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Should students commit to the honors pathway?


During my freshman year, I met with an adviser who offered a compelling case for why I should join honors. I took her advice and applied for the Lewis Honors College through upper-level admissions.

Why do most students make this choice? For some, they see a new horizon of opportunities open up, with more possibilities of pursuing leadership positions or listening to guest speakers. For others, it’s simply a chance to take classes that offer more challenging material.

One benefit immediately became apparent to me: the Lewis Honors College offered a myriad of classes that, within the strict confines of majors and minors, I wouldn’t have access to.

In the fall of 2023, for example, I took an honors class on addiction. As an English major, I would’ve never had the chance to learn about studies on harm reduction for substance use disorders in a British literature class.

The Lewis Honors College offers many more niche classes. This semester, the Lewis Honors College offers courses such as “Reconsidering Progress and Poverty,” “Writing Place: Paris and U.S. Creativity” and “Bioethics on Film.”

In other words, the Lewis Honors College enables students to become educated on crucial topics beyond their majors that would deepen their understanding of the world.

However, committing to the honors program comes with a cost.

Without a scholarship, the Lewis Honors College charges honors students $250 per semester. If students commit to four years of honors, they will pay $2,000 in total.

As students descend deeper and deeper into a sinkhole of debt, it becomes more and more vital to determine whether or not the Lewis Honors College is worth the price tag.

To discern the answer, I will evaluate the classes and other opportunities the Lewis Honors College offers.

Students must also consider the hefty commitment of time required of honors students.

Honors students are expected to fulfill 30 honors credits unless one applies through upper-level admissions, which means the college requires students to complete 21 or 15 credits.

At this point, students need to consider another question: is honors more worth it than getting another minor? The commitment to the latter might prove more profitable.

Students could even turn a minor into a major by focusing on more field-related
classes instead of honors courses.

Honors students, however, have a few advantages: due to the smaller class size, they can engage in more discussion, make connections with their professors and develop friendships with fellow honors students.

Furthermore, the Lewis Honors College provides leadership opportunities for dedicated students to pursue, including positions as a peer mentor and Lewis liaison as well as the Rising Leaders program.

Few students, however, take advantage of these opportunities.

The Lewis Honors College also offers advisers entirely devoted to honors students, including academic advisers and personal development counselors.

I’ve personally relied on my academic adviser to plan classes each year, and she has provided tremendous support that has enabled me to succeed and fulfill class requirements in a timely manner.

Honors students also benefit from receiving early registration access to classes.

At the end of the day, the answer to whether or not a student should pursue an honors pathway varies for each individual.

Yet, a deeper question looms over the Lewis Honors College: does being an honors student truly distinguish a student?

It seems with each passing year, the answer increasingly becomes no.

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