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The Benefits of Honors Programs

It is fairly common knowledge that most high schools offer honors and advanced placement courses for students looking to be challenged in their coursework. But did you know that colleges and universities also offer similar programs for undergraduate students through honors colleges?

In some cases, high-achieving students are invited to enroll in a university’s honors college upon acceptance, while other students seek out the honors track and apply to the honors college as part of their undergraduate admission.

What Is An Honors College? 

So, what is an honors college, exactly? It’s a special, intensive academic track for high-achieving students offering unique lectures, classes, and discussions. Students in the honors college graduate with distinction.

Why Should I Apply to An Honors College?

College courses are challenging enough, but for high-achieving students looking for more advanced classes, an honors program can be an enriching experience and enhance a student’s overall undergraduate experience. Students in honors programs receive exclusive benefits such as:

  • Smaller, more interactive classes
  • Unique research and learning opportunities
  • A tight-knit community
  • Special scholarships and additional financial perks
  • Access to honors college alumni networks

At most colleges and universities, honors courses and programs provide smaller classes that are more discussion based, and many of those courses are exclusive to honors students. Smaller class settings allow for more interaction with classmates and professors and foster thoughtful discussions. In many cases, honors college students live in the same housing, allowing for a unique living-learning community experience. At some schools honors students also get priority when scheduling classes in order to help balance required honors courses with the regular undergraduate classes.

While it seems like a lot of extra work, honors programs typically offer additional support to students during and after the program. Honors advisors and mentors are available to help students develop and polish a thesis, and even provide guidance and help when applying to graduate programs.

The alumni network within an honors college is also a valuable networking resource for students upon graduation.

What Are the Requirements of An Honors College? 

With all these benefits, it is important to point out that being admitted isn’t enough. Honors students generally have to maintain a certain GPA to stay in the program and meet certain course requirements.

This could mean attending seminars or taking core courses within the honors college rather than in the regular undergraduate class, i.e. Honors English II rather than English II. At some schools, there might also be extracurricular requirements, like community service projects.

When it comes time to graduate, most honors programs require students to complete a final project or thesis in order to graduate with honors. This could be anything from a general thesis to lab research to a creative portfolio related to a student’s major.

How Do I Apply To An Honors College?

As with any regular undergraduate application, you need to make sure you meet the requirements. Most honors colleges or programs within colleges and universities have minimum GPA and test score requirements that are generally higher than the regular admission thresholds.

Also, students applying to honors programs typically have to fill out separate applications with additional essays. On the Common Application this may mean an additional supplemental essay within the school-specific supplement.

While honors college may not be the best-fit for everyone, for those students looking for an advanced curriculum in their undergraduate course work, an honors program will certainly fit that need. Honors programs allow students to be surrounded by other driven students, while also providing a more intimate learning environment.

If you need help assessing whether an honors program would be a good fit for you, contact us today to see how our team of expert counselors can help find the best course of study for you!

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