Honors Programs at Public Universities: Find Your Niche

Many public colleges and universities have an honors program that enables students who are highly motivated and strive for a more rigorous academic schedule to be surrounded with those like themselves.

At this point of the year, as a senior in high school, you might have already been accepted to various colleges and universities, and may have chosen where you will be heading. If you’re a freshman in college, you’re finishing up second semester and may or may not be fully satisfied with your college experience thus far. Either way, one aspect you may have not yet considered is whether you want to apply into the honors program at your school. Many public colleges and universities have an honors program that enables students who are highly motivated and strive for a more rigorous academic schedule to be surrounded with those with similar interests and goals.

What exactly does an honors program entail? Every school’s program is slightly different but a here few common similarities that students find to be advantageous.

Shrink your university

There are many great things about attending a large college or university, but no college student wants to feel lost in the crowd. An honors program not only has smaller class sizes, but the program as a whole will give the school a more intimate feel. You’ll see the same faces in some of your classes, get to know your professors better, and be surrounded by students with your drive and work ethic. Check out the InsideCollege list of large universities with honors programs to see if one meets your criteria.

Small class sizes 

As a freshman at a large public university, you will often be placed in lecture classes for your general education requirements. Sitting amongst 100 or more of your peers allows for little or no personal interaction with the professor might not learn as much from the class as you had anticipated. If this doesn’t sound like the college experience you signed up for, an honors program most likely offers a much smaller class for the same course, except at the honors level.

Graduate with honors

Every college has a different policy for designating honors awards, but for some schools, you needed to have completed its honors program to graduate with Latin honors. If you’ve always dreamed of sitting at graduation with the prestigious honors tassel draped across your cap or gown, then here is your chance.

Honors perks

As a member of the honors program, there are usually certain advantages provided to students, since it’s not an easy feat to complete the rigorous academic demands. Some schools have specific housing for honors students, which enables students to easily arrange study groups as well as have guaranteed quiet hours. Many honors programs also coordinate guest speakers or lecture series on campus, which are not open to the rest of the college or university. Scholarship opportunities may also pique your interest, as some schools will award scholarships and grants to students specifically within the honors program.

Whether you’re just beginning to browse at schools you’re interested in, filling out applications and hearing responses, or already enrolled in a college, it’s not too late to look into the honors programs available. If you are currently enrolled in a school and interested in learning more about the honors program, go to the office and find out more information. Oftentimes, you must be invited into the program and although the workload will be exceedingly more demanding as you progress through college, there are great advantages to being in an honors program during and after college. Glowing recommendation letters, anyone?

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About Kristen Healy

Kristen Healy

Kristen is an Assistant Editor at Wintergreen Orchard House, a sub-division of Carnegie Communications, where she manages data for Midwestern colleges and universities. She graduated in 2010 from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a double major in Journalism and Communication and a minor in Political Science. She is psyched about blogging about Public Colleges and Universities seeing as she is a proud product of one. She hopes that her four years at the Massachusetts state flagship campus will help her to bring new light to a broad range of topics that can relate to attending a public college or university. Her college career was spent writing for the news section of UMass’s Daily Collegian, volunteering at the university television studio, and enjoying the sites and activities of downtown Amherst. Kristen loves to travel and spent part of her junior year studying abroad in Galway, Ireland, where she gained perspective of what it is like to attend a large university in another country. She hopes her experiences in public higher education will help guide readers through their own college journeys!

You can circle Kristen on Google+, follow her on Twitter, or subscribe to her CollegeXpress blog.


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