Some schools with lots of collegebound students are trying to limit the proliferation of honor societies, reports the New York Times.
There have been so many honor societies created at Commack High School on Long Island in recent years that some students ended up in six or seven of them, racking up memberships like so many merit badges or thanks-for-playing trophies.
This year Commack cut the technology society and combined Latin, German, French and sign language into one world languages society. That got the number down to 11 societies. Still, nearly a third of juniors and seniors belong to honor societies; among these students, the average number is three.
Students eager to impress college admission officials want as many honors as possible, even if they have no time to attend meetings or to earn A’s.
“This cheapens the currency,” ”said Chester E. Finn Jr., president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a nonprofit educational policy group in Washington. “Once everyone’s wearing rhinestones, you might not notice someone wearing diamonds.”
I suspect admissions people can figure out that the applicant with a B- average and a membership in the Spanish honors society is a B- student.
But, in my day, when dinosaurs roamed the earth, National Honor Society was the only honors society. It was reserved for students with high grades and had no meetings or community service requirements. Students with special interests — or a desire to impress admissions officers — joined clubs.