By: Contributor On: July 30, 2010 In: Academics Comments: 0

Participating in a college honors program can help students in many ways, from giving them broader access to different classes to adding a little extra punch to the post-grad resume.

Honors programs in college are very different from the honors program you might have taken part in during high school, however, and the decision to enter an honors program shouldn’t be taken lightly.

If you are considering a college honors program, you need to be prepared to do more than just make the grades.

Ask yourself these five questions to help determine if it’s the right choice for you.

1. What does my college honors program require?

No two college honors programs are alike, so it’s important to find out just what is required of your school’s honors students. What GPA do you need to maintain? Are there a minimum number of honors-level classes you will have to participate in? Will you have to write an honors thesis?

Get the answers to these questions from the coordinators of your school’s honors program or your academic adviser to decide if you are up for the challenge of meeting the requirements of your college honors program.

2. How will I benefit from a college honors program?

Honors students often have access to honors-specific courses, which – although more challenging – often offer benefits like smaller class sizes and more interesting topics. Find out what benefits your college honors program offers.

Of course, participating in an honors program also looks good on your resume, both to future employers and grad school admissions committees.

3. What drawbacks are there to honors programs?

One of the drawbacks – the fact that honors will demand more of you academically – can also be seen as a pro, depending on your attitude. Challenging yourself with more difficult honors-level classes can be daunting, but it’s a great way to improve critical thinking and analytical skills. Just don’t get too stressed out!

Honors programs are not for everyone. If you have doubts as to whether you can maintain your grades in an honors program, it might not be the best choice. Taking your post-grad plans into consideration can help you decide if it’s worth the risk – keep reading to find out why.

4. Will honors help me after graduation?

Your potential post-grad plans are important to consider because an honors program can both hurt and help you get a job after college. Participating in a college honors program is impressive to grad school admissions committees but it won’t help much if your grades suck — better an A without honors than a D in an honors class.

This is less of a concern if you are looking to go straight into the working world after graduation. Since most employers don’t look at college transcripts, it won’t be a huge deal if your grades as an honors student aren’t as good as they might have been had you not done honors.

5. What if I join the honors program and hate it?

If you’ve done your research hopefully this won’t happen! To help avoid this scary scenario, talk to current honors students about their experiences. They will give you the most candid insider info as to what they do and don’t like about the program. Sitting in on honors-level classes and getting a copy of the  syllabus is another great way to check out your college’s honors program.

Finally, if you do enter a college honors program only to decide it’s not for you, don’t freak out. Talk to an adviser as soon as possible. If you absolutely hate your college honors program, most schools will let you drop it without making a big fuss.

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