While this essay asks you to “anticipate” what you will be like as a student at UD, that does not mean they are asking for idle speculation. A strong response to this essay will show how your projection connects back to your experiences. Once you start thinking about the question in these terms, then you can use your 200 words to start sharing some things with the admissions committee that they may not have been able to learn from reviewing your grades and test scores.
For example, you might say that you will be excited to start participating in small seminar discussions about literature because all throughout high school one of your favorite activities was going to the science fiction and fantasy book club. Nothing makes you happier than getting into an argument about the racial politics of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings (are the orcs really bad guys who can be killed with impunity?). Maybe outside the classroom, you will want to continue volunteering as a reading coach at a local elementary school in preparation for your intended career as a teacher.
As you talk about what excites you inside and outside the classroom, you will want to try to make sure that those two things are related. In the example I’ve been discussing, there is a common theme: a love of reading.
On the whole, you will want to stick to talking about academic and community-service topics. This is not the time to say that you are excited about going to parties and experimenting with alcohol. If the social aspects of college really are part of what quickens your pulse, you can talk about that in a more wholesome manner. Maybe event-planning has always been your passion in high school, and you look forward to organizing student days for UD’s Athletics program.
But there is one more part in this question that adds a considerable amount of depth. UD not only wants to know where you will expect to thrive, but also what kinds of challenges you will expect to face. Here, it is okay to be a little bit vulnerable. It can often seem like the college admissions process is asking you to trumpet an endless line of success stories, but this part of the essay wants to see if you are good at recognizing your own limitations and figuring out ways to manage them.
Maybe you are really close to your family, and you know you will miss being able to spend time with your brothers around the house. Whenever you talk about areas where you will have to stretch yourself, you will probably also want to offer a sentence softening the blow and saying that, even if you know you will be challenged, you are still looking forward to facing that challenge. If you know you are going to miss your family, you can also say that you are looking forward to sharing your college experiences with your little brothers and encouraging them to attend college as well.
If you’re an academically ambitious high school student, you’re most likely interested in getting admitted to colleges that offer well-regarded academic programs. Not only will these schools offer the opportunity to learn and grow, they’ll also be positive additions to your academic record and look great on your resume.
However, there’s more to getting a top-notch academic experience than which colleges you choose. Honors and scholars programs, which are available within the undergraduate programs of certain colleges and universities, are another option to consider.
These special programs, which are smaller and more selective than the overall student body, can come with a range of benefits, including enhanced advising, small seminar-style classes, independent research opportunities, and access to prestigious faculty members. Some even include perks like guaranteed housing and extended library-loan periods, which can be more advantageous than they might appear at first.
Does the opportunity to study with a small group of like-minded students and access to exceptional academic resources pique your interest? Read on to learn more about honors and scholars programs at some of the country’s best-known colleges.
What is an honors program?
You’re probably familiar with the term “honors” from your time in high school. It’s usually attached to a course or program intended for students whose academic performance is above average, and typically indicates that the course or program has high expectations. Having honors courses or an honors diploma on your record can demonstrate to colleges that you’re able to handle advanced academic material. (For more details, check out our post Should I Take AP/IB/Honors Courses?)
Honors programs at the college level are similarly intended for students who are academically advanced. Getting in is usually a competitive process, which makes your participation in such a program an achievement to be proud of.
College-level honors programs vary a great deal from school to school, but their participants typically get access to some significant benefits, such as exclusive seminars, independent project opportunities, and high-quality advising. Some schools additionally offer honors students special enrichment activities, perks (like designated honors dorms), and possibly access to specific sources of financial aid.
You’ll often find honors programs at flagship state universities, where they can offer a more rigorous academic path at a state-college price. An honors program might even be considered its own “honors college” within the university, in which case it may be separately administered and have its own facilities, student groups, and policies.
Flagship state universities generally have very large student populations, so being chosen for a smaller honors program within the university can make a significant difference in terms of the opportunities and personal attention you’ll encounter there. At smaller schools, the difference may be more subtle, but participating in an honors program can still be of benefit to you.
Frequently, but not always, admission to a college’s honors program is decided based on your first-year application; in these cases, you’ll know whether you’ve been accepted to an honors program before you choose a college. Often, in order to be considered for an honors program, you’ll need to submit additional application materials, such as another essay.
What is a scholars program?
The term “scholars program” is used in a broad variety of different ways within higher education. In this context, we’ll be discussing undergraduate scholars programs within universities that operate in much the same way as honors programs to provide special educational opportunities for academically advanced students.
Sometimes, scholars programs are smaller or more selective than honors programs. A scholars program would generally not be large enough to represent its own college within a university, for example. Individual scholars programs may also be especially prestigious, making them potentially valuable additions to your resume.
Sometimes, however, the difference between an honors program and a scholars program is minimal. It really depends upon the individual school and program; each one is different, making it extra important that you do detailed research before deciding where to apply.
You should know that the term “scholars program” can cover other programs that don’t fit this description. For instance, if you receive a scholarship that’s named after a particular person or thing, you might be referred to as a “[Program] Scholar.” This doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll receive any additional benefits, resources, or academic opportunities as a result.
Which top schools have honors or scholars programs?
Now that you know what you can get out of an honors or scholars program, you’re likely wondering which schools that are of interest to you offer programs like these.
Here are nine especially well-regarded honors and scholars programs for you to consider:
- Boston University: Kilachand Honors College: Students in this honors college within BU are also enrolled in one of the regular BU undergraduate programs and apply by completing additional requirements within BU’s Common Application supplement. The course of study includes unique faculty access and a substantial senior keystone project.
- Columbia University: Columbia Undergraduate Scholars Program: All first-year applicants to Columbia are automatically considered for this program, which offers selected students a wide range of activities, academic opportunities, and the inspiration of speakers, leaders, and other professionals.
- George Washington University: University Honors Program: This honors program places special emphasis on interdisciplinary studies and seeks “intellectual omnivores” who will take creative advantage of its resources. Prospective first-years can apply using the directions found in GWU’s Common Application supplement.
- Rutgers University: Honors College: In this unusual program, selected students from various academic programs at Rutgers share housing and community facilities while pursuing advanced coursework, interdisciplinary seminars, and service projects. Rutgers also offers academic honors programs within each of its undergraduate programs.
- University of California, Berkeley: Regents’ and Chancellor’s Scholarship: This scholars program includes financial aid funding as well as mentorship and guaranteed on-campus housing for all four years — something that not all students at UC Berkeley can depend upon. All applicants are considered automatically for this program.
- University of California, Los Angeles: College Honors Program:If you’re admitted to UCLA as a first-year, meet academic criteria, and complete an application with essay, you may be considered for this program, which allows access to advanced coursework, research opportunities, and even special library privileges. UCLA offers several other honors and scholars programs in addition to this one.
- University of Michigan: LSA Honors Program: This program within the College of Literature, Arts, and Sciences has a proud history of nearly sixty years providing UM students with small courses, advising, and community among academically advanced students. As its culmination, you’ll complete a senior thesis.
- University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill: Honors Carolina: All UNC Chapel Hill applicants are considered for admission to this program, which provides priority access to small seminar-style classes as well as special opportunities to conduct research, study abroad, and network with faculty and alumni.
- University of Virginia: Echols Scholars Program: This scholars program is inspired by UVA founder Thomas Jefferson’s intellectual ideals, and offers selected students “unusual academic freedom” and resources so that they can pursue individual academic goals. All first-year UVA applicants are automatically considered for this program.