The Daily Illini

Honor societies without real honor

By The Daily Illini Editorial Board

After fall semester is over, students are bombarded with a mass of emails inviting them to join campus honor societies, each of which boasts impressive credentials and opportunities and looks great on a resume.

With over 50 independent honor societies at the University, students who meet certain criteria, such as year or grade-point-average, are asked to become part of several nationally recognized organizations. Among the prestigious national honor societies are Tau Beta Pi (Engineering), Beta Gamma Sigma (Business), Kappa Delta Pi (Education), Phi Beta Kappa (LAS) and Phi Kappa Phi (campus-wide).

However, almost all of these societies also require a one time or yearly fee ranging from $25 to $100, and frequently, these honor societies are not worth the money they charge.

Many honor societies claim to give opportunities in both leadership and community service, while others claim exclusivity that can separate you for employers and graduate schools. But regardless of these potential benefits, many students use these honor societies as a bullet point for their resumes to impress potential employers without putting in too much work. A high GPA can be boasted on a resume without the heading “Honor Society,” and this line is not something that necessarily needs to be shelled out for.

Phi Eta Sigma, one of the freshman honor societies that charges $45 for its membership fee, asserts “your national membership fee pays for your academic pin and your membership certificate. It pays a portion of the expenses for a chapter delegate to attend the national convention and leadership workshops,” according to its website.

Some of the esteemed honor societies that claim they are truly competitive seem to embellish their exclusivity. For example, the campus-wide national honor society Phi Kappa Phi accepts juniors who rank scholastically in the top 7.5 percent of their class or seniors that rank in the top 10 percent. With a campus of 17,527 juniors and seniors, the number of juniors and seniors who are eligible to be accepted total to around 1,550 students each year. As the honor society boasts its organization as the “most selective honor society for all academic disciplines”, this does not correlate with the number of students accepted each year.

Instead of shell organizations that won’t offer many opportunities for student development, students should use discretion when deciding whether or not to join an honor society. They can provide more than just a title that might actually make the money worthwhile. Instead of looking for a resume builder, students should look for something that can actually help them grow.

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