McGill, News, The Tribune Explains

Tribune Explains: The Golden Key Honour Society

Every year, a select few top-performing students are contacted by the Dean of Students to join McGill’s chapter of The Golden Key Honour Society. With this year’s invitations having just been sent out, The McGill Tribune explains what joining the society entails. 

What is the Golden Key Honour Society? 

The Golden Key Honour Society is a nonprofit international society that aims to offer its members scholarship and networking opportunities. It claims to be the world’s largest honour society for post-secondary students, with over 400 chapters in 180 countries around the globe. The McGill chapter was founded in 1997 and was the first to be established in Canada.

How popular is it at McGill? 

According to Ian Sankey, the Canadian director of the Golden Key Honour Society, there are around 500 McGill undergraduate and graduate students currently enrolled in the Society. While the process of becoming a member differs for undergraduate and graduate students, the Golden Key website claims that both groups can benefit from the connections, networking opportunities, and other resources they provide. Post-graduation, alumni members still have access to some promotions and career fairs, and the Society pledges to keep in contact.

How does one qualify? 

Membership in the Golden Key Society is for undergraduate and graduate students at McGill whose cumulative GPA is in the top 15 per cent of their program. Undergraduates who qualify will receive an email in the Fall semester inviting them to join. Graduate students, however, must apply online. 

A lifetime membership to the society costs $95 CAD, but the fee may be waived for those who receive need-based financial aid to cover tuition. 

How has the McGill chapter been involved in the Society and how can students benefit from it? 

The Society has three pillars: Academics, leadership, and service. It claims to provide members with exclusive scholarships and awards programs, and encourages members to get involved in their communities. 

In an email to the Tribune, Sankey explained that offering in-person gatherings, such as conferences and summits, was a large part of the Golden Key’s mandate before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

“In 2018, the McGill University chapter co-hosted the CANCON summit in Montreal and welcomed students and alumni from across Canada, the U.S., and we even had a member from Australia join in,” Sankey wrote. “Our last in-person summit in Canada was held at Niagara Falls in 2019. We hope to start up the in-person summits again, but no timeline for a future in-person summit has yet been set.”

While in-person gatherings have stalled, membership to the Society now includes access to the Golden Key Academy (GKA), a new online resource giving students access to webinars, training videos, and other exclusive online content for no additional fees. The type of content and training offered, however, is not specified on the Society’s website. According to Sankey, the emphasis on online resources was borne out of the COVID-19 pandemic and around 60,000 members have used the Academy’s resources since its inception.

“The GKA is an online resource that was launched soon after the pandemic hit to offer members a virtual platform to continue to connect and learn,” Sankey wrote. “There are live webinars on a wide variety of topics that the members can attend, and they are all recorded and added to the online library for viewing at a later date if someone cannot attend the webinar live.”

Many of the latest events offered by the McGill chapter have been online raffles to win small prizes such as gift cards to coffee shops, massages, or tutoring sessions for final exams. The group’s most recent event was a “Battle of the Brains” with Concordia’s chapter of the Society in March 2022. The most recent scholarship awarded to a McGill student through the Society was the $1,000 Golden Key Undergraduate Achievement Award, presented in April 2022. 

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