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To Honors or Not to Honors?

Academics

To Honors or Not to Honors?

I am going to be honest with you… When I first thought of applying for the Honors Program I was hesitant. I was already overly involved and overly committed in high school. The thought of easing my academic work load was very tempting.

I kept on telling myself that I deserved a break. But when I joined Honors I found that I had a lot of misconceptions. I even found the classes to be easier because their structure better suited my learning style. Honors classes focused on what I was getting from the material rather than memorization of facts.

Gannon University’s Honors Program is a community dedicated on supporting you and your own experience. I know this because through Honors I have found a family, developed as an individual, became a leader, and traveled the world. Through community honors events I have had unlimited access to good times and good people. The students in the Honors Program never fail to lift each other up because we are all coming at our goals with a similar ambition.

Still, here are 5 misconceptions that I had regarding Gannon University’s Honors Program…

  1.      The Classes Will Be Obscenely Hard

I don’t want to mislead you…. The classes are challenging but I found that I actually enjoyed the classes more because they suited my learning style. I have never really been the best test taker. I always seem to struggle with things that feel like simply memorization of facts. Facts don’t carry as much meaning to me as truly comprehending the material does.

Comprehension feels tangible to me. The nice part of Honors classes are that most do not have exams. Instead of exams the greatest part of your assessment comes from presentation, projects, papers, and discussions. This assessment style has develop  a plethora of professional skills such as public speaking and formal writing.

I also find that I enjoy my Honors classes significantly because I am getting so much out of each session. I am learning more than real world skills… I am also learning to engage in the world around me. I am not graded on recitation but instead on my own comprehension of the world around me through the material that we are studying.

 

  1.      Everyone Will Think That They Are Smarter Than Me

Another fear that I had upon applying for the Honors program was that the type of students that I would be surrounded by would think that they were so much smarter than me. My high school didn’t really offer much in the way of AP classes and the few classes that were offered were very limited in subject material.

While, I had always been a decent student I was certainly not valedictorian  by any stretch of the imagination. In short, I just did not feel qualified and I was nervous that my peers would see through my facade and condemn me for it. However, once I put away my misconceptions I soon found a thriving community within the Honors program.

It was actually a welcomed relief to be  surrounded by a group of other highly motivated students. My classmates and I all share similar values which lead to better quality lectures. Not only that, but since these classes are on a collegiate level I have found that there really are no such thing as “stupid questions.” A fear of failing, or “looking stupid,” can often hold us back from realizing our own potential. Honors makes a safe space to be who you are in the belief that your individual perspective contributes to make each class all that more meaningful.

 

  1.      I Won’t Fit In

In general, I was also nervous about fitting in. Honors felt like a small close knit program and I was very nervous about being made into an outcast. To my relief, I sound found a sanctuary on campus. Not only are the leaders of the Honors Program, Dr. Bomberger and Ashley Lawson, super friendly they are also always available to talk. If you are having issues with anything they are a great support system.

Another great way that the Honors Program has become a community is through Honors events and service. A part of the requirement to be in the program is that you must attend at least 5 Honors sponsored events each semester and complete a minimum of 5 hours of service through the Honors Program. This opportunities are a great way to get to know other students in the program.

I try to attend as many events and service opportunities as possible which has helped me meet a lot of really great people. For instance, last year as an Honors event I attended a local film festival at the Erie Art Museum. As a patron of the arts I was ecstatic to find that the program was actually a weekly event on Wednesdays for only $5. Honors events range from school events like activities and plays to game nights to trying nontraditional restaurants. Over all, Honors is an opportunity to get engaged in the community in a whole new way, regardless of your interests.

 

  1.   It Will Just Be One More Responsibility

Speaking of service and event requirements, I really was concerned that these programs would take too much of my time. I didn’t want to have to think about “One More Thing” while trying to juggle the responsibilities of adulthood. I was lucky to discover that Honors really does a great job of communicating your responsibilities as a member and working with your given situation.

Also all of your records are kept up to date on Blackboard which is really helpful. So you are able to constantly check to see if what credits you still need to achieve or if you have already earned enough. As I am getting further away from my Honors classes and more into my major I am also finding that I really miss the program. As I am having less time to be engaged as the workload of a double major kicks in I am missing more and more the sanctuary that is the Honors Program.

Another key thing to remember is that the Honors Program will give you a plethora of opportunities, but they are not mandatory. While Honors would be happy to see you attending a conference once a year to represent Gannon the program will not think any less if you decline the opportunity. At the end of the day, the Honors Program will always support you rather than force you to commit to something that you are not passionate about.

I also found that it was pretty easy to get all of the credits necessary to graduate from the program. In fact, I was able to complete all of my credits last semester. Another key thing to remember is that Honors is almost always willing to work with their students. Being such a small department the Honors Program has been known to provide alternatives when scheduling is an issue. Therefore, do not let the responsibilities of being a member persuade you against applying,

 

  1.   I Won’t Have Time

Once again, time was a major concern. In high school I was always overly involved.  While I didn’t know exactly what to expect attending college I knew it was likely going to be worse. I didn’t want the Honors Program to become that overwhelming commitment that put me over the edge so early on in my experience but I can honestly say that I have never felt that way.

The community and resources have helped enhance my college experience if anything. While I may not be able to attend as many events as I would like now that I am approaching upper level classes, that “Come as you are and when you can,” attitude always brings me home. So all that I can tell you is that time is such a small price to pay for such a wonderful opportunity.

 

Overall, I really hope that my experience has helped you come to terms with some of your own misconceptions regarding the Honors Program. If you have any more or were interested in learning more then feel free to let me know on Facebook!

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