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Do you really have time for the Honors College?

One major misconception about the Honors College (HC) that discourages students from applying is the fear that their busy schedule and course rigor will consume them. So, let’s break this down a bit. In this blog post, we’ll delve a bit more into this frequently asked question and hopefully, debunk the fear that most students won’t have time for the Honors College.

Honors College Classroom

Honors class in session on the third floor of the Learning Innovation Center (LInC)

First, let’s talk about the credit requirements. In order to graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree from Oregon State University (OSU), you’re asked to complete a minimum of approximately 180 credits (this may vary depending on your major). Honors students are required to complete a minimum of 30 credits through the HC by the time they graduate, segregated by Baccalaureate Core, Elective, Colloquia, and Thesis credits. This may seem like a lot, however, if we were to take the example of Honors Biology, a 3-course series of 4 credit classes, which is 12 credits earned through the Honors College. In one class, you have already completed almost half of your requirements. In addition, as a bonus, this class is a “double-dipper”, meaning it will count towards your basic math and science requirements for OSU as well as your Honors requirements. Moreover, you’re saving money in earning multiple credits for the price of one!

student at football game

Sally and friends at an OSU football game.

Now, let’s cover the general rigor of these classes. Honors classes at OSU are not designed to be more rigorous than general enrollment alternatives, but instead more discussion-based, group-oriented, and generally smaller in class size. Baccalaureate Core and Elective courses are those that you would need to take at OSU anyway, so this gives you the flexibility of choosing what classroom environment you would prefer for these classes. Colloquia are what students like to call “wild card” classes, consisting of about 15 students discussing a wide range of topics in a low-stress environment. These classes provide students with the opportunity to explore topics beyond their field of study without having to take courses with larger stakes on their GPA and schedule because many of these are “Pass/No Pass” (typically “Pass”) instead of the letter grading scale. Just like any other university experience, there will be courses that are more challenging than others are, but the HC as a whole is not intended to make your life harder.

Do you have time for activities outside of class? Yes! All work and no play makes for a very dull college experience. Most Honors students are involved in at least one if not many activities outside of the classroom. The benefit of attending a larger university like OSU is that there is no shortage of social events, clubs, sports, and other activities. The trick is to make time for fun. I know this may seem secondary compared to school and work, but college is also about finding new passions and making new friends, so please make time to try new things. Take a scuba class, join a club, play intramural volleyball, volunteer at a local community garden, go rock climbing, attend an HC community coffee! Your college experience is entirely what you make of it, so don’t let the fear of a busy schedule hinder you from taking advantage of all the fun.

Now the big one – the Honors Thesis. Just to be completely transparent, this is one of the major reasons why students choose to leave the Honors College. Why? Because they did not feel, they had the time. The HC recognizes this and has taken precautions to provide many resources to ease this stress and help as many students as possible to complete the Honors Thesis. Most students and faculty would recommend getting started with your Thesis sometime during your sophomore or junior year at OSU. Waiting until your senior year, (as tempting as that may be) unfortunately does not afford you the flexibility of changing topics or mentors, accounting for research not going as planned, or taking your time during the writing portion of the project. Aside from the timing of your Thesis plan, there are resources in place to help walk you through the Thesis from beginning to end. Some students prefer taking on the Thesis through a completely independent timeline, and others prefer checkpoints, deadlines, and guidance along the way. There are classes for that! You can choose to take Honors Thesis classes offered year-round that provide you with frameworks and suggested timelines for varying portions of the project. For example, if you choose to take the “Stage 3: Commit” course, you are guided towards completing a thesis proposal by the end of that term. The classes themselves are very low-impact, so do not worry about that part. The Honors Thesis may seem daunting, however, if you give yourself a reasonable timeline and take advantage of the valuable support systems and resources when needed, it is absolutely manageable.

Students at a research poster session

Students at a research poster session

So, we’ve touched on some of the misconceptions associated with the frequently asked question, “Do I have time for this?” Hopefully, you’re now able to take a deep breath and apply to the Honors College or accept admission if you’ve already been admitted. As always, if you ever want to talk to a fellow student about what it is like to be in the HC, you can reach any of us from the contact information listed on this link: https://honors.oregonstate.edu/meet-hc-student-ambassadors. You’ve got this, go Beavs!

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