Writing in the Education section of the New York Times, high school guidance director Robert Bardwell exposes the fraudulent nature of these seemingly legitmate offers:
I NEVER recommend that a student pay to join any organization that will supposedly have an impact in the admission process. Even free honor societies available to high school students (i.e.: National Honor Society, Pro Merito and individual subject area societies) have little or no effect, especially at highly visible institutions. If a student wants to join such an organization for the other benefits of membership, that is fine, but not to help get a leg up on his admission chances.
If there is a hint that admission chances would be improved as a result of his being a member, I would suggest you report it to the Better Business Bureau as it may constitute fraud.
You can read Bardwell's entire post here.
As usual, too good to be true is neither true nor good. It's amazing how deeply infected with manipulative, deceptive commercial spin American culture has become in recent decades. What appear to be beneficient invitations may in reality be academic industry shakedowns, and any unfamiliar but official-sounding scholastic organizations that solicit enrollment by mail should be regarded with strong suspicion and thoroughly investigated before raising your hopes or sending any money.
Bardwell is also the president of the New England Association for College Admission Counseling, and provides Times readers with additional advice about the daunting college admissions and financial aid processes here.
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