Honors College vs. Regular College: What’s the Difference?

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The right preparation is the key to having a great future. That’s why you must determine the difference between an honors and a regular college. Which is the right choice for you? A regular college accepts bona fide students to enroll in the university’s full-time program in a certain school year. The students are accepted through an entrance exam with a specific acceptable grade.

Meanwhile, the honors college only accepts high-performing students who would likely excel in research and academe. For a student to qualify for an honor college, one should maintain a high GPA, class standing, and good moral standard. What’s the difference between honors college and regular college? Just keep on reading the article below.

What is Honors College?What is Honors College?

What does it mean to belong in the honors college? Is it a big deal? For some, it may be nothing. However, for those high-performing students, they look forward to this for their bright future.

Of course, who wouldn’t like to be in the honors college? Once everyone knows you are in the honors college, it brings honor and pride. Being in the honors college is an achievement you really work hard for in high school.

You are accepted into the honors college if you pass their qualifications. You must have a high GPA, ACT, and SAT scores. That’s why being accepted is challenging. In Ohio State University, the acceptance rate is 49%. For Rutgers Honors College, they accept the top 7% of the applicant group of students. Honors College offers students experiences of high-quality academics and many opportunities.

Most of the time, an honors college is used interchangeably with an honors program. Honors College is not an independent university, as defined by PrepScholar. Instead, it is a program like the College of Business, Arts and Sciences, and Engineering. Students can enroll in the honors college while completing their traditional undergraduate degree. Therefore, an honors college is still a part of the university’s education system.

What is a Regular College?

What is a Regular College?

A regular college is like a traditional university, which accepts regular students who comply with the curriculum requirements. With a regular college, students can experience flexible learning methods where they can choose different fields of study based on their interests.

In regular college, the students enjoy the classroom setting where there are teachers, mentors, and friends, which can be a source of social development. With regular college, you can have assistance in terms of university placements.

How is Honors College Differ from Regular College?

How is Honors College Differ from Regular College?

You must know their differences to decide which path to take between honors college and regular college after you graduate high school.

Academic Requirements

There is a difference between honors and regular college in terms of academic requirements. However, different universities may also vary their academic requirements in honors colleges.

University of Georgia

The students in the honors college should adhere to the honor code in which students must practice academic honesty. Other than that, the student’s GPA should be maintained at 3.4, and the minimum GPA is 3.3. Honor courses must be finished to show consistency prior to graduation. Once your GPA goes below 3.4, you will be on probation.

Rutgers University

As an honors student at Rutgers University, you must finish the 21-40 honors credits for needed core courses, department-based honor courses, honors seminars, other enrichment courses, and the capstone project. By the end of junior year, you must fulfill the school requirement of 120-128 credits to graduate.

University of South Florida

As an honor student, you must complete the required IDH 2010 Acquisition of Knowledge, IDH 4200 Geographical Perspective, two additional Honors courses, and 2-semester Thesis Research.

Regular College

The academic requirements for regular college are also different. According to internationalstudent.com, there are two types of bachelor’s undergraduate systems. These are the two-year program and the four-year program.

The two-year program is known as the junior or community college. You need to complete the 60 semester credit hours for two years. This program has three parts: general education, major, and elective courses.

With the four-year program, students need to complete the core curriculum requirements. General education includes basic subjects like Math, English, Science, and many more. After finishing the basic subjects, you will take up your major course. This course should align with your chosen field of study. The last two years may prepare you for professional areas like engineering, computer science, and business.

For example, in Iowa University College of Arts and Sciences, their bachelor’s degree is to finish at least 120 semester hours of credit, fulfill the UI and CLAS residence requirements, CLAS Core General Education Program, and major. The minimum GPA to maintain is 2.0.

Admission Process

Different universities may also have different admission processes for honors colleges and regular colleges.

Ball State University

They accept students based on academic performance and potential. They usually require the admission test. You must show exemplary academic performance. Though either ACT or SAT are accepted, you are encouraged to take both and have an impressive test result. You can visit their website for your application. You may also email them. You will be notified after three weeks of careful evaluation of your admission.

Oregon State University

For you to join the Oregon State University Honors College, your GPA should be 3.75. You should get 27 ACT and 1300 SAT scores if you did not meet your GPA. To start with your application, fill up the required form.

Rochester Institute Technology

They look for the student’s application through the qualification of impressive high-school grades, being in the top class, being highly recommended, and having great extracurricular activities and personalities.

Regular College

For regular college, you need to fill up the application form. You may use the college application platform, such as The Common Application. You must know the academic requirements of the university you want to enroll in. For example, you may be required to submit your transcript of record, essay, and interview with the admission officer. Some universities require you to submit standardized test scores such as ACT and SAT.

Curriculum Overview

Among the difference between honors and regular college is the curriculum. You may finish both honors and regular college in four years, but they have different academic requirements before graduation.

