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What Is Honors Program In College

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Want To Be Part Of An Exceptional Learning Community That’s Vibrant And Diverse Then The Honors College Is For You

Honors Colleges: What you need to know

If you want to thrive and grow in a close-knit community in which youll have every opportunity you can imagine to create, explore, connect, discover, inspire and achieve, the Honors College is the place for you. All curious, engaged and motivated students are encouraged to apply now. And because the College of Charleston is committed to attracting and supporting a diverse and inclusive student body, we especially encourage members of traditionally underrepresented populations to apply to the Honors College.

Dig deep into the Honors College and you’ll discover ways that you will benefit from close interaction with peers, professors and other members of the Honors community. As an Honors student, you’ll also have abundant opportunities for:

  • mentorship.
  • studying abroad.
  • volunteering.

Honors courses take place in a dynamic learning environment. You’ll explore creative solutions to complex problems and work with diverse teams.

Current Honors College students: check out the Honors Hub for the latest information about internship and job opportunities, research experiences and more.

What Is An Honors College

What is an honors program in college? Now, dont be misled by the name honors collegean honors college isnt an independent university. Instead, an honors college is a program that exceptional high school students can apply to and enroll in while completing a traditional bachelors degree.

Put another way, an honors college one of a number of colleges on a university campus. Just like the college of arts and sciences or the business college, an honors college is another on-campus school that forms part of the universitys educational system.

While every honors college is different, many honors colleges offer enrolled students perks. Here are some unique opportunities that you can find at honors colleges and programs across the nation:

  • Courses with more rigorous and/or specialized curriculum that are exclusively open to honors college students

  • Smaller class sizes that can be conducted seminar-style, allowing students to interact more meaningfully

  • A smaller faculty-to-student ratio, giving students the opportunity to interact more frequently with professors and advisors

  • Housing and/or housing amenities that are reserved for honors students, giving honors students the opportunity to form a close knit community

  • Priority registration, giving honors students a wider range of course options and the opportunity to curate a semester schedule that suits their needs

If these benefits sound great to you, then you might enjoy the experience of enrolling in an honors college.

What Is An Honors College Should You Enroll In One

If you have great grades and high test scores, some of your prospective universities may invite you to enroll in their honors college. Generally speaking, honors colleges and honors programs at U.S. universities offer top-tier students rigorous academic programs, special scholarships, and better job prospects.

But of course, theres more to an honors college or program than that! Were going to introduce you to honors colleges and honors programs so you can decide whether enrolling in one is right for you. This article will:

  • Answer the question, What is an honors college?
  • Discuss what types of students might be a good fit for an honors college
  • Explain the difference between an honors college vs honors program
  • Take an in-depth look at real honors programs at two U.S. universities
  • List five pros and cons for enrolling in an honors college

Are you ready? Lets get started!

Feature Image: slgckgc/Flickr

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Benefits Of An Honors College

What are the upsides to honors programs?

+ Students get a chance to attend smaller classes taught by full-time faculty from their freshman year onward.

+ This means that they may get the equivalent of an education at a smaller private school for much less money.

+ Honors students in some programs, such as Penn States, receive priority registration for classes.

+ Honors programs that include honors housing put highly motivated students together.

+ Honors credentials, including excellent grades and a promising thesis, can be an excellent springboard into graduate work or law school or medical school. Admissions committees look most favorably upon the applicants with the strongest academic credentials.

+ Honors students may receive more favorable attention from faculty, even those who do not teach honors-level courses.

+An honors program of respectable size, up to 10 percent of the student body, paints a positive picture on the academic reputation of the greater university community.

+ The better programs allow students to apply for admission during or after the freshman year. They offer a second chance to people who were not offered admission the first time.

+ A public honors college is also an attractive alternative to a large state university for students who are sure that they want a liberal arts education.

Con: The Perks Can Vary

Honors Program

Weve mentioned several perks of being an honors college student, like priority registration, select student housing, smaller class sizes, and special on-campus facilities. But before you decide to apply to an honors college, its important to recognize that the nature of these perks will vary from school to school. Most often, the resources and opportunities available to honors college students depend on how well-funded the honors college or program is.

If you want to know exactly what you can expect your experience to be like as an honors student at a particular school, its important to ask a lot of questions about the program before you make any kind of commitment. One easy way to find out all the things you want to know about a specific honors college or program is to get connected with a current honors student at the university youre interested in. Whether its through email, social media, or an in-person campus visit, talking with a student who knows the ropes of a universitys honors program can give you the perspective youre looking for.

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Schreyer Honors College Pennsylvania State University

The Honors College at Penn State is called Schreyer Honors College, and like most honors colleges, its a separate school within the Penn State system.

