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How to Tell if an Honor Society Is Legitimate

Throughout your higher-education journey, you’ll come across many different types of organizations, including honor societies. Becoming a member of an honor society can help you accelerate your personal and professional growth. These organizations come with a level of prestige, so along with career readiness, they can also give your resume a boost.

Unfortunately, scammers sometimes masquerade as honor societies to target unassuming students in hopes of stealing their personal information and/or money. Because of this, it’s important to know how to recognize a credible honor society. Here's how to tell if an honor society is legitimate.

Red Flags That Can Indicate an Honor Society Scam

Some red flags on their own may not be cause for question, but if an honor society has a combination of these red flags, you’ll want to take a deeper look into its legitimacy.

Vague, Unclear, or Nonexistent Principles

Honor societies’ values, principles, and purpose are the backbone of their organization. These, along with the requirements and process of becoming a member, should be clearly stated on their website and other assets.

No On-Campus Presence

If you find that the organization has no established on-campus chapters, this may be a red flag. In today’s digital age, many honor societies may have online chapters, so this isn’t a complete disqualifier. If they are online-only, you’ll want to make sure they have a comprehensive, well-rounded program so that you can get the most out of your membership.

Unsettling Email Invitations

A lot of scammers will try to use email as a way to access sensitive information – putting them one click away from malware or phishing. If you receive an email from an honor society, there are a few signs that it’s a scam: 

  • Grammar and spelling errors, typos, and awkward phrasing 
  • Emails that don’t address you by name but instead, address you with a generic greeting
  • Attachments are a key indicator of a phishing email since honor societies typically don’t include attachments when sending invitation emails
  • Requests for sensitive information like your payment and bank account details and personally identifiable information

Hard-To-Find Information, Reviews, and Member Benefits

Honor societies are proud of their accomplishments and the impact they have on their students and school. Because of this, they want to make it easy for prospective members to find their achievements, social media presence, student success stories and reviews, events they host (such as leadership summits), and other highlights.

This information should be easy to find on their website. Beyond the prestige of being a member and the graduation regalia you’ll get, their website should also talk about key member benefits, such as what you can gain as a member.

Ways To Determine an Honor Society’s Legitimacy

When considering an honor society, you want to make sure that you vet appropriately – especially if the red flags aren’t obvious. 

  • Research their history. A credible organization will have some sort of background and details talking about its story.
  • Ensure they are a registered organization. College honor societies should be registered with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and maintain an A+ rating. Look into their certifications and organizations that have deemed them credible.
  • Learn their organization’s structure. Is it student- or university-sanctioned? Do they have specific requirements to join? How can students get involved? Look into how the organization is run and how students are invited to become a member. See if they have multiple chapters across the country. 
  • Talk to a faculty member. If you aren’t sure whether an honor society is legitimate or not, ask a teacher or advisor. They’ll know which organizations are credible, have chapters at your school, and are active. They’ll also have an idea of the best ones to join.  
  • Review testimonials and success stories. Look into member testimonials and reviews to get an idea of what to expect as a member. 
  • Educational investment. Legitimate honor societies require a membership fee in order to join, which covers the cost of the benefits you’ll receive. Some may question the legitimacy of an honor society if they don’t feel they’re getting value out of it. In order to get the most out of your membership, choose an honor society that has a strong curriculum and make sure you’re actively involved in the program.

Is the NSLS Legitimate?

The National Society of Leadership and Success (NSLS), also known as Sigma Alpha Pi, is a completely legitimate leadership honor society. While we are not members of the Association of College Honor Societies (ACHS) – we do exceed ACHS guidelines and are fully accredited by Cognia

Our courses have been reviewed and recommended for credit reciprocity (which varies by school) by the National College Credit Recommendation Service (NCCRS) and American Council on Education (ACE). We are also a certified B-Corporation (For-Benefit Organization) and maintain an A+ rating with the BBB. 

As a leadership honor society, our program is focused on building leaders that make a better world. As a member of our program, you can expect to have a wide range of learning opportunities like success networking teams and courses to speaker broadcasts featuring global influencers, and much more. 

We are the only accredited leadership honor society in the nation, so you can have peace of mind that you’re getting the most from your membership. Learn more about our accreditation, what it means for college, and how it benefits you.