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National Honor Society: What to Know Before You Join

NHS is a great high school activity that involves leadership, service, character, and scholarship. Learn about all the benefits and how you can join here.

There are many extracurricular activities in high school that can boost your academic and personal growth, but none are as comprehensive as the National Honor Society. With over one million students participating, the National Honor Society (aka NHS) is a great extracurricular that promotes leadership, service, character, and scholarship in all high school members. Here’s what you should know about the NHS, including the requirements, benefits, and how you can become a member. 

What is the National Honor Society?

Founded in 1921 by an association of principals, the National Honor Society has grown into a reputable leadership and educational group with chapters at high schools in all 50 states, US territories, and many other countries around the world. Its purpose is to elevate students’—and by extension, schools’—academic, community, and leadership activities, benefiting both colleges and high school students.

Why should I consider joining?

There are many benefits to being an active member of NHS, both nationally and in your local chapter. National benefits include conferences and summits, which are valuable networking events; scholarship opportunities; admission tips (as well as the added bonus of having NHS on your academic résumé!); college and financial aid planning resources, including webinars and step-by-step guides on the NHS website; and service projects to boost your volunteer hours. Many schools also take advantage of NHS locally by offering volunteer opportunities in the area and hosting banquets and award ceremonies at school for a variety of extracurricular activities.

Once you become a member of NHS, you’ll get to participate in your high school’s induction ceremony and can become involved in the chapter meetings if they’re held at your school. All the while, NHS members have a certain amount of volunteer hours they need to fill for continued membership. Note that during the pandemic, volunteer requirements and chapter meetings may be waived or postponed for public safety reasons.

Related: How Extracurriculars Benefit Your College Applications 

Scholarship opportunities

Not only does having NHS improve your high school résumé, but it can also make you eligible for more scholarships. In 2021, over $2 million was awarded to NHS members across the country. Each year, one national winner wins $25,000, 24 national finalists each win $5,625, and 575 national semifinalists each win $3,200. That’s a total of 600 scholarships that you’ll be eligible to win as a NHS member!

The NHS on college applications

As previously stated, NHS looks great on your résumé—but many, many students are a part of this prestigious organization. That’s why it’s imperative that you embrace your membership to the fullest in order to stand out on your college applications. Try to join early in your high school career, become an officer, or record the most service hours than anyone in your school. The time and commitment you put into NHS will determine how well your college application will be received.

NHS eligibility requirements

High school students in grades nine through 12 with a minimum GPA of 3.0 are eligible for NHS membership. There are no membership fees, but students are required to maintain this GPA during their membership duration. Note that every local chapter may have different requirements concerning activities and who can apply age-wise. 

Applying to the NHS

There’s no clear-cut way to get into the National Honor Society, but all members should embody the four pillars of membership. The core values that are reviewed when you submit your application to become an NHS member are scholarship, service, leadership, and character. 

  • Scholarship: Students are required to have a 3.0 GPA and be able to maintain it. This is the first and main qualification.
  • Service: Advisors are looking for altruistic students who enjoy serving others in their community with volunteer service.
  • Leadership: The NHS values students who demonstrate leadership in high school. Some ways to show leadership skills, like problem-solving and resourcefulness, include being a team captain, participating in student council, and being an active member in group projects.
  • Character: NHS members demonstrate good character, and advisors look for that in new applicants. Taking the high road, being responsible, and acting appropriately are all ways one can demonstrate good character.

You should also research your school’s chapter and find the exact values your local advisors are looking for. If your school doesn’t have a chapter, then research a chapter at a nearby school to get involved. Finding a teacher to nominate you will also improve your chances of getting in. Teacher recommendations can boost your application, as you have a trusted person advocating on your behalf. Finally, try to maintain at least a 3.0 GPA, actively volunteer in your community, take academic courses and standardized tests seriously, participate in school activities, and be a disciplined moral citizen.

Related: How to Navigate High School Clubs and Activities 

Overall, the National Honor Society is a big commitment when combined with other academics and extracurriculars, but it has many additional benefits that can help students as they embark on to college or the real world. Seeking out service-minded students with good character, outstanding leadership, and strong academic records, NHS helps boost student life in every local chapter and instills a sense of community at your school, which you can take with you as you move on to college and beyond. 

Looking for more activities you can join in high school? Find all the info you need to give your résumé a boost with our “extracurriculars” tag.


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About Emma Khoury

Emma Khoury

Emma Khoury is a senior who's interested in studying Neuroscience and Arabic while in college. She participates in the school marching band, concert band, NHS, Big Buddy, and various other school tutoring activities. She also volunteers at a local farm and the neighborhood library. With her free time, Emma enjoys watching TV and movies, reading, running, and painting. 


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