Schreyer prides itself in offering a best of both worlds experience to its students. Honors students have access to the cutting edge resources of a big, top-tier research institution, but they have the small class sizes and one-on-one learning experiences characteristic of a small liberal arts college.

So if youre a student who wants to be part of a community where you know your professors and classmates but you dont want to miss out on a big university experience, then an honors college like Schreyer at Penn State can provide that for you.

The Admissions Process

In order to apply to Schreyer Honors College, youll need to complete the Penn State undergraduate application and then complete the separate Schreyer Honors College application.

There are several components to the Schreyer application. Youll have to answer three essay questions and a handful of short answer questions, submit two letters of recommendation, and self-report your high school academic record.

Schreyer applicants who submit their application materials by November 1 are invited to an optional Admissions Interview with a Scholar alumnus. If you arent able to submit your application early it wont negatively impact your application, but landing an interview gives you a chance to make a case for yourself in person.

The Honors College Experience

What Skills Do I Need To Succeed In Honors Classes

To be successful in any class, you need to have a firm grasp of the actual cognitive processes involved in learning, and this is accomplished by developing a set of habits. Coursera offers a helpful course through UC called Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects. Taking a free online course like this may help you set up a system that works for you.

In general, the skills needed to be successful at higher-level honors courses include:

Develop excellent time-management skills
Take initiative by exploring subjects on your own
Never plagiarize or cheat

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What Is The Black Hawk College Honors Program

The focus of the Honors Program is to give students the opportunity to participate in academic work to enrich their college experience.

The Honors Program consists of two classes:

  • The HONR 200 Honors Seminar course introduces students to concepts in academic research, scholarship, leadership and service.
  • The HONR 205 Independent Study course allows students to take an area of academic interest and collaborate with faculty to create an opportunity to demonstrate academic research and share findings with the college community.

There also is a required Service Project that allows students to find an area where they can apply their interests and skills in a way that provides service to others.

Were really trying to bring together the idea of what honors students do they are leaders, they are interested in doing academic inquiry and research, and they are willing to participate in service, Banks said.

Special Activities For Honors Candidates

Should You Apply to the College Honors Program?

A program of special activities and co-curricular events will complement the academic aspects of the Honors Scholar program. Events include on-campus social events, special guests and off-campus trips to sites of cultural interest as well as business and government institutions. During spring vacation of the third year, Honors candidates will have an opportunity to volunteer to participate in an enriching special travel and cultural experience supported by the College. Led by members of the faculty, this feature of the Honors experience will highlight a significant cultural, intellectual, or professional theme that will change from year to year.

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What Is The Difference Between An Honors College And Honors Program

Honors colleges come in two varietiesthey can be housed within large, comprehensive universities, like Schreyer at Penn State or Barrett at Arizona State, or they can be completely separate entities, like St. Marys in Maryland or New College of Florida. In some cases a school will offer an honors program as opposed to a full-blown college. Thats where things get really confusing because sometimes the terms are used almost interchangeably but other times a program can be indicative of a less comprehensive experience than a college. To truly determine quality, you need to go beyond nomenclature and do some serious homework.

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In the Fall 2021 semester, Middlesex Community College is offering the first honors class focused on diversity and equity issues, according to Binnur Ercem, MCC’s Director of the Commonwealth Honors Program and Professor of Sociology & Cultural Anthropology.

“Students need to have a deeper understanding of historical and current injustices in our society,” Ercem said. “It is our obligation as educators especially as the CHP to do our part in educating our students about these sensitive and difficult issues in a direct, open and honest way, and to contribute to creating an equitable society.”

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Benefits Of Honors Colleges

Publicly supported state schools often create honors colleges to attract talented students who might otherwise select a liberal arts college or private research university. Therefore, honors students can expect to get the equivalent of an education at a smaller school for significantly lower tuition costs. Honors colleges offer students the chance to attend smaller classes, interact with full-time faculty, live in the honors housing community, and sometimes receive priority registration. Attending an honors program paints a positive picture on a students academic reputation, so its also an excellent springboard for leaping into graduate, medical, veterinary, or law school after graduation.

Peer Mentoring And Leadership Roles

Honors Program

The honors program promotes a culture of success through mentorship, discussion, and dialogue. First-year students are paired with a returning sophomore or junior and encouraged to ask questions about anything related to college life, including advanced study. Social gatherings are held regularly throughout the year as well.

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Do Colleges Care If You Take Honors Courses

Yes, they do. Colleges rank strength of curriculum highly when evaluating applicants for admission. Strength of curriculum is basically just an evaluation of how difficult your course load is. Admissions counselors also take the difficulty level of the course into consideration when evaluating your grades. For that reason, getting a B in an honors classes generally looks better than getting an A in a regular class.

