When I began my college search, finding a college with a strong Honors program was not my top priority. I was focused on other aspects, such as location and amenities. After learning more, I did end up applying for the Honors program at Meredith, and I was delighted but unsure of what to expect when I was accepted. And, after experiencing the program, I am grateful that I chose to apply.
Most people might consider being an Honors student as simply a way to strengthen their résumé and increase their chances of getting a job post-graduation. However, there are many other benefits to being an Honors student that make the experience not only interesting and useful, but a lot of fun!
Fun? For real? Absolutely! In fact, some of my favorite college memories have come from being an Honors student. Most Honors programs offer extracurricular activities. For example, each fall Meredith’s Honors program arranges a weekend-long trip to another city or state. These trips are organized around mini-courses where you and a few other students team up with a professor for a crash course related to the city or its history. (Don’t worry, there are no grades!) These trips are not only a great chance to explore somewhere you’ve never been and learn something new, but they can really shape your college experience. In fact, my roommates are all friends I bonded with while exploring the cities and riding the bus home.
If trips aren’t your thing, our Honors program also organizes Focus on Excellence (FOE) events, where Honors students are given a stipend to attend at least two events each year. Trust me, during the midst of finals, a trip to the science museum or to a ballet with some of your closest friends can be a wonderful way to destress. And did I mention it is free?
Most Honors programs require additional classes, which, though it might sound intimidating, can be an advantage. At Meredith, Honors students are required to take colloquia classes – interdisciplinary classes that explore specific subjects, concepts, or ideas. These classes present exciting opportunities to learn new things. For instance, I’ll be taking Plants and Folklore this fall for my first colloquia. I know very little about plants and even less about folklore, but that’s exactly why I signed up for it! Through Honors, you have the opportunity to explore things you never would have thought to consider.
At Meredith, you can also contract a class for Honors. To contract a class, you and your professor would decide on an additional project for you to work on over the course of the semester. This can give you a chance to form a stronger connection with your faculty as well as gain a better understanding of the material. Finally, some Honors programs, Meredith included, offer scholarships for students who join the program. Extra money is always welcome, right?
With an Honors program comes a community of other academically-minded students. Meredith’s Honors program offers numerous opportunities to volunteer and connect with other students. Each spring, Meredith hosts Scholars’ Weekend, an event where incoming freshmen interview for scholarships and get to explore the campus and even sit in on classes. Current Honors students are given the chance to volunteer as guides and hosts. Having the chance to make friends in the incoming class as well as make an impression and offer advice to future students is always rewarding.
Our Honors program also has smaller volunteer possibilities – you can volunteer to help plan trips, write for the Honors newsletter, and more. Our program also gives back to the students. During finals, the Honors lounge is stocked with snacks and drinks to give you the energy you need for exams. As an Honors student at Meredith, you get a community as well as a broader education.
I can say for certain that my college experience would not have been the same had I not decided to apply for the Honors program. The friends I have made, the things I have learned, and the opportunities I’ve had have easily outweighed any additional effort I’ve put in.
So if you meet the academic standards, are interested in a college experience that stretches you, as well as one that looks great on your résumé, then consider applying for an Honors program. I can promise you, you won’t regret it!