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What I Gained By Enrolling in an Honors Program

This post is from a student, parent, or professional contributor. The opinions expressed by the author are their own and do not necessarily reflect the positions, viewpoints, or policies of Niche.

At some point in your college search, you may have come across a school with an honors college or program. You have thought: What is this all about? Should I join? How much will it enrich my college experience?

As honors program students,  my best friends and I have gotten opportunities I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise and supplemented classroom learning with outside-the-classroom experiences.

I hope sharing those experiences allows you to better understand the opportunities honors colleges and programs can provide. Let’s first get started by explaining the difference between an honors college and an honors program. 

What’s the difference between an honors college and an honors program?

  • Honors Program 

    • You fulfill credit requirements along with your classes required for your degree. 
    • The overall class size is usually smaller than an honors college. 
    • There is normally an option to “honorize” a non-honors class, which means you can fill out an honors contract to complete an extra assignment or two to turn the traditional credit into honors credit. 
    • An honors program could build and eventually mature into an honors college. 
  • Honors College 

    • An honors colleges is like a smaller college within the university.
    • It may have its own curriculum separate from the traditional degree requirements. 
    • It may have a full staff of professors.
    • It often enjoys more funding than an honors program..  
    • It typically boasts a a more established, extensive alumni community. 

What are the benefits of joining an honors college or program?

Beside its advanced courses and assignments, I decided to join my honors program because it’s a resume builder. I have been able to experience leadership, community service, and travel opportunities that enriched my learning inside and outside of the classroom.

I also get the benefit of registering for classes ahead of traditional students, practically guaranteeing me the classes I need to fulfill my requirements.

And in away, the honors program has provided a built-in community and, specifically for freshmen, an honors student residential living space.

Since the program at my school is small, they were unable to offer large scholarships, but I did receive a book scholarship each semester to help with textbook costs. 

On top of the undergrad benefits, when it comes time to apply to graduate school, I feel the variety of classes I have been able to take has prepared me for the rigorous course load and demand of a graduate-level degree.

How does an honors college or program fit in my schedule?

Just like an accelerated educated high school program, honors colleges and programs should cater to you, your interests, your program and your academic development.

What I’ve enjoyed most about being in my program is the ability to control the amount and type of involvement I have. I could graduate with the honor program if I simply and solely focused on fulfilling the academic requirements. But instead, through the Honors Student Organization and Assistant Position in the Honors Office, I also got involved with social activities, travel and community service. 

One of the coolest experiences was presenting my research at the Northeast Regional Honors Council. A group of students and I, whose work was accepted, traveled to a new city, met other Honors Students from the region, and gained a new perspective and understanding about various subjects. 

In another opportunity, I gained communication, financial, and time management skills from was being Treasurer for the Honors Student Organization. I requested funds for various social events from the student government. By making funding request decisions and advocating for my organization to the student government, I felt like I was able to be a part of something bigger while making a difference on my campus. 

If you’re wondering whether or not to join an honors college or program, there is no reason not to try it. Just take a little advice from Michael Scott of The Office, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

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Author: Rosalie Anthony

Rosalie is currently attending Point Park University earning her Dance- B.F.A degree with a minor in French. Previously, she attended and graduated from the Alabama School of Fine Arts in dance. She is passionate about learning, teaching and mentoring. In her spare time, she enjoys working out, chatting with friends, and discovering new places to go in Pittsburgh.