There’s an Honor Society for Your First Year College Student

There are many opportunities for college students to be honored and recognized for their outstanding academic work as they approach senior year and graduation.  There are individual college honor societies as well as national honor societies for most majors.  However, if you have a first year college student, those recognition opportunities may seem a long way off.  There is at least one national honor society specifically for first year students — Alpha Lambda Delta.

Not every college or university has a chapter of Alpha Lambda Delta, but there are chapters at over 260 schools around the country.  If the school has a chapter, students are invited to join the honor society if they have achieved a GPA (grade point average) of at least 3.5 (on a 4 point scale) and are in the top 20% of their class during their first term or year of higher education. The honor society inducts approximately 25,000-29,000 students nationally each year.  Some chapters may do little beyond an initiation ceremony, and some chapters may be very active, holding meetings and conducting service projects.  This choice is up to the individual school.

If your student is invited to join this honor society, you may wonder whether or not it is legitimate.  Alpha Lambda Delta is an honor society with an over 85 year history.  The society was founded in 1924 at the University of Illinois for freshman women.  It became co-ed in 1976.  It has been a member of the Association of College Honor Societies since 1939.  It is a nationally recognized honor society with a stellar reputation.

Students who are invited to join Alpha Lambda Delta are usually asked to pay a relatively small initiation fee.  Most of this fee covers the cost of the certificate and pin that the student receives, as well as a subscription to the organization’s magazine.  The fee is a one-time fee, and students become members of the organization for life — even if they are unable to maintain the GPA.  Students may be removed from the society, however, for violations of academic honesty policies of their school.

College students are sometimes hesitant to join organizations such as this because they worry about the obligations, or they do not immediately recognize the value.  There are several reasons why you should encourage your student to consider membership if she is invited to join.

  • Students are usually honored through a chapter initiation ceremony — recognizing their outstanding academic achievement early in their college career.
  • Students are recognized by their college or university as academic leaders.
  • Students have an opportunity to connect and work with other outstanding students.
  • Students are eligible for some scholarships provided by Alpha Lambda Delta, as well as some study abroad fellowships.
  • Students receive the organization’s magazine, helping them to identify with other outstanding students from around the nation.
  • Students are eligible to wear an honor cord at graduation.
  • Membership in this honor society looks good on the student’s resume or job applications.

If your student is eligible for initiation into Alpha Lambda Delta, or any other first year honor society — congratulations!  Your student is obviously beginning his college career on a great path.  Encourage him to take advantage of opportunities such as this.  He may or may not see the benefits right now, but the opportunities and connections, as well as the recognition he will receive now and in the future, are important.

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3 thoughts on “There’s an Honor Society for Your First Year College Student”

    • Dr. Downing – If you go to their website – – under the Chapters tab, there is information about how to start a chapter.

    • Good evening, I am the Associate Provost at Huston-Tillotson University, Austin, Texas. We are looking for ways to help encourage our student to achieve academically at the freshman and sophomore levels. One of the strategies we have discussed is starting a freshman level Honor Society. I am exploring such organizations and the criteria for us to start a chapter on our campus. Please forward information concerning the criteria for becoming a chapter. Thanks


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