Nov 14, 2014

Honors colleges: Deadlines, deadlines, and even more deadlines

Ohio University's Honors College application is due December 1.

This is the season of deadlines for college-bound high school students.  

And focused on the early requirements of a few colleges and universities on their lists, applicants sometimes forget to consider less visible but equally valuable undergraduate opportunities like honors college programs.

If you’re a top student with high grades and knock-out standardized test scores, you may have initially gravitated toward the Ivy League or “name” private institutions.

But you could be making a mistake both in terms of finances and the overall quality of education offered.

“I am a strong believer that many students are well-served by enrolling in honors programs at [public institutions] rather than at schools that may have a higher rank in the US News,” explained Parke Muth, an independent educational consultant who used to be in charge of selecting students for the Echols and Rodman Scholars programs at the University of Virginia.  “What my data showed and what I found from my interaction with many of these students, is that they excelled in the programs and had exceptional options after graduation.”

In fact, honors programs are not only better deals financially but they may also offer clear academic advantages over some of the pricier private undergraduate programs.

For example, honors program students often the chance to write a thesis, present on a research topic and   
work closely with an adviser—all of which prepare them for graduate school.

They also get perks like priority registration, special housing, smaller seminar-style classes, and the advantage of working with a similarly-motivated cohort of students who form a supportive community.  

“Students who come in near the top of the class often leave that way,” adds Muth.  “I wish more families and students would consider this programs rather than choosing schools based largely on rankings that are, by any measure, not scientific.”

So now that the first of the early deadlines has officially past, it’s time to think about other opportunities that might be equally if not more attractive than colleges that have way too many applicants and use early deadlines as tools to control “highly selective” images.

If you’re willing to consider, here are some additional programs with different deadlines:

Note that many colleges do not have separate honors college applications.  A student is considered for honors  at the time they apply for admissions, sometimes with an extra essay or two and sometimes not.

Other programs use an invitation process:  the student applies to the college or university and then is invited to submit an additional application for honors.  And still others simply put a separate honors program application on the website and it’s up to the student to follow the procedures and apply before deadline, which may or may not correspond to other early admission and regular decision deadlines.

For information on 80 honors public university programs and their deadlines, visit the Public University Honors webpage.

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