High school honors can refer to honors courses in your school, but to college scholarship committees it refers to specific honors societies that you can join, like the National Honor Society, National Society of High School Scholars, National Home School Honor Society, and the National Societies for French, Spanish, Latin, German, etc.
Simply being a member is not enough.
Join organizations that allow you to have meaningful extracurricular activities such as
service projects, business interactions, and leadership.
Are They Legit?
Most are nothing more than a way to collect a membership fee!
How can you tell the real honors organizations from predatory ones? Legitimate honor societies are available at your high school, coop, or community college. Any organization that solicits you or has you pay more than a one-time fee, is likely a scam.
Which Ones Are Worth Joining?
Any legit organization that lets you serve, lead, or compete is ideal!
Here are the most well-known organizations around the country, grouped by subject.
General Achievement Societies
The National Honors Society is an organization established to recognize those outstanding high school students who have demonstrated excellence in the areas of scholarship, leadership, service, and character. Membership is based on the four pillars of National Honor Society: character, scholarship, leadership, and service.
The Cum Laude Society is dedicated to honoring scholastic achievement in secondary schools. The founders of the society modeled Cum Laude after Phi Beta Kappa
The California Scholarship Federation is a state-wide organization to honor outstanding high school students in California.
National Society of High School Scholars was started by the Nobel Family and offers a life time membership along with great opportunities to network, serve, and lead.
Eta Sigma Alpha - National Home School Honor Society recognizes and encourage scholarship among homeschool students with specific tests scores.
Topic or Subject Based Societies
The Sociedad Honoraria Hispánica (SHH) is an honor society for high school students enrolled in Spanish and/or Portuguese, sponsored by the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese (AATSP). The mission of the Sociedad Honoraria Hispánica is to recognize high school achievement in Spanish and Portuguese and to promote interest in Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian studies.
The Société Honoraire de Français is an honor society for high school students taking French, sponsored by the American Association of Teachers of French (AATF), the largest national association of French teachers in the world. This society provides an opportunity to recognize outstanding scholarship in the study of French language.
Delta Epsilon Phi (ΔΕΦ) National Honor Society for High School Students of German recognizes the outstanding academic achievement of learners of German.
The Tri-M Music Honor Society is the international music honor society for middle/junior high and high school students. It is designed to recognize students for their academic and musical achievements, reward them for their accomplishments and service activities, and to inspire other students to excel at music and leadership.
Mu Alpha Theta Math Society is dedicated to inspiring keen interest in mathematics, developing strong scholarship in the subject, and promoting the enjoyment of mathematics in high school and two-year college students.
Rho Kappa Social Studies Honor Society is the only national organization for high school juniors and seniors that recognizes excellence in the field of Social Studies.
The National Art Honor Society (NAHS) is designed specifically to inspire and recognize high school students who have shown an outstanding ability and interest in art.
What are the other benefits?
Gold cords, ribbons, and medals make you stand out at graduation!
Actually, the real benefit is that once you join, you will have a natural opportunity and encouragement to participate. That means you will have a high school resume full of notable community service, leadership, and awards without really doing anything other than getting yourself into a group that just looks good by association.