This isn’t like taking an honors class in high school.

With a college acceptance some students also receive an invitation to an honors program. This opportunity for your student to engage in a more challenging curriculum can appeal to both you and your teen. But an honors program isn’t right for everyone. Here’s a look at what to consider before signing up.

Honors Program2Pros:
Students in many honors programs live together in a specific dorm, learning community or on the same floor. Often they share similar interests or majors, and take one or more of the same classes, creating an instant friends group. This living situation also makes it easy to find study partners before a big test or someone to share the cost of a late night pizza delivery.

Participating in an honors program at a large public university can make the big school feel more like a smaller one.

Honors program students usually receive additional financial aid, in some cases enough to add up to a full-ride.

The academic and career opportunities offered through an honors program can rival experiences at more expensive top-tier and Ivy League colleges.

Honors program classes are smaller, allowing students to get to know their professors, including outside the classroom through group dinners or field trips. Having a more familiar relationship with one or two professors will help students when they need recommendations for graduate, law and/or med school.

At some colleges, honors program advisers serve fewer students and only those in the program.

Honors program students usually receive priority when registering for classes.

Certain research opportunities are open only to students in an honors program.

Students in honors programs receive additional assistance with graduate admissions and career counseling.

Depending upon what type of job your student will be looking for after they graduate, an honors degree can help them stand out from other candidates.

High Point College Classroom
Photo credit: Lisa DeLuca

Cons:
College is filled with new experiences, which come with a fair amount of stress. Adding participation in an honors program, even for a student who was very successful in high school, can create additional pressure.

Students are usually required to maintain a relatively high minimum GPA to remain in an honors program and keep their merit scholarships. This doesn’t leave room for your student to have a bad semester.

An honors program requires a significant time commitment to manage the extra coursework, impacting a student’s social life, possibly limiting their opportunity to take part in more than one extra-curricular activity.

Because of their small size and collaborative focus, honors program classes are generally very participatory and how much a student contributes to class discussions impacts their grade.

The group nature of an honors program can limit who a student becomes friends with, making it more difficult to meet kids outside their major or the honors group.

Everyone in an honors program is smart, possibly a new situation for your student. Some freshmen might not know how to handle being challenged by so many other smart kids.

The weight of managing the extra assignments and keeping their grades up may be too much for some students.

Depending upon the major or college, the honors program can be very competitive. Not everyone thrives in that environment.

A hardworking student who found a lot of success in high school and had close relationships with their teachers, may now want to blend in more in college. An honors program will keep them in the spotlight.

Knowing whether to accept It is an honor to be selected for an honors program. Before your student commits to such a program, they should carefully consider their priorities for their time in college.

Share your thoughts and advice on college honors programs in the comments section below.