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Why choose to be in an Honors program?

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Replies to: Why choose to be in an Honors program?

  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone Registered User Posts: 12,490 Senior Member
    You may not get a good grade in it, but by all means TAKE that course! This is the kind of experience that Steve Jobs had at Reed. He took a course in calligraphy, of all things. Even though he dropped out of Reed, he took inspiration from that teacher and subject to create the proportional space fonts that made the Mac

    Was this an HONORS calligraphy course?

    I agree that college is a time to explore and try things out. Two of my favorite classes in college were War Movies and Genealogy, both experimental studies courses and not taught by famous professors. War Movies was taught by 3 guys who were probably about 25 and could have been extras in a Wayne's World movie. Genealogy was taught by a woman who could have been my grandmother.

    Colleges are full of interesting courses. Being in the honors college may eliminate them from contention if the student also has another major that requires a strict list of courses. I did take one or two honors course when I was in school, and I don't remember them being all that much different than my regular courses.
  • gouf78gouf78 Registered User Posts: 5,359 Senior Member
    As others say it just depends on the program. My son was in Honors and pretty much all it did was give him great dorms and early registration. Perfect!
  • ordinarylivesordinarylives Registered User Posts: 2,846 Senior Member
    On CC I always see the suggest to look into honors programs, like every kid would like them.

    I think that's why the OP asked the question in the first place--because sometimes it's important to hear that, no, they're not the end-all-be-all. Sometimes, for some kids, the best option is to pass (and sometimes it's not).
  • Midwest67Midwest67 Registered User Posts: 1,117 Senior Member
    I don't have many details to offer, but we have gotten the impression that our freshman D could take or leave the Honors College at her public flagship. When looking at schools last year, being in Honors was VERY important to her. Based on what, I'm not sure.

    Last semester, when she and her roommate were discussing housing for sophomore year, her roommate was considering dropping out of honors because it was sort of a pain to fit the required honors sections into her schedule.

    I don't think it's always easy to do a cost benefit analysis of honors programs ahead of time. As @gouf78 said, so far we've got "great dorm" and "priority registration" in the benefit column.
  • CADREAMINCADREAMIN Registered User Posts: 2,731 Senior Member
    At the school my D is looking at honors, I think her biggest concern is the time that honors requires in classes that she is not particularly passionate about, maybe even just barely interested in. Also with the specified honors courses, she feels it will rob her the flexibility to take course she may actually want to take. She is not trying to avoid hard classes by not doing honors, but after four years of courses pretty well defined in HS, she wants as much freedom as she can have to find "her thing." As a tentative psychology major also shopping LA majors, this makes sense, in contrast to my "100% know they want to be an engineer" student. So as people said, depends on the kid, major and school.

    I think parents (including myself) have to be careful not to push them into it because of an idea of prestige or status if there are not true benefits to be in the program for them personally. Priority registration is key at some schools, means diddly at others. Honors housing can be incredible or not. As adults, we can see the benefits to discussion based classes, but is it too much for your student? Determine the gains and losses by being in the program. My feeling is any honors program has both positives and negatives for a student.
  • SybyllaSybylla Registered User Posts: 865 Member
    I think at our local school it just meant better dorm options (not really a deal as many kids won't dorm, period) and the honors part if like doing the IBD all over again. It isn't a school with impacted classes etc. My college soph (eng) has no time for philosophy classes and any IBD kid has done plenty of intensive writing (for an eng/stem reqs). They don't want another EE to write.
  • bodanglesbodangles Registered User Posts: 7,462 Senior Member
    Something else I've realized over time -- of the three things I wanted to do (ChemE major, Spanish minor, honors program), I could really only pick two of the three. I dropped the minor. Just couldn't fit it in between the highly structured engineering program and the honors/research requirements.

    And given how much scholarship money I get from the honors college, how much I appreciate being able to register early, and how much I value the relative peace and quiet of honors housing, it was easy to determine which thing I would have to drop. Not easy to give up the idea of learning Spanish, though.
  • mamaedefamiliamamaedefamilia Registered User Posts: 2,456 Senior Member
    Back in the day, the honors program at my college was transformative. Regarding structure, I got guaranteed housing in a quirky special interest dorm and I took interesting, challenging courses that substituted for gen eds with other nerdy kids. It was inspired by the Chicago core and I had access to life-changing courses and professors. But I was also a humanities/social science/writer type, not a STEM student.

    I can't remember if priority registration was part of the deal, but for kids contemplating enrolling in large public research universities, that alone would be worth it, IMO. How many stories have you heard of kids adding a semester or year on to their studies because they got locked out of courses that were essential in order to progress through a popular major? He could always join the honors program and then drop later, if it's not his thing. Many do.
  • raclutraclut Registered User Posts: 2,744 Senior Member
    edited February 17
    Daughter is in honors, premed, and engineering. She graduated with an IB diploma in high school so for her the honors college was not a lot of work. She did have priority registration which was a big advantage at a big school. She had access to research opportunities and also received a scholarship. The honors classes had about 20 students so that was a plus. Being in honors has not hindered her gpa in anyway as she makes the dean's list.

