Honor Society? Me?
May 1, 2005 12:18 PM   Subscribe

Should I join Phi Kappa Phi? I recently received some mail informing me of my eligibility for an Honor Society. It costs some money and promises some kind of vague prestige. I'm honestly skeptical, but I'm not against the idea. Any Phi K Phi members here? Did membership seem worth it it?
posted by elwoodwiles to Education (14 answers total)
It costs some money and promises some kind of vague prestige.

I think you just summed it up right there. While I'd say real fraternities promote brotherhood, or at least comraderie through drunkeness, anything else is just money wasted and time spent.
posted by geoff. at 12:35 PM on May 1, 2005

It's unlikely to be of any real help to you. The only ones that might be reasonably helpful are Phi Beta Kappa and subject-specific honor societies relevant to the line of work you expect to go into.


If it's cheap -- say, less than $100 -- you might do it anyway. It could make a nice present for your parents, at the cost of a couple good-dinner-and-a-movie dates.

Bad investment, perfectly good consumption good.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:18 PM on May 1, 2005

There are some chapters of Phi Kappa Phi that are quite active. They might have some interesting networking possibilities. But ROU_Xenophobe is right, the main one with any advantages is Phi Beta Kappa. An employer here or there might be interested in the fact that you made an Honors society. I doubt that it would mean anything to graduate departments.
posted by ontic at 1:58 PM on May 1, 2005

Find out what the Phi Beta Kappa qualifications for the chapter at your school are. If you qualify for PBK, which has actual prestige with some people (mainly older people IMHO), then why bother with this Phi Kappa Phi thing no one's heard of?
posted by grouse at 2:04 PM on May 1, 2005

PBK is definitely better but they didn't have it at my college. That said, if you're a very good student, PKP can be totally worth it. I never engaged in a single event for them but they gave me $2000 for my last year in undergrad and $10,000 for my first year in lawschool. I think they give out 50 or so of those 10K "fellowships" for graduate school.
posted by leecifer at 3:44 PM on May 1, 2005

Does PBK have "qualifications"? At my school you were elected to it, you didn't apply or anything like that.
posted by kenko at 4:23 PM on May 1, 2005

Yes ... PBK members are elected by their respective chapters.
posted by ericb at 5:06 PM on May 1, 2005

I'm not sure if my school has a PBK chapter, but I'll look into it. There is a honor society for my field of study, but I think they only accept members once a year and I dropped the ball (but may try to join next year.)

I still have one more year of work to do so there's time to figure out what organizations will be the greatest help concerning grad school. Its interesting to know someone did get money, though.

I'm mostly looking for any additional layer of "prestige" I can get for my grad school applications. I've already got a few feathers in my cap, but I could always use a few more.
posted by elwoodwiles at 5:10 PM on May 1, 2005

I got invited to join the chapter at my school based on my grades. I did it because it was $68 and I figured it would look good on my resume and I could definitely use a scholarship. Also, I was flattered that they asked, since I haven't qualified for any sort of academic recognition since that one anomalous semester in undergrad when I made it on the Dean's List.

I skipped the initiation dinner, but I just got a tie tack or something in the mail, so I've got that going for me.
posted by jennyb at 6:25 PM on May 1, 2005

I'm mostly looking for any additional layer of "prestige" I can get for my grad school applications.

Having read hundreds of math grad school applications, I can say without any doubt that such honors had exactly zero effect on how I ranked people. But maybe they would in some other field, I can't say for sure. Certainly I have no idea how it looks on a job resume.

by the way you should include the title of the Mark Leyner story in your profile, as it's excellent
posted by Aknaton at 6:35 PM on May 1, 2005

I've read hundreds of resumes (maybe thousands, who knows by now) and I find academic fraternities not at all useful, with the sole exception of Phi Beta Kappa, and then only as one of many equally valid indicia of a moderately high class rank.

Here's what I do find useful: (1) departmental (as opposed to university) honors, because it indicates that you had to write a thesis, (2) high student government office at flagship state schools, because student government at those places is insane and it takes something to master it, (3) high GMAT/LSAT/GRE/MCAT scores even if you're just an undergrad, since they're objective, and (unlike SATs) required you to deploy your own motivation instead of strictly parental motivation by proxy.
posted by MattD at 7:51 PM on May 1, 2005

When I was in school I was peppered with invitations to various honor societies that had $50+ admissions fees. I decided not to join any of them because I was poor and because I hadn't heard much about any of them outside of the context of school. It never came back to haunt me. When I interviewed for jobs my senior year, companies seemed to care mostly about my grades and coursework. Grad schools will also care about any research projects you've done.
posted by rhiannon at 9:40 PM on May 1, 2005

Re: Phi Beta Kappa. The chapters "elect" the members but they do have some minimum academic standards. In fact, in at least some chapters, the standards are all that determine election—they'll get a list of the people who meet those standards from the university and elect them all en masse. You don't need to apply (unless you get forgotten through error).
posted by grouse at 3:10 AM on May 2, 2005

This is probably too late to be noticed, but Phi Kappa Phi was a good investment for me, as I landed a fellowship worth several thousand dollars for my first year of graduate school from them. My chapter was almost completely inactive, and I'm sure that having PKP on my resume was worthless, but the money was definitely handy.
posted by UKnowForKids at 8:42 AM on May 5, 2005

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