How to Choose the Right Honors College for You?

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If you’re a high-achieving student interested in a challenging undergraduate education, consider applying to honors colleges. While they open up considerable opportunities for students, these programs tend to be much more selective than standard university ones. This means that you’ll need to put in a lot more work during the admissions process, so keep reading as we help you navigate how to choose the right honors college and provide examples of some popular ones.

What to Look for in an Honors CollegeWhat to Look for in an Honors College?

The first step you should take is research, research, and more research! Talk to students already enrolled in an honors program or visit a college in your vicinity that allows you to sit in an honors class or two to visualize whether you’ll fit in.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How many students complete an honors program?
  • Will there be any additional fee involved in enrolling in an honors program?
  • Can I handle the courses’ difficulty level?
  • How do honors courses differ from regular ones?
  • What is the minimum number of honors-level classes I’ll have to take?
  • How will the program affect my social life and involvement with the campus community if the program is a self-contained college within a college experience?
  • Will I have to complete a capstone project or write an honors thesis?
  • What will happen if I change my mind after starting the program?

Honors programs and colleges also offer several perks outside their curriculum, such as dual degrees, study abroad, access to research, and living/learning communities. A good one instills a passion for intellectual challenges and learning within its students, enriching their college experience. Let’s consider what to look for in an honors college checklist:

  • The intimacy level provided by the honors college
  • Opportunities that align with the institution’s mission and culture
  • How staff, students, and faculty interact with each other
  • Learner-directed philosophy and environment
  • Evidence of student activities, travel, and research

5 Factors to Consider When Choosing an Honors College?

5 Factors to Consider When Choosing an Honors College?

Here’s some factors to consider when choosing a college:

Are You Ready to Take on the Academic Challenge?

Most honors colleges require students to fulfill their requirements, like enrolling in specific honors classes. Remember that these classes are much more rigorous than those offered at regular colleges, with the curriculum designed to challenge students. You need to always be ready for a ton of assignments and tests, meaning that you’ll have to spend considerable time studying.

However, these classes typically have a small student-to-teacher ratio, allowing professors to pay more attention to every student’s work. You might even have the same peers in your class each semester to help you out and form close relationships.

What are the Curriculum Requirements to Graduate?

Generally, students enrolled in an honors program within a university must complete honors hours that are equivalent to at least 25% of the total required graduation time. Most honors education opportunities enable students to count their extracurriculars towards honors completion, including internships, group projects, travel, volunteer activities, and leadership training.

You should ask yourself whether you want a mixture of the co-curricular and traditional program, a co-curricular course-based program, or the traditional one. It’s in your best interest to determine what aligns best with your needs and preferences beforehand.

Are There Financial Aid Resources or Scholarships Reserved Just for Honors Students?

Many honors college schools offer full- or half-tuition scholarships to encourage more students to join an honors college or program. For example, Colorado State University gives honors students a $1000 scholarship each semester; you can qualify by enrolling in the honors college from the start of freshman year.

Additionally, some institutions support their honors students financially when they want to study abroad. If the program you wish to apply for offers excellent financial aid resources or scholarships, you should apply for them as soon as possible because these opportunities are typically available on a first come first serve basis.

What is the Honors Housing Situation Like?

If you want to attend a large university, you can benefit from special housing for honors students. These schools generally have designated learning communities for specific majors, providing a conducive environment to form study groups and make friends with similar interests. Compared to freshmen residing in regular housing, honors students have easier access to campus and integrate perks, such as a communal kitchen, a computer lab, etc.

How Will the Honors College Benefit You?

Consider whether the benefits of an honors program in college are worth it. You’ll enjoy priority registration and get to register for classes before other students. And you’ll have the chance to work closely with professors as academic advisors conducting research in a field you’re really passionate about. Under their guidance, you can make groundbreaking discoveries and solidify your concepts for future specialization or work.

But wait; are you ready to take on a more competitive side of yourself and tackle the various challenges your college will hurl your way? Think about the small class sizes and the housing options. When you complete an honors degree, employers are more likely to be impressed and hire you because the difficult coursework showcases you can think critically, work hard, and try to find solutions to existing problems.

What are Some of the Best Honors Colleges?

What are Some of the Best Honors Colleges?

In this section, we’ll provide examples of some of the best honors colleges and programs:

Barrette College

Barrett Honors College is a part of Arizona State University, acting as a stand-alone school within the system. It has been ranked as the top honors college in the US and has a program on all four ASU campuses in Glendale, Mesa, Phoenix, and Tempe. Although Barrett College hasn’t disclosed its acceptance rate and other statistics, you should maintain a GPA higher than 3.8 to improve your chances of admission.

Additionally, scoring in the 75th percentile for either the SAT or ACT is recommended. Students with an above-average GPA and test scores are more likely to get into this nationally prestigious program.

Barrett College offers small honors class sizes, several interesting research and thesis projects, study abroad, global internships, real-world service opportunities, study abroad, and a private writing center for its students. Not only does it provide quality housing facilities for its honors students, but it is also the only honors school to have a Nobel Prize recipient teaching undergraduates.

Rutgers University

Rutgers University has the best of both worlds: a student living-learning community and a stand-alone honors college. The institution aims to create a transformative learning environment for its students by blending the community and classroom together. While the honors school is more competitive, you aren’t required to fill an additional or separate application, and admitted honors applicants are selected using the general Rutgers application.

There are academic resources and top-notch facilities to explore, with a state-of-the-art building acting as the hub for research opportunities, seminars, courses, on-site academic advising, an Innovation Lab, and lounges to kick back after a rough day. One of the biggest advantages of studying here is that every honors student receives a four-year renewable scholarship and additional scholarship options for unexpected financial hardship, research projects, and study abroad.

Macaulay Honors College

An independent honors college within the City University of New York, Macaulay is associated with eight senior colleges located in New York City. Every year, this honors college offers only 520 seats to incoming students across its eight campuses. The school requires applicants to submit their resume, a high school transcript, two essay responses of maximum 500 words, and two recommendation letters.

The good thing is that Macaulay scholars have the opportunity to take courses or attend seminars and lectures at the other CUNY campuses, even if they spend most of their time studying at their home campus. And the financial aid package is, perhaps, what makes the college so appealing, as every honors student gets a merit scholarship package covering tuition and a laptop computer.

Not only does the Macaulay honors college ensure access to funding to support research, internship, and study abroad opportunities, but most of its scholars graduate debt-free.

Schreyer Honors College (SHC)

Schreyer Honors College is considered one of America’s top honors colleges, with an educational experience focused on rich opportunities for civic engagement and leadership, academic integrity, and fostering a global perspective. Typically, around 2000 applicants get in every year, and, interestingly enough, the institution doesn’t consider your high school GPA or SAT/ACT scores.

This is because Schreyer is more interested in the applicants’ authenticity and creative thinking when they submit their admissions materials. And you have several honors-specific courses to choose from and enjoy in small class sizes taught by experienced professors.

There’s also the Integrated Undergraduate (IUG) program, which enables exceptional students to complete their graduate and undergraduate degrees simultaneously. You’ll have to complete an honors thesis that lives up to both graduate and undergraduate standards while also taking many cross-listed courses. Schreyer might be tough, but it’s worth it and the opportunities are endless!

Wrapping Things Up: How to Choose the Right Honors College for You?

Maybe attending an honors college has been your dream since you were a child, and you’re determined to find the perfect fit for you. It’s essential to look into all of your stats and possibilities, like class sizes, campus culture, and graduation rates. Go through our guide to honors college if you’re unsure where to start and what to look for in an honors college.

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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