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There are additional means, such as societies that were more or less explicitly established in emulation of some previous secret society, or using historical records to show that society X was created out of society Y.

There are several common traits among these societies.

Most class societies are restricted to the senior class, and are therefore also called senior societies on many campuses.

There is no strict rule on the categorization of secret societies.

Current members of Yale's secret societies would walk through the crowd and literally tap a prospective member on the shoulder and then walk with him up to the tapped man's dorm room.

There, in private, they would ask him to become a member of their secret society; the inductee had the choice of accepting or rejecting the offer of membership.

As the term is used in this article, a secret society is a collegiate society where significant effort is made to keep affairs, membership rolls, signs of recognition, initiation, or other aspects secret from the public.

Some collegiate secret societies are referred to as 'class societies', which restrict membership to one class year.

Phi Beta Kappa is the most well-known such example, where it originally operated on a secret chapter basis, and it became the progenitor of all college fraternities, and at the same time, some time after its secrets were made public in the 1830s, Phi Beta Kappa continued on as an honorary.

Virtually all the oldest honoraries were once clearly secret societies, and to the extent that they are distinct now is at least ambiguous.

Skull & Bones aroused competition on campus, bringing forth Scroll & Key (1841), and later Wolf's Head (1883), among students in the senior class.

But the prestige of the senior societies was able to keep the very influential fraternities Alpha Delta Phi and Psi Upsilon from ever becoming full four-year institutions at Yale. There were sophomore and freshman societies at Yale as well.

There are many collegiate secret societies in North America.

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