Having honors courses on your high school transcript can help you gain admission into competitive academic programs too. For example, say youre applying for a spot in a nursing program at a small college. Not everyone who applies gets in because spots are limited. If you took honors anatomy or biology coursework during high school, youll have an edge over the applicants who didnt.

Expectations Of Honors Students Are Usually Higher

If you enroll in an honors program, teachers usually expect more out of you. They may put more pressure on you to produce high-quality work because they know you are capable of it. Classes are also likely to be highly participation-based, which can be challenging if you are not comfortable speaking in class.

Then, of course, there is almost always an honors thesis that you must complete before you can graduate. The most difficult thing about the whole process was working on my thesis, Sammi says. Towards the end of my first semester of senior year, I started feeling like Id wasted my time because I was under so much stress and I didnt think I would get it done. I did, though, and it was all totally worth it. If you are easily stressed out and dont want a ton of extra work, you may choose not to enroll in an honors program.

However difficult and time-consuming your thesis may be, it will also be worth it. was a huge benefit to me because I was able to work one-on-one with a professor for an entire year and I received a lot of excellent editorial feedback, says Alaina. Working on the project shaped the way I write and edit to this day. You shouldnt be discouraged from applying to an honors program just because it requires a thesis.

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Why Should I Apply To An Honors College

College courses are challenging enough, but for high achieving students looking for more advanced classes, an honors program can be an enriching experience and enhance a students overall undergraduate experience.

At most colleges and universities, honors courses and programs provide smaller classes that are more discussion based, and many of those courses are exclusive to honors students.

Smaller class settings allow for more interaction with classmates and professors and foster thoughtful discussions. In many cases, honors college students live in the same housing, allowing for a unique living-learning community experience. At some schools honors students also get priority when scheduling classes in order to help balance required honors courses with the regular undergraduate classes.

While it seems like a lot of extra work, honors programs typically offer additional support to students during and after the program. Honors advisors and mentors are available to help students develop and polish a thesis, and even provide guidance and help when applying to graduate programs.

The alumni network within an honors college is also a valuable networking resource for students upon graduation.

You Will Form Close Friendships Within The Honors College

Question of the Week: What is the Honors Program?

Most honors programs are tight-knit communities, which can be rewarding as well as challenging. There may be more opportunities to form close friendships, but you may also end up knowing everyones business.

Macy Conant is a sophomore at Gonzaga University and the student president of the schools honors program. The biggest draw for people and why they stay in the program is the community built within each grade level, says Macy. Each semester we take three courses together, as a class, which helps build that community. We also have a house on campus that is a place for honors kids to study, hang out and be together. We have class dinners every semester, and try to be as close-knit as possible. Most honors kids end up living with at least one other person from honors after their freshmen year.

Macy says that its nice to have other people who understand your stress level and how busy you are. Because we spend so much time together, it feels like a family and its a built-in social experience, says Macy. Most of the people who know me the best are in honors, but it can definitely become its own toxic bubble. Everyone knows almost everything about each other, which can be hard. Like every close relationship, there are bound to be difficult moments. However, the friendships you will build are bound to be special and long lasting!

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Pro: Youll Be Around Other High

A key feature of honors colleges and programs is that they offer courseshonors coursesthat are exclusively available to honors students. These honors courses usually have limited enrollment so that the class sizes are small. This means that youll probably be seeing the same students over and over again in the classes you take. On top of that, many universities have special housing, classrooms, and study spaces reserved especially for honors students.

The honors college can form a close-knit community of students, since honors students spend so much time in the same spaces doing the same things. That can be a really good thing: not only will you be more connected to your honors college community, youll have the opportunity to make friends, too. Whether they become a consistent study partner or your BFF, your honors college peers can be one of the biggest pros of the honors college experience.

While there are some pretty big perks to being in an honors college, there are some downsides, too.

Will I Get Accepted To An Honors College

Acceptance into some honors colleges is relatively formulaic and primarily involves meeting a defined set of criteria. For example, Michigan State University Honors College states that its students possess an average SAT of 1410 and finished in the top 5% of their high school class. At the University of Pittsburgh students average a 1450-1500 SAT score and possess a 3.8 GPA. To apply to the Honors College at the University of Missouri students need a less intimidating 1310 SAT or a GPA of at least 3.75. Clark Honors College at The University of Oregon takes a very different approach, explicitly stating that there are no minimum academic requirements and that qualities such as creative potential and community contributions are given serious consideration in the admissions process. These examples illustrate that honors admissions runs the gamut from automatic acceptance with certain credentials to minimum scores/GPA required to even apply to more holistic approaches, as in the case of Oregon.

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