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Articles / Applying to College / Admissions Impact of National Honor Society Rejection

Admissions Impact of National Honor Society Rejection

Sally Rubenstone
Written by Sally Rubenstone | April 22, 2005

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

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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