The Pel Mel

OP ED: Too Many Honor So-SIGH-ities?

Daniela Christian, Sophomore, Photography Editor

I’m happy to say that students at PMHS are recognized for all aspects of achievement. But, while it is nice to receive encouragement, is one’s achievement truly unique or even worthy of being singled out if everyone is recognized for accomplishing the exact same thing? Shouldn’t admission to an honor society be something we strive to accomplish rather than merely expect? I don’t mean to diminish the importance of such societies, but PMHS offers membership into at least seven honor societies, including the National Honor Society. By the time many Pelham students reach senior year, chances are they have been inducted into at least one of these. The sheer glut of honor societies seems to be overkill. Though many consider being inducted into an honor society to be a high privilege, the actual honor of taking part in such societies has decreased due to the supersaturation of opportunities. Groucho Marx famously said, “I don’t care to belong to any club that would have me as a member.” Since it’s impossible to feel special when everything is special, maybe we shouldn’t want to belong to any society that has everyone as a member.

It’s hard to feel a sense of accomplishment when membership feels as if it is guaranteed. Pelham’s Math Honors society inducts almost 100 percent of kids that take honors math classes, which is almost half the grade, and has rarely refused membership to anyone who meets the qualifications. At this year’s National Honor Society induction ceremony 209 students were inducted. That’s nearly 1/4 of the school!

For the most part, applying for an honor society is a simple process. Students simply fill out some paperwork and fulfill a community service component. The National Honor Society requires its participants to perform a minimum of 40 service hours annually. Even though the idea of community service is morally good, is performing community service as admirable if it is mandatory? Sadly, many have heard stories of students who forged or fictionalized service hours, creating a further paradox: how can a society be admirable when students feel pushed to do a dishonorable act just to get in?

Students value honor societies for their appearance on a high school transcript, but rarely focus on the work and pillars that the society upholds. Ian Fischer, a senior admissions officer at several colleges wrote in his article that “This practice (community service) may make a positive net change on a local community, but it minimizes the role of service in the application….required experiences are never as impactful as those students elect to complete….and teaches students the wrong lesson about the reasons we serve our community….abandon the idea that community service is the most important, most impactful activity in the college admissions process.” This might make students think long and hard about the reason that they are doing community service. If they are helping in soup kitchens, animal shelters, and school events just to meet the requirements and not because they actually gain a sense of empathy from performing these tasks, then it might not even be helping them in the college admission process.

In a study conducted by the National Center For Education Statistics, when students who completed service for a National Honor Society were asked at the end of their senior year if they planned on continuing community service, 91 percent said that they did. However, when the same NHS students were surveyed after their first year in college, only 49 percent of them were still involved in community service.

When students get inducted into honor societies without the right intention, it takes away from the integrity of the society, therefore taking away from the importance of having it on your transcript.

One feels a greater sense of achievement when the honor being celebrated is truly honorable.

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The School Newspaper of Pelham Memorial High School
OP ED: Too Many Honor So-SIGH-ities?