We’ve all seen the bumper stickers. “My child is honor student at fill-in-the-blank middle school.”

Some of you may have even had the chance to slap one of those bumper stickers on your own car fender.

When it comes to honors in high school and college, however, the bumper stickers get fewer and the standards get stricter.

College Parents of America thought you would find it useful to learn more about college honor societies and how you – and your child – can judge their credibility.

After doing some research, including speaking with officials from various of the college honor societies, we believe that the single most important criteria in judging the credibility of a society is whether it is an approved member – and therefore meets the high standards – of the Association of College Honor Societies (ACHS).

ACHS, headquartered near the campus of Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan, has created the Honor Society Standards of Excellence.

The standards are the best single way to judge the quality of an honor society and, most important, the meeting of those standards is the only way that a society can be approved by ACHS. The standards are available for your review at www.achsnatl.org/quality.asp. For a complete list of current ACHS member societies, you can go to the ACHS homepage,www.achsnatl.org and click on the Members tab.

If your child has been approved by an honor society that has not been certified as meeting the high standards of ACHS, then you should examine whether it has at least met some of the ACHS-required criteria such as:

  • Scholastic requirements, i.e. undergraduate specialized rank in the upper 35 percent of a class, which converts to 3.2 or 3.3 in this time of grade inflation. Honor societies that promote a minimum 3.0 are more appropriately labeled “recognition societies,” a definition that has been around since the 1920s.
  • Governance standards such as membership participation in setting authority for control of the affairs of the organization, and selection of officers and board members by the membership.
  • Campus chapter activity up to and including the formal chartering of the chapter by the institution and/or relevant department of the school, with concurrent approval by the governing body of the national organization.
  • An accessible Web site with information available to the public on national officers and headquarters staff, as well as national office mailing and e-mail addresses, along with telephone and fax numbers.