Why do PHS Students care so much about NHS?


Ranger Ledoux

National Honors Society Volunteer Form

Ranger Ledoux, PaperClip Staff/Writer

Once a year, qualifying students at Portsmouth High School take their shot at applying to the National Honors Society (NHS), a national organization that stresses the importance of student leadership. “NHS provides schools with a values-based framework to elevate a culture of scholarship, service, leadership, and character,” according to the National Honors Society website. With the exclusivity of the club also comes a level of prestige that doesn’t quite seem to match up with reality. Which brings me to the question: why do we care so much about NHS?


When I joined NHS I expected a congregation of the most like-minded students coming together to improve the community. While technically that is what the NHS is at PHS, most people are not there to enrich the community, but instead, to no surprise, build a resume. 


There is no shame in that being the truth. That’s why I joined, but that doesn’t seem like the type of enthusiasm that NHS wants to attract. If you are like me, and that’s the reason you joined, well we are going to be disappointed when we find out that being NHS probably doesn’t matter in the end, because it isn’t that special of an item on a resume.


Say you’re interested in going to your dream school, and you think that NHS is going to be the final push to get you into the school. According to Bestcolleges.com, there are a million students who currently are members of a chapter of NHS. People who are reading your applications have seen being a member of NHS on a thousand other applications, and your NHS membership will likely never be the deciding factor as to whether you are accepted to the school.


The simple statistical fact is that you are not special for being a member. There are just so many members of NHS worldwide and they make up so much of the applicant pool to colleges and universities that you won’t stand out purely based on your NHS membership.


Another issue is the exclusivity and pretentiousness that comes along with NHS. The simple fact is that when you are exclusive, people tend to lie on their application so they can be one of the lucky few selected. In my experience, almost every member of NHS knows someone who has lied on their application or about their volunteer hours. This deceit is all too common, and goes against everything that NHS stands for. 


Then there is the pretentiousness that comes along with NHS. Fun fact: you are not smarter, more honorable, or better just because you are a member of NHS. The difference between a member of NHS, and a non-member of NHS is that you go to a meeting once a month and you have a sash at graduation.


In the end, I don’t want to discourage anyone from applying from NHS, but I also don’t want anyone to feel they are lesser because they are not in it. NHS has great intentions, but when it comes down to it, it has gaping flaws. If you end up applying next year, and don’t get accepted, don’t get your head down about it.


This is not a complaint against the organization itself, but instead a critique on the behavior currently present at the Portsmouth High School chapter of NHS. There needs to be a change to better reflect the values of NHS such as honesty, integrity, and leadership, and that’s only going to happen from members coming together and reflecting on how this year went, and how it can change to make NHS a powerful force enriching our community.