If you are starting to think about college applications, you have likely heard about extracurricular activities a time or two. Participation in extracurricular activities like clubs, sports, and internships can help pave the way for college acceptance. One great club to join if you’re looking to stand out academically is the National Honor Society (NHS). If your school has an active National Honor Society chapter, you will need to apply to become a member. Each active chapter must have a published description of their selection procedure in an official school publication, so learning the steps you need to take shouldn’t be hard. If you are having a hard time finding information about your chapter, you can use the online Chapter Finder tool or check with your school’s NHS advisor or school administration.
It’s likely that your application will require a National Honor Society essay in addition to scholarship requirements (like a specific GPA), community service, leadership experiences, and demonstrated good character. These requirements follow the pillars of membership for the NHS. If you are gearing up to write your essay, you have come to the right place. Here is everything you need to know about writing the best National Honor Society Essay.
Step One: Ask For NHS Essay Examples
Your chapter advisor may have a general essay prompt. This can cause many students to overthink or stress over their essays. By asking for NHS essay examples, you can get a better idea of what your chapter advisor is looking for. You can better understand the tone, style, length, and general content needed.
However, if your chapter advisor will not offer example NHS essays, no worries. Here is a sample of a student essay from Olathe West High School:
Being a member of the National Honors Society is a great honor. I believe that I not only
exude leadership in an academic setting, but beyond that as well. One reason I would be a great representative of this institution is because of my grit and determination. I have worked so incredibly hard to earn the opportunity to even be considered for the National Honors Society. Although I had to overcome many obstacles, the concept of perseverance was especially important throughout the journey. Another quality I can speak to is my positive attitude. I have always tried to make it a priority to exemplify a sense of profitableness in the midst of both success, and hardship. There are many qualities that make up a good leader, and I hope that I can set an example for others. However, one of my greatest weaknesses as a leader is my lack of ability to implement my thoughts into action. I have the tendency to simply “go with the flow” or remain quiet. Furthermore, I also tend to do things all at once, instead of spreading things out. This can result in unneeded stress and anxiety. Overall, I definitely have my strengths and weaknesses as a leader. I hope that by being a part of opportunities that provide me with a role of leadership, I will gain more strengths, and learn how to cope with my weaknesses.
It is important to keep in mind that this is only one of many NHS essay examples. It may not match the prompt of your specific chapter. As always, it’s important to use your own words and let any example NHS essays only be used to guide your work.
Step Two: Focus on Each of the Membership Pillars
In your essay, it’s also likely the prompt will ask you to address how you portray the four membership pillars.
Scholarship is the first of the four pillars. NHS national policy requires each chapter to set a cumulative GPA requirement. The minimum is a 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. Although this is proven through your transcripts, you can refer to your GPA in your essay. Many NHS essay examples also address how their grades show their grit and determination to go above and beyond in school and their everyday life.
The service pillar refers to voluntary contributions you have made without compensation. Service can reference actions for both school and your community. For example, service can be participation in an event like a bake sale or community clean-up day.
In your essay, it’s important to discuss what contributions you made, any accolades, and how this opportunity impacted you. Example NHS essays reference service in ways that may explain how volunteering at a local pet shelter, homeless shelter, or suicide hotline has helped the individual recognize needs in the community. It can also help create self-confidence, and leadership skills, and helps you meet others. Be sure you have written and signed documentation for any service projects you reference in your essay and application.
The third pillar, Leadership, is defined by positions, roles, or skills in this area. You can identify specific leadership skills you possess such as good communication, strategic thinking, positivity, or time management. You can also address specific situations in which you have demonstrated successful leadership.
The final pillar, character, is about showing your high standards of honesty and reliability. You will need to demonstrate and explain how you are courteous and respectful of others. Your advisor may access your disciplinary records, so be sure to openly address any issues and identify how you have grown and learned from them.
For example, if you were suspended your Freshman year, this may not mean you are automatically denied. Use this experience as a learning opportunity and explain how it changed you for the better.
Step Three: The Art of Bragging
One important thing to learn throughout your high school career is the art of bragging. When you apply for college, jobs, scholarships, clubs, and beyond you need to humbly express your positive qualities, values, and experiences. It’s important to use these opportunities to highlight your accomplishments. If you are writing something that feels a little “braggy”, there are a few things you can do to improve your statement.
First, it’s most important, to be honest. Don’t say that your canned foods drive donated the most food in the state if it isn’t true. It’s great to list statistics, numbers, or facts, but only if they’re accurate.
It’s also important to consider your tone. If you feel your statement is a bit dramatic, it probably is. Consider tying your success to a value instead. For example, instead of saying you are the Captain of the Lacrosse Team and have led the team to a championship, start by discussing your journey in leadership – after a few challenging games you learned better communication and how to confront mistakes which helped you lead the team to a winning season. This shows the reader that you are developing important skills and are willing to work hard for your accomplishments.
Step Four: Edit
Learning to edit your essays is an essential and necessary skill. After you complete your first draft, go back to the essay prompt. Highlight exactly what it is asking you to do. Then, read through your essay and identify the areas in which you answer the question(s) in the prompt. If there is something you are missing, you can easily add it. Then read your essay with a fine tooth comb to ensure there are no spelling or grammar errors. You can also take another look at any NHS essay examples and be sure your tone and response fit.
Pro Tip: If your NHS chapter is known for being selective, it may be beneficial to ask a friend, parent, or your English teacher to look over your essay. They can help to ensure you have met and exceeded the guidelines.
Step Five: The Best National Honor Society Essay
If you follow each of these steps you can feel confident you are submitting the best National Honor Society Essay. Be sure to check for important deadlines as well as how the essay needs to be turned in. As obvious as it may seem, a late essay or one sent to the wrong email address may be disqualified. Your NHS chapter may only accept applications at certain times of the year so it’s important to stay in the loop and on top of any deadlines. Some chapters may also require a fee or other documentation.
Being a part of your high school’s NHS chapter offers some great benefits. The NHS national office will send information about programs, activities, and opportunities to your verified student account. The NASSP, the parent organization of the NHS also awards $2 million in scholarships each year. The National Honor Society is a great extracurricular activity and one you definitely want to join.