A college honors program provides highly motivated students the opportunity to work closely with professors and other motivated students in advanced levels of critical thinking, analysis, research, writing, communication, and collaborative learning initiatives. Honors programs vary with the school, but there are some common benefits of a college honors program.
Criteria for Acceptance
Each honors program has its own entrance requirements. Some criteria for acceptance by the colleges include:
- High GPA (usually 3.5 or higher)
- High standardized test scores (this is relative to the school - some have only a combined score of 1200 or higher on the SAT or 26 or higher on the ACT)
- Strong high school curriculum
- Top ten percent (or better) of high school graduation class
- Strong letters of recommendation
- Powerful essay
- Good interview
Some programs will only have one or two requirements, while other programs will have more. The college's coordinator of the honors program is the person to contact for the specific entrance requirements - go straight to the person who knows.
If you meet the entrance requirements for the honors program at certain schools you may be automatically accepted into the program - if you want it. Other schools may require an application in addition to meeting the main criteria. With schools that require an application there may be a deadline for submission.
Benefits of Joining
The benefits of joining a college honors program are significant for many but vary with the colleges and are appreciated differently by students. Some benefits include:
Small classes. Small class sizes enable students to have closer relationships with their professors and with other students because they allow for more interaction and discussion - student engagement is often enhanced. Often honors classes have no more than 25 students.
Graduate school preparation. At many schools, the class regimen of an undergraduate honors class is similar to that of a graduate class. Many honors classes place a great deal of emphasis on continuing education through graduate school.
Special activities. Students who participate in an honors program often get to participate in honors retreats, cultural events at theaters and museums, campus-wide recognition banquets, dinners with faculty members, etc.
Networking with exceptional students. Since this is a relatively elite group of academic achievers, it sets the bar higher for associations, friendships and future professional contacts. Since you may be going through a more rigorous curriculum, the bonding and relationship-buidling can provide benefits for years to come.
Scholarship opportunities. At some schools, students who participate in the honors program may also qualify for certain scholarships. Each school's honors program is different, so you must check carefully to not miss any good opportunities.
Priority registration. Some programs allow priority scheduling for students in the honors program. This can help that honors students to complete their individualized academic programs in a timely manner.
Honors degree. Students who graduate in the honors program will have that notation recorded on their diplomas and permanent records. This can look good on your resume. But many college graduates from honors programs say it has little real impact when searching for a job.
There are many people who feel that the honors programs provide little benefit after college. But during the college years, some of the benefits listed above can be very meaningful to certain students. The purpose of most honors programs is to provide an enhanced educational experience for students, providing a higher level of academic rigor and stimulation. As always, you must decide for yourself.
Some California Honors programs include: