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Honors Program Questions

nextstepcollegenextstepcollege 134 replies18 threads Junior Member
edited November 16 in Parents Forum
DS has been primarily looking at small LAC that are fairly selective. Some of the schools that he is clearly meeting the admission criteria/stats for have sent him information on their Honors Program and are recommending he apply. One such School is my alma mater, Clarkson University. My question is, what are the benefits for this and similar Honors Programs? One thing I read is that they could include smaller class sizes, which would be beneficial at any college, but especially larger schools, including the NY flagships. Is this true? It seems like a lot of extra work when the college application process is already so overwhelming. He hasn’t even had time to consider or explore the Honors Program options, because he’s been so busy with college visits and interviews. That said, as a parent, I don’t want him to miss out on a great opportunity. What have others found? If your DS or DD was admitted into a highly selective college and a another college that has a higher acceptance rate with an Honors Program, which is the better route to go in terms of college experience, cost, and employment and/or graduate opportunities after college? Just trying to understand more about the benefits of exploring Honors Programs, and whether it truly is a benefit?
edited November 16
20 replies
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Replies to: Honors Program Questions

  • itsgettingreal17itsgettingreal17 4110 replies28 threads Senior Member
    They are all different. Many are wonderful. Some have no little additional benefits. Dig into the details. There is a public honors college website that compares many of them and has a useful book that’s inexpensive.
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  • kiddiekiddie 3502 replies220 threads Senior Member
    edited November 17
    They vary significantly. If possible apply to the honors program at the colleges he is already interested in. Then compare the programs once he gets in. Some colleges do not have a separate process and consider all applicants for their honors program.

    My daughter got admitted to the one at Fordham and the one at Northeastern (nothing extra to do - they consider everybody for these programs). They were completely different programs in terms of academics, number of students, etc. She did end up at Northeastern and loved the honors perk of better housing.

    The honors program at Fordham was her most selective admission (they only choose maybe two dozen kids a year.) But it was a program where those few kids are together for housing, classes, etc. She didn't want to feel trapped with a group of students who might not be her tribe - so she turned it down.
    edited November 17
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  • OhiBroOhiBro 381 replies6 threads Member
    I echo the comment about program variability. But generally, preferred class registration and housing are the benefits.

    From a professional perspective, I haven’t viewed honors graduates as being any more or less prepared.
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 7858 replies66 threads Senior Member
    Yep, each school's program can vary greatly.

    Clarkson I believe has an honors residence as well as an automatic honors stipend that can be used for either research or study abroad. My D felt that Clarkson was small enough that honors wouldn't be as important as in a larger school.

    My D is is in honors at Purdue. Lots of perks, especially for early scheduling and an additional faculty advisor. At a large school, worth it's weight in gold.

    I suggest doing a search on the forum for honors college because there are a number of other threads that could help, including one fairly recently.
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  • nextstepcollegenextstepcollege 134 replies18 threads Junior Member
    Thanks everyone for the insight and helpful advice! I will do as others have suggested and also search Honors Colleges.

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  • itsgettingreal17itsgettingreal17 4110 replies28 threads Senior Member
    @OhiBro Some companies disagree. My D attends a top 50 flagship. Students not in the honors program have no chance at recruiting for certain top internships, particularly in IB/finance and MB.
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  • momtogirls2momtogirls2 847 replies4 threads Member
    Since it varies from school to school see if the info is on the college website if not admissions should be able to provide some info or direct you to a contact person. Some things may be more important to some than others. For instance honors housing may mean not living with friends who aren't in honors.

