Is it worth being in an honors college?

I’m finishing up an application for a full ride into a Middle Tennessee State University’s honors college. At first I was sure, scholarship or not, that I would at least take honors courses if I went to this school. However, I’ve since read some other peoples’ experiences with their own honors colleges and I’m a bit worried. I’ve taken very rigorous classes at my high school while managing to keep my grades high, but it’s all made me very exhausted and I sort of wanted to breathe a bit in college. I’m willing to work hard at whatever school I go to, but I don’t necessarily want to be so overwhelmed with the required seminars that I end up being extremely stressed and distracted from my core courses/courses for my major. I like the idea of smaller class sizes and priority registration, so those are some perks.

Since this school isn’t as fancy as some private schools, would it look better to employers to graduate from the honors college? What were your experiences in your honors colleges?


I hire people all the time and could care less if they were in the honors college. But that is just me. My S is being encouraged to apply for honors programs but when we look at them, they really veer off the course he wants to be on. I may take a thrashing here, but I think honors plays more of a role in graduate school than in employment, generally speaking of course. Honors classes can get you into smaller classes which is a plus, but can restrict you because you have to take certain honors classes that prevent you from other electives or as you mentioned, your core curriculum. They are only offered at certain times, so can knock you out of registration for other classes. At one school we know of, the honors courses didn’t work well with the engineering curriculum, their times conflicted and they acknowledged that. But of course there are perks to being in honors as well, including your peer group. If there are benefits to you to be in the program like priority registration and smaller classes and that makes a difference to you, great, but if it is just gonna cause struggle, don’t do it just so you can say you were in it. A good GPA coming out of school without the honors program is better than 4 years of struggle and a lower GPA, imo.

Honors programs vary greatly from college to college so it is important to look at the details of what being in the honors program will do for you at Middle Tenn U. Smaller class size and priority registration do sound nice.

yes and no, but mostly no. Employers don’t hire the same way colleges admit students. If you’re at a school they’ll consider hiring from and you’ve hit a certain gpa then you’ve passed that screen and they’re on to other things that carry more weight, like what you studied, internships and coop experience. As for special preference if you’ve done honors – since they are looking at resumes from lots of colleges nobody is going to take a lot of time to look into the details of what Honors at a particular school means (unless they’re an instate employer with a fair number of kids hired from that school, in which case its worth getting familiar with details). So probably little help there. And if you’re thinking that employers that normally look for kids from higher-ranked schools will make an exception if you’re in Honors, more on that below…

Your concerns about difficulty are overblown. This honors college doesn’t seem particularly challenging. If you look at you can see that only 31 hours of the 120 you need for a degree are honors classes. I don’t know how you got the idea about “overwhelmed with the required seminars” since they don’t mention this in the FAQ. Lots of classes appear to qualify. And in fact they water it down by letting you use AP credit for up to 9 of those hours. So you’re probably better off if employers don’t know the program details :wink:

My advice here is that if the school is right for you, for reasons financial or other, then its worth signing up for the honors and getting the perks as well as meeting other top students. But the Honors college here is not equivalent to a degree at a more challenging school, public or private. And that is generally known by employers and grad schools.

Depending on the university you may have a better classroom experience in the honors college, which is worth something.

The honors college will differ from school to school, but in my experience, the delivery of the information is more interesting in the honors college than in mundane classes. For many, it is worth the extra effort just to be in classes that are filled with better students and delivered with a different style. (many of the profs are also more into the honors classes for the same reasons)

As mentioned above, as an employer there is next to nothing that having ‘honors college’ on the resume would actually do to get you a job.

Take this with a grain of salt but I wouldn’t do honors college. An employer will just see that you went to Tennessee State and check that you got the degree and move on. I think it means very little to businesses. Probably graduating at the top percent of the class is more impressive. If you take the regular courses a higher GPA will be much easier obviously.

Also depends on academic level of school/peers and what you bring in. If you are a high achiever going into an “easier” school or major then the honors program could be a very strong feature. You don’t want to be bored and glide through college, it should be challenging enough. However, if just getting through college will be enough for you or a struggle, don’t go honors.
Often times, honors kids will hang together because they have smaller classes together and get to know each other more easily - fwiw.

It’s difficult to make a general statement regarding Honors colleges because each one is different. Because of that it’s important to look at the features of each one , and weigh each one accordingly. There are many benefits to attending an Honors college including priority registration, honors housing , additional scholarship money, more advancing and mentoring opportunities. The relationships that you form with Honors faculty can be very beneficial when you need references for grad school, med school or law school . It truly is a personal decision that only OP can make for himself, but IMO the pros far outweigh the cons.