Is the National Society of Leadership and Success Right for You?

MWCC Students Share the Advantages and Disadvantages of the NSLS Program

Some may have heard that the National Society of Leadership and Success—Sigma Alpha Pi (NSLS), can help students achieve personal growth, empowerment, and career success, but is joining this society worth it?

According to the email invitation, those who join “will gain access to a five-step, skill-building leadership program.  Membership benefits include scholarships, an online job bank, a personalized letter of recommendation, and discounts at major brands that will save you hundreds of dollars each year.”

To begin, if you meet the requirements as stated on the NSLS’s InvolveMOUNT page, of a “minimum 2.5 grade point average, and are taking a minimum of 6 credits,” any student can join this society whether they are taking classes in person or online.

MWCC student Kelly Johnson who is pursuing a certificate in Public Relations has been a member of NSLS for a few months and has already experienced the benefits of this society.

“NSLS is different than the other societies at Mount Wachusett,” Johnson said. “It’s a national honors society…I really like it. I like listening to the speakers.”

Johnson added she doesn’t currently need the scholarships NSLS offers, but “there’s so much more which…[she] found very beneficial.”

There are simple requirements that students have to complete after joining. “You have to watch three leadership recordings,” Johnson said. “There are dozens, but three is their minimum.” Johnson added, “There are some really amazing speakers on there,
like Barack Obama.”

“Another piece of it is that you have to join a group,” Johnson said. “It’s a small group that you can set up on your own personal time with family or friends.” Johnson added that within this group, you would complete a task that is “a self-driven opportunity
to advance yourself” in one area of your life. Johnson said, “The group asks members to set a goal to accomplish, and the group is your accountability partner.”

“Instead of thinking you will approach a task without much knowledge, you have support from other classmates who are cheering you on and giving feedback,” Johnson said.

Aside from building leadership skills, Johnson identified that some other advantages of joining this society are getting to know yourself, getting to practice and implement what others are talking about, and networking with like-minded people. “There’s traveling as well,” Johnson said. “There are several programs you can join to travel around the world for a week with other NSLS members.”

To be clear, it is not free, and traveling is not a requirement after joining, but Johnson shared, “Even if a college student can’t afford to go to Costa Rica, for example, it’s a lifetime membership and they travel often.” When talking about leadership as a whole”, Johnson added, “You must be self-driven. It’s a lifetime commitment.”

Where one may see the benefits of this program, another may see its disadvantages. MWCC Student Pamela Day, who has been a member of NSLS for a few semesters, said, “It fairly easy to do and complete. [But] [i]t’s really about leadership and I’m not one to get up to lead.”

NSLS offers scholarships to students who plan to transfer, but what if they aren’t transferring? Day said, “They…say they have scholarships for people that are transferring, but I’m not transferring.” Day added, “It’s discouraging to fight for a scholarship after they made a statement saying there are many scholarships available.”

For those seeking to apply for scholarships after joining NSLS, there is quite a bit of work to do. “It’s so involved,” Day said. “They want examples on leadership, what leadership roles you obtained, and if you volunteered.” Day added, “I volunteer but not to the degree they are asking for.”

Day also shared that a form of government identification is required to apply for these scholarships. “They want proof of who you are,” Day said. “It’s almost like getting government clearance for a scholarship…I felt uncomfortable scanning my documents. It was too much.”  Day made it clear that she didn’t want to discourage others but wanted to share her experience.

When asked what could be done to make the membership more inclusive for those who aren’t transferring or those that have a family life to balance out aside from their work life, Day shared, “The scholarships should be a little simpler to do, [and] not as long as they are, because not everyone has the free time.”

This article was originally published in The Mount Observer, Volume 16, Issue 6, March 2022.