Academic honor societies have a rich history deeply rooted in tradition. Unfortunately, these organizations have not mirrored the pace at which the college experience has transformed in recent decades. Today, honor societies do have a strong virtual presence, but their formal institution-focused structure has become imperfect in the modern learning environment. Chi Beta Lambda believes it is unrealistic to impose an honor society’s conventional framework on unconventional students. We exist to meet the unique needs of these alternative programs.

Founding Principles

Historically, honor societies seem to have more to do with institutional affiliation than they do with scholarship. In other words, regardless of academic performance, a student is only eligible for membership if a chapter exists at their school. Absent a campus, the concept of society membership becomes murky. Virtual chapters commonly struggle with participation, governance, and faculty sponsorship. As a result, many close or have their status revoked, and it is not always easy to find support for opening new chapters. From this perspective, the rise of virtual learning has arguably diminished opportunities for student recognition.

Collegiate honor society chapters are usually charters (i.e., a legal business entity), so they are subject to rigid corporate guidelines. Many CBL programs have new students starting and graduating every week rather than biannually (i.e., spring & fall), causing a constant ebb and flow of needs and interest levels. While we encourage our member institutions to operate active chapters of Chi Beta Lambda, we understand corporate design is unsuitable for CBL programs. We do not want to burden universities or detract from their operations as that would only penalize students.

Our effort to remove so much of the traditional honor society structure is part of Chi Beta Lambda’s no-nonsense approach to student recognition. The average CBL learner does not seek the same engagement level that campus-based or traditional online students do. Most individuals choose these flexible programs because they are either too busy or entirely uninterested in participation. Many are raising families or working full-time; sometimes both. These learners are motivated by utility; they do not want to jump through additional hoops or waste time. Our members go the extra mile to earn superior grades, so they should be able to hang an extra certificate on the wall and graduate with extra flare.

Most honor societies advertise exclusive membership benefits (e.g., career opportunities, resume assistance, webinars, corporate discounts, publications, etc.) to justify high application fees. That is not our goal. No sales pitch here. Most schools offer similar services free of charge if you know where to look. Affordability is one of the leading reasons learners choose CBL over a traditional course-based learning format. Like CBL students, we are cost-conscious. We want to add to your experience rather than your budget.