Last Sunday, the National Society of Collegiate Scholars hosted a Chipotle dinner to kick off its spring semester recruitment at Georgetown.
Stephen Loflin founded the NSCS, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, in 1994 at the George Washington University. “What [Loflin] really wanted to do was to highlight high-achieving freshmen and sophomores because there are a lot of honor societies, but a lot of them don’t invite students until their junior or senior year,” Ron’nay Owens, the Associate Director of Member Engagement on the NSCS national staff, said.
Owens is also Georgetown’s NSCS chapter advisor at the nonprofit’s national headquarters. The Georgetown chapter is 15 years old and has approximately 250 student members.
According to Owens, a student’s eligibility is determined purely by GPA (3.4 or above) through the school’s registrars. “With Georgetown, in order for me to invite students what I will do is send out a request to the faculty advisor. … That faculty advisor will then go to the registrar. … Once the registrar pulls this data, that’s how we invite the students,” Owens said. Afterward, the student data is destroyed to protect individuals’ privacy.
Students invited to join the NSCS must pay a $95 one-time entry fee in exchange for membership. According to NSCS member John Reilly (COL ‘17), members participate in service programs and guest lectures by speakers from fields that students are interested in. “The the main goal of the NSCS Georgetown chapter is to bring together students for service and academic-based events,” he wrote in an email to the Voice.
Potential members, however, have described the entry fee as the most worrying and bewildering aspect of the organization’s outreach efforts. Anna Teitler (COL ‘18), who received a recruitment email from NSCS, expressed concern over what the funds would be used for. “Honestly when I got the email I thought it could potentially [be a scam],” she said.
According to Owens, the money gets distributed to NSCS chapters at Georgetown and other schools to help create scholarship opportunities for students. “We have scholarships throughout the year, and we just give the money right back to students in that way,” says Owens. One example is the GW & NSCS Transfer Scholarship, which provides resources to students seeking to transfer between schools within the NSCS network.
Some of the money from membership fees also goes to support student attendance at the society’s annual Scholar Conference, a platform for NSCS members to learn how to achieve post-college goals by listening to speakers and interacting with peers. According to Owens, the NSCS tries to ensure representation from every chapter at the conference by subsidizing the costs of registration and hotel stays.
According to Victor Malouf (SFS ‘17), President of Georgetown’s chapter of NSCS, the goal of the chapter this year is to increase its on-campus exposure. “The point of this [the Chipotle dinner] is really just to attach a face to a name…” he said.
“Last year … NSCS wasn’t a very vibrant organization on campus, and people didn’t know that it was a legitimate thing,” added Jada Bullen (SFS ‘17), vice president of events for the GU NSCS Chapter.
Teitler said that the first she had ever heard of the NSCS was when they emailed her to notify her of her eligibility. She said, “It seems more like a resume building thing than anything, but I don’t know how I feel about a resume building group you have to pay for.”