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State schools with great honors programs

YaleMomOf7YaleMomOf7 35 replies3 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 38 Junior Member
My DD originally thought she wanted small/medium sized colleges; we wasted a lot of time visiting Colby, WashU, Emory, Pomona, Brandeis, and the likes, although it did help her figure out what she wanted so maybe not a complete waste of time. But last month - only a few months before application need to start being sent in - she realized that she is more likely to find what she wants at a large school. One of her biggest pieces of criteria is big school spirit. She also wants a big spectator sports scene - her favorite is basketball but she also loves baseball and football. She's very involved in her school and local community so doesn't want to go to a commuter school; the more students living on campus, the better. A high percentage of OOS would be nice too. She doesn't plan to go Greek and doesn't plan to drink much in college if at all as she is a devout Catholic so a large drinking scene is a turn off. Her top choice is Notre Dame for which she is willing to overlook its size. But she really just wants the large school atmosphere. The problem is that she thrives in small classes and, although she does want some large lectures, wants the majority of her classes to have less than twenty students. She's looked at Berkeley, UCLA, and UMich, but none of them really give top students the chance for small classes. She likes USC, UVA, and UNC-CH which are all appear to have slightly smaller class sizes than what she wants. But what we both think is her best bet is to look at honors programs that offer lots of honors classes and honors dorms to make the campus feel more residential.

At the moment she thinks she wants to major in psychology which will, unfortunately, have a lot of massive intro and intermediate classes, but is also still considering anthropology, sociology, or another social science. She's a smart kid and has a 33 ACT, an UW 3.9 GPA, and is taking 3 AP classes this year and 4 next year with the rest all honors. We're full pay at whatever school DD goes to, have always expected to be, and are okay with that, but if there's a school she likes that will come with some nice merit scholarships that is, of course, a plus.

We live in New York state and a SUNY is a big no-no for her. We've already looked into ASU and Penn State, both of which she absolutely adored, so something similar to them is what she is looking for. Her GC recommended South Carolina, Texas, Arizona, and UGA as colleges with strong honors colleges but also admitted that since it is a very competitive high school in NYC she doesn't know much about state schools besides the SUNYs and Cal, UCLA, UNC, UVA, UMich, and GTech.

I understand that big public schools are not a CC specialty, but I was just wondering if any of you knew any honors colleges/programs besides Barrett and Schreyer that attract top students from both IS and OOS, offer lots of honors seminars, and/or have honors dorms. Thanks.
edited June 2018
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Replies to: State schools with great honors programs

  • suzy100suzy100 5688 replies58 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 5,746 Senior Member
    Definitely look at University of South Carolina. Their honors program is very well regarded. I'm not sure if they have honors dorms are not - I think they do but you should check. I'd also look at Ohio State. I believe the kids in the Scholars program (and maybe Honors too) all live in the same dorm.
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  • Erin's DadErin's Dad 32919 replies3643 discussionsSuper Moderator Posts: 36,562 Super Moderator
    You might also consider some smaller Catholic schools like U Dayton.
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  • Choski94Choski94 184 replies4 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 188 Junior Member
    edited June 2018
    I would take a second look at UMich. Their honors program is considered one of the best in the nation. Almost half the undergrad population is OOS, and pretty diverse as well. The honors program is pretty competitive as well, and requires a separate application with last year an approximately 25% acceptance rate (2000 applications for 500 slots). And all the honors students live in a very desirable dorm. Obviously great school spirit as a Big Ten powerhouse. But obviously OOS admission rates are going down each year.

    Ohio State also has a well established honors program. Their students live in one of three dorms or a residential learning community. I'm an alumnus of that program (albeit many years ago) and I only recall only 1-2 classes over 30 people because of the honors classes. Slightly higher admit rates than MI but 30% OOS in contrast to almost 50% for MI (which is really high and has a lot of alumni grumbling). OOS tuition for MI is MUCH higher than OSU.