    Some possible honors things:

    1 priority/early registration opportunities
    2 honors housing options
    3 specific honors classes
    4 honors versions of required general ed classes
    5 smaller class sizes
    6 scholarship
    7 special opportunities for travel, research
    8 special requirements such as maintaining x gpa
    9 may have extra requirements like attending x amount of special events
    10 extra honors classes may reduce amount of elective opportunities (good or bad)


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  • wis75wis75 14168 replies64 threads Senior Member
    Ditto on the variablility. Some have Honors Colleges, others are Honors Programs. Look beyond housing and registration. Consider the required and offered honors courses, how many are offered beyond the first two years (eg specific to a major).
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  • momtogirls2momtogirls2 847 replies4 threads Member
    Another thing to consider, since many students getting into honors programs may have AP/IB/DE credits does that play a role. For instance if you have credit for Freshman English but the school requires their honors English for the honors program will they exempt you, if so will you need to make it up with a different honors course somehow, if you need to retake it do you want to etc.
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  • voyagermomvoyagermom 121 replies8 threads Junior Member
    For my son who is at a large state school, the biggest benefit has been the early registration. He's been able to get the professors with better reviews or classes that meet at a time that's better for his overall schedule. That's a big plus. He has also liked the smaller classes that are more discussion based vs lecture for some of the gen ed classes. He will most likely not graduate with honors as he'd need to covert too many of his 300 level classes into honors to meet the requirements. But while he most likely won't get to graduate with honors, it's been very good for him to have.

    My friend's daughter who is in honors at another state school got $4,000 towards summer study abroad and will also get to go on a week long abroad trip during her spring break this year that was only open to honors students. Not sure if she got money towards that one too or not. She also gets an extra $2,000 in merit aid each year that she remains in the honors program. A school my DD20 is looking at also has the extra $2,000 in merit aid for the honors students.
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  • bopperbopper 14144 replies100 threadsForum Champion CWRU Forum Champion
    Remember that getting into a Honors Program does not require that you stay in an Honors Program.
    My DD was admitted to an honors program...she was required to take the honors freshman writing seminar and got to live in an honors dorm...but she did not keep up with it after that.
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  • wis75wis75 14168 replies64 threads Senior Member
    edited November 20
    The overall strength of the school matters. The "regular" classes at one may be better (offer more) than the honors versions of another. First look at the overall academic fit of schools, then compare their versions of honors work. Remember, 100% of classes will not be honors, nor will the student body. So many factors to consider. Go step by step. Once a list of schools that seem right academically, socially, financially et al has been made your child (it is the student, not the parent, whose life and decision it is) can then look at honors possiblities. I would never forgo the regular program at a more academically elite school to be in honors elsewhere.
    edited November 20
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  • NJEngineerDadNJEngineerDad 170 replies1 threads Junior Member
    wis75 wrote: »
    I would never forgo the regular program at a more academically elite school to be in honors elsewhere.

    If one is looking for merit money, then one might not have a choice. Usually one ends up having to pick between an expensive academically elite school and a much cheaper Honors College or Program at a less prestigious school.

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  • wis75wis75 14168 replies64 threads Senior Member
    I guess I was lucky to be from a state with a top tier flagship and has an excellent Honors program so it is a less expensive option than many lesser private schools.

    Do remember that state flagships will have many of the state's best students who will populate Honors programs- there isn't enough room at the most elite schools even if theose were affordable. But- when considering private schools be careful that the student body will be peers with your child.
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  • nextstepcollegenextstepcollege 134 replies18 threads Junior Member
    wis75 wrote: »
    I guess I was lucky to be from a state with a top tier flagship and has an excellent Honors program so it is a less expensive option than many lesser private schools.

    Do remember that state flagships will have many of the state's best students who will populate Honors programs- there isn't enough room at the most elite schools even if theose were affordable. But- when considering private schools be careful that the student body will be peers with your child.

    What state are you from? Just curious., we are in NY state.

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  • dogmom99dogmom99 1 replies0 threads New Member
    My freshman is in an honors program at a big (not huge) state school .... the benefits have been great so far. . . amazing housing (which you can choose to be in or not, another advisor to run through things with and early registration. The honors class also provides a smaller cohort of people that helps make a smaller environment. Not sure they will stick with it for all four years as the requirements can be difficult to fit with a demanding major but has been very helpful as a freshman. She chose this program after receiving admission to other smaller LAC's and mid size schools.
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  • cypresspatcypresspat 452 replies11 threads Member
    Our son had to specify that he wanted to be considered for the honors program in his original app and write an additional essay only.

