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4 Benefits of Honors Programs at Public Universities

Honors programs are perfect for highly motivated students who want a more rigorous academic experience in college. Learn about the perks of participating here!

As a senior in high school, you may have already been accepted to various colleges and universities and chosen where you'll be heading. If you’re a freshman in college, you may or may not be fully satisfied with your college experience thus far. Either way, one aspect you may not have considered yet is whether you want to apply to 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 by those with similar interests and goals. But 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.

1. You'll 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 your 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 the same drive and work ethic.

2. You'll have smaller class sizes 

As a freshman at a large public university, you'll often be placed in lecture classes for your general education requirements. Sitting among 100 or more of your peers allows for little to no personal interaction with the professor, so you might feel like you're not learning as much from the class as you anticipated. If this doesn’t sound like the college experience you signed up for, honors programs offer much smaller classes for the same course, except at an honors level.

Related: List of Honors Colleges: Making a Large School Seem Smaller

3. You'll 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 this is your chance.

4. You'll get honors-specific opportunities

As a member of the honors program, you'll usually receive certain advantages 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 award scholarships and grants to students specifically within the honors program.

Related: College Honors Programs: Are They Worth It?

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

Still looking for the right school that will challenge you academically? Check out our list The Experts' Choice: Great Honors Colleges.

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About Kristen Healy

Kristen Healy

Kristen Healy is a former Assistant Editor at Carnegie, the higher education marketing agency behind CollegeXpress. She graduated in 2010 from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a double major in Journalism and Communication and a minor in Political Science. 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 on what it's 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!


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