Barrett Honors or Michigan?

Does anyone have experience with Barrett Honors? DS got into both Barrett Honors and University of Michigan. We know Michigan is a great school. He toured Barrett and came away very surprised at how much he liked it. I told him to write pro/con lists for each school. Both schools will be about the same cost wise so that is not an issue.

I would vote for UMich without knowing more. Any ideas on majors/goals?

For the same price, UMich.

I would also vote for Michigan but I know that he needs to weigh the pros/cons for himself.
We are in the Phoenix, AZ area and most/many of the high stat kids from my kids’ high school attend ASU/Barrett. It’s a great program and everyone I know is very happy there … but I’m not sure what other financially feasible options they had. I would think the major would make a big difference (and, as he probably learned, not all majors are on the Tempe campus - some are in downtown Phoenix). Did he like Tempe and Phoenix? Does he like the heat? Has he experienced the heat like we have here? I guess he has to choose between 2 different temperature extremes… it stays brutally warm here in the Phoenix area through September … and I know it can stay very cold in Michigan for months on end too.

He’s undecided. He likes natural science (his anatomy class & the neuropsych section of psychology), but he is not sure if he wants to pursue a science major or not. He has considered business or something completely different. Michigan is one of his top choices, but he toured Barrett and liked it too. Cold weather isn’t a factor for him. He has family in both places so he won’t be far from a comfortable home.

I don’t think the heat would bother him. He adapts well to extremes in weather pretty well. He loves sports so the warmer climate would allow him to play outdoor sports more often.

Be sure he looks at the overall level of courses, especially those in his proposed major. Not all of his classes will be for Honors. Also- look at the courses in the specific honors program/college. Will they be subject specific or survey one-size fits all honors students? Is there a chance of doing honors work at Michigan? What is the overall reputation in his fields of interest?

Great idea for him to list pros and cons. He also needs to rank them from most to least important to him.

Consider the distance from home for visits- likely not going to be coming back many weekends (not a bad thing on a good campus). It takes time to travel. Also any cultural factors- Midwest versus AZ.

Will he want to be the special treatment student or would he rather have his peer group be most of the school?

It will be interesting for you to find out his choice.

Last- and most important. Once he decides and goes to a school there should never be any looking back. No second guessing/what ifs… His life will unfold as it should, especially since he will do those pros and cons.

PS- my vote would be Michigan. Likely overall better academics.

Very good points. I will bring these to him so he can add them to his list of things to consider. I am trying to help him come up with ideas of what he might want to consider, but the choice is ultimately his. He is a good student (National Hispanic Scholar) so I believe he will be fine at either school. He isn’t one who needs to be a special treatment student. He prefers to blend in with his classmates, but that may change in college. Since he is undecided we have to take a more broad approach when looking at the schools. He hasn’t applied to Michigan Honors yet, but he has decided to do so. His campus visit at Michigan is coming up soon.

I know at Barrett the thesis is very open for each student. It doesn’t even have to be within their major. They have dedicated honors professors, but I think many classes are taken as regular classes. I will have to look into that more.

I don’t believe there will be cultural factors that would make one school a better choice than the other. He tends to blend in easily, making friends, settling into his own routine. He is fairly confident for a teen boy.

By special I meant being honors or regular. I would prefer most of the student body to be academic peers instead of being at the top of an otherwise average college crowd.

The other issue for him to consider is whether his possible majors are competitive admission after enrolling at the school.

I think the Honors colleges are overrated—it’s still ASU, considered a back-up school. Michigan is the public Ivy and the scores are higher for admission so this will be reflected in the wavelength of the students. Michigan also has a huge network. Michigan Honors? Perhaps, but he might want to have some fun, too. I think employers don’t really care about Honors colleges, they look at the reputation of the college. More so, they look at the interviewee. College is a time to mature, socially and emotionally, so a good college experience is more important than a college reputation, unless it super elite vs. not.

We toured ASU but preferred the immaculate U of AZ campus. Merit scholarships at both, but none from his dream school. He didn’t really like the people but went due to the merit scholarship (dad’s choice). After trying to make it work for two years at UA, he transferred this past fall to his dream school. No merit scholarship but he loves it there, says it’s like living a dream, it’s in a suburb, and the students are on the same wavelength as him, as admissions are more difficult than UA. Both his roommates at UA left after one semester due to the lack of social life (one was an athlete, very sociable, transferred to ASU). And none were binge drinkers so the frats weren’t an option. Lots of complaints about nothing to do, lots of bored students who seemed to attend there as a natural progression to their state school, not thrilled. We are from CA and found the Arizonans to be less sociable, more reserved. ASU is a better location than Tucson.

