Tips from an Orange County College Tutor: 5 Ways to be Admitted into a College Honors Program
It’s getting harder and harder these days to stand out amongst the many graduates looking for jobs. One way is to demonstrate to potential employers that a student has a great work ethic, leadership skills, or a diploma with honors. Each college and university are different so students will have to do some research on their specific campus. However, there are a few ways students can get started as well as universal honors requirements they can look into in order to be considered for acceptance.
1 – Ramp up the GPA
The first thing students should do if they would like to be admitted into an honors program is get their GPA as high as possible. Generally, colleges require a minimum 3.5 GPA overall to be considered for honors. However, some colleges will require a higher GPA within the student’s major or will have stricter requirements based on the percentage of students they admit into their honors programs. Basically, students should shoot for straight As if possible.
2 – Research the honors requirements of your particular college
As mentioned earlier, each college is different. Some will have basic requirements, and others will have strict or complicated requirements. As a result it’s important for students to conduct research before they put in the time and effort to apply to such a program. Some larger public universities will simply look at a student’s GPA and automatically enroll them in the program and add the honors seal to their diploma. In this case, the student will likely attend their normal class schedule and graduate with an impressive addition to their resume. Other colleges may have complicated guidelines and require students to take different classes or even live in alternate housing. Students should decide if they would like to be separated or if they prefer to be amongst the majority of their peers (READ: “4 Differences Between High School and College That May Catch You by Surprise”).
3 – Gather recommendations from professors if necessary
Although most honors programs are offered within the university environment, others can be separate and are based on several factors. It’s always a good idea to have two or three letters of recommendations from professors on hand in case joining a university-sponsored or private honors program offers scholarships or other privileges. Professors are always busy, so it’s important to ask ahead of time rather than ask them to stick to a short deadline. Even if the student isn’t admitted to the honors program, they now have excellent letters of recommendation for their job search.
4 – Apply to the honors college separately
Some students will have to choose whether or not they want to be part of the honors college before they finish the general admission application process. In this case students should realize they are making a commitment to the honors program for four years, and they may or may not have the opportunity to transfer to the regular university environment. This is a huge commitment for a young adult but one that could potentially lead to excellent graduate school and career opportunities depending on the student’s chosen field.
5 – Find out how different your college experience will be once you join
Prior to joining an honors program, students should find out how much their collegiate life will change. Many students will simply have to focus on maintaining a high GPA through the end of college (hard enough as it is) or they may need to take an additional elective class they know they will get an A in just to balance out a lower grade from an especially difficult class. Other students, however, may have to alter entirely their experience on campus and actively participate in an honors society, which may take away from their studies or social events. It’s a good idea to find out the commitment ahead of time so students can make the decision that’s best for them as an individual (READ: “5 Things to do With a College Syllabus”).