What Does the National Honor Society Do Exactly?


What do Meryl Streep, Cindy Crawford, and Mr. Rogers have in common?

Aside from recognizable names, all of them were members of the National Honor Society in high school.

You’ve probably heard of the National Honor Society (NHS). You might even remember a few kids from your high school who belonged to the organization. Or maybe you’re a high school student yourself and you’re wondering how to improve your chances of getting into a great college.

Whatever the case, we’re here to help. If you’ve been wondering, “What does the National Honor Society do?”, we’ll shed some light on the answer.

Keep reading to learn more about the NHS and how it can help you (or your child) down the road to success.

What Is the National Honor Society?

The National Honor Society is dedicated to recognizing and encouraging excellence in high school students. It’s built on the four pillars of:

  • Leadership
  • Service
  • Character
  • Scholarship

But we’ll come back to those pillars in a bit. To get the roots of the NHS, we need to travel back to 1921.

This was the year that a group of high school principals decided the country needed a “nationwide” honor system to recognize the best students. It now has chapters in all 50 states and US territories around the world, with over a million participating students.

This makes the NHS one of the oldest and most well-respected educational groups in the country.

What Is the National Honor Society Requirements?

Specific requirements depend on the local chapter where you live. To apply, you’ll need to be a high school student (grades 9-12) with at least a 3.5 GPA. You’ll also need to demonstrate academic excellence and leadership skills.

No matter your location, all the prerequisites for NHS membership are based on those four pillars mentioned earlier. Let’s take a quick look at each one.


On your application, you’ll need to provide details about the leadership roles you’ve held inside and outside of school.

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For example, are you involved in student government? Are you a captain of your sports team or debate team? Have you been in charge of organizing groups or events?


NHS members must be active members of their local community. Some chapters have specific hour requirements while others do not, but you’ll need to provide details about any volunteer work you’re involved with,

How do you give back to your local community? Do you volunteer at the animal shelter or food bank? What other unpaid contributions have you made to your community or your school?


It’s not enough to be smart — you must have a good reputation both on and off-campus. This involves having a clean record free of any disciplinary records.

You’ll also be asked to provide a written recommendation (character reference), from a teacher, coach, or mentor. Basically, you must be able to prove that you’re a responsible member of your school and community.


Remember that 3.5 GPA we mentioned earlier? Some chapters have even more rigorous standards, so you’ll need to focus on getting straight As or high Bs as much as possible.

This is good motivation if you’re hoping to get into a competitive college, as grades are one of the most important metrics on your application.

What Do You Do in the National Honor Society?

This is all sounding great, but what do you actually do when you join the NHS?


For starters, there are LEAD Conferences held on different weekends throughout the year. This is your chance to network with fellow NHS members and develop your leadership skills.

You might be selected to help plan a conference or a similar event, such as National Student Leadership Week. There are also state summits where NHS members gather to discuss and collaborate on real-world issues affecting their communities.

Part of joining the NHS means dedicating a certain number of hours to volunteer work and community service. You’ll gain members-only access to exciting events happening in your area that you can get involved with. In fact, the average NHS chapter contributes over 1,000 hours of community service each year.

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Why Should You Join the National Honor Society?

As mentioned earlier, there are hundreds of famous members among the NHS alumni. Membership can’t guarantee you fame and fortune, but it does open you to many networking opportunities you might not otherwise have.

For example, you’ll have the opportunity to apply for elite summer programs or internships. This opens the door to make valuable connections with peers and mentors from many different backgrounds.

It can make a huge difference in your college applications and job resumes, as well. It’s a clear way to set yourself apart from someone with similar credentials who didn’t push themselves hard enough to take that “extra step.”

Of course, let’s not forget the scholarships, college planning, and financial planning services available to NHS members. The goal of the National Honor Society is to set you up for success in high school, college, and throughout your working career.

What Does the National Honor Society Do? Now You Know

The National Honor Society is getting ready to celebrate its 100 birthday, and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

It’s an organization dedicated to getting students involved in their communities and, in the process, bolstering their chances of getting into a better college. It’s a win-win for everyone involved, making it a logical choice for all outstanding high school students.

So, the next time someone asks you, “What does the National Honor Society do?”, you can give an educated answer!

Speaking of education, are you ready to continue yours? Keep browsing our site for more informative reads like this one.

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