    Her major advisor who helps plan out what classes to take is an Honors college advisor. As a result of being in honors she has had some core class requirements waived and also has had access to special opportunities only granted to honors college participants. It made a large school feel small. She has been involved in some community projects that only added skills to her resume. Often her advisor will send emails to honors college students regarding opportunities from employers for part time jobs or summer internships. She is also had to opportunity to participate in leadership and mentoring positions for the college.

    She is now completing her junior year and will graduate within four years. I think at large schools sometimes it can be stressful trying to get your prerequisite classes for your major so that you don't have to spend an extra semester. Since she has managed to do well in her classes she was offered the opportunity to work on an accelerated masters degree that she could complete in one additional year vs two. She is also getting advising on applying for fully funded masters phd programs.

    She has had a positive experience and in her opinion she is glad she had this opportunity. It really is up to the student to decide. I feel college is a time when a student can challenge themselves and get out of their comfort zone but I understand it is not a priority for everybody.
  • websensationwebsensation Registered User Posts: 862 Member
    edited February 17
    Honors Colleges and Honors Program are slightly or substantially different things. Our kid applied to: 1 HYPSM, the same UC application submitted to 4 UC colleges (a single online application that is submitted to the UCs you choose to apply) and 1 Honors Colleges at state schools. That was it. Basically, he wrote essays for the HYPSM college and changed/altered it for all others.

    He worked very assiduously on HYPSM essays, worked kind of hard on UC application, worked fast on Honors College application. HC with near full-ride scholarships were his back-ups. and we were 99% confident that he would get into at least one of 4 UCs and obviously the HYPSM application was a reach. As a last resort, one option was taking a gap year to study abroad and apply again if he somehow did not get into any school; or alternatively, even if he got into the HYPSM college, he wanted to take a gap year and defer enrollment.

    The point of this response is that with Honors Colleges, you pretty much know you will get in as long as you have certain level of stats; that's one good thing about HCs which make them good vehicles as safeties. It really comes down to getting good scholarships at HCs that make it worth going there for high-achieving students. This is especially true for high-achieving CA students. Most CA students who can get into UCLA or UC Berkeley will not go to HC unless they are given very good scholarships. I was working hard on persuading my kid to attend the HC over UCLA/UC Berkeley because I thought that he would get into the HC and at least one of UCLA/UC Berkeley because the HC gave a near full-ride scholarship. My effort actually back-fired because I kept on saying too many good things about this HC, which made my kid not want to go to this HC. I was punished for my over zealous efforts to convince my kid to attend the HC when he unexpectedly got into Stanford REA. As a result, his 4 years of college at HYPSM at full pay will be a lot higher than the costs he would have incurred at UCLA/UCB as in-state student. I become wistful when I look at the scholarship letter sent by the HC and think of what could have been. I have decided to focus on "what could be" instead.
  • beth's mombeth's mom Registered User Posts: 3,302 Senior Member
    It is so school dependent. At my D's school, the honors classes were small, seminar type classes that she thought were easier than her other classes. They were also just a small percentage of the classes she took. The advantage to being in honors was that there were other perks, such as priority registration, stadium seating and honors housing, which frankly aren't as good now as they were when she was a freshman. There were also social activities and other honors events, and she could be as involved or uninvolved as she wanted with the honors college. If you fulfilled the requirements (which she did) you graduated with the honors college designation. Some students (particularly those with rigid schedules, like engineering) found it difficult to complete the requirements but still were able to take advantage of the perks. Take a good look at how honors works at the particular school - it may or may not be worth it. As for summer work, my daughter had to do some reading and also write an essay for her one-week honors course that was held right before school started, but it wasn't at all difficult and the grading was lenient. It just wasn't an issue.
  • websensationwebsensation Registered User Posts: 862 Member
    Buy a book on Public Honors Colleges. There is a website somewhere which provides good info.
  • youceeyoucee Registered User Posts: 890 Member
    I have 2 engineering kids and I agree that it's not an automatic decision to go into the honors program. Even within the UC system, the schools vary on honors requirements for engineers. Their classes are hard enough and stressful enough, I wouldn't want to load them down unnecessarily. But if the honors requirements are not overly taxing, the priority scheduling benefits can be worth it for reducing stress when it comes time to sign up for classes.
  • techmom99techmom99 Registered User Posts: 1,419 Senior Member
    I had no choice about which college to go to; I had to attend the CUNY 10 minutes from home because it was all I could afford. I am still thankful for the honors program that I was in because it allowed to be in classes with other bright students at what was otherwise an open admissions school. I was used to advanced and accelerated HS classes and was bored stiff in some of my classes.

    My D was not a great HS student but she scored well enough on her SAT to be offered admission to the Honors program at her SUNY. She originally declined but after her first semester, she found that most of the friends she made were in the program so she applied and was accepted. It was a program where you took a set number of seminars, which she loved, even one which was conceptually math related. She enjoyed it so much that she encouraged her brother to apply to it as well and he really liked it, too. There were no other perks.

    Techson17 was invited to apply to an honors program, also at a SUNY. This one required an essay, which he did and he was accepted. It is similar in that it offers seminars geared to honors students, but it also has honors housing and priority registration, as well as a stipend. If he chooses this school, he will do the honors program.
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