    He is on the fence over whether or not he will take it if offered. The early registration for classes is a major plus for him, as is the potentially smaller classes. He doesn’t care about the annual honors-only overseas trip. We are fortunate in that the merit $ is not a big factor.

    He sees the mandatory dorm choice as a negative. He is engineering, which is plenty rigorous, and for his university the honors program is run within each college, so there are ‘honors engineering’ classes which are supposedly brutal. Since a certain GPA is needed to declare each engineering major at the end of freshmen year, that is a negative (but one does not have to take engineering honors classes).

    A client of mine hires dozens of engineers every year and told me they never care about an engineer being in an honors program. The quality of the engineering program (NOT the college overall), is what matters to them. So, for my kid, it will be all about the specific features benefitting him while he is there.

    IF he gets in (a big IF, in engineering it is super competitive), a lot of his decision will be based on which of his other classmates also got in, as he will be swayed by being able to live in the same dorm as kids he knows. (Stereotypical quiet STEM kid).
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 7858 replies66 threads Senior Member
    @cypresspat One thing that wasn't well publicized, at all, at my D's honors college were the job and leadership opportunities. Her 1st summer internship was through engineering honors college last summer, she was chosen for a mentoring program this year, and now has been asked to apply to the council. A number of companies that came to campus last year would only speak to freshmen who were in honors college.

    Yes, the honors engineering class was very tough as it combined both design and physics into one course, met 9 hours/week, and then project teams worked 20 hours + outside of class but by far it was my D's favorite course all of last year. She learned way, way more than the friends in the "regular" design course. She got "certified" to use all the tools in the machine shop, had advanced 3d printing, MATLAB, programming languages, etc.... They also took trips to tour companies, had CEOs judge their project, did team building retreats, etc.....

    On the flip side, there was a small handful of parents in our FB group that said their kid didn't get into their preferred major because of a poor grade in honors engineering design. I think that could be a valid concern, but somehow I don't think your son would have problems based on what you've posted. There were roughly 200 honors engineers in D's class. She knows of only 3 that didn't get their first choice major (and most of them were going for BME which was extremely competitive and limited enrollment).

    I'd really encourage your son to do a deeper dive into all that is offered if he's accepted into honors. My impression is that because such a small number of students are accepted into the programs, the universities doesn't do a big "sell" or advertise all the benefits until after you are admitted.

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  • sevmomsevmom 8451 replies57 threads Senior Member
    "a number of companies that came to campus last year would only speak to freshmen that were in honors college. " Many companies don't look at freshmen, so not a surprise. Honors engineering is great for many kids but many see no need for it. An individual choice. My kids both wanted to live with kids in college that were not all engineers. Know your kid and who they like to hang with, study with, socialize with, study habits.
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  • cypresspatcypresspat 452 replies11 threads Member
    @momofsenior1 Thanks for the excellent feedback. And you are right.... The amount of info on the website on the honors program is thin at best. The only downsides he sees are the forced dorm choices and the GPA requirement for his intended major. On the one hand, it appears that his first year courses in engineering will be identical, at least on paper, to his senior year courseload, which he is kind of yawning through. And he is a little afraid of being bored next year (might learn mighty fast that was a silly fear). I need to hunt down a current freshmen from his HS who is in the honors engineering courses now to see what the dealio is in relation to his HS courses. He is very anxious to roll up his sleeves and will go nuts if next year is a close repeat of this year. Because of hockey he couldn’t take any of the cool course options at the local uni, unfortunately; that would have helped with this whole thing a lot.

    It seems like a no-brainer to take the honors options if offered. But if he is the only one of his friends.....he might balk at that. Since he is a man of almost no words.....I do worry that he’ll really struggle if isolated from ALL of his friends. Yes, he will make new ones, but tOSU is a gigantic place. And he will want to spend time with his existing friends. tOSU has 3 honors dorms, one in north, west or south campus. So his friends could be waaaaaaaay over the other end of campus. He’d be bummed.

    Premature of me to wring my hands over this, but the kids will all be back for the break and surely someone knows a kid in honors engineering I can pepper with questions. That’s why it is on my mind right now. Need to grab the returning students while I can.

    Thanks again for your thoughtful response.
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