Are you a student looking to understand if you should enroll in an honors college? If you don’t enroll in an honors college, will you miss educational opportunities? We are here to help you put things in perspective and understand if an honors college is for you.
With this article, we will help you understand not only if honors college is worth it, but we will provide you with some of the benefits of taking honors classes in college. Please keep reading to find out the requirements for honors college and information on its pros and cons.
Honors College vs. Regular College: What’s the Difference?
Deciding if you should attend honors college can be a big decision. There are some major differences that you should consider if you are looking to go to an honors college. You must understand the differences to make the best possible decision. There are three major areas where regular college and honors college differ. These include:
- Admissions Requirements – The GPA and the test scores for admission are higher than the traditional college.
- The rigor of coursework – Students in the honors college will also be required to take honors courses. These classes are more demanding and may require more time outside the classroom to do well.
- GPA maintenance requirements – Besides getting accepted into the honors program, you must also maintain a specific GPA to remain in good standing with the program. For some schools, this will be a 3.5, but for others, this may be a 3.2; it will depend on your university.
Pros and Cons of Attending an Honor College
Just like there are differences between the two colleges, doing one or the other does not come without its own set of pros and cons. This section will explore both areas to give you a realistic view of attending an honors college. Remember that some items may differ based on your lifestyle and unique college journey.
Pros of Attending an Honor College
Several things likely come to mind when you think of an honors college. However, before you sike yourself out of attending because of the possibility of extra work, use the list below to help you make your decision. Several positive things may come from your attendance, and we are here to help you understand just what those could be.
One more noticeable pro to attending an honors college is the recognition. In addition to receiving an extra cord or distinctive tassel at graduation, a student’s honor designation is also called out on their transcripts and diploma. Therefore, completing the program automatically gives you bragging rights.
Honors College is also a great option if you are looking to go to graduate school. This will help your application to stand out among the other applicants.
No Freshman Dorms For You
If you are one of the lucky ones, getting accepted into an honors college also means you may not have to “rough it” with other first-year students in the designated freshman dorms. Instead, you get the opportunity to stay with like-minded individuals in housing meant to supplement your education rather than distract it. Often, honors dorms will have amenities that make studying or getting work done easier. This may include more computer labs or work areas. Honors dorms are often seen as some of the nicest on campus, depending on what school you choose to attend.
Priority Class Selection
Selecting your classes is one of the most important things you will do in college. It will ultimately impact how long it takes you to reach graduation. Therefore, picking the right classes is important. Students in honors colleges not only have access to honors classes but also get priority access to register for classes. For majors where classes are offered selectively, this is a major plus.
Smaller Class Sizes
Though honors classes are harder, there are some benefits of taking honors classes in college. Smaller class sizes will often allow students to get more one-on-one time with their professors. Class sizes are smaller, and because the honors program is selective, you will likely have classes with the same individuals, thus creating a community you didn’t know you needed.
Additional Access to Resources & Scholarships
One of the pros that often gets overlooked is the abundance of resources that become available to you. This includes not just tangible items but people as well. Having a set of honors advisors and professors who have more time to dedicate to you as needed and help you with work is invaluable.
Honors students will likely also have special events hosted by the honors college and even access to separate career fairs and opportunities. One incentive often offered to first-year students to get them to participate in the honors college at their school is gadgets or technology that may help them in their first year. This may include things like laptops or tablets.
Cons of Attending an Honor College
While asking yourself, “Is it worth it to attend honors college,” you must consider that with the good, there is always bad. It is up to you to determine whether it will be worth it. At the end of the day, attending honors college is a large commitment.
Additional College Application Steps
The work you do for honor’s college may not always start when school starts. Additional application steps may also be needed when applying to your chosen college. These steps can include an additional application and extra steps like a single or panel interview.
Additional Coursework and Credits
One thing that most students complain about is the requirements for honors college. Being a part of this elite program often comes with additional mandatory responsibilities and credits. Some students who have attended honors colleges have said taking honors classes has affected the work they can do for their other classes. Often grades in those classes will suffer because of a demanding honors course. These additional credits may also affect your ability to graduate on time.
A lot of stress comes with maintaining the course load of Honors College. The assignments are generally more demanding. Students have admitted to missing out on some of the college experience because they are more worried about how they are going to get their work completed. Prospective honors college students are encouraged to think about the field they are going into or the education trajectory in front of them before committing.
Is it Hard to Get into Honors College?
This is a great question and one that you will need to consider in tandem with the colleges you are looking into. Each program will have its own stipulations and requirements for admission that are generally higher than traditional college acceptance.
Some colleges will use your GPA and test scores as the sole determining factor. In contrast, others will use a mixture of this information and things like extracurriculars, leadership roles, or community involvement. It would help if you also considered that some schools may require a separate essay and application specifically for the honors program, whereas others may be strictly invitation based.
One top-ranked honors college is that of the University of South Carolina. With their educational ranking, we can’t expect the college to be easy to get into. Suppose you even hope to be a student at this elite institution. In that case, you must submit an additional application, an Honors College/Top Scholars application, two essays, and one short answer question. Students will also need to submit two letters of recommendation, and though optional, a resume is strongly recommended for consideration. At this university, SAT/ACT scores are not required for consideration. However, select students who are named Top Scholars will also be invited to participate in a mandatory interview.
U of SC requirements further demonstrate the variation among universities concerning Honor admissions. The most important thing for you to do is closely examine the stipulations your prospective school has in place. If you want more information on how to get into other top-ranked universities like Clemson and even Georgie Tech, check out these honor college admission guides.
Is Honors College Worth It? Is it For You?
Is it worth applying to an honors college? This is a question that often comes with mixed emotions. Some students will say, “No, not worth it; I just dropped out.” In contrast, others will say that it depends on the college. If you are not at a top-ranked university, “being in the honors college is a way to stand out and show you are not an average student.”
When you think about your future, what comes to mind? If graduate school is something you are looking forward to, participating in the Honors College may be great for you. However, it may not be the best option if you are looking to get through college at the fastest pace. Honors college may also be a great option if you attend a big state university. It allows you to create a sense of community in a place where you would otherwise be just an ID number.
Another question that people often ask is, “Is honors college more expensive?” The answer to this question is that it can be. Some schools will have additional course or program fees attached to honors classes or the college as a whole. Though this is a possibility, it is not something all schools do. Check with your school’s honors college or financial office to determine if an additional fee will be associated with your already expensive education.
Wrapping Things Up: Is It Worth to Attend Honors College?
Is it worth it to attend an honors college? The answer is maybe. The answer would likely be no for some students who are not looking to do the extra work or have hopes of graduating early. However, if you are interested in gaining notoriety, building a small community within a larger one, and enjoying having the option to register early, go for it!