Pros and Cons: Taking Honors Courses

Two graduating honors students wearing blue robes holding up their medals.

Flickr user Penn State

The National Collegiate Honors Council describes honors colleges as “in-class and extracurricular activities that are measurably broader, deeper, or more complex than comparable learning experiences typically found at institutions of higher education”. This type of education attracts the attention of many people, students, their families, and professors. They all have different opinions on the subject. Like everything in life, some arguments describe honor courses as a negative thing. Others assure that it is the best kind of education. So, are honor courses a good or a bad thing for the student?

What are honors courses?

Honor courses have a “distinctive” way of teaching and learning. Courses give the students new experiences to get them to learn in a more realistic environment. These classes are smaller, assuring the student the best possible attention, given by the best specialist in the area. They are the representation of the quote “quality over quantity”, and due to the small size of the class, getting accepted into these classes is harder. But it is worth it, due do the education system they have. They push students to their maximum potential, which sometimes scares them. Many students discard honors college as an option because they think it will affect their GPA. Classes are more specific, move differently and faster, asking for more attention from the student.

Negative conceptions

People believe that students who are in “honors” tend to forget about the rest of their classes, pay less attention to them, and drop their grades. But it isn’t the truth. Students tend to improve their grades once they start taking honor courses. That’s due to the quality of the instruction, and the new techniques they learn. Techniques they apply to all of their courses. When they get better grades, they find motivation and keep studying harder, improving their grade, even more, is a never-ending cycle. Honor students surround themselves with other high-achieving students and colleagues who inspire them to get better and greater. It is an environment of competition, a healthy one, that pushes everyone to be the best they can.

Positive aspects

Because classes are smaller, instructors have the time to pay more attention to each student separately and give them personalized attention. Instructors also help them with any doubts they may have, face to face and not by e-mail. Students with special abilities should have individual attention from instructors in order to improve their skills even more. Some parents say this doesn’t help their children development at all because they get used to the attention, and once they get into a 200-people class they tend to minimize their achievement in that area. This may be true, but specialized classes don’t only teach a certain area, they also show students values that will stick with them and can be applied to every class they take during their college years.

The purpose of honors courses

Honors courses celebrate students’ accomplishments and fill them with pride during all of their college years. They weren’t created to stress scholars, and give them impossible tasks to do. Their objective is the opposite, they want to show students they are capable of everything and anything in life. They assign homework, not to force the student to “do something”, but to help them learn quicker in a deeper way. Yes, these classes work faster and are a little stricter, but the rewards overshadow the negative aspects. Students graduating with honors classes receive a special certificate. The certificate shows others that these students are advanced learners, young people motivated to experience every aspect of life, business, and education.

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