Honors College

The course requirement for honors college is enumerated below:

Honor Course Credit

Different universities have different honor course requirements for honor students. For example, Rutgers University requires 21 credit hours for honor courses, while GrandVelley State University requires 33-36 credit hours. The University of Southern Mississippi’s honors foundation is at the first- and second-year levels. The honor students must comply with the 16 hours of honor course credit during these levels. The higher level, which is third year and fourth year, requires 5 hours of honor course credit.

  • Honors forum. The honor students must also comply with the honors forum under the course credit requirements. At the University of Southern Mississippi, the honors forum must be taken up during the first- and second-year level for up to 8 hours. It is similar to Rutgers University, wherein they refer to it as the Summer One Read. At the end of this course, the students focus on determining 21st-century life.
  • Honors Seminar. Honors students must also take the honors seminar, usually at their third-year level. The seminar focuses on the interdisciplinary approach to connect with the chosen major. Most of the time, the accomplishment of the honors seminar is through a project.
  • Honors Thesis. During the Junior and Senior years, honor students must complete their thesis. During the junior year, the students start to write their thesis. During the senior year, the students are required to take their comprehensive exam and defend their thesis.

Regular College

  • College Courses. As a regular student, you have many options for college courses. Initially, you must complete general education, including Science, Math, English, and History. Depending on the course you will take, there are other areas in which you must comply to graduate. For example, in Harvard University Liberal Arts and Science Courses, you must take divisional contribution, quantitative reasoning with data, expository writing, and language.
  • Concentration and electives. As you reach junior and senior levels, you are required to take the concentration or major subjects. On the other hand, you are to select an elective course too. This elective course is offered by the college and needed for graduation. However, this is optional. It may be a course not related to your chosen field.
  • On-the-job training. Universities require on-the-job training or internship based on your related field of study. For example, if you are a nursing student, you may be required to work as a student nurse in the hospital. This internship comes with a corresponding number of hours based on the college program of your choice.

Student Life and Community

In honors college, the life of the honor students focuses on mentorship and development. You are trained to engage in the global community of different advocacies that will positively impact the world. You will meet different people who have the same mission and vision in life, and that is to create wonderful changes in the world. You will be closely mentored by professors, student leaders, and advisors to bring out the best in you. It is because the honors college has smaller number of students in a class compared to a regular college. Thus, the honor students will be able to conduct a thorough class discussion for every concept.

On the other hand, the regular college will let you experience vast activities. You may join student organizations and participate in school events. You may engage in voluntary works or sports activities. In regular college, the required GPA is less hectic than the honors college. Thus, you may have more time for extracurricular activities than just focusing on your academic subjects.

Challenges and Expectations

One of the challenges honor students encounter is the rigorous curriculum of the honors college. They may not have time to do extracurricular activities as they focus more on their academic subjects. Honor students need to maintain their GPA as high as 3.5 and above. They must be on top of their classes. Therefore, they must focus on their academic subjects rather than participating in students’ activities.

The regular college, they do not have a high GPA to maintain. They may need to maintain a GPA of 2.0. Thus, they have more time to do the extracurricular activities. However, during career hunting, those from honors colleges may have an edge in being accepted compared to those from a regular college.

Financial Considerations

Both regular college and honors college is expensive in terms of tuition fee. The honors college costs $475 per semester at the University of Arizona. The fees will be used for school programs, activities, and classes that will benefit the honor students. Meanwhile, according to usnews.com, the average tuition fee for college is $39,723 at private colleges, for public universities out-of-state is $22,953, and $10,423 for in-state public colleges. That’s why a careful decision must be made before enrolling in which honors college and regular college you should choose.

Should You Enroll in a Regular College or Honors College?

Should You Enroll in a Regular College or Honors College?

If you are a high-performing student, it is highly recommended to choose the honors college. With the honors college, your knowledge and skill will be completely developed, preparing you for your future career. Aside from that, honors colleges offer many opportunities for highly intellectual students, such as studying or working abroad. There are also lots of scholarships that may be offered to you as long you maintain your academic performance.

However, there is also nothing wrong with being in regular college, especially if you did not qualify for the honors college. Your college experiences will vary in regular college since you can focus on academic and extracurricular activities. Many colleges and universities also provide great learning experiences for your undergraduate program that will prepare you for your chosen career.

Wrapping Things Up: Honors College vs. Regular College: What’s the Difference?

Honors college vs regular college, which among the two is the best? Both offer quality education that will prepare the students for a brighter future. However, you can take the honors college, especially if you qualify for it. With the honors college, you can focus more on your academic performance. As long you keep your GPA and class ranking high, you may be offered several opportunities like study or work abroad and scholarships. However, choosing a regular college is also a good decision. With regular college, you have many options with the courses. You can also enjoy participating in the school events like sports competitions and joining school organizations and clubs like the student body organization. Lastly, you can talk with the honors college or regular college for help and to come up with the best decision.

Professor Conquer
Professor Conquer

Professor Conquer started Conquer Your Exam in 2018 to help students feel more confident and better prepared for their tough tests. Prof excelled in high school, graduating top of his class and receiving admissions into several Ivy League and top 15 schools. He has helped many students through the years tutoring and mentoring K-12, consulting seniors through the college admissions process, and writing extensive how-to guides for school.

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