Cagey Consumer

National Society of Collegiate Scholars

Being a college scholar doesn't mean you must become a college sucker

Con artists prey on people's wants and desires. The desire to get something for nothing is a prime bait used by con artists. Easily obtained recognition for one's accomplishments is another way con artists can reel in their victims.
High school and college students are targets of numerous scams, as well as many legitimate solicitations. Of course, telling them apart isn't always easy. How do you think you would react to a notice that you (or your progeny) was going to be recognized for their academic success? All you have to do is send in $50 or $100 for lifetime membership in an honorary organization.

While such a solicitation may come from an operation that's only interested in taking your money, legitimate honorary organizations also need to collect dues.

You might want to make sure that the solicitation received is from an IRS-approved non-profit organization. Unfortunately, though, just because an organization has obtained non-profit status is no assurance of their legitimacy. Meeting the IRS criteria for non-profit status doesn't mean that it isn't being operated for somebody's personal gain.

There are some things you can base a decision on, aside from any personal knowledge you may have about it. However, the presence of a faculty advisor or chapter officers doesn't indicate that the organization has been endorsed by the college or university.

If you could find out how much of your money goes to the local chapter and how much goes to the national organization, that would go a long way towards knowing the true motives of the organization. But this information may be hard to come by.

One clue that something is wrong if they're using techniques shared by Publisher's Clearing House and companies selling timeshares:

For instance, are they mass-mailing the request to large numbers of students... or to their parents? Is there a critical deadline to meet? If you don't take advantage of it now, you're going to lose out on this great opportunity!

One such questionable organization is the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. They promise an induction ceremony, a press release, and the opportunity to list the membership on your resume.

If you don't feel like forking over $60 for these wonderful privileges, you could still include on your resume that you are a National Society of Collegiate Scholars invitee.

To read other comments on this topic and to add your own comments, check the Honor Societies page on the Cagey Consumer Twiki web site.

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Updated April 14, 2002