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Honor Society?



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There are many different honour societies and they vary in how they invite people and how people regard them. In Canada, the "Golden Key" is a major one (it's an international society but that's the one I saw the most in Canada). I looked them up to refresh my memory and they basically invite the top 15% of students, by GPA, to join. You have to pay some fee. There's another one with a greek letter name, I think it's Phi Beta Kappa, that is a little more exclusive (I think you have to be elected to the society). And there are also other societies that are just basically scams/spam: they invite students meeting some (very broad) criteria in order to flatter them into paying the fee and joining.

With the legitimate societies, there are often scholarships to apply for, events to attend, and leadership opportunities. It's like being part of a club. I don't really think it's worth it to join because it seems like the majority of members don't actually participate in the events----they just pay for a line on the CV that basically means very little. Perhaps if you want to specifically network or looking for leadership opportunities in the society, then it could be worth it. Like any other commitment, the benefits you get depend on how much time you're willing to put into it. However, in terms of professional and career advancement in academia, I don't see very much value and you can find much of the same benefits elsewhere, for free and more directly impacting you (e.g. through volunteering in your city, or student government etc.). Or to put it another way, there are lots of other things you can be doing with your time that will provide you with benefits in academia. But I am not a member of any of these societies so maybe someone here who is might chime in.

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2 hours ago, Charlie Moon said:

Interesting,  I always thought it was some kind of scam/spam (as, under FERPA, there is no way they have access to my grades)

Privacy rules vary from country to country, but in general, they can get this information by something like:

1. Have a chapter of the society at the University
2. Chapter properly applies for and becomes a student club. Now, they are an internal organization/group.
3. They can then request the registrar to forward the student society a list of students in the top 15% of their class, according to GPA. Although I'm not an expert, I believe this is valid under FERPA because it is information for a legitimate academic purpose and the registrar will just forward the directory information (name, contact info). Maybe getting GPA is valid under FERPA too, not 100% sure.
4. Local chapter invites student for membership, asks them to send transcript/GPA/evidence for confirmation to enrollment. Now, since the student has provided the info directly, they can ask for whatever they want. They probably have to properly protect your information and store it according to FERPA or whatever local regulations are in place.

For US students, you can talk to your school about further restricting your FERPA information. I am not at a US school anymore so I don't remember the specific details, but FERPA definitely does allow you to restrict access to your information even more than the default levels. This might help you reduce these types of requests. It could prevent some legitimate requests from going through though.

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I am a member of Golden Key and another one (I don't remember the name lol and I joined it as a freshman) because they have a chapter at my university that's an official student organization and for that to happen multiple students have to put some time and effort into making it official.  But looking back they might have done it because the president of an honor society looks good on a resume.   Although I don't know if it was really worth it though.  The dues were like  $75-$100 for a lifetime membership,  but I have seen some that you have to renew and can be very expensive.   

When I was in high school there was this "honors society" that literally invites everyone to join it.   I think some parents joined just so they could have the "my child is a member of  (honor society name)" bumper sticker on their car.   Dues were like $100 so that's a very expensive bumper sticker,  and no one informed takes that one seriously.  

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