When many students hear or think about the word "honors," the first feelings that pop into their heads are panic, fear and dread. Aren't the large masses of regular schoolwork, assignments and tests enough? However, contrary to popular belief, honors doesn't necessarily equal more work. In various colleges across the country, honors programs (also known as "honors college" or simply "honors") are designed not to make students' course loads heavier and more difficult, but to enrich both their educational and college experiences with a variety of benefits available exclusively to those willing to join. Here are some of the many advantages of being part of a college honors program.
1. Priority Registration
For many students, one of the most stressful parts of college is choosing their courses each semester, especially when it involves fighting for a spot in the classes that fill up quickly. Honors scholars don't have to go through this frustrating and arduous experience, since they are eligible for priority registration, which allows them to select and enroll in their courses at an earlier date before the rest of the student body is able to.
2. A variety of unique courses and seminars that can only be taken by honors students.
An honors college curriculum is interdisciplinary; it offers numerous courses that span a diverse range of subjects exclusively to the program's students. Many of these classes combine multiple disciplines and emphasize on the connections between them. Therefore, whether they're pre-med, music majors or even exploratory, honors scholars are bound to find a course that pertains to their major, expands their knowledge on your potential career and major developments within it and caters to their other interests. Also, since honors classes are not available to a majority of the student body, they help individuals stand out from the rest of the school's population and thus enrich their applications to graduate school.
Additionally, many honors college courses are designed as seminars, which operate mainly on open discussion, communication, critical thinking and collaboration. These are all essential skills for every aspect of life, including graduate school and the workforce. Seminars also allow students to freely express their opinions about a variety of topics and even learn from those of their classmates and professors.3. Smaller class sizes.
A traditional college class typically takes place in a colossal lecture hall with hundreds of students being taught by only one faculty member, which makes it difficult to stand out and bond with the professor and peers. On the contrary, honors courses consist of significantly lower numbers of students that closely resemble the sizes of public and even private high school classes. Multiple studies have shown that small class sizes maximize student learning and success. A shorter class roster presents a variety of benefits, including increased student concentration, more frequent and longer discussions, prompt responses from the professor to pupils' questions, a greater amount of individualized attention for each student and stronger, more personal relationships with both the instructor and fellow classmates.
4. Exclusive housing.
Most college honors programs reserve residence halls and dorms for their students, which facilitates the formation of a tight-knit community that strives to support and help its members feel more at home. Within their living quarters, honors housing tenants share and disseminate several common characteristics, such as exceptional study habits, a strong work ethic and a desire to succeed. These traits contribute to a focused, studious and overall ideal environment for studying. Furthermore, Honors resident halls often coordinate a multitude of fun social activities for their occupants to provide them with an outlet for leisure away from their rigorous studies and an opportunity to bond with one another.
5. Study abroad opportunities, research programs and internships reserved for honors students.
Study abroad, research and internships are all important aspects of a great, fulfilling college experience. Therefore, these features are extremely popular, which often results in students fighting tenaciously over a limited number of spots. Honors colleges create study abroad trips and research/internship programs that are exclusively available to their own scholars, thus greatly reducing the number of brawls and the length of waitlists. Ultimately, an honors student's likelihood of earning a coveted seat on a plane to Europe or an opportunity to don a lab coat in a state of the art lab is significantly increased.
6. Access to programs designed for pre-professional tracks and early admission to graduate and professional schools.
Graduate schools, regardless of the career or field they designated to, are notoriously difficult to get into. In order to help meritorious students earn acceptance into these prestigious institutions, honors colleges have created special programs tailored to a variety of pre-professional tracks that guarantee early admission to corresponding graduate schools. For example, the honors college at Florida International University offers early assurance programs for its medical and law schools, both which reserve spots for undergraduates who not only strongly aspire to be doctors and lawyers, but who also meet and uphold the programs' requirements and standards before most students even begin applying for graduate school. In addition to premature acceptances, these early assurance programs also give valuable mentoring and academic enrichment to their scholars.
7. An honors degree designation and special recognition from the institution itself.
Most colleges distinguish and applaud their honors scholars in some way, whether it be an official title or seal on the diploma, a formal annotation on the transcript or an announcement at the graduation ceremony, Regardless of how they are designated, honors students have an edge over regular college graduates in both graduate school admissions and the workforce since they'll have one more accomplishment to add to their resumes and applications.
8. A strong support system and valuable resources from the tight-knit honors community.
Since college honors programs only consist of a small portion of the general student body, the honors community is exceptionally close-knit and provides an abundance of support, encouragement and resources for their scholars, including academic advising from honors program coordinators, mentoring from business and community partners, extended library hours, access to labs and study rooms and exclusive honors scholarships. Also, the small size of the honors college allows its students to develop close professional and personal relationships with one another and faculty members.
9. Enhancement of the college experience and development of essential life skills.
With their combination of unique and challenging courses, compact class sizes, close bonds with professors and other students alike, exclusive programs, an emphasis on critical thinking and open discussion and a motivational and supportive environment, honors colleges expedite the development of crucial life skills and, most importantly, enrich the overall college experience both academically and personally.
In essence, college honors programs strive to build on the college journey not by adding more work to an already hefty class schedule, but by providing a cornucopia of resources to ensure student success, prosperity and most importantly, happiness. Don't pass up this phenomenal opportunity and join an honors college today!
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