Honors Programs

<p>How prestigious are honors programs compared to colleges such as Hopkins, Penn, Cornell, or even Brandeis (which isn't so prestigious yet but is a very good college). Let's say I get into the honors program at University of Maryland with some type of scholarship. Would it be be more beneficial to go there and have a great social life and great education for less money or it still doesn't compare to top universities? How does the workload compare? I applied to Hopkins, Penn, Brandeis, and Maryland (hopefully get into honors program), and I already got into Michigan. Any advice/information on the comparison of an Honors program such as Maryland or a top University such as Hopkins?</p>

<p>Anyone have some insight?</p>

<p>Here's a very good post on Honors programs from the week before last by CC poster Mikemac:</p>

<p>"Honors colleges can be a great choice for those attending a larger school. Honors colleges offer valuable perks and let you meet some of the top students at your college. However they are often oversold with glossy pamphlets implying a small LAC has been set up inside the larger university giving an elite private education at the public school price. On this forum you'll read posters who also say/imply that.</p>

<p>Depending on the program offerings may range from separate honors classes to taking just one honors seminar per semester. And some of the "honors" offerings may just be a special discussion section of the regular class (at many U's you meet 2-3x a week in a large class with the prof, then everyone meets weekly in a smaller discussion section with a TA). You really need to dig in to find what a particular school offers.</p>

<p>Keep in mind honors programs typically offer the small classes and hand-picked profs only the 1st two years of college. They can do this because doesn't take that many classes to come up with a set that will meet the lower-division requirements for most majors. It is rare to find more than a token amount of upper-division classes since the honors program simply doesn't have enough faculty members to create entire major(s). So the last two years most/all classes are taken with the rest of the students in the regular U's classes. The teaching of the profs will be geared towards the normal U level, the discussions and student involvement in class will be dominated by the regular students, and so on. Class sizes may balloon, too, if you're in a popular major.</p>

<p>Peer effects are big, too; when almost everyone around you at school is a strong student you have lots of good student to emulate in class or outside it such as doing research or internships. If the top kids are a few hundred strong dispersed among tens of thousands at the U then strong examples may be harder to see. When it comes to finding a job, employers are less likely to send recruiters to a campus with a limited number of honors seniors when they can get a campus-full at more highly regarded schools.</p>

<p>Honors colleges do offer some valuable perks, in addition to the classes. Typical ones include registering for classes before everyone else so you get the classes you want (a perk worth its weight in gold!), special counselors, guaranteed housing, special library privileges. They will mark your diploma recognition. But I would be dubious about attending a college for its honors program in place of a more highly regarded U if finances are not an issue."</p>

<p>So how desirable are Honors programs? It depends upon your priorities. A good way to maximize a larger-school experience when finances are a consideration? Certainly. A way to maximize prestige? No, not really.</p>

<p>gadad has a very good summary of the situation. If you're looking for both a financially afforable and decent ranked school, then choose the honors program. However, they don't always compare to some of the programs Ivy League offers, such as Wharton, JHU Biomed engineering, etc. But honestly, you have to look at the individual programs.</p>

<p>Is this the Gemstone program at UMD or the scholars (humanities) honors program? The two are different and have different reputations. You might also want to post this on the UMD forum to get specific feedback from students who are or were in those programs.</p>