To the annual frustration and ire of good counselors and admissions officers everywhere, students across the country are receiving notifications that they have been nominated for membership to an exclusive, prestigious honor society, one that will open doors to scholarships and impress colleges. All they have to do to avail themselves of the purported benefits? Pay the membership fee.
Don’t do it. They’re scams. All of them.
It’s difficult to be direct with families about this once they and their student have understandably become excited about the nomination. The presentation, a decorative, heavyweight mailing with the embossed invitation and certificate of nomination, certainly feels legit. But the alternative is to allow families to fork over money for a membership that will never deliver all–or any–of the benefits it promises.
I’ve written about this before, so rather than revisit the warning in a new writeup, here’s a past post featuring a quote from Collegewise Chief Academic Officer (who also worked at Caltech and University of Chicago), Arun Ponnusamy, with a particularly effective takedown of the organization currently making their annual pilgrimage into students’ mailboxes, the National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS).
You can also find numerous complaints about this organization on the Better Business Bureau’s website.
Even good companies experience customer service challenges. But I would never engage with any organization that has to spend this much time defending itself and its practices in response to unhappy customers who feel they were duped.