The Scary World of Honors Programs
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Secondly, many schools require some sort of honors senior project that must be completed under the tutelage of a faculty member. This is an excellent opportunity to complete research in your field. Some students shy away from this requirement because it requires a large amount of work, and it can be daunting to approach a professor to help. However, you come out of the experience with amazing credentials. Many universities publish your senior project or thesis and put a copy in the school library. That's quite a legacy to leave. Besides the great honor of leaving a body of work in your alma mater's library, however, you also have the distinct privilege of keeping a copy of the project yourself. This allows you to show anyone that you are an expert in something! It's a great hit at Christmas parties.
But seriously, the published document is an excellent coup for any student. A graduate school admissions counselor or future employer is able to immediately see the best of your work. By flipping through your project, they are able to determine your writing style and your ability to organize your thoughts. The best prize that comes from the senior project, however, is the time you get with your professor. This person not only knows you by name, he/she could become a mentor for the long run. Many of the professors that mentor students in my honors program end up assisting the students with graduate school applications or publications of their own. In a world defined by "it's not what you know, it's who you know", this experience is worth its weight in gold.
So Now What?
Now, you need to do some research. Get on your school's website and search for "honors". This will give you a clue on where to begin. Meet with an advisor in the program; that is what we are here for! We want to help our students succeed, and we will do the best we can to make the program accessible for all. Look at all the requirements for the program. Is the program flexible? Will they take students with a good number of hours completed? What do they require for the honors degree? What are the resources and benefits available to honors students?
Once you have done the research, if the program might work for you, take the plunge! The richly rewarding outcome of an honors bachelors degree and extended knowledge above and beyond the university curriculum is well worth the effort!
Jennifer Graham is an honors advisor and a Texas-based freelance writer.
She graduated Cum Laude with a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Houston Honors College and earned an M.A. in Sociology from the University of Texas at Arlington where she was selected as a prestigious University Scholar.