Sections on this page
- What Is the NSHSS?
- NSHSS Membership
- Why the Controversy?
- Common Reviews About the NSHSS
- Common Misconceptions About the NSHSS
Yes, the National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS) is a legitimate organization offering financial awards, networking, and other opportunities for members.
The company publishes a list of current and former scholarship winners on its website.
What Is the NSHSS?
The Atlanta-based organization describes itself as a “distinguished academic honor society,” comprised of more than 1.7 million members from more than 26,000 high schools across 170 countries.
Co-founded by Claus Nobel, a relative of the man who established the Nobel Peace Prize, the NSHSS offers students the opportunity to apply for a range of financial awards and participate in webinars and other events, supposedly to help them excel and attain access to colleges and scholarships.
After graduating high school, members can continue participating in the group, which also offers networking opportunities for traveling abroad or other programs.
NSHSS uses a range of criteria to determine student membership eligibility, including:
- 3.5 GPA or higher, on a 4.0 scale.
- SAT score of 1280 or higher.
- PSAT score of 1150 or higher.
- ACT score of 26 or higher.
- Score of 4 or higher on any AP exam.
- Total combined IB test scores of 36 or higher.
- IGCSE Grade A or higher.
- Being in the top 10% of the class.
If a student is considered eligible, they are sent a packet of information in the mail. The company says it invites participants and gets student contact information from teachers or school recommendations.
If a student decides to join, they pay a one-time fee (currently $75), which offers them a lifetime membership. Low-income students may submit to have the fee waived.
Membership opens access to several scholarship applications and other opportunities the organization may offer. Merchandise like t-shirts can also be purchased separately.
Why the Controversy?
In the strictest sense, the NSHSS is not a scam. The company does offer the opportunities it claims to connect students with potential scholarships when it comes down to it.
Still, many people have claimed that isn’t enough and that the organization shares a few red flags with many common scams.
First, the invitation packet arrives unsolicited. This can feel overwhelming or confusing for a student already involved in the stressful college application process.
This issue is further compounded by the group’s name, which may seem a little too familiar to some—just a few letters away from NHS, the widely recognized and very much legit National Honor Society. Many people looking out for scams will find this closeness as a cause for concern, with the thought that NSHSS may be trying to ride the NHS’s more well-known coat tails.
What most people find issue with, however, is the pay-to-play mentality of the group. Essentially, joining the NSHSS is paying for the chance to win scholarships—which some claim aren’t always particularly generous. (Most scholarships range between $1,000-$2,000, with a few bringing in as much as $5,000).
But paying for the membership doesn’t guarantee the chance to win any financial awards. Many have called out the organization for offering a relatively low number of scholarships compared to how many students they invite into the club.
Common Reviews About the NSHSS
Reviews are mixed-to-poor for the organization, which received over 120 complaints through the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
Many complaints centered around people believing the organization was a scam, though reasons seemed to vary. Some people seemed to think the organization offered scholarships directly—rather than simply the chance to apply for them—while others alleged that the information they received falsely claimed that the NSHSS was a “spin-off branch” of the National Honor Society.
Some reviewers claimed they felt duped after learning that every student at their child’s school was sent the “prestigious” invitation. Others felt the organization didn’t offer enough scholarship opportunities to be worth the entrance fee.
The company’s responses to broader issues could also be a little fuzzy, never quite clarifying the specific criteria or methods used to contact students.
Still, in many of the cases, it appears refunds were given when asked for. And testimonials provided on the company’s website claim the NSHSS offered a valuable opportunity for many students entering college.
Common Misconceptions About the NSHSS
Many people seem to think the NSHSS is the same thing as, or at least part of, the National Honor Society. Some have said that the NSHSS even claims this itself, but it’s not true either way.
Another common misconception about the group is that it offers scholarships directly. After joining the NSHSS, students are simply given access to several scholarship applications. But if they don’t apply, they won’t get an NSHSS scholarship or any form of financial aid whatsoever.
Parents and students may also believe that membership is a résumé booster that will catch the attention of many colleges. While the organization is expanding, it’s still relatively new (established in 2002), and colleges have not confirmed that membership can boost your chances of being accepted.