You open up the mail and receive a letter that says “Congratulations! Your outstanding grades and/or achievements have opened up the opportunity to be a part of our awesome honor society.” So you run to the computer and say, “Sign me up!”
However as soon as you get to the join organization page you stop when you realize that it costs around $80-$120 to join, depending on the organization. Joining one organization isn’t too bad, but when you end up receiving offers from four to five different organizations it would be simply silly to accept every single one. So before you decide which society to join you must think to yourself if you actually want to be a part of a society as more than just a resume filler.
Take a look at the organization’s national or regional page and first determine what they can offer you. If you hope to go to grad school, look for an organization that gives you connections and scholarships to graduate schools. If you want to get money for school, see which ones offer the best scholarships that you are actually eligible for. If you want to give back to your community, see which ones are big on volunteering, host summits, and have opportunities for travel around the world. A lot of societies also offer discounts from companies like Geico and Dell. If you like discounts then see if any of the organizations offer them for companies you like to buy from.
The next step would be to look at your University’s chapters. See if they have a chapter homepage, a Facebook page, a collegiatelink page. Are they active? Do they host local events, consistent meetings, etc.? There is nothing worse than attempting to join a national organization and finding out that your chapter doesn’t do diddly-squat.
If possible, try to go visit informational booths during events like Kickoff to get a sense of what the chapter does. Also try to go to the organization’s meetings or events and meet the leaders and members. See what they have to offer you and let them know what you can offer them.
Figure out your time commitments. If an organization requires an induction process or mandatory volunteer work, make sure that you can actually find the time to complete them. What’s the point of joining an organization just to be stuck in limbo between non-member and full-fledged member?
Decide if you are able to be a part of more than one organization. This goes kind of with the figuring out your time commitments aspect of it. There is nothing wrong with being an active member of multiple organizations, but don’t be a part of so many that you are unable to contribute to them all.
Finally, figure out which one(s) will be the most fun. A society is meant to be a place for people to come together, make friends, do great things, reward accomplishments, and give back to others. If you don’t enjoy what you are a part of, then why be a part of it at all?