Admissions Impact of National Honor Society Rejection

Question: My son– a high school junior–is a strong student with many extracurricular activities on his record. However, he was recently passed over for National Honor Society membership. He IS in Who’s Who among American High School Students and is a member of The National Society of High School Scholars. How much will his NHS rejection hurt his college-admission chances?

Don’t worry. Being–or not being–in NHS should have little or no impact on your son’s college-admission success. Colleges judge students on what they HAVE achieved, not on what they haven’t. The most elite colleges are looking for applicants who really stand out in a crowd, so–at these schools–NHS membership is so common that it doesn’t set applicants apart at all.

While not being selected for NHS won’t directly hurt your son’s admissions chances, the REASON that he was passed over might have some impact. For instance, did he receive a low grade in a critical subject or two? Were his recommendations not up to snuff?

Finally, please note that some of the organizations that HAVE admitted him (e.g., Who’s Who and The National Society of High School Scholars) will NOT impress college admission officials. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but these outfits are for-profit businesses that endeavor to single out strong students for special “honors” and then to separate them (and their proud parents) from their money by charging application fees and/or by selling pricey directories. When admission officials see these “accolades” on applications, it’s not a plus in the admission process, and it can even make the unsuspecting students seem a tad naive. So I would urge your son to leave these so-called honors off of his resume and applications