Moral of the story: Tour Michigan too, during the academic school year so he can feel the campus vibe and talk with the current students, professors. Let him make the decision about which students he prefers. Perhaps he can speak to some Hispanics in Michigan, there is a lower percentage of them there (6%). Not that he will necessarily hangout with them, but he can ask how their experience is, how they are perceived. I’ve heard that although it’s diverse there, it’s still 65% white and have heard of some non-Caucasians who have had issues there. It’s still the Midwest, which in general, lacks diversity.

Michigan has far more international students, currently 6th highest among US colleges (trailing Harvard, Stanford, UCLA, Columbia,and Cal). New York, Illinois, and California are home the largest number of Michigan out of state students. Michigan has more Asian, black, and mixed race students and fewer Hispanics than ASU. We have one current Michigan undergrad in engineering (Hispanic) and he hasn’t had any issues. Mostly the kids are so busy with academics , projects, honor societies, and maybe a few social groups etc. that they don’t have time for much else.

FYI is it is 22 deg this morning (mid-March). When temps reach the mid/high 30’s it’s pretty common to see people running in shorts and T-shirts. A visit would be a good idea. Michigan isn’t really cold compared to, say, Minnesota because the great lakes buffer the temperatures.

@TooOld4School: You can say what you want about diversity, but this is stuff that people don’t talk about. Unless you experienced racism yourself, you really don’t know what is going on. It may not be blatant. Many colleges claim to have diversity these days because it’s PC. Just because there is diversity, doesn’t mean there isn’t underlying issues within the brains of people. Michigan is not Stanford, UCLA, Columbia, or Cal, it’s the Midwest, and it accepts a majority of Michigan residents. I know of a CA Caucasian athlete who said she heard terrible things spoken about other non-Caucasian students and it disgusted her. I also know of a Californian Asian who left due to a poor reception. Your engineering student is in a department of diversity. Said student should just check it out and talk to students—people have different experiences and hopefully he’ll find his tribe wherever he chooses.

You really cannot control what people think. There is plenty of racism in Asian, Hispanic and black communities too. We have plenty of relatives (we are in a mixed race family) who think and act exactly as you have described, but they are mostly older, and younger people don’t care much. It’s just as prevalent in CA as in Michigan. Best attitude is to ignore it, and stop being constantly offended, and stop seeing racists everywhere. Sometimes they are just plain Ah*s.

Michigan has no race based preferences (like the UC system) so you never hear any grumbling about he/she got in because of race/affirmative action. It seems pretty odd to me that a California Asian received a bad reception because they were Asian, since about 1/4 of the kids are Asian in the engineering school, maybe he/she just had a bad experience. Mostly it’s about maize and blue, not other colors.

The OP and family should see for themselves.

Michigan’s academic opportunities far exceed those at ASU Barrett. Michigan is strong in the sciences and Ross (the business school) is one of the top 3 undergrad business programs in the nation. And it is strong in so many other areas; you son will have the opportunity to explore other areas if desired.

Finally, Michigan is going to provide access to a network post graduation that is top notch. Grads feel a strong affinity for the maize and blue.

Good luck!

I care less what people think privately because I don’t know so it doesn’t bother me. But if such prejudices affect me through actions, then I will fight back. I went to a HS in Northern VA long time ago where racial fights between blacks, whites and Asians were common occurrences.

According to Jeremy Lin, who played basketball for Harvard, racial taunts against him were most vociferous when playing against other Ivy schools.

Did he apply to/was he accepted at any of the Barrett-like programs at Michigan, like the Residential College or Lloyd Hall Scholars? I think they are a big plus at a campus the size of Michigan, especially if the student doesn’t intend to go Greek.

He hasn’t applied to the UM Honors program yet. That’s what he is working on now. Barrett Honors seems like a good program, but I’m trying to figure out if it can measure up to the quality of UM. Supposedly ASU has pulled all of the Greek houses onto campus to monitor and curb the partying. Though he has said he isn’t interested in Greek life at this point.

We live in the Midwest so he is pretty familiar with UM and is used to the cold. He has spent a lot of his summers in the southwest so he’s also used to the heat. He likes the idea of warm weather, but not enough to be the deciding factor. We are not concerned about race/diversity issues. That has never been an issue for him.

I appreciate all of your comments! It’s giving us things to discuss with him so he can make a decision!

ASU has 17% of women and 9% of men in sororities and fraternities respectively. At Michigan, the percentages are 24% and 17%. However, ASU has a much larger student population than Michigan, so that the absolute size of the sorority and fraternity systems is more similar.