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Why Honors Programs Are the Best-Kept Secret in College Admissions

Last night, I hosted a special Zoom call for my Application Nation - Class of 2022 families on honors programs. The number of families interested in honors programs has skyrocketed over the last few years.

For anyone who hasn't considered an honors program, you are missing out! Honors programs are one of the best-kept secrets in the college admissions world. And every strong student should consider these programs.

Here are a few reasons why:

  • Honors programs provide a smaller and usually more rigorous course of study within a larger university. 
  • Students admitted to honors programs often get merit scholarships with their admission as well.
  • There can be special honors housing, early registration for classes, seminars, research opportunities, stipends, internships, and special advising associated with the program.
  • Students typically have more interaction with faculty. 
  • Students have the ability to graduate with honors. 
  • Students may be able to graduate with little or no debt!

My most asked questions on honors programs are below:

1. How does a student get chosen for an honors program?

The application and admissions process will vary depending on the college/university. Sometimes the student is considered and admitted to an honors program just by submitting a general application and other times they may need to submit a separate application (with additional essays).  

2. Is a student notified about acceptance to the honors program at the same time as the general acceptance to the college/university?

This also depends on the college/university. For students who apply to a Rolling Admissions program, a lot of times they are notified about acceptance to the honors program weeks or months after being notified about their general acceptance.

3. How do honors programs compare in terms of reputation to a highly selective college/university?

Students who graduate from honors programs are just as respected by employers and graduate school admissions committees as students who attend highly selective colleges and universities. 

READ MORE: What Admissions Officers Think of Students Who Take a Study Hall

Don't overlook the incredible opportunities waiting for you at honors programs. You will get a superb education while having the benefit of being a part of a smaller cohort within a larger university. As one of my former Application Nation students shared with me about her experience in an honors program, "It's not more work to be in the honors program. It's better and more fulfilling work."