Q: What is National Honor Society?
A: The National Honor Society (NHS) is the nation’s premier organization established to recognize outstanding high school students. More than just an honor roll, NHS serves to recognize those students who have demonstrated excellence in the areas of scholarship, service, leadership, and character. These characteristics have been associated with membership in the organization since its beginning in 1921. Today, it is estimated that more than one million students participate in NHS activities. NHS chapters are found in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, many U.S. territories, and Canada. Chapter membership not only recognizes students for their accomplishments, but challenges them to develop further through active involvement in school activities and community service.
Here at Hingham High School, our chapter is primarily a service organization, providing tutoring services to students at Hingham High and volunteering whenever we can in the Hingham Community and beyond.
Q: Who is eligible to apply for NHS?
A. Students who have achieved a 3.7 GPA or higher by the end of term two of their junior year receive a letter inviting them to submit an application. Students who achieve a 3.7 by the end of their junior year are invited to apply in September of their senior year.
Q: The HHS 2017-2018 Student Handbook states that the minimum GPA for eligible students is 3.5, yet the current bylaws state that it is 3.7. Why the discrepancy?
A: The change in GPA requirement was made after the 2017-2018 HHS Student Handbook was printed. According to national and local NHS bylaws, the principal must be consulted when the chapter would like to make changes in the eligibility requirements. The HHS principal is new this year, so he was not available for consultation until September of 2017. The HHS Student Handbook is printed in the summer, so the old eligibility requirements show in the handbook instead of the updated ones. Once the principal gave his approval, the five-member NHS Faculty Council unanimously approved the change in October 2017.
Q: Why was this change made?
A: HHS recently changed the way it calculates GPA. The change in GPA increased the number of eligible students to over half of the class. While recognizing student achievement is certainly among the goals of Hingham High School as a whole, the mission of NHS is to honor those at the highest level of achievement in our school. In order to remain aligned with this mission; the NHS Faculty Council determined that an adjustment to the minimum GPA for NHS consideration was necessary. We undertook a statistical analysis of the last few graduating classes and examined which GPA would yield approximately the same percentage of the class eligible for NHS. That GPA threshold is 3.7 under the new system. Having a 3.7 GPA as a minimum academic requirement for NHS also allows us to be consistent with the NHS chapters at other competitive schools in our area.
Q: How are the applications evaluated?
A. Candidates are evaluated in four areas: Scholarship, Leadership, Service, and Character. The application asks students to list their leadership experiences, extra-curricular and service activities, as well as write two essays. The applications are evaluated with great care by a five-person faculty committee.
Q: How is commitment to service measured on the application?
A. Students list the number of hours they have dedicated to various service experiences between grades 9-11. These hours must be verified by a supervisor, coach, or adviser with a signature on the application. When a signature cannot be obtained, an email or certificate of completion from a supervisor is acceptable. Since NHS is primarily a service organization, the evaluating committee likes to see that students have participated in at least 15 hours of service by the time they apply to NHS junior year. Therefore, it is a good idea for students to start volunteering early in their high school career and keep track of all these experiences so that they can be documented on the application.
Q: What else does the Faculty Council look for in candidates besides commitment to service?
A. NHS members are well-rounded, lead by example, and show kindness and respect to all in the community, both inside and outside of school. The Faculty Council looks for students who demonstrate academic and social integrity as well.
Q: How does the Faculty Council measure character?
A. The essay portion of the application is where the Council can get a sense of a student’s character. The teachers that serve on the committee do not necessarily know each candidate, so for many students, the essays are the only way for them to get a sense of what the candidates are like. Therefore, it is recommended that students take great care in writing the essays, as well as proofread what they write. Students may want to consider writing the optional essay as well. Input is also solicited from the HHS faculty about the candidates so that the Faculty Council can get a more complete picture of a student’s character.
Q: How long do students have to complete the application?
A. Students usually have 3-4 weeks to complete the application. Current members have recommended to start working on it right away, as there are many parts and many signatures to obtain! They also suggest making a copy of the completed application to keep at home- it can be very helpful when it comes time to apply to colleges senior year.
Q: What are the possible outcomes when an application is considered?
A. Students who apply to NHS are either accepted, deferred, or rejected. Rejection is rare. Students who are not accepted junior year are usually deferred because their application is deficient in some way. The most common deficiency is a lack of service hours. Students who are deferred junior year have another opportunity to apply their senior year (as long as they maintain a 3.7 GPA or higher). Students who are not accepted senior year do not get another opportunity to apply to NHS.