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My Take: Weighing the Pros and Cons of Honors College

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.

Honors colleges across many universities are designed to attract motivated students who are looking for a challenging and focused one-on-one learning. In my experience, there are some obvious upsides—and downsides—to enrolling in an honors college. 

Before making a decision whether applying to an honors college or program, take a look at some of the pros and cons I encountered as being part of an honor college.

Pros to Enrolling in an Honors College

Class sizes are smaller.

One of the biggest advantages to honors colleges is that they promote smaller class sizes.

Introductory classes can hold hundreds of students in one room, which can make focusing and finding one-on-one help a tougher task. But, taking an intro-level course in an honors class will significantly decrease the number of students in class. Therefore, you’ll be able to get to know the other students in the class, and most importantly, the professor.

You get priority registration for classes.

Honors colleges like to promote priority registration for all their students. This means you’ll get the best chance to sign up not only for honors courses but also regular courses as well.

As a result, students in different class standings have a better chance of signing up for courses that they want or need to than students who are not in the honors college.

You get an exclusive living-learning/residential experience.

Being accepted into an honors college allows students to apply and live in an honors college residence hall. 

The major benefit of living in one is that you share the same space as other like-minded students who have the same passions you do. Plus, you may even share some of the same honors classes.

A lot of honors college hold special events and some are held in the residence hall.

The goal of honors college living-learning communities is to allow students who share the same interests and goals to build a strong community together.

Cons to Enrolling in an Honors College

An additional application is required to apply.

Applying to an honors college can be time-consuming, as it will most likely require another application separate from the college’s regular admission process.

The application process for honors colleges differs for each the program, whether it requires recommendation letters, an interview with the director and/or an additional essay on why you are interested in the honors college or program.

Deadlines can be also different than the regular decision deadlines. Be sure to plan your application timeline and check the requirements for each program, as they are not all the same.

Not every course will be an honors course.

Many of your required courses will not be an honors class. There will be classes that do not fall under honors and cannot receive honors credit for them.

However, there are colleges that will allow you to contract one of your courses to be for honors credit, where an extra project or assignment may be ticket to earning an honors credit.

An honors college could add time to your degree.

Before accepting or even applying to be part of an honors college, look at the curriculum to see if there are a certain number of honors classes or credits needed to graduate. There are some instances where you finish on time and others that could take an additional semester or year to fulfill all of the honors college requirements.

Deciding Whether to Enroll in an Honors College

Being part of an honors college or program has its perks and its drawbacks, but before you start applying and accepting an honors college offer, make sure to go onto the Honors College/Program site on the university’s website. Once there,  look at the requirements and benefits, thinking critically about whether they fit with your personal learning style, your academic goals and your timeline for graduation.

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Author: Nicholas Enoch

Nicholas is a sophomore International Relations and Professional Writing major currently attending Goucher College in Towson, Maryland. He is a recent graduate from the Community College of Baltimore County where he received multiple full ride awards to colleges across Maryland. When he is not making content for Niche, he is busy learning 4 languages, binge watching TV shows on Hulu, and working out and trying new yoga exercises in his living room.