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Benefits of honors college?

I have gotten into an honors program at the University of Maryland but I don't see the advantages of that. There's no money involved. What is the main plus about going to an honors college? Do employers care? Is that even something that goes on a resume?
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Replies to: Benefits of honors college?

  • Sally_RubenstoneSally_Rubenstone CC Admissions Expert 3184 replies1122 threads CC Admissions Expert
    The advantage of being in a Honors program varies greatly from school to school. At a huge public university, like University of Maryland, an Honors program can be a great way for the “smart kids” to find each other quickly. Honors students as a group can be more focused on academics than on partying. While that’s certainly a generalization and not always true, for freshmen who want to steer clear of drinking and drugs, the Honors program can offer a handy way to home in on like-minded peers. At smaller schools, however, an Honors program isn’t usually necessary to promote interactions among the most able undergrads.

    There are commonly classes that are designated “Honors” and only open to Honors students. Some Honors programs make their members elect a minimum number of these. Many students enjoy the challenge and the “elite” environment of these classes, but some students who already worry that there isn’t enough time in four years to take all the classes they really want to take can be annoyed by the Honors requirements. Honors classes are usually smaller than the regular classes at big universities and include lots of discussion, which students may view as engaging ... or terrifying. ;-)

    Honors colleges are also likely to provide extra advising, particularly for students who are interested in applying for renowned fellowships. And, yes, regardless of your post-college plans, you CAN put “Honors” on your resume and it will always be a plus. However, at the majority of colleges there can be multiple routes to graduating “with Honors,” even if a student is not in the Honors College.

    Honors programs almost always host special events that can lean toward the academic (e.g., guest speakers) or the social (pizza parties; even blocks of seats at football games) which most participants enjoy. On the other hand, if a priority for you during college is to make a potentially time-consuming commitment to an extracurricular activity, an internship, or a job, you may not have the time to juggle this with Honors events and expectations.

    A big plus of many Honors programs is that they offer housing which can be nicer and more centrally located than the rest of the dorms. This may include optional residential learning communities as well. At U of Maryland, for instance, there are such themed living options that are specifically for Honors students. Some students love living with others who share interests; some find it stifling or simply don’t have time to attend the functions that membership in such a community demands. But Honors students don’t always want to live in Honors housing, no matter how posh it may be. They may prefer to live in dorms that feel more diverse ... or where their buddies from high school are living (not necessarily the greatest idea but still a popular one).

    So I suggest that you make a list of what Honors at UMD offers to you. Then consider which of these benefits (if any) are important to you and which (if any) are also available to non-Honors students. Also list the obligations imposed on Honors students (e.g., required Honors classes? Minimum GPA?) and decide if these will be a burden.

    Most colleges offer the opportunity to join an Honors program after freshman year. At UMD, you can apply to join at the end of your first year, if you’ve earned at least a 3.5 GPA. So if you say no initially, you might be able to change your mind later on. But it’s also easy to join now and then drop out ... in fact, that’s probably A LOT easier!


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