Most people wouldn't jump at the opportunity to sign their signature when a letter entitled "Join the Honors College" arrived in the mail. However, I'm not most people. When invited to join my university's honors program, I immediately accepted without a second thought.
When I finally found out what it entailed, however, I admit that I freaked a bit. I attended my college's preview day for honors students; when I arrived at the event, there were at least one hundred other incoming students there. These were students just like me who had already signed their life away to honors or who were prospectively going to do so. It was a bit overwhelming, but after some professor "teaching demonstrations," I eased a bit. It seemed fun. Besides, I had already signed, and I've never been a quitter, so there was no backing out now.
At my university, a student graduates with honors from the honors college if they complete eight honors "units;" one can wrack up units by taking honors courses (one unit each), completing "contracts" (self-designed projects that are also one unit each) or studying abroad. They also needed to complete eight colloquiums, which is where every member of the honors college reads the same academic book in a semester and discusses it. To an incoming freshman, this seemed so overwhelming. Frankly, I was quite scared that I had already signed my name and, despite the fact that the preview day was fun, I still had my doubts.
However, now that I've completed my first semester with the honors college, I don't doubt it for one single second.
Honors isn't necessarily harder. Is it difficult at times? Yes. Is the course load heavier than that of a normal class? Definitely. The pros outweigh the cons, though. In an honors course, you're surrounded by a group of like-minded individuals, people who want to learn and, ultimately, thrive off learning new knowledge. Diverse ideas and concepts are thrown around and some might not necessarily warrant answers. However, the entire meaning of such thinking is to ultimately do just that: think. From our own thoughts and the diverse thoughts of others, we can continue to learn and grow as humans.
In addition, I live in the honors community dorm. This means that you must be a member of the honors college to live in the dorm; it is a living community with the principals of communal learning to help with out of classroom experiences with members of honors. Basically, we can study together, go to class together and live together. It brings all the members of honors closer together in a way that living in a normal dorm wouldn't. Everyone is very respectful because we all have honors courses, so we know how much studying we need to do. Debates often break out because we are all diverse thinkers, but it is always respectful and ends in a new perspective. Also, it helps to make friends. I'm a social person to begin with, but constantly being with intellectual individuals definitely makes the development of friendship grow faster; this is something I am very appreciative of.
To wrap it up, I'm very happy with my decision to sign my name away to the honors college. Some might not share this view, but it was spontaneously out of my character to take the leap without weighing the pros and cons first. It was a leap of faith and I'm glad that it occurred. The benefits far outweigh the cons I might endure, and I wouldn't trade the experiences I've had, the friends I've made and the knowledge I've gained for the world.
Lead Image Credit: Mikhail Pavstyuk via Unsplash