Oberlin Forms NSLS Chapter, Nominates Students


Abe Frato

The Office of Student Leadership and Involvement worked to create an Oberlin chapter of the National Society of Leadership and Success.

In January of this year, the College launched its chapter of the National Society of Leadership and Success. NSLS worked with the College to nominate students for membership, and nominated students can choose to become a member for a fee of $95. Per the Oberlin College chapter page on the NSLS website, there are currently 76 chapter members.

Students can also self nominate to join the program. Once nominated, students must complete the Steps to Induction, which take nine to 10 hours, per the “The National Society of Leadership and Success (NSLS) at Oberlin College” page on the College’s website. NSLS Regional Director of Program Development Hannah Stoneburner worked with College administration to establish the partnership between the NSLS and the College.

“The NSLS works with each school to determine specific nomination criteria for their students,” Stoneburner wrote in an email to the Review. “This criteria is usually a combination of academic standing, class year, and/or special populations, such as first-gen college students or alumni.”

This partnership came about as a result of a longstanding goal of the Office of Student Life to build a partnership with a national honor society for leadership.

“I had originally met with Thom Julian, Assistant Dean of Students, and shared information about our program,” Stoneburner wrote. “[Julian] shared that a search was underway for a new Director of Student Leadership. When Jess Gorgas entered that role, I connected with her. [Gorgas] reviewed the program and decided to form a partnership with the NSLS.”

Director of Student Leadership Jess Gorgas, who entered the role in August of last year, worked to consider a number of honors societies before selecting NSLS.

“I joined conversations with an NSLS representative, who introduced me to the NSLS program,” Gorgas wrote in an email to the Review. “Ultimately, our decision to create a chapter of the NSLS here was due in large part to the combination of honor society benefits with leadership development opportunities.”

Gorgas expressed that there are a number of programs and opportunities accessible to members.

“First of all, they will join a cohort of fellow Oberlin students on the steps to induction, which is a foundational leadership program encouraging students to set and accomplish their leadership goals,” Gorgas wrote. “Membership also includes access to exclusive scholarships and awards offered by the NSLS every semester, an online job bank, networking opportunities with other chapters, and educational talks from prominent leaders around the world.”

Through this partnership, the College’s chapter became one of 748 nationwide. With 1,771,164 members total, NSLS boasts a “life-changing leadership program that helps students achieve personal growth, career success, and empowers them to have a positive impact in their communities,” per the “About” page on its website.

While the NSLS “Accreditation” page states that the organization is the “only accredited leadership honor society in the nation,” it is not accredited by the Association of College Honor Societies, which requires that the societies it accredits are non-profit organizations. A for-profit organization, the NSLS charges members at least $95 to join — though opting into receiving various programs and merchandise can increase this cost.

In the last three years, the NSLS has received 13 publicly available complaints via its business page on the Better Business Bureau website, many of which allege issues receiving refunds for this fee or lack of access to promised goods and services.

According to Gorgas, though, this induction fee allows students to access a variety of benefits.

“The fee itself covers a membership welcome kit, including a t-shirt and other NSLS materials and all the other membership benefits for students including scholarships, job boards, and the leadership development programming hosted by their chapter,” Gorgas wrote.

Gorgas also stipulated that nominated students can request financial assistance to cover this fee through her office.