Staff Editorial: CSF, NHS provide few benefits beyond a bit of graduation decoration

Every year, 600 seniors file down the ramp into the football stadium in mid-June, each cloaked in a black gown, ready to close another chapter of their lives.

Of course, every student is special, but on this day, some seem to be more special than others. In the sea of black, gold cords rest around the necks of roughly a quarter of these students, and a gold sash worn by a sixth of them.

These accolades are earned by joining Westview’s California Scholarship Federation (CSF) chapter and the National Honor Society (NHS); however, the purpose of these organizations are inane.

According to the school’s official CSF website, CSF is an “organization that honors students for their high academic achievements and their dedicated service to the community.”

As long as the student applying does not have any grades below a C, meets the 10-point system (which is calculated by converting letter grades to numbers and adding them up), and completes six hours of community service, they are granted a membership for the semester.

On the front page of the website, it states that members who have been in CSF for at least four semesters will receive a “nice tassel” for graduation, an “awesome certificate” for recognition, and “a delicious banquet with cheesecake” to end senior year.

Members also get a CSF gold seal on their diploma and a CSF lamp pin.

Similarly, NHS members will receive an NHS gold seal on their diploma and a gold sash to wear at graduation.

While it is commendable that the school has taken steps to give students something tangible to recognize their academic excellence, students should not feel the need for validation from some trinkets that ultimately possess little-to-no value.

Contrary to popular belief, having “CSF” or “NHS” on a college application does not by any means make for a more exceptional applicant.

Counselor Christine Cudmore said that while simply listing these types of organizations may enhance the application, colleges are more likely interested in how involved the applicant was in the organization and their reason for joining.  Furthermore, with approximately 300 students currently in Westview’s CSF chapter and more than 1,500 other CSF chapters across California, it is not uncommon for colleges to hear that a student is a part of an honor society like CSF or NHS. Surely, this does not greatly impress a college.

While the two organizations deserve praise for providing a way for students to be recognized for their hard work and attempting to create an incentive to continue, they seem to exist just so that students can put a label on their supposed greatness, which provides no long term value. For too many students, CSF and NHS have merely become another thing that can be added to their list on college applications, or a way to feel a minute sense of importance during the couple hours spent on the last day of school in senior year.

These honor societies lack purpose beyond giving students surface affirmation. CSF members only have to meet once the entire year (besides the two times per year that they drop off applications) to vote for the upcoming year’s officers, and NHS members are not required to attend anything as long as they fulfill their 10 hours of community service.

It is evident that the benefits from organizations like CSF and NHS lack substance. In the grand scheme of things, they fall short of giving students any significant advantage, especially if they are used as a vain vessel for recognition.