    Also look at Wisconsin. I don't know about their honors program since my DS didn't apply there, but it's got great school spirit as well as great academics overall.

    I also have seen many posts on here about ASU honors program and how good it is.
    edited June 2018
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  • HapworthHapworth 495 replies0 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 495 Member
    edited June 2018
    ASU's Barrett Honors is sort of the national model. If you can, purchase or borrow from the library "Where You Go Is Not Who You'll Be" by Frank Bruni, who writes about education, food, and other stuff for the NY Times. It's a slim book and a good read (a bit heavy on anecdotes, though). He mentions Barrett several times and makes the case for honors colleges as overlooked options for top students. The book's thesis is essentially that Americans are too obsessed with brand name and prestige and that we outsource our knowledge to rankings. Bruni turned down Yale for UNC-Chapel Hill and shares that story as well.
    edited June 2018
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  • vistajayvistajay 1419 replies27 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,446 Senior Member
    edited June 2018
    Check out FSU as well. 32-33 ACT is the average in the honors program. My son (35 ACT) will be in it this fall. Classes tend to be about 25 students and 15 for seminars. They have a great honors dorm, dedicated honors advisors, special perks such as early registration, free printing and study abroad grants, etc...
    edited June 2018
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  • houndmomhoundmom 300 replies11 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 311 Member
    You mentioned your D loved Penn State - Schreyer's Honors College is very well regarded and attracts top students.

    I believe I read that Schreyer's former dean will be leading the honors college at University of Kentucky - hard to get a more enthusiast basketball fanbase than UKY! Their Honor's program just received a huge donation, and the campus is completing new construction including science center, dorms, student center, etc. Might be worth a look
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  • washugradwashugrad 1055 replies13 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,068 Senior Member
    Catholic and basketball? Have you looked at Gonzaga? Seems like the perfect fit.
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  • LuckyCharms913LuckyCharms913 1001 replies15 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,016 Senior Member
    Another vote for South Carolina. Honors freshman live in an honors dorm. Sophs and up often move off campus but she can go in the lottery and perhaps stay on campus (easier for Honors kids).

    Great basketball, decent and very well attended football games, plus soccer field is walking distance (not sure about baseball). Student tickets are free as space permits and you get points for attending other sports events measured basketball and football. My kid has gotten tickets to every football game easily.

    Honors Application is lengthy and competitive but she has the stats if her essays are good, She will get merit of at least in state tuition plus likely another $2,000-4,000 per year.

    Lots of NY, PA, NJ students attend.

    My kid has had intro classes of up to 200 but most are in the 25-50 range with some Honors classes as small as 12.
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  • VeryapparentVeryapparent 849 replies15 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 864 Member
    edited June 2018
    Fordham has an invitation only honors college. They accept about 23 students for each campus so it is very very small. My D was invited to the Lincoln Center campus (she got guaranteed housing for 4 years as well). They also give very large merit awards. I think hers was around 36K or something like that. The Rose Hill campus has its own building. She went in another direction but Fordham was initially a freebee application..the honors college made it a contender.
    edited June 2018
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  • twogirlstwogirls 7059 replies7 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 7,066 Senior Member
    University of Pittsburgh
    University of Maryland
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  • TiggerDadTiggerDad 1818 replies70 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,888 Senior Member
    Take a look at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Beautiful campus, beautiful location with the Rocky Mountain National Park just 30 minutes away. It has honors program and honors dorms.
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  • hopewhite25hopewhite25 195 replies7 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 202 Junior Member
    University of South Carolina is a great option. My oldest will be a senior in the Honor's College this year and has loved her experience. SEC football cannot be beat, and the men's basketball team went to the Final Four in 2017, with the women's team winning the national championship. There is a separate dorm for the honor's students (mainly freshman) and while most older kids do move into one of the many off campus options, the honor's students get priority for on campus housing. They get priority registration for classes and my daughter has never not gotten a class that she wanted or needed. She has had honor's classes as small as 6 students and since she went in with a ton of AP credit, she has never really been in a lot of really big lecture style classes. We are OOS and she was awarded a scholarship that gave her the instate tuition rate, plus additional money on top. Even though it is a large school, the intimate feel of the honor's college (target size of around 475-525 per grade) makes it feel like a much smaller place. It is super competitive, with a separate application, but is totally worth it. Make sure to focus on the essays. My daughter has thrived there and has gotten some really great internships. This summer she is interning for Wells Fargo and she already has a spring semester internship, as well as a summer internship for next summer lined up with two large accounting firms. She is also going to be able to graduate in the spring and then will go one more semester to have her masters in accounting due to the flexibility of the program.
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  • itsgettingreal17itsgettingreal17 3807 replies25 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 3,832 Senior Member
    edited June 2018
    UGA has a wonderful honors program. There’s no guarantee she’ll get in, but with a strong application, she has a shot. My D (rising sophomore) has taken 5 honors classes so far and had a good experience. Her classes were small, the professors mostly very good, good advising, great honors only opportunities, and priority registration (huge!). There is a very nice honors dorm. There are no TV lounges, which is a big minus, imo, but the honors students love it there. Football is of course awesome, and the basketball program is rebuilding (new coach). There is plenty to do besides Greek life and drinking. I can’t say enough good things about the program and school. Merit is also a possibility.
    edited June 2018
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  • PublisherPublisher 7388 replies76 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 7,464 Senior Member
    edited June 2018
    So far it appears that you have received great suggestions & information.

    Look into the Univ. of Georgia Honors College, Univ. of South Carolina, Auburn & Alabama. I love large Southern state universities for the variety of folks, majors, activities & year round sports weather--alpine skiing excepted. University of Florida is another option, while the University of Michigan may be the best option to meet her stated desires.

    But, in a sincere effort to contribute to this thread, consider the College of William & Mary even though it does not meet all of your stated criteria. Also, the University of Washington in Seattle is an outstanding research university (if I recall correctly, U Dub gets more research money than any other university in the nation & has done so for a lengthy period of time save for a one year exception).
    edited June 2018
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  • prodesseprodesse 1329 replies70 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,399 Senior Member
    If she is likely to be a National Merit Finalist, some of the universities with honors colleges have HUGE merit scholarships, like "full ride" huge.
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  • rickle1rickle1 1711 replies14 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,725 Senior Member
    Wake Forest is most of what you describe on her wishlist. Small LAC style school but tremendous school spirit, big time ACC sports (well attended - heck they have standing room only at soccer games). Big atmosphere without getting lost in the crowd. Great academics! Greek is certainly big but not in your face. S' friends are equally split between greek and non greek and they actually all hang out together a lot.
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 6199 replies35 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 6,234 Senior Member
    University of MD and Purdue have excellent honors programs.
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  • Notknot77098Notknot77098 57 replies2 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 59 Junior Member
    Hi @YaleMomOf7 - in addition to the Bruni book "It's Not Where You Go..", you should spend time with the following site and its downloadable info, http://publicuniversityhonors.com/
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  • AlmostThere2018AlmostThere2018 1218 replies42 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,260 Senior Member
    UNC has an honors program and dorm. It's not a school within a school like USC and UGA (at least how I think I understand those programs), but it's got some very nice perks including seminars, honors sections of big intro courses, special advising, honors abroad, etc. Many of the best opportunities you must apply for and some are open to non-honors students. The dorm is a nice way for first-years to bond. It's only 400 students out of 4000 first-years (I'm sure they invite more but not all enroll at UNC) and since it's such a competitive school (esp. OOS) hard to know how they select exactly but I somewhat gather it's based on demonstrated passion for learning for learning sake through teacher reqs, etc. It's invite only after being admitted.

    And did you say basketball??? :-h
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