulting Google with searches like “Scam? Is It Legit? Worth it?” may bring some information to the table, that information isn’t always 100% reliable, either. It’s important to do your own research and make your own decision.
It is imperative for societies to list their requirements, and while many honor societies focus heavily on grades, the overall well-being of the chapter and the caliber of it’s member is equally impactful on the long-term success of a chapter, or an entire organization, in general.
3. Scarce Information On Their Website
Most honor societies, like fraternities and sororities, are old and have long legacies and histories they’re proud of. Even the newer societies that have managed to stay ahead of the tech-space have found a way to broadcast themselves. An honor society with nothing to hide will have a list of its achievements, its alumni and other things to brag about online.
If the information about the honor society is hard to find or seems incredibly scarce, it is probably a scam. A real honor society is proud of all of the young men and women who have been a part of it and made it what it is today. See if they have any social media links, how interactive their members are (nationally or internationally) and whether or not they hold campus events, community services days, etc.
They’re not looking to hide what they’ve achieved.
3. No Reviews From Members
While this isn’t definitive proof that something is a scam, it certainly should send off alarm bells. If members are happy with the honor society they are a part of, most will leave some sort of review or commentary somewhere regarding the impact that organization has made on their lives. Look into review sites, social media pages, and how they’ve been ranked by peers/members over the years.
While there may be a few negative reviews, as long as a majority of the reviews are positive, it is most likely legitimate. If the reviews and experiences are scarce, take a second look. There are, of course, exceptions to this rule. But if this occurs in combination with any of the other red flags mentioned, it’s probably a scam.
4. Failing to List Out Member Benefits
If you log on to an honor society’s site and you cannot find a list of tangible benefits, this may be an issue and it may signal that said organization is illegitimate. Usually, on an honor society’s website, there will be a drop down in the menu or a section in the footer that links to the list of benefits.
Any honor society that fails to list what the members receive in return for their time, energy and loyalty (aside from prestige and chords for their graduation) is definitely one that should be looked into carefully before joining.
Honor societies want students who excel academically AND students who have a history of excellence inside and outside the classroom. If you’re an average student, it may be possible that you’ve been invited to a legit honor society if you have lots of impressive extracurriculars.
Is It Real or Faux?
As shocking as it may seem, honor society scams are real and operate on a large scale. A fake honor society will not only not get you anywhere, but you’ll also miss out on the valuable connections a real honor society offers its members.
If you’re interested in the history of honor societies, browse our collection at our museum. It will give you insight into some of the most exclusive academic societies in the United States.