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Duke University
Duke University
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Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
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How to Get Into the National Honor Society

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The National Honor Society (NHS) is an organization that aims to recognize and encourage “outstanding high school students” in grades 10-12. The first nationwide honor society, it was founded in 1921 by the National Association of Secondary School Principals. More than one million students now participate in National Honor Society activities through local chapters in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and many other US territories.


The National Honor Society is a valuable organization to get involved with, as it highlights your successes and provides the opportunity for you to give back to your community. To learn more about it and how you can get in, don’t miss this post.


What Are the Benefits of Being in the National Honor Society?

The most obvious benefit to being a member of the NHS is the formal recognition you’ll receive by getting in. The title of National Honor Society is recognized by colleges, scholarships organizations, and elite internships or summer programs as an indicator of your commitment to service and academics. It helps you to stand out and shows that you are among the top student in your class, not just academically but also in terms of leadership, service, and character.


Many students don’t know about the other benefits that being in the NHS offers. NHS offers several opportunities for members to build leadership skills through conferences and events. Leadership Experience and Development (LEAD) conferences, open to students in NHS, National Junior Honor Society (NJHS), and the National Association of Student Councils, are held several times a year on weekends in varying cities across the country. They aim to improve leadership skills and provide networking opportunities for peers from around the country.


Other events include National Student Leadership Week (a way for schools to celebrate and recognize the importance of student leadership on the local level) and State Summits, which are local events available only to students in NHS or NJHS, providing the opportunity for students to participate in think-tank style sessions with state leaders.


Finally, NHS awards 400 college scholarships annually. Any high school senior who is a member in good standing is welcome to apply.


What Do Members of the National Honor Society Do?

Members of the NHS attend local chapter meetings, vote on the student officers of their local chapter, and participate in service projects both as groups and as individuals. The NHS national website maintains a searchable National Student Project Database and a guide to Community Service Idea Starters to spark ideas for local projects. If you start a new service project, be sure to add it to the database where it might inspire others to get involved!


Who Is Eligible for the National Honor Society?

Membership into the NHS is determined by local chapters. This means that to become a member, you’ll need to be nominated by your local chapter. You can locate your local chapter by doing a quick search on the NHS Chapter Finder page.

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Both public and private schools are able to establish their own chapters of NHS. To do so, an administrator will need to appoint a faculty adviser and a five-member faculty council, fill out an application form, and pay an annual membership fee of $385. Once the chapter is established, any student in grades 10-12 who meets the minimum GPA cutoff is eligible to apply for membership.


At this time, homeschool students are not able to apply, but part-time students may be able to do so, depending on the rules of their local chapter.


How Are Applications for Evaluated for the National Honor Society?

Local chapters set their own qualification requirements, so there is no universal formula to getting accepted into the NHS. Instead, you’ll need to look up the bylaws of your local chapter to get specific details.


That being said, all chapters of the NHS base membership decisions on the same four pillars of NHS. These are:


1. Scholarship: National guidelines require all applicants to maintain a cumulative GPA of 85 or higher in order to qualify, though many local chapters establish their own, higher standards. You’ll need to check the GPA requirements of your local chapter to know if you qualify.


2. Service: On your application, you’ll also be asked to detail your experiences giving back to your community. This includes volunteer work and other uncompensated contributions to your school or another community. Some local chapters might require a specific number of service hours, so you should keep track of your volunteer time if you plan on applying for the NHS.


3. Leadership: Leadership skills are also evaluated. You should be prepared to provide details about leadership roles you’ve taken both in school and outside of school. Think about things like being a team captain, participating in student government, organizing events or groups, and other times you’ve demonstrated leadership qualities.


4. Character: Finally, you’ll need to show that you are a cooperative and responsible member of your community. You should have a clean disciplinary record and may be asked to provide a written recommendation from a teacher or other mentor.


Your application will be evaluated by the faculty council according to the bylaws of your local chapter. Members will vote on your application and you’ll be accepted if you receive a majority of the votes. To learn more about the process of becoming a member of the NHS, check out the membership details on their page.


If you’re accepted, you can expect to participate in an induction ceremony during which you’ll formally sign into your local chapter’s registrar and take the NHS pledge.


What If My Application Is Rejected?

If your application to the National Honor Society is rejected, you are able to appeal the decision with your local chapter. At the national level, NHS does not review individual appeals, but you are able to apply again another year.


Looking for help navigating the road to college as a high school student? Download our free guide for 9th graders, and our free guide for 10th graders. Our guides go in-depth about subjects ranging from academicschoosing coursesstandardized testsextracurricular activitiesand much more!


For more about service projects, check out these posts:


Community Service, Reimagined: MCC’s Recommendations for High School Service

Do I Need Community Service For My College Application?

Best Places for High Schoolers to Do Community Service

32 Community Service Ideas for Teen Volunteers

National Honor Society Community Service Project Ideas

Finding Volunteer Service Activities: Tips for Freshmen & Sophomores


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Kate Sundquist
Senior Blogger

Short Bio
Kate Koch-Sundquist is a graduate of Pomona College where she studied sociology, psychology, and writing before going on to receive an M.Ed. from Lesley University. After a few forays into living abroad and afloat (sometimes at the same time), she now makes her home north of Boston where she works as a content writer and, with her husband, raises two young sons who both inspire her and challenge her on a daily basis.