Mortar Board Rating, Reviews and Requirements. Is it worth it?
On GPA Requirements: “Is using a high grade point average as the chapter minimum standard a good way to limit the candidate eligibility pool and upgrade the quality of the chapter?” The scholarship requirement is the minimum grade point average representing the upper 35 percent of the junior class or a B average, whichever is higher on your campus. With the annual consent of the National Office, a chapter may raise its scholarship requirement. Limiting the candidate pool is not considered a valid reason for approving a GPA standard above the minimum. Keep in mind that raising the grade point average standard may eliminate potential members who are well-balanced in scholarship, leadership and service in favor of high academic performance. It also may systematically favor some groups or majors that tend to have high averages. That is unfair to other students. Sometimes the best leaders are NOT those with a 4.0. It’s the BALANCE of scholarship, leadership and serve you are striving to find.”- Mortar Board Website
The selection process takes place once a year, where Mortar Board chapters across the U.S. choose their new members that they wish to induct. On their website, Mortar Board claims that membership is not only for collegiate members--it extends beyond that, to help you better yourself in the higher demands of adult life.
A one-time fee of $80 secures your membership in Mortar Board. You may pay online. Chapters may charge local dues and choose to have them collected through their online payment system.
Originally founded in 1918, Mortar Board make its place in history by becoming the first national honor society for college senior women. In 1975, it was decided to amend their constitution to admit men, at which point a clause was added in the Purpose to include additional "commitment to the advancement of the status of women."
Columbus, Ohio was the location chosen for their Headquarters, where it still stands to this day. At their National Office, they maintain files, records and information related to any and all chapters, as well as national conferences, alumni, etc. The Mortar Board Foundation is also located here, with the historical archives of the society.
Founding date: February 15, 1918
Founding chapters: Cornell University, The University of Michigan, The Ohio State University and Swarthmore College
Mission: “Mortar Board, Inc., a national honor society that recognizes college seniors for their achievements in scholarship, leadership and service, provides opportunities for continued leadership development, promotes service to colleges and universities and encourages lifelong contributions to the global community. (Adopted July 1994)”
Motto: Pi Sigma Alpha (ΠΣΑ), representing the Ideals of Mortar Board: scholarship, service and leadership
Symbol: A mortarboard
Colors: Gold (representing achievement) and silver (symbolizing opportunity)
Pin: Shaped like a black mortarboard with the Greek letters representing the motto in gold
Membership: More than a quarter of a million members have been initiated at 232 collegiate chapters.
IN DEPTH HISTORY- From the Mortar Board Handbook
1915- A member of Mortar Board, a local honor society at The Ohio State University, met a member of Pi Sigma Chi from Swarthmore College, and realized each pin they wore represented an honor society for women with similar values and procedures.
1918- Representatives from Cornell University, The University of Michigan, The Ohio State University, Swarthmore College and Syracuse University held the founding meeting on February 15 at Syracuse University. At this time the pin, motto and Bylaws were adopted. The organization remained nameless.
1923- Official delegates of each chapter in attendance at the national convention determined that districts in Mortar Board should be established to help facilitate the growing size of the organization, which consisted of 18 chapters.
1937- Mortar Board is recognized as the only current honor society organization composed entirely of women.
1955- Delegates from Mortar Board’s chapters voted to establish the Mortar Board Foundation Fund as a means for contributions to advance the purpose.
1970-By decision of the delegates at the national conference, a National Office was established and located in Columbus, Ohio.
1973-Mortar Board instituted an award to honor women who had made outstanding contributions to the status of women, known as the National Citation.
1975- The ramifications of Title IX were taken into consideration and membership was opened to men. The purpose was amended to include “to promote and advance the status of women.”
1976- The purpose was revisited “to emphasize the advancement of the status of women” as well as “to promote equal opportunities among all peoples.”
1985- Mortar Board delegates initiated a national project to be selected biennially, with the rst being organ donor awareness.
2002- Delegates voted to make a pro- literacy project, “Reading is Leading,” the permanent national project for Mortar Board.
2018- Mortar Board celebrates its centennial!
Some of the notable alumni are:
Condoleezza Rice, former U.S. Secretary of State
Judith Resnik, space shuttle Challenger astronaut
Aron Ralston, mountain climber and author
Drew Brees, NFL player
Many leaders throughout history have been named honorary members, including:
Sandra Day O’Connor, Supreme Court associate justice
Maya Angelou, poet
Jimmy Carter, U.S. President
Rudolph Giuliani, mayor of New York
Sally Ride, the first female U.S. astronaut
Fred Rogers, educator, minister, and host of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood
Prestige. Mortar Board claims that the “ultimate recognition” of your campus experience can be summed up through their membership, assuming you are a senior level scholar-leader.
Involvement. Mortar Board encourages their members to become involved with leadership positions within their chapters--leadership skills that can be valuable later in life.
Networking. An oft-mentioned asset of being in an honor society is networking--but how extensive is this for the members of Mortar Board? They claim to have a quarter-of-a-million members, giving current members access to an unending stream of alumni, organizations, services, etc.
Fellowships. Members are invited to apply for Mortar Board fellowships. Mortar Board has been giving fellowships since 1941.
Internships. Mortar Board claims to open many doors for its members, with the most notable being access to internships, scholarships and educational opportunities, as well as GS-7 level hiring.
Discounts. Mortar Board offers discounts for Nationwide Insurance, Kaplan Test Preparation and more.
Observation #1: Despite listing a “required” GPA, this seems like a soft requirement, as the focus of the society involved excellence in areas other than grades, too. We like the idea that different people can bring different strengths, and that they place an emphasis on this.
Observation #2: Their claim to fame is that they were the main, long-standing, “women’s only” honor society, a status which was amended 44 years ago.
Observation #3: Their benefits seem to be pretty good--they’re not too different from what other societies offer, but at least they give their members plenty of options.
CURRENT RANKING: BRONZE LEVEL