A lot of applications ask top students whether they wish to apply for an honors program. While the prestige of honors may precede the actual program itself, it’s worth taking the time to consider: Are honors programs in college worth it? And more importantly, will it be worth it for you?
Let’s get into the details to understand what the purpose of an honors program is, and how it might help (or influence) a student like you.
Here’s a common predicament that might sound familiar.
“I am applying to colleges right now, and a lot of them are asking if I want to apply to their academic Honors Program. Most Honors Programs tout a strong focus on certain studies… but I’m not sure if it will be any help to me. Are there strong benefits? For instance, is this one of the things that grad schools look at when deciding on applications?”
Here’s what our experts have to say.
Honors Colleges are great options for students attending large public schools that are looking for community within the larger school. Typically honors colleges require students to have a specific Honors advisor and take certain Honors courses which are typically in smaller, seminar-style (<25 students) classes and are more advanced. Again, this helps students who prefer to learn in smaller classroom environments similar to high school learning. In some cases, the honors program also provides its own housing to students which provides a unique living-learning community experience.
Honors college requirements are often in addition to major requirements which decreases the number of elective classes and exploration students can experience. Honors colleges are typically not shaped around a student’s major, so if one is majoring in English or Computer Science, he/she will have to take the same honors college requirements. This often creates a more well-rounded college curriculum. Some students appreciate having to take both humanities and STEM courses, while others don’t.
In the end:
Overall, the strengths of Honors colleges are that they provide intimate learning environments within larger public schools where class sizes can be overwhelming and mentorship may be difficult to find. The cons are that you may be required to take classes outside of your major that you are not necessarily interested in.
Where can I learn more?
You can read more about honors programs here on the Empowerly blog!
But, what about graduate school?
In terms of graduate school, your GPA, standardized test scores, and work experiences are paramount. Being in an Honors college will not necessarily be a deciding factor in admissions, especially because the bulk of Honor college courses are taken during the first two years of your undergraduate career. Being an Honors student in college does not carry the same weight to graduate schools as taking Honors and AP courses in high school do for college admissions.
Instead, it is more important to have the strongest GPA and experience possible than to be an Honors student for the title. It is important to note that the Honors College may provide resources to find mentorship and connections that will be helpful with both preparing for graduate school and securing internships and a job post-graduation.
We would suggest applying to the Honors College if you are thoroughly interested in the requirements of the Honors College program you are applying to and believe you will be able to balance your major, honors courses, and other interests. If all that sounds like you, full steam ahead!
Don’t be afraid to ask for help during important decisions and guidance moments like this. Rather than panic and make a choice you might later regret, work with a team of experienced experts to ensure you’re making smart decisions. Empowerly is here to help you work towards your best future.