Since 1919

The Prairie News

Since 1919

The Prairie News

Since 1919

The Prairie News

What’s the deal with honor societies?

Jo Early

Students who maintain a high GPA may be familiar with these email openings:

“Congratulations on your academic achievement and nomination by West Texas A&M University for membership in The Society for Collegiate Leadership & Achievement (SCLA).”

“Phi Sigma Pi would like to invite you to join our national honor organization!”

“I’m delighted to inform you that, based on your exemplary academic performance, you have qualified for membership in the Golden Key International Honour Society West Texas A&M University chapter.”

These are invitations to join a national collegiate honor society. Honor societies vary in purpose and membership requirements; some societies, like TriBeta, are based on academic discipline. Alpha Alpha Alpha – which has a chapter coming soon to WT – is a society for first-generation students.

General honor societies, like SCLA and Golden Key, require a certain GPA and a membership fee. The only national general honor society currently recognized by the Office of Student Engagement and Leadership (OSEL) is the National Society of Leadership & Success (NSLS).

“Even though it’s a national program, they kind of use us and the OSEL office as a channel to our students and we have seen it as beneficial,” Sabrina Pugh, OSEL administrative coordinator, said. “And like we endorse it – so to say – so they’re part of us but a little bit separate and their own entity.”

Honor societies usually require a membership fee. Alpha Alpha Alpha’s fee starts at $15, and Phi Sigma Pi’s fees go up to $189. Graduate student Johnny Lawhon, president of WT’s chapter of NSLS and a former contributor for The Prairie News, said that students should do their research on an honor society to find out if joining is worth the fee.

“You know, you want to make sure that they do have a chapter at your college,” Lawhon said. “You know, a lot of the invitations that I’ve gotten don’t actually have chapters at WT; they’re just online.”

Recruitment emails from Phi Sigma Pi state that the society is looking to establish a chapter at WT. The University once had a chapter of Golden Key, but they are not currently registered with OSEL. Lawhon said the WT chapter of NSLS is very interactive with students.

“And this semester, we’re actually trying to do more things to promote our honor society,” Lawhon said. “We offer social events; we offer community service events. When it comes to that, you can get your [community service] credit with NSLS.”

Pugh said that students occasionally contact OSEL with questions about honor society invitations.
“They come in for both NSLS and all these other societies and so I get to say yes, NSLS is legit and real,” Pugh said. “And all these other ones: it may or may not be and really, we say it’s gonna sadly take like research on the students’ part or their own gut feeling. You know, if they can look up and see like, ‘Oh, these specific people are a part of it; these are the events that they do. Here’s ways I can see the honor society in action,’ like then that’s probably a legit one.”

According to nomination emails from NSLS, membership benefits include “scholarships, an online job board, a personalized letter of recommendation, and discounts at major brands that will save you hundreds of dollars each year.” Lawhon said that students must become inducted members before qualifying for NSLS scholarship opportunities. That process includes attending orientation, a leadership training day, three speaker broadcasts and three success-networking team meetings before the induction ceremony.

“So, there’s some work that goes into being able to access those scholarships, but once you do it, you know it’s worth it,” Lawhon said. “I looked at a scholarship that was just kind of like a health scholarship. Like, you’d write an essay about what needs you have when it comes to your health; do you need a treadmill? So, they do offer scholarships for many, many different things.”

Lawhon said his experience with NSLS changed his life.

“It’s really about becoming part of a family when it comes to being part of an honor society,” Lawhon said. “It’s really changed my life and it’s changed my path as well when it comes to what I want to do with my degree and what I want to do in life.”

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About the Contributor
Jo Early
Jo Early, Editor-in-Chief
Hello, my name is Jo Early and I am a senior digital communication & media major from Amarillo. I transferred from Amarillo College in Spring 2023 and began working as editor-in-chief in Fall 2023. I want to inform the West Texas A&M Community and spotlight student resources. In the future, I hope to work for NPR.

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