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College Honors Programs and Honors Colleges

Summary
National Collegiate Honors Council provides a list of Honors Colleges located at larger public and private
universities: http://www.nchchonors.org/memberinstitution.shtml. The goal of the colleges is to give top
students enriched resources and opportunities within the larger university setting. At many universities,
this includes special housing, priority registration, extra consideration for merit scholarships, and other
benefits such as special opportunities for internships and research projects. Another important benefit of
many programs, however, is access to smaller classes and a stronger sense of community within the
large university setting.


The following information is taken from the National Collegiate Honors Council website:
http://www.nchchonors.org/


What is Honors?
Honors education is a general term that covers a wide variety of courses, teaching styles, and even educational
objectives. While an introductory chemistry course may be basically the same everywhere, one Honors course may
be very different from another equally distinguished Honors course, even if they have similar titles or subject matter.
This is because Honors programs and Honors courses may attempt to fulfill diverse goals, utilize different teaching
approaches, and employ a variety of ways of mastering subject matter.


Always however the central goal of Honors education is academic enrichment; the ways to this goal are defined by
the specific institutional context, the faculty teaching in the program, and the needs of the particular students. In
general, Honors programs are based on the belief that superior students profit from close contact with faculty, small
courses, seminars or one-on-one instruction, course work shared with other gifted students, individual research
projects, internships, foreign study, and campus or community service.


For students filled with ideas, longing for creative expression, and ready to take on career-shaping challenges, an
Honors education is the way to go. Honors programs and Honors colleges offer some of the finest undergraduate
degrees available and do so always with students in mind. The essence of Honors education is personal attention,
top faculty, enlightening seminars, illuminating study-travel experiences, numerous research opportunities, and
career-building internships - all designed to enhance a classic education and prepare students for a lifetime of
achievement. And there’s a bonus: many Honors programs and colleges have their own scholarships that help pay
for a student’s undergraduate education.


You can find Honors education at community, state, and private schools; at two-year and four-year schools;
at large schools and small schools; at schools that focus on research and those that focus on teaching. What
they share in common is a commitment to excellence. Honors education teaches students to think and write clearly,
to be excited by ideas, and to become independent, creative, and self-confident learners.


Are you thinking about Honors? Maybe you’re a high school student preparing your college applications. Maybe
you’re a community college student thinking about transferring to a four-year school. Or maybe a student already at a
four-year school - and doing better than you expected. Honors may well be right for you. Honors programs and
colleges admit students from every background and with every educational goal. Do you have a major and career in
mind, or do you need direction and advice? One of the great strengths of an Honors education is that is offers a
nurturing, supportive environment in which students can develop and grow.


Although every Honors program is different, a typical Honors program consists of a sequence of seminar
courses that either supplements or substitutes for a student’s general education or distribution
requirements. (There are also a growing number of Honors colleges in the United States.) Many Honors programs
and colleges include a capstone project or thesis. Honors programs are available for students in most majors,
and rarely require students to take more courses or credits than non-Honors students. Students who complete an
Honors program or college typically receive Honors designation on their transcripts and/or diplomas.
The Difference Between High School Honors and College Honors


Most of the differences between high school honors classes and a college or university Honors education stem from
the distinction between quantity and quality. High school honors classes tends to be distinguished from non-honors
classes by the greater amount of work that honors students are required to do, or the faster ("accelerated") speed at
which they progress through their course work. Indeed, often when high school honors students first consider a
college or university Honors education, they may feel some reluctance to take on what they believe will be extra work
or little more than an accelerated version of an already-fast-paced college education.


But college Honors is not designed to be about more work or harder work. It is truly student-centered
education. It is meant to provide students with an education that helps them develop their own ideas rather than
simply having them feed back information. It is about discussing issues and encouraging innovation in an atmosphere
of open exchange, where students’ views are respected. Honors programs emphasize diverse perspectives,
interdisciplinary course work, small classes, and greater interaction between students and professors. Honors
education is about learning to think clearly, to write well, to argue thoughtfully. It is about developing the student’s
fullest intellectual potential.


Finally, students should bear in mind that the majority of their courses in college will not be Honors courses. They will
be courses in their major or free electives.


The Value of Honors Programs and Honors Colleges
The value of Honors programs and Honors colleges for students cannot be overemphasized. For high achieving
students, Honors programs and colleges offer many opportunities to make the most of their higher education.
For the bright and talented students, participating in an Honors program provides the challenges necessary to stay
motivated and stimulated. Honors education promotes lifelong learning through personal engagement, intellectual
involvement, and a sense of community.


Honors classes are generally smaller, allowing students to engage in thoughtful discussion with their
professors and with each other. Honors education encourages independent learning, often involving
undergraduate research or creative projects. National and regional Honors conferences provide opportunities for
students to present their research. Participation in co-curricular activities is also an integral part of the college Honors
experience. Honors programs and colleges encourage students to develop their leadership skills, to assume
mentoring and teaching responsibilities at their institutions, to study overseas, and to take internship positions. And
scholarship opportunities abound in Honors!


Honors Programs at 2-Year Colleges: Two Plus Two Equals a Winning Combination
For any freshman, starting college can an extremely exciting and sometimes frightening experience. Academically
talented students are faced with the usual freshmen pressures. Like other freshmen, they can be overwhelmed by
new social freedoms, but they have the added pressure of high expectations for their academic performance. Honors
programs and Honors colleges offer some very special opportunities for these talented students to ease into college
bolstered by a sense of community that comes from the Honors environment.


One option that thousands of students have benefited from is to begin the college experience in a community college
Honors program for the first two years and then transfer to a college or university after the sophomore year. The
advantages of Honors programs and Honors colleges described elsewhere on this website are also offered in
community


 

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