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Honors College

mark2457mark2457 Registered User Posts: 101 Junior Member
Does anyone have any first-hand exposure or opinion on the Honors program?
Post edited by mark2457 on

Replies to: Honors College

  • umcp11umcp11 Registered User Posts: 1,321 Senior Member
    Yes...

    I think it is not as big of a deal/opportunity as they make it out to be.

    For one, I think it IS great that you have a dorm all to yourself (well, almost, there's a few non honors students in there)...but that doesn't necessarily translate into a particularly intellectual atmosphere. It's still the typical freshman experience - lots of partying, lots of obsession over partying. But I do think it's /better/ than the other dorms in a sense of attracting the quirky/intelligent individuals who like to study late at night in the lounge and take breaks by playing water pong (haha). So, lesser of the evils, but still not a particularly "different" or "special" atmosphere. Maybe the Gemstone dorm is different/more hardcore in that sense.

    The dorm itself is still super secluded from the rest of campus (but with all the other freshmen at least), and it's ugly just like all the others, and those fancy ones they show you on the tour (Queen Anne's, Anne Arundel, etc.), well, don't count on those, 'cause even if you are in honors you're fairly likely not to get picked to live in them (it's a random assignment for sophomores...I didn't get in).

    The honors seminar classes are fun...they're quirky topics...small...reading/writing heavy...just how I like it. The profs are hit or miss though. They're not all great. That's alright though...to be expected. The other problem is, they're lower-level classes and if you come in with a lot of AP credits they're kinda, dare I say, useless. I only had to take 1-2 CORE classes coming into MD so I didn't really find myself motivated to sign up for honors seminars since they fulfilled absolutely zero of my requirements. It's also a bit depressing because it's only a 2 yr program and it's not indicative of what classes at MD are actually like...as a history/english major I've never had a class with less than 30 people in it, and my history classes frequently have 50 or more (even 300-400 level classes).

    So, I think, it's a good opportunity to meet people through smaller classes, and the classes can be fun. And having an honors dorm helps cut down on the insane weed smoking/drinking and prissy girls obssessed with going out and dressing up all the time going on at the other dorms (though, there's still plenty of that, just slightly less!). At the same time, it's still compensating for the fact that MD is not a particularly small/nurturing/intellectual environment, and you can tell it's compensating.

    Honors is just one thing of MANY that you will have to do to keep Maryland small and intellectual. There are so many programs and clubs you can do and get involved with but honors is a really small piece of that. It's a good starting point but it's just a starting point. As an honors student here you should still be looking for other opportunities on the horizon, like Global Communities, Beyond the Classrom, alternative spring break, or at some of the political/activist clubs, etc.
  • Bornin92Bornin92 Registered User Posts: 332 Member
    "It's also a bit depressing because it's only a 2 yr program"

    It doesn't have to be. Half of my current honors seminar is Juniors/Seniors.
  • umcp11umcp11 Registered User Posts: 1,321 Senior Member
    I mean that in a sense that they're primarily lower level classes...and that unfortunately they don't satisfy any requirements for your major or even really any requirements at all, if you came in with a ton of AP credits as most people at the top of the applicant pool do.

    Ultimately I think it's a bit depressing that major classes aka actual classes that help you get a degree don't have that atmosphere at all...
  • Bornin92Bornin92 Registered User Posts: 332 Member
    Well, I think the primary reason you should want to take an Honors Seminar is for the subject matter, not just to get core credit. That's really not the point, otherwise there'd be no reason for special subjects like the ones offered, and everyone would just take H-Versions. And there's some pretty interesting topics. The one I'm in is my favorite class - I actually look forward to going to it. For me, it's a bonus that it's taking care of a core requirement. Just my opinion.
  • umcp11umcp11 Registered User Posts: 1,321 Senior Member
    Right, I think that the upshot to honors classes is that they're interesting and you can meet great people in them (plus, your prof gets to know you better - good for recommendations, special opportunities, etc.).

    BUT they are pitched as this cure all to the big state school experience. Like, oh, don't worry about going to a smaller college or a more selective college because we have an HONORS program.

    But honors classes are more of a tokenized giveaway than an opportunity that is integrated into your overall educational experience, as I am trying to demonstrate by saying that they often don't fulfill any requirements and that your major classes are not gonna be like your honors seminars.

    Many people will say, oh, just go to your state school, it has a great honors program, as if that is the end all-be all. When really all it is a a random class a semester, not something that has an encompassing impact on your education, though they can be a good experience, in the same way ski club or some other extracurricular you are passionate about can be a good experience :p

    Basically, I'm just trying to get it across that you have to look beyond the honors program at schools like this if you are really looking to make the big school smaller, get an intimate and intellectual education, etc. When they are wooing incoming freshmen they often don't tell it straight to you like that...the honors program is given more emphasis than it deserves, quite frankly, and misleads parents especially into thinking it is going to be this super special club where the rest of the university is drowned out...

    When in reality the honors program is such a tiny part of the experience at MD...the vast majority of your courses will not be in it...
  • ginab591ginab591 Registered User Posts: 1,068 Senior Member
    Honestly, I'm technically in Honors but I forget half the time. I've taken one H-Version (and it wasn't pretty) and dropped the only seminar I ever signed up for.
    I'm in Gemstone too, so that has a lot to do with it. By finishing out the program you automatically get your honors citation. Gemstone probably does more to reduce the community size of UMD than Honors does, but it by no means makes it feel like you go to a small university. Tops you'll have one Honors class per semester, and H-Versions really don't seem very different than other sections of the class while you're in them.
    The topics for seminars are interesting though. I just haven't seen one that I've wanted to take so badly that I rearranged my schedule for it...so basically what UMCP11 said
  • mark2457mark2457 Registered User Posts: 101 Junior Member
    I really that the UMCP and the honors program would be a great fit, however I have heard more negative comments about this school and its programs than any other school. Is it because expectations were high, or is UMCP just another big public school with nothing specuial about it.
  • umcp11umcp11 Registered User Posts: 1,321 Senior Member
    Edit: Went a little crazy there. Let me condense.

    Maryland stands out in a LOT of ways. Top engineering, comp sci programs. Good business, government, history programs. One of the most serious and professionally run college papers in the nation. Proximity to DC and all that affords in terms of internships and entertainment. A student body that is, in my humble opinion, unparalleled in terms of its down-to-earth, laid back nature that is so far from HS you will be taking huge breaths of fresh air.

    However it is NOT a LAC-like experience in any sense of the word (both for better, and for worse). And it certainly still suffers from some of the problems that face many other big public universities, re: big classes, range of intelligences in student body, poor advising in many departments, fend-for-yourself-you-better-know-what-you're-getting-into-scared-little-sheltered-honors-kid. You know what I'm saying? The energy here is infectious but the intellectualism needs to be sought out.
  • maybe23maybe23 Registered User Posts: 251 Junior Member
    Do you know much about the scholarships for top admitted students?
    How competitive are they?
    How much do they really cover?
  • astrophysicsmomastrophysicsmom Registered User Posts: 4,326 Senior Member
    Look up the Banneker/Key scholarship on umd.edu. It's a sweet deal, and pays for tuition/fees, room and board for 4 yrs, etc. Most (not all) people who get the Banneker/Key have 4.0 (or close) unweighted GPA, lots of AP courses, and mid to high 700's CR and math SAT scores. There are other merit scholarships, but the Banneker/Key is the one that the top admitted students get into. It's fair to say that anyone who gets the full B/K probably has a boatload of other college acceptances (from very competitive programs) from which to choose from.
  • umcp11umcp11 Registered User Posts: 1,321 Senior Member
    Just looked at some honors seminars they are offering next semester and it looks like they are actually improving in relevance. For instance, there was a 300-level class on U.S.-Middle East Relations. I would say interesting fodder for GVPT, History, Journalism majors, or just the curious. So, take a look at what classes they are offering each semester...might be more worth it nowadays than it was back in my time ;).

    Scholarships - they are very competitive and somewhat of a crapshoot...i.e. my friend got accepted to Harvard and only got $1,000 for two years at MD (????). I can only assume maybe this is where it matters if you show demonstrated interest in the school/write a good essay/whatever. Or, maybe it is more minority students, women going into science/engineering, etc. A lot of people I know who got B/K were women going into traditionally male fields. So, you gotta have some kinda hook it seems. I did not get B/K...I was 2280 SAT 3.9 GPA 5s on 5 AP exams. Accepted to Northwestern Uni, 25K a year in scholarships to USC, etc...

    I did get 5,000/yr at MD plus 3,000 a year from the state (awarded late in the summer after I had already accepted the school...I think some leftover money from distinguished scholar students who did not end up attending MD schools).

    I also knew again, women who applied to the engineering school, and who got a significant amount of money from the engineering school.

    8,ooo/yr covered a LOT as I am IS...

    For OOS applicants, they are generally awarded more money (but that's because it costs more for them) for lesser stats.
  • maybe23maybe23 Registered User Posts: 251 Junior Member
    I am from out of state, so perhaps this is to my benefit?

    Is the engineering school good?

    I want to pursue either medicine or engineering (not sure which yet) and haven't yet decided which to put on my application.

    Any feedback on overall impression of the school?
    It is a place that no one has heard of where I am - I found it through internet searches and thought it looked interesting, but don't know any personal stories / overall impressions from people who have been there / real information about how good a school it is (other than the basic numbers from college guidebooks).
  • umcp11umcp11 Registered User Posts: 1,321 Senior Member
    Well, the OOS cost of attendance is much higher than the IS cost of attendance, so depends on what you mean by "to your benefit" haha. To your benefit in terms of pure dollars, yes.

    Maryland is a Top 20 public school or just out of the Top 20, so it's better than the VAST majority of colleges in the United States. Its engineering program is even more highly ranked than the college overall. It's very respected on the East Coast, especially the mid-Atlantic (obviously, since it's a Mid-Atlantic school and people are more familiar with it here). Many of Maryland's top students (and Maryland is quite a well-off state, being so close to DC and encompassing ritzy suburbs such as Bethesda and Potomac) attend Maryland.

    The engineering classes themselves are academically rigorous and sometimes very creative (solar decathalon, the class where you build a car, engineers without borders, etc.). Top students are NOT getting straight As here. The program is a challenge even for the smartest kids.

    Its proximity to DC gives students a wealth of internship opportunities and connections when it comes to think tanks, government organizations, NASA, political groups, news media, defense contractors, nonprofits, or other things you'd associate with the capital/political powerhouse.

    The engineering side of campus is fairly ugly though. A lot of the rest of campus is beautiful.

    There are a number of great programs to get involved with her, from Hinman CEOs (pairs egineers and biz students to create business ideas/new products), Beyond the Classroom (gives people internships in nonprofits/other organizations in DC), Honors (we've talked about it a bit - an opportunity to take intellectual, small classes for the pure love of learning), Gemstone (4-yr research project culminating in a dissertation-like review), Global Communities, the Language House.

    The students are laid back and yet at the same time put on great events and run 100s of great clubs.

    But, it's not a good school if you're looking for an intimate environment and hyper intellectual atmosphere 24/7. Honors addresses this concern to some extent but still doesn't change the overall vibe of the school..
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