JMU Honors College

Are there any students or parent familiar with the Honors College? JMU is one of his top choices so we are interested in getting some more info other than what is on their website (which is good info but general).

I have a sophomore in the Honors College and another daughter who was just admitted for next year. Over the past 2 yrs the honors freshman have moved in a few days early to go on a retreat before the rest of the students arrive. The honors dorm (Shenandoah) is very nice. Students are not required to live in that dorm though. There’s a building call Hillcrest house by the quad on main campus that has a lounge and a computer lab where the students can hang out/study between classes. They can also print papers/reports for free in the computer lab. The honors college is always holding extra events/activities/seminars to attend. A big benefit is that the students get to register for classes earlier than others in their grade level. My daughter has never had any trouble enrolling in the specific class times/teachers when choosing a schedule.

My son is a freshman in the honors college but is not living in Shenandoah. So far he’s enjoyed the classes though he hasn’t found many social opportunities with other honors students (probably because he’s not in Shenandoah). He chose instead to apply to an RLC that put him on the main campus. He likes living closer to his classes, but if he had it to do all over again I think he would have chosen to live in Shenandoah.

For him, the biggest benefit was the ability to register early for classes. Freshman first semester requires an Honors-level communications class, which he enjoyed. This semester he’s taking an Honors-level religion course.

It seems a fair amount of honors students drop out of the program before senior year because they don’t want to do the senior-year thesis, but if your child is considering a competitive graduate program being an honors grad will set you apart. There are also honors-specific study-abroad programs, and even non-Honors-specific study-abroad can be ‘honor-ized’ to count for Honors credit if approved by an Honors advisor.

Thanks for the info re JMU honors.

I do know that at other schools the dropping out of Honors by senior year is very typical because of the thesis requirement and I second the statement that those who want to go on to grad school stay the course and get that Honors designation on their undergrad degree.

We had a former head of graduate admissions at a well known Boston college tell us this - she is now teaching at our older son’s school and said that those graduate applications with the Honors designation always were at the top of her list when looking for strong candidates to admit.

JMU Honors College alumna here! I strongly encourage him to go for it, and I also encourage him to stay in honors and complete the thesis.

I personally found that my honors classes were some of the most rewarding; the faculty members were always attentive, kind, and often not too hard on students with regards to grading because (1) they assume honors students are smart and are thus more willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and (2) because honors seminars are really meant to get you to think creatively and deeply, not work you to death. In my experience, honors classes were a GPA boost rather than a drag (I graduated magna cum laude). The thesis project was great, and I genuinely loved my advisor, who became like another mom to me. In fact, quite a few professors became oddly familial to me, and since I’m very involved with the Hillcrest Club, which is essentially a JMU Honors alumni network, I intend to see them fairly often when I visit my alma mater to talk to current students in the coming months.

Regarding the thesis, you can also do a big creative project instead of a thesis, so if you want to write a play about chemistry, publish a poetry book, or curate a small museum exhibition rather than write an academic paper, you are free to do so! I went the paper route, but I’m currently working in government and planning on going to law school, so obviously there are many people who aren’t as keen on writing dry, academic papers as I am. I will also say that the interdisciplinary nature of the honors college was a lot of fun. JMU is the #1 most innovative school in the south (according to US News rankings) and I personally felt that being in honors put me and my peers at the heart of that innovative environment. You will be exposed to all the brightest, most creative, most hardworking students at an already wonderful school, and unlike some more academically inclined groups of young people, the JMU Honors crowd also tends to be very kind and personable rather than arrogant or socially awkward.

If that isn’t enough to convince you and your son that JMU Honors is the way to go, I’ll also bring it to your attention that the JMU Honors College is 80% female. Now, I’m all for female empowerment, and I’m absolutely in love with JMU Honors, but I didn’t like looking around the classroom and seeing only girls. This gender ratio made dating very hard for me as a female in college, but for your son I imagine that ratio would have the opposite affect. When I graduated in December, there were 9 graduating JMU Honors students and only 1 was male. If your son wants a smart, pretty girlfriend and doesn’t want to compete with tons of other guys for female attention, honors is great. Also, on behalf of all female JMU Honors students past, present, and future, I can tell you that the honors college really needs more male students. Your son can do his part to make the ratio a bit more even by choosing honors and not dropping out.

Are any of the Honors College students also in a sorority or fraternity?