By: Sarai Abraham
There was a time when belonging to honor societies was not a common occurrence. Today, almost everyone belongs to an “honor society”, which diminishes the prestige.
I think of an honor society as a select group of students that share high grade point averages, high class ranks, and had to undergo an extensive acceptance process. Everyone belonging to an honor society takes away the prestige of being affiliated with the society. Eastside High School in Greenville, South Carolina is subject to this. Eastside High School has many honor societies including Beta Club, National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, French Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta (Math Honor Society), National Art Honor Society, Tri-M Music Honor Society, National Forensic League, International Thespian Society, and Rho Kappa National Social Studies Honor Society will be included next year. The idea of so many societies takes away the exclusivity of being a member of an existing few.
Some of the requirements to be invited into these honor societies are less demanding at Eastside High School than other schools. This makes it no longer a challenge to get into honor societies. There shouldn’t be different requirements for the same honor society at different schools. This does not create a level playing field for all students. The basic requirements for Tri-M Music Honor Society, for example, are to “…maintain a B average in their music classes, maintain a B average in all of their academic course…enrolled in music course at their school…recommended for membership by their schools music faculty” whereas at Eastside High School, the only requirement is to show up to meetings.
Inconsistencies in the guidelines for the same honor societies at different schools are not the only reason for the lack of prestige. A lot of students at Eastside High School have no motivation to belong to a challenging and selective organization. According to the Eastside High School website the grade point average necessary to be invited into Beta Club is 3.5, whereas to be invited into National Honor Society the requirement is to have a 4.0. Because of this, National Honor Society is more distinguished. If one attends Eastside High School, they will constantly hear, “Why do I need to try harder? I have Beta Club,” or “The other honor societies are too difficult so I will stick with Beta Club”. Beta Club is a lot easier to be accepted into, so students are not attempting to pursue membership in societies of a higher order.
The prestige of honor societies is being threatened by varying requirements and bland guidelines. Those who have worked hard to keep up their grades deserved to be recognized in such important organizations. Being accepted into an honor society should not be an easy task